The Nintendo DS is almost here, and that sound you hear is the cheering of the thousands of Mario fans who preordered the dual-screened wonder before retail stores put up their "sold out" signs. Surprisingly, the DS has a decent sports lineup right out of the gate, despite the fact that the system is launching with only a handful of titles. Two racing games, a much anticipated football title, and the ubiquitous Tiger Woods iteration all make an appearance on the DS within a month or so of the system's launch. We'll take a look at each of these sports titles, along with their DS-specific features, including how each title utilizes the DS' stylus and second screen capabilities. While Nintendo has never been known for its great lineup of sports titles, the company's newest little bundle of gaming joy may be looking to change that.
Asphalt Urban GT (11/17/2004)
With three modes of play and a blend of arcade and simulation handling, this handsome racer from Ubisoft appears to steal some of its competition's thunder right out of the opening gate. The three modes--arcade, evolution, and multiplayer--will offer a lot of choices for gamers who are looking for different ways to fill their need for speed. Evolution mode is where most people will spend their time, and it is where you will be able to upgrade your car with money earned from race wins. It's a fairly standard format to be sure, but it's a formula that wins.
Second Screen: Used mainly to display course maps when racing and car information when in the menus.
Stylus: Menu navigation.
Wireless multiplayer: Yes, for up to four players.
Find out more about Asphalt Urban GT here.
Ridge Racer DS (12/07/2004)
The second racer to be released on the DS will be the first handheld Ridge Racer game ever. With arcade, time attack, and multiplayer mode, the title looks to capitalize on the strong reputation built by the console versions of the Ridge Racer series along with some innovative new features. Perhaps the biggest news for this arcade title will be its generous support for up to six players on the same course via the DS' wireless multiplayer capabilities, and the use of the touch-screen/stylus combination when steering the car.
Second Screen: With stylus steering enabled, the DS' lower screen displays a steering wheel that you can turn left or right using the stylus. Gamers will have the option to use this steering method or use the more traditional analog controls through the D pad. In this case, the second screen will display the course map.
Stylus: Used for steering the car (see above).
Wireless multiplayer: Yes, for up to six players.
Find out more about Ridge Racer DS here.
Madden NFL 2005 (11/17/2004)
The biggest name in sports games, Madden NFL 2005, comes to the small screen(s), arriving as a launch title on the Nintendo DS. Just how Madden would utilize the DS' dual-screen format was the subject of much speculation upon its announcement. As it turns out, the game makes decent use of the extra screen--alternating between an Xs-and-Os overhead view of the playing field and a handy play-calling screen, which is ideal for easily bringing up audibles or hot routes without having to memorize button combinations. With a season mode, a quick pace, and a miniaturized version of the same slick style Madden fans are used to, this title should prove to be a good option for football fans on the go.
Second Screen: When in menus, the lower screen is used to navigate through game choices, while the upper screen displays your favorite team's helmet. In-game, the second screen is used for calling plays and as an abstract view of the play as it unfolds on the field. The second screen will also feature controls for the game's instant replay feature.
Stylus: Menu navigation. You can use the stylus to choose plays, audibles, or hot routes. These choices can also be made using the directional pad and a face button.
Wireless multiplayer: Yes, for up to two players.
Find out more about Madden NFL 2005 here.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 (12/14/2004)
Just missing the launch window for the Nintendo DS, EA Sports decided to push back the release of the popular golf title in order to give the game some additional development time. Still on track for a holiday release, the game will feature a number of different game modes, including the popular legend tour found in the console version of the game as well as multiplayer support for up to four players. The most exciting aspect of this version of Tiger Woods 2005 is the stylus-based swing mechanic. To swing, you'll use the stylus to trace a swing pattern on the lower screen of the DS, which will determine the power and direction of your ball. Similar to the controls found in the console version of the game, you'll have additional control over your golf ball's spin once it's in the air by using the stylus. These types of innovative mechanics look to make Tiger Woods 2005 one of the most inventive games in the Nintendo DS launch library.
Second Screen: When on the links, the second screen will display an overhead 2D map of the current hole. You will be able to scroll the map in any direction using the stylus. The second screen will also be used in tandem with the stylus to control the golf swing.
Stylus: Lower screen map navigation, golf swing control, menu navigation.
Wireless multiplayer: Yes, for up to four players.
Find out more about Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 here.