This Mother’s Day, why not surprise your mom with a nice card, some chocolate, breakfast in bed and the ability to spend some quality time to herself with her Nintendo DS? Mother’s Day is May 9th, so we’re bringing you a wide variety of ideas to pick up for your Mom this year, and you’ve still got plenty of time to pick them up.
*Edit – Target has a deal on the DSi original from May 2nd until May 8th. You’ll receive a free copy of Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story with the purchase of a DSi system (retailing at $169.99).*
The DSi XL
Maybe your mom doesn’t have the DS yet or she’s been sharing with someone else. On March 28th, Nintendo released a larger version of the DSi called the DSi XL. This system is much larger than the DSi, boasting a 93% bigger screen which I know a lot of older gamers have expressed interest in from my days of slinging games for a certain retail chain. The DSi XL is available in two colours at launch, Burgundy and Bronze. It has all of the same features as the DSi (camera, SD card memory, DSi Shop and internet access, music, etc) and comes pre-loaded with three DSi Ware titles: Photo Clock and Brain Ages Math and Arts & Letters.
Games for Mom
Depending on your Mom, and only you know your Mom, there are a wide variety of games to choose from on the DS. From casual titles she might already play on Facebook to more mature titles akin to crime dramas you see on TV, the following suggestions are here to help you make sure you can get her started on the right foot. (Click on the covers to purchase through Amazon.)
Brain Age series: The Brain Age games bring math, word, and hand and eye challenges to the DS touch screen to exercise your brain. Both games will help stimulate your brain, and include a vast amount of Sudoku puzzles to help keep your brain going once you finish your daily training. Both games can be found for less than $20 and your daily brain workout normally takes less than 15 minutes.
Big Brain Academy: Similar to the Brain Age titles in that you want to exercise that brain of yours, Big Brain Academy focuses on filling your brain and making it heavy with knowledge. There are five focuses in Big Brain, each with three games: computing, memorizing, thinking, analyzing and identifying. The level of difficulty varies, so while it might start out seeming easy, it will soon start to really test your skills.
Professor Layton series: By far my favourite of all the brain puzzle based DS titles, Professor Layton combines wonderful story telling, mystery, and a wide variety of new and familiar puzzles which will keep you entertained for hours. And even once you have finished the game, you can go back and attempt puzzles you missed or were stumped on, as well as obtain new weekly puzzles free to download. I recommend starting with the Curious Village, the first game in the series, before attempting the Diabolical Box.
PopCap games: I think almost all moms know of PopCap to some degree, even if its just that jewel matching game on her cell phone. You can play either the download & play or Facebook renditions (Bejeweled Blitz is hard!!) of popular titles, and even get them on your iPhone. For those moms who don’t want to be tied down to an iPhone, you can pick up several of their games on the DS. BookWorm, Peggle, Zuma, Amazing Adventures and Mystery PI are all available for the DS now and value priced at $19.99, same as if you were to buy most straight from the website for your computer.
Mystery Case Files MillionHeir: MillionHeir was my first DS hidden object game. The story was enjoyable, featuring vibrant characters all suspects in a murder mystery, and it really tested my observational skills. Mystery Case Files is a popular hidden object and puzzle series from Big Fish Games with six installments available on the PC. MillionHeir is exclusive to the DS, so if your mom has has checked out the PC versions, she’ll love a new adventure on the DS.
Time Management Games
Diner Dash/Cake Mania games: Time management games are great pick up and play games, perfect for killing time in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or while sitting under the heat at the salon. Diner Dash and Cake Mania both feature women who start up their own food businesses, giving you a time limit and upgradeable kitchen equipment in order to fill as many orders and make as many satisfied customers as you can. These games are great on the DS system as the touch screen and stylus combo gives you the same sort of feel as the point & click computer versions.
Cooking Mama series: A different style of management game, the Cooking Mama team brings you into the kitchen and “teaches” you how to make dishes from all over the world. Each dish is broken down into different steps and given a time limit in which to complete the task at hand. You are rated on each step and given a final score once you complete all the steps for each dish. The only disappointment I had with these games is that they don’t give you the actual recipes so you can try them at home. Gardening Mama plays the same way, except that you are outside growing flowers, fruits and vegetables.
