Exceptional games ported from Nintendo DS to iOS

Feb 5, 2013

Games that make their way to Apple’s iOS platform come from all over. We’ve seen titles from Playstation, Playstation 2, PC, Xbox Live Arcade, and even handheld titles make their way to the iPhone and iPad. This is a great trend.

The result of all that porting has been an iPhone and iPad gaming library that’s incredibly robust, filled with 99-cent time-wasters and 16-dollar epics from 20 years ago. But if there’s one platform that seems to have reliably spawned great ports to iOS, it’s Nintendo’s DS handheld, likely because both systems use touch screen technology and have similar graphics capabilities.

Might & Magic’s role-playing prequel

Among the newest DS games to meander over to iOS is Might & Magic Heroes Clash, developed by Capybara Games and published by Ubisoft, a great addition to the lineup that feels right at home on any Apple device. It is a hybrid role-playing game, complete with an engrossing story and upgradeable abilities, coupled with match-3 gameplay. In the case of Might & Magic Heroes Clash, the matches are your battlefield troops, and where and when you match them contributes to your ability to fight the opposition.

It seems that part of the reason there’s so much gameplay and content crammed into Heroes Clash – like the big story, hand-drawn art style, multiplayer elements – is that it was originally made for the Nintendo DS and sold for more money. Players on the iPhone and iPad reap the benefits of a cheaper port later in the game’s life.

Heroes Clash isn’t the only quality DS game to make its way to iOS. Like PC, Playstation and Playstation 2 titles, many games have found new homes and new audiences in the App Store.

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Starting wars in Chinatown

The first Grand Theft Auto game to hit Apple’s platform, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, first found life on the DS. Since its release on iOS, it’s been a fan-favorite, and it wouldn’t be surprising to find out that the game’s success led to Rockstar Games’ re-release of game classics Grand Theft Auto 3 and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

As usual, Chinatown Wars captures what people love about Grand Theft Auto: over-the-top action, snarky story, and lots of car thievery to create as much mayhem as possible. But differing from other Grand Theft Auto games, Chinatown Wars takes a top-down perspective on the action that’s more akin to what was seen in the games during the era of the original Playstation. Coupled with its comic book aesthetic, Chinatown Wars feels like a unique entry into the Grand Theft Auto series, while still capturing the essence of the series.

Scribble things into existence

One of the more clever games to make its way from the DS to the iPhone is Scribblenauts Remix, a game that tests your brain by making you write-in the solutions to puzzles. It’s partially a puzzle-platformer, and you control Maxwell, the adorable main character who does your bidding. Often, the way to solve a puzzle or get to a new area is to create an object you need. To do that, you’ll have to write what object you need into the game, which suddenly makes it pop into existence. Talk about God Mode!

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This leads to some really smart puzzle ideas. Some areas require you to understand the necessary clues to create the object to complete the scene, and others require you to figure out what you need to progress—like creating a boat so you can cross a body of water. The result is often that your solutions to puzzles might be different than mine, as you might prefer strapping a jetpack onto the knight to get him across the water. The variety in creation makes Scribblenauts Remix  a complex and singular experience.

Front row seats for the end of the world

Developer Square Enix is known for bringing its games to mobile, reinvigorating oldies with very steep price tags. Its DS game The World Ends With You: Solo Remix is among these, and you’ll pay $16.99 for its gameplay and unique premise.

The World Ends With You takes advantage of touchscreen controls and your iOS device’s microphone. You battle enemies with taps, swipes and other gestures, and the game’s complexity grows as you add other teammates to the battle. The game is also known for its hand-drawn art style and huge, catchy soundtrack that includes more than 60 songs.

The great thing about Nintendo’s handheld is that its features dovetail so nicely with those of Apple’s mobile devices. Nintendo will continue to create new and improve their handhelds, as seen in the Nintendo 3DS, and we’ll continue to get the runoff of great games adapted for iPhone and iPad.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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