28 February 2007

Games Even Your Mom Could Love

Maybe you begged mommy for a Game Boy when you were twelve (or twenty) and got one for your birthday. Isn't it time to give her something back?

Start off by buying one of those newfangled Nintendo Dual Screens (DS) in grey, black, pink, blue, or oh so heavenly white. Avoid action adventure games that will make her sweat and squirm. Avoid games that take hours to complete. Pick something that she can enjoy for fifteen minutes at a time while waiting in line at the grocery store, the doctor's office, or curbside ready to give you a ride home -- yes, she's still taking care of your errands and carting you around while waiting for you to "grow up."

We present five DS games that are sure to make mom appreciate and treasure video games -- and you by extension. All these titles are kid tested and mother appproved. Now all your phone calls from home will involve "So, I'm on Level Three, what do I do next?" It's a win-win all around.

1) Brain Age
Simple arithmetic, reading comprehension, and memorization mini-games are fun? Sure is, when the goal is to get better and faster at each of the education based mini-games. It's a game that's not a game -- those of you familiar with Kumon will groan but this is actually fun!

The idea behind the game is that by giving your brain daily exercise and repeatedly doing simple tasks, you'll make yourself healthy, wealthy, and wise. Mom won't burn out on the game since it limits itself to only a few minutes of play a day. Brain Age has taken the world by storm and there are now dozens of spin-offs but nothing beats the original.

2) Animal Crossing: Wild World
In Animal Crossing, an entire self-contained universe sprawls out before you as a young human who moves into a town filled with cutesy, and industrious, creatures. You are tasked with exploring the town and finding a way to make money to pay back your animal benefactor. You can do this by running errands for people, digging for gold, harvesting vegetables, and randomly dropping by to visit your kid at college. Just kidding about that last one.

Best of all, every task can vary depending on the time of day, the changing of the seasons, and the timing of major holidays. For example, shops close promptly at 11pm, fish are more plentiful in the early mornings, and there's a New Year's celebration on the real December 31st, Earth-time. Additional money you acquire can be used to buy a house, spruce up the place, and invest in rare decorations and knick-knacky treasures.

Sanrio plus the Sims equals a game any mother will love. Give them a world to over-invest in; one that's not yours.

3) Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
It's "Murder, She Wrote" for the DS. The titular character, Phoenix Wright, is a lawyer fresh off passing the bar and is thrust into a series of capital murder cases. While it may seem grim and oh-so CSI (Crime Scene Investigation), the unique concept and anime-inspired graphics make the game a joy to play.

The goal is to find contradictions between the court submitted evidence and the testimonies of witnesses in order to uncover the truth. Searching for logic gaps and putting two and two together will remind your mom of the good old days when she caught you "studying at Melissa's house." The game even allows you to yell "Objection" into the microphone during heated moments in court. Every mom is a detective and lawyer at heart, she'll love this game.

And if she loves it and can't wait to do it again, there's the sequel, Phoenix Wright 2: Justice for All.

4) Bust-A-Move DS
When your mom kept stealing your Game Boy to play Tetris and ended up setting the household record for it, you were embarassed right? Admit it. Now here's a similarly addictive game for her to try out. It's a classic and beloved by gamers everywhere but your mom may not be hooked yet.

It's Bub and Bob -- rosy cheeked roly poly dragons who first co-starred in Bubble Bobble (flash version here) -- hard at work using a two-dragon slingshot to bust similarly colored bubbles. It's simple and quick to play and your mom will be addicited within five minutes. You can also challenge her to a multi-player match by sharing a single cartridge of the game; but you need to bring your own DS to the party.

5) Pokemon
By now, everyone in the world knows about the phenomenon that is Pokemon, even your totally unhip mom. She may not be clear about exactly what a Pokemon is but any of the games in the series will educate her immediately.

All the core Pokemon games are role playing games-lite and involve running around capturing Pokemon for your collection and for battle with other Poke-masters. "Pokemon" is a Japanese contraction for the words "pocket" and "monster". We recommend getting the as yet unreleased Diamond and Pearl versions (April 2007), which will have a brand new story and an all-new collection of critters to capture.

For your mom, the hardest part of this game may be overcoming the misconception that this is a "game for children." If your mom is feeling uneasy about being seen playing a "kid's game", tell her to tell detractors that she's "using the game to bond with my grand-children." Then quickly give her a kiss and hug before she can ask you how that's possible when you're single, not dating, live at home, and are no closer to having grandchildren than she is to collecting each of the the hundreds of Pokemon available. It'll be a bonding experience, trust me.

BONUS) Trauma Center: Under the Knife
Went to school to become a doctor but came out with a sociology degree and a career in administration? Parents don't understand that your C+ in Orgo wasn't good enough to get you into a leading medical school? Tell them that it's not as easy as it looks and present them with Trauma Center.

You may never become a real surgeon, or live up to their expectations, but you can still save (virtual) lives together. Trama Center lets players wield the scalpel and repair all the (financial) damage that your six years of undergraduate study and three major changes have caused. The game might be a bit tough for all ages alike but as you now know, being a doctor ain't easy.

This concludes our look at six of the best DS games to get your mom involved in the digital age. This list also doubles as "Games A Wife (or Girlfriend) Will Love" if you're in a gift giving pinch. Got some other suggestions?