Role Playing & Adventure Games
New Super Mario Bros: If your mom remembers playing Mario back on the NES or SNES and isn’t much for overly complicated 3D shenanigans, then New Super Mario Bros is a perfect Mother’s Day choice. NSMB brings that classic side-scrolling, brick smashing, Goomba bopping play to the portable scene, including the hidden warp whistles and the handy World Map. Just talking about it makes me want to watch The Wizard and take on the Hammer Bros.
Henry Hatsworth: This dashing adventure game combines the classic side scrolling adventure with the added twist of a Bejeweled-like puzzler. Making sure you pay attention to both screens to unlock power-ups, defeat enemies and obtain the pieces of the fabled golden suit, Henry Hatsworth features five worlds and over 30 levels of puzzling adventure. Collect jewels dropped by baddies and turn them into upgraded weapons or healing items to help get through tougher levels.
Zelda series: One of the most well-known and well-loved fantasy adventure games throughout the world, Link’s adventures to save Princess Zelda have gone portable. Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks are the most recent installments in the long running series, offering new story and new puzzles for players both new and familiar to the franchise.
Final Fantasy series: Square Enix loves putting classic games from my youth on the DS, and I am not complaining. Final Fantasy III had never been published outside of Japan until the remake for the DS (the chronology of the Final Fantasy franchise is a bit messed up over here) and when that proved to be successful, Square decided to remake Final Fantasy IV as well. Both are classic titles, and while not perfect games, they are enjoyable.
Chrono Trigger: Another port of a classic Super Nintendo game, our hero Chrono must travel back and forth and forward some more to rescue a girl who vanishes when an experiment goes horribly awry. There are seven playable characters, and the DS version includes 2 scenarios not in the original version of the game. Chrono Trigger also boasts a revised Active Time Battle system, which makes the timing of your battle moves imperative. A wonderful RPG that proves it still captures audiences 15 years later.
Ninjatown: Simply one of the best tower defense style games I have ever played (you can check out my review here), Ninjatown brings to life those cute and cuddly Wee Ninja creations from Shawnimals. When their village comes under attack, it is up to you to build your defenses and save them from Mr. Demon and his minions. As with most tower defense games, each level gets progressively harder and can always be replayed for a better score should you so desire.
Civilization Revolution: If your mother is more of an Age of Empires/Civilization fan, Civ Revolution DS is a lighter version of the PC/console title, making it perfect for sneaking in a quick game during her lunch hour. There are sixteen different world leaders available, some with special troupes and with four different ways to win, no two matches will be exactly alike.
Learning Aid & Language Games
America’s Test Kitchen: Based on a hit television series, America’s Test Kitchen makes cooking an interactive experience for the entire family. It’s an interactive cookbook, allowing you to work alone or together and put delicious meals on the table. You can search for recipes by ingredient, see calorie counts and delegate cooking tasks. America’s Test Kitchen also has video lessons showing you techniques and has a handy shopping list feature. A Nintendo DS system takes up way less counter space than lugging your laptop into the kitchen when you want to make a meal.
My Coach Language Games: There are books on CD to help you learn a new language, so why not make it a little more interactive? The My Coach language games get rid of having to listen to a CD and scribble in a workbook and are a great study aid. Learn new words, practice grammar and sentence structure, and even use the DS microphone to compare pronunciation against the tutor. Of the four language games, My French Coach is the most difficult to find and now seems to be out of print, but there are some people selling it used via Amazon and eBay.
Accessories For Mom
DSi XL Goodies
There are two carrying cases for the DSi XL that are coming soon from one of my favourite Nintendo authorized accessory companies. The first is the DSi XL Power Pack, a sleek hand clutch design to slip your system into which has pockets for 3 DS cards, and space for both a small stylus as well as the larger one. The Power Pack also comes with a card adapter so you can charge on the go.
If you are looking for something with a touch more style, the Show N Go Folio wraps around your DSi XL giving it more of a wallet-like appearance when closed. The exterior is a mock crocodile skin look and can hold up to 6 DS cards and the larger stylus. The Show N Go Folio can be found in Wine or Brown for $14.99.
DSi & DSLite Goodies
Fans of Disney might be interested in sprucing up their DSi with a skin of either Mickey or Minnie. Both of these are a protective silicone sleeve which helps keep the exterior of the system free from scratches.
If you want something with storage capacity, the Fashion Folio wraps snugly around your DSi or DSLite and allows for an extra stylus and up to three games. Predominately black, there are five different colours you can choose from: Aqua Blue, Spicy Lime, Fresh Nectarine, Purple Spice, and Elegant Pink. For $9.99, a case is a wise investment.