Nintendo 3DS owning internet denizens were recently given a rather robust reason to rejoice. Capcom revealed it would be localizing the sixth entry in the Ace Attorney series: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice. It’s quite a coup for adventure aficionados! But, it’s also another addition to a genre that did a wonderful job of establishing itself on Nintendo handhelds. The DS library is a phenomenal trove of plot-heavy adventure games.
The most notable entries are easily remembered. These are the Ace Attorney entries and the Professor Laytons. DS owners could visit any store and find installments on shelves, ready to test people with various puzzles and involved stories that offered a singular, hidden truth. Even now, finding these games isn’t too troublesome. The Phoenix Wright series have received ports, while Professor Layton games are plentiful. Even 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors has left quite a legacy. The original game may not be as easy to acquire as one of Capcom or Nintendo’s established entries, but the novelization of 999 is on iTunes and its legacy continues with further Zero Escape installments.
It’s the lesser known adventure games that really helped bolster the DS’ library. There were 11 other Japanese adventure games on the handheld that helped set precedents and establish the genre. Yet, many of these ended up lost to the annals of time, even though some were heralded upon their release. There are so many games that were ready, willing and able to take people through intricate stories and challenging puzzles.
The ones provided for Nintendo were among the highest quality installments. Trace Memory was a launch window game in Japan. It sends us around Blood Edward Island as we attempt to aid a young woman named Ashley in finding her missing father. It showcases the DS’ unique features, like the dual screens, touch screens and microphone, while telling a story about discovery and reuniting with loved ones. Hotel Dusk: Room 215 and Last Window: The Secret of Cape West are both inspired by film noir and look into detective Kyle Hyde’s past. They offers a tale of redemption and resolution. Each even offers novelizations of the action, which we can return to and peruse at our leisure.
More obscure DS adventure games tend to fall into one of two categories, based on the title’s motivation. We have more plausible adventures, where our hero or heroine attempts to reasonably solve some sort of mystery. Again is the story of an FBI agent who was the only survivor of a serial killer’s rampage, then finds himself sent to solve the case and catch the murderer when the offender starts attacking new victims. Jake Hunter Detective Stories: Memories of the Past, and its incomplete predecessor Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles, offer the only English exposure to a detective series that has let players solve mysteries in Japan since the Famicom Disk System. Even Theresia: Dear Emile, which seems like some sort of supernatural horror story, gradually becomes an unsettling investigation of an unhealthy familial relationship and wartime drama. They’re investigations into very real horrors; we’re the only ones capable of uncovering the truth.
Others offer more supernatural stories. We’re still using our DS systems to uncover the truth behind mysterious happenings, but there are otherworldly explanations for everything going on. Some of these are fanciful, despite a grave tone, like Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Sissel is trying to discover who he is, solve the mystery of his death and save others from the same fate, but there’s room for levity. Time Hollow has a young man named Ethan using a Hollow Pen to go into the past to repair his reality and revive his abruptly deceased parents, while still offering a few cases that aren’t quite as dark as the untimely deaths Ethan undoes. Each one deals with serious subject matter, like death and betrayal, while also giving us a means of setting things right with unimaginable powers.
Lux-Pain and Flower, Sun, and Rain offer far more complex tales, with the former suggesting unknown entities known as Silent and their worms infest people and cause criminal behavior and the latter is reminiscent of Groundhog Day with its continuous time loop. They wouldn’t work as movies. Perhaps not even as stories. They’re too complex, with too many threads and unresolved issues. With games, you get a chance to go as deep or shallow as you’d like and additional plot points can be scattered about. They expand DS adventurers’ horizons.
The DS offers a wealth of opportunities for anyone with an adventurous spirit. The handheld’s library is full of games from Japan, both popular and niche, for people in search of the truth. We have so many stories to enjoy. It’s practically a point-and-click renaissance. Whenever you feel like looking beyond the surface for a many-layered tale, take a look at the last generation’s library.