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The 10 worst DS games of 2008

The games you should dodge at all costs - whether they're in the January sales or not
Product: Top 10 DS charts | Format: DS
No one bar an idiot would want to argue against the fact 2008 has been a cracking year for Nintendo and the DS. The DS Lite continues to sell in its millions, and that's despite the fact that surely every household in the world must own at least two of them these days and that the new DSi is now available in Japan (and on its way to the west mid next year).

But 2008 hasn't been perfect in every way and we hold the likes of Godzilla Unleashed and Tony Hawk's Motion aloft as proof of this fact. Okay, so Nintendo didn't actually create them but it allowed them to smash and faceplant their way onto its dual-screened games machine like an OAP unwittingly opening the door to a double glazing salesman. Come on, Nintendo. You remember quality control. Back in the days of the N64 you couldn't get enough of it. Wind forward a few years and your back catalogue is fast becoming clogged up with more filth than the internet.

While most game sites are currently pondering the best of 2008 – and we do that too, of course – here we're also not afraid of bringing you the worst DS games of the year (or, indeed, the ten worst PSP games of 2008). And there have been many – we're just including those we've reviewed. If Santa brought you one of these defamatory DS disasters for Christmas this year, you know you must have been bad. Read then avoid at any cost.

The 10 worst DS games of 2008

10. Wacky Races: Crash and Dash
Developer: Farmind
Publisher: Eidos
Released: July
PG score: 4/10

The problem with making a kart racing game is that there's a very obvious competitor to take on that is almost certainly going to better than your game. Probably the only thing that could persuade someone to buy your game instead of that game is an appealing licence. Wacky Races could have perhaps been that licence, had anything good been done with it. Unfortunately the game that emerges has duff touchscreen controls, no brakes, rubbish sub games and a general lack of feeling that skill in any way comes into deciding whether you win a race or not. Just buy Mario Kart.

9. George of the Jungle
Developer: Crave Entertainment
Publisher: Ignition
Released: March
PG score: 4/10

The 2D platformer might not be dead, but ones like George of the Jungle should be killed. Really, when you can remember playing more accomplished games of the same type on your Spectrum in 1985, you know there's a problem. Sadly, while George himself might be a likeable enough character, he's been given one duff game to star in. He walks at a snail's pace then jumps speedier than a flea, your objective in each level is collect 50 eggs (yawn) and there's some disparity in the levels' dangers since falling into thorns loses you a bit of health while falling into water kills you outright and sends you back to the level. Never mind watching out for that tree – this entire mess needs avoiding.

8. Pirates: Duels on the High Seas
Developer: Oxygen
Publisher: Oxygen
Released: September
PG score: 4/10

Really there's no need for us to explain again why Pirates is such a bad game when our reviewer Mark Walbank did such a succinct (some would say bitchy) job at it the time. "It's about as exciting as watching paint dry. See that cliché we just used there? Well, this review deserves such eye-glazing over clichés because the designers didn't bother to treat us to anything beyond pallid go-there-and-collect-this design. It's so tedious you'll think it's some kind of in-joke to begin with. But as the game drags on from boring level to boring level you start to realise that it's no clever post-structuralist artefact but an insipid game bereft of any kind of fun." Ouch. One to sail clear of, then.

7. Bubble Bobble Double Shot
Developer: Marvellous Entertainment
Publisher: Ignition
Released: April
PG score: 3/10

Back in its coin-op days, Bubble Bobble was a classic combination of skill-soaked strategy and platforming. Today, it's not quite so highly regarded. Not just because it's showing its age, but more because heathens keep on making crap versions of it like this one. Far from improving on Bub and Bob's early days, Double Shot just offers messed up level design, bad boss fights, paltry power-ups and Game Boy graphics. And it's only about 20 minutes long, too. There are loads of retro arcade compilations out there with much more to offer than this rehash.

