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DS Lite shines across Europe

Hands-on with the redesigned handheld and a look at the best of the current DS games crop

If you know what's good for you, you've already run down to your friendly local games emporium and snagged yourself one of Nintendo's sublime newly redesigned dual-screen handhelds, the DS Lite, which launched in Europe today. Of course, you might be holding off making that purchase because, well, you're still waiting for payday, you simply can't decide which of the DS's plethora of quality titles you want to cram into its diminutive slot, or perhaps you're just too damn happy with your original DS to want to make the change.

Whatever your situation, we've scoured the CVG archives to round-up the cream of our DS coverage, hopefully offering up all the information you'll need to decide whether you want to make that Lite purchase, as well as recommending some of the best games currently fattening up the DS library. Without further ado, for your delectation and perusal, here it all is!

Hands-on with the DS Lite
Way back in March, we got our greasy mitts on one of the first DS Lites to fly off Nintendo production line. Check out our exhaustive run-down of what's changed, what's good and what's a pain in the arse about the redesigned handheld - or you can just believe us when we say it's bloody fantastic.

Our pick of the current DS games crop

Animal Crossing: Wild World
Not so much a game as a worryingly addictive way of life, Nintendo's forest sim pretty much consumed everyone in the office for months when it first landed on these shores. Check out our full review (click that red link above!) and find out exactly why we still wake up screaming in the middle of the night with images of a power-hungry racoon etched into our brains.

Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain?
With the Brain Training series still blazing in the charts over in Nintendo's homeland, the game that started it all has just hit Europe. Sure, it's not technically a game as such and, with its emphasis on all things cerebral, you'd be forgiven for wondering how it could ever be fun. However, it's simple, addictive design and stunning use of the DS's unique features make this one of the most surprisingly compulsive titles in the handheld's library.

Electroplankton
As unlikely as it sounds, Nintendo's musical fish oddity is one of the most therapeutic bits of software we've ever seen. Its lack of features and aimless meandering might put more goal-orientated gamers off, but it's a refreshing slice of craziness and one of the most original titles to hit any platform in a long time.

Mario Kart DS
Mario and friends race over the finish line with the best Mario Kart game yet. Controversial sure, but we'd still go as far as to say this one even beats the SNES original. With a shed-load of new tracks, a whopping roster of classic tracks from previous games and fully-fledged online multiplayer racing, it's a deliriously entertaining piece of classic Nintendo fun.

Metroid Prime: Hunters
Nintendo's first forray into first-person shooters sees Samus shredding up the DS and, despite a slightly repetitive single-player experience, manages to capture all the atmosphere and frantic action of its GameCube cousins. Not only is it one of the most gorgeous games you can pick up for the DS right now, it's got a heap of superb online multiplayer modes that'll keep you going for absolutely ages.

New Super Mario Bros.
It's a return to the series routes as Mario's first 2D platforming adventure since the SNES finally hits DS. Those seeking Mario's usual innovations might feel a bit short-changed, but with some beautiful level design and a wealth of excellent multiplayer options, there's simply no ignoring the game's pure, unadulterated mountain of retro fun.

Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan
This rhythm action game from the creators of Gitaroo Man is an absolute gem. Playing as a manly group of motivational cheerleaders, you're tasked with heading round town and fixing the many and varied problems of the local population - through the power of dance. In real terms, this involves jabbing, slashing and spinning the stylus across the touchscreen in time to a host of brilliantly catchy J-Rock tunes. Despite a host of Japanese text, the art direction - mimicking comic book panels, with 2D animated action - is stunning, managing to successfully convey the unfolding narratives even if you can't read what's going on. Even better, the whole thing is absolutely bonkers, meaning you're guaranteed a grin every time you play it. In fact, there really is very little we can find at fault here and it proves to be one of the most deliriously joyful slices of bizarreness we've seen all year. In fact, we like this one so much, we definitely rank it as one of the best of 2005. Ouendan's had a complete overhaul and will hit the West in the guise of Elite Beat Agents, but it's so good, we highly encourage you to check it out right now.

Pheonix Wright: Ace Attorney
It's lawyers, but not as you know it! Spinning a tale of mystery, intrigue and pure silliness, the game sees you taking on the role of the eponymous defense attorney, fighting for truth, justice and the usual. Despite its entirely linear structure and masses and masses of text, cross-examining witnesses and picking holes in their testimonies to free your clients from wrongful incarceration is a heap of fun - thanks largely to the superb localization work and lovable characterizations. It's a nice lengthy game, with five massive chapters to flex your law muscles over and - despite the comparative lack of thrills out in the field when you're researching cases between trials - it's one a game that's barely left the DS since we got it.

Tetris DS
Nintendo worked its magic and somehow managed to improve on one of the greatest games of all time with this retro-themed remake. With a ton of new gameplay modes, online play and single-cart multiplayer face-offs, this one's got so much bang for your buck, it could blow your roof clean off.

Trauma Center: Under the Knife
This one's about as accurate a portrayal of a surgeon's duties as Pheonix Wright is of lawyers' - we're still loving it to bits though. You're charged with becoming the best surgeon you can, using the DS's stylus to slice and stitch your way through heaps of operations. Thankfully, for all its melodramatic leanings, it never takes itself seriously, with the game's ridiculous plot seeing you embroiled in a fight against biological terrorism and all manner of man-made bugs. It's not without its fault though - there're too many infuriating difficulty spikes and some of your operating tools can be finicky in their exacting requirements before they do what you want them to do. Having said that, the whole thing's so unique and addictive - with a genuinely charming personality - that we've been finding ourselves going back for another go again and again. Despite a couple of annoyances, it's definitely worth a look.

Think we've missed anything? Why not let us know what you'd add to our list in the comments below!

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