6. Carnival Funfair Games
Developer: Cat Daddy Games
Publisher: 2K Play
Released: August
PG score: 3/10

We'd think it's fair to assume that when a developer sets about making a game like Carnival Funfair Games, they'd spend quite a bit of time focused on the task of designing the mini-games that are going to make up the entire thing. But, as you might have guessed by this game's inclusion here, we're not sure that happened in this case. Heck, they only had to come up with 20-odd games – you wouldn't think it'd be that hard (absurdly limited budgets and timeframes aside, naturally). From Balloon Darts to Buckets of Fun though, Carnival offers more mediocrity than funfair thrills. Even where the concepts are passable, the controls and sensitivity are broken. Find another ride.

5. Hurry Up Hedgehog!
Developer: Ivolgamus
Publisher: Oxygen
Released: April
PG score: 3/10

As possibly one of the DS's most pointless games, Hurry Up Hedgehog is a game targeted at children but based on a fairly complex boardgame. Which means of course that neither adults nor those children are going to get much out of playing it. The dice rolling competitive hedgehog strategy game, a bit similar to Backgammon, isn't only an unappealing experience but it looks ugly too. The strongest compliment our reviewer was able to pay to it was: "against human opposition, it might pass half an hour". Probably not quite the appraisal its maker was hoping for.

4. Paint by DS
Developer: Ertain BV
Publisher: Mercury Games
Released: March
PG score: 3/10

The DS being the console for the masses that it is, we're happy to accept that for every Mario & Luigi that comes out for it, there has to be a My Horse and Me. But while we can accommodate casual games, that's not to say we tolerate rubbish casual games. Paint by DS plonks itself in that very pot of ink by offering a game that's really made up of nothing more than colouring in virtual pictures. When you consider that painting by numbers in itself is a bit of a pointless pastime, since –at best – your efforts are rewarded with the end result of a ropey copy of a classic painting (though at least you have an end result), you might be thinking painting by number on your DS is even more pointless. And you'd be right.

3. Jackass the Game
Developer: Sidhe Interactive
Publisher: Empire
Released: September
PG score: 3/10

A decent free-roaming, stunt-intensive Jackass experience on DS was always going to be a lot to ask for. So imagine our lack of surprise when this game turned out to be a bit of a mess. As an aspiring new member of the Jackass clan, you're tasked with pulling off stunts to impress Wee Man, Knoxville and co. An orgy of shopping trolley mayhem and pig riding ensures, however it's nowhere near as fun as that sounds. Instead, it's overambitious, glitchy and entirely unclear what you're meant to be doing half the time.

2. Tony Hawk's Motion / Hue Pixel Painter
Developer: Creat Studios
Publisher: Activision
Released: December
PG score: 3/10

Activision must be so pleased to have just got Tony Hawk's Motion out in time to make it into our Top 10 worst DS games of 2009. It's a well deserved entry, though, not least because it comes with a motion pack that serves no purpose other than to make the game's control system almost impossible. Motion's visuals are scruffy, it doesn't even particularly feel like a Tony Hawk's game and – just for good measure – an entirely separate and just as shoddy second game, Hue Pixel Painter, is included with it. What the hell were they thinking? The package is easily the most ill-conceived entry in the Hawk series.

1. Godzilla Unleashed
Developer: Santa Cruz Games
Publisher: Atari
Released: February
PG score: 2/10

There was once a time when Godzilla was a beast to be feared. But when Atari got its hands on the big fella early in 2008, all that changed. The great reptile warrior was reduced to a punching-, roundhouse-kicking joke on lizard legs. This effort, a side-scrolling fighting game, pits you against one identical enemy after another, although if you can't be bothered actually fighting them, you can always get into the corner of the screen and breathe on them repeatedly until they fall over. Godzilla fans, prepare to have your memories repeatedly stomped on. Yes, this is a bigger disappointment than even the introduction of Godzooky all those years ago.


Reviewer photo
Kath Brice 27 December 2008
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