The 25 best DS games of all time

Nintendo”s latest DS handheld, the New Nintendo 2DS XL launched on July 28th last year, and is backward compatible with all existing Nintendo 3DS and DS games. The original Nintendo DS might be almost 13 years old – and is unlikely to win any beauty contests – but this innovative and enduring portable system gave us some of the finest handheld experiences in all of gaming. 

Long before smartphones and tablets, it was the device you needed with you at all times, to enjoy the games you loved on the go. To those looking to one of gaming”s greatest devices of yesteryear, we proudly present the 25 best DS games of all time.

25. Kirby Mass Attack

Kirby meets Pikmin. It”s a weird hybrid to be sure, yet somehow in practice it makes perfect sense. Kirby Mass Attack may have been Kirby”s last jaunt on the DS, but it”s also tied for his best with the excellent (but wildly different) Canvas Curse.

The game”s level design and puzzles are brilliant, using the multiple Kirby idea to its full potential. Couple that with the expected charm of a Kirby game, and we have an adventure that rivals any of the pink marshmallow”s previous exploits.

24. Radiant Historia

To an outsider, Radiant Historia may look like any other JRPG. Brooding hero? Check. Fantasy setting? Check. Turn-based combat? Check. However, this game takes serious risks with the formula, concocting an original and thorny experience.

The three-by-three grid battle systems allows for an infinite number of strategies and flashy combos, while the branching, time travel-based storyline keeps the plot interesting. As the game stretches on, you”ll find yourself wishing that it never stopped.

Special note also goes to Yoko Shimomura”s lovely score. Man those are some good tunes.

23. Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2

Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 does everything it can to prove that you are not fit to be a surgeon. Surgery is hard, lives are at stake, and using the touch-screen capabilities of the DS has never been quite as fun as when it puts you into terrifying medical emergencies.

Sweating buckets trying to kill an infection, gritting teeth as you sew a patient back up, freezing in tension while trying to mend a broken bone. If nothing else, Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 does an incredible job of conveying the agonizing pressure of being a surgeon while also being an incredibly fun game. This sequel perfected the original”s novel ideas and inspired successors like Surgeon Simulator years later.

22. Sonic Rush

Sonic the Hedgehog games tend to be hit and miss, but luckily for anyone who owned a DS, Sonic Rush was very much a hit. Sega”s blue blur was as fast as he”s ever been on Nintendo”s portable system, featuring lush, colorful stages rendered in 2D and beautiful animations for Sonic and Blaze, who were 3D.

“Rush” is certainly the right word, as the game gave you a boost ability that turned you invincible and made smart use of the DS” two-screen setup to give a sense of momentum. One minute you”re rolling along the hills on the top screen, the next you”re plummeting at high speed into the bottom. There isn”t a more quintessential handheld Sonic game than this.

21. Dragon Quest 5: Hand of the Heavenly Bride

For 17 years, Japan alone experienced the joy of Dragon Quest 5, one of the largest, grandest RPG experiences on the Super Nintendo. When the DS became the series” new home in the “00s, Square Enix thought it right to finally bring Dragon Quest 5: Hand of the Heavenly Bride to the West. Thank the Goddess they did, because it is not to be missed.

Little did we know that things like plot-changing choices and major twists could be found way back on the SNES, but Dragon Quest 5 has them in spades. By following the hero from birth, we witness every little turn his life takes, both good and bad. Why it took so long for Americans to finally get this is anyone”s guess, but we”re more than happy to be able to play it.

20. Super Scribblenauts

The first Scribblenauts was an idea we absolutely loved… until we actually got hold of it, at which point we realized that most of its puzzles could be solved by just typing in the word jetpack. Super Scribblenauts, released a year later, worked around that problem by offering puzzles that – while still solvable in a variety of different ways – were more complex than just grab the star.

Rather than just dangling a shiny object in front of us, Super Scribblenauts made you work for it by meeting certain conditions; getting a lion to fall asleep, for example, or waking up an astronaut so they could put out a fire. The sharper puzzle focus made Super Scribblenauts infinitely more interesting than its predecessor, and kept us fascinated even after we”d gotten bored of the game”s real draw: experimenting with bizarre objects on the title screen.

19. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

Link”s first DS adventure took us back to the open seas in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. The Wind Waker-style graphics translate perfectly to the DS, and the touchscreen controls give you a whole new way to play a Zelda title.

Everything else about Phantom Hourglass is classic Zelda but a little different. Exploration, dungeon-crawling, and new gear all make keen use of the DS touch screen, microphone and even its clamshell shape for solving puzzles.

Just get used to the Temple of the Ocean King, because you”ll be going there seemingly forever.

18. 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors

“You are going to participate in a game. The Nonary Game. It is a game… where you will put your life on the line.”

These chilling words best describe the puzzle masterpiece known as 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors. 999 shares a lot of what makes the Saw movies scary: strangers locked together in a tight space, and a deadly game being played that they”ve no idea how to win, with seemingly no way out. The story is intense, the puzzles are masterful, and the game will stick with you long after you”ve finished. Not many games sneak up on us and grip us like 999 did, which, considering the storyline, is more than appropriate.

The game is available on iOS but only the DS version has its killer puzzles. If you want to play its excellent successors Virtue”s Last Reward and Zero Time Dilemma, you must start here.

17. Retro Game Challenge

The love and care that went into Retro Game Challenge wins over who ever plays it. It”s a minigame compilation, but each game directly rips off an “80s classic and turns it into a 15-minute abridged version perfect for a handheld system. Best of all, each game comes with a fictional backstory told through a series of made-up articles that read exactly like game magazines of the “80s and “90s.

So yes, it appeals directly to aging gamers who long for their lost youth. But even post-1990 players should be able to carve out some new-old memories with copycats like Robot Ninja Haggle Man, Cosmic Gate, Guadia Quest, and Rally King. Each comes with a quartet of goals to achieve before moving on to the next, though each is substantial enough to keep you playing well after those challenges are met. All the while the floating head of the real-life Japanese TV show”s host eggs you on.

16. Picross 3D

Years ago Nintendo implemented a clever new way to combine aspects of both Sudoku and crossword puzzles into its unique brainteaser. Picross (short for Picture Crossword) adapted the Japanese creation of nonograms into a treasured series of games.

You start each puzzle with a hint of what the final image of the puzzle will be, and then see how many squares within a line should be filled in. Combining logic with trial and error, you eventually create a picture out of what”s left; that challenge was deepened immensely in Picross 3D by adding a third dimension to the previously flat puzzles. If you”ve played all the other predictable puzzle games on the DS, pick up this to get a taste of something different.

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FIFA 18 Career Mode Guide

It’s that time of year again, where we dust off our boots, pull up our socks and head out onto the field of football dreams. Or into the living room, whichever. Yes, FIFA 18 is upon us, and the world of sports gaming just got a little more intense, more bombastic.

If you’re an avid career mode fan and love to take on the challenge of management in FIFA games, you’re in the right place. Here, we’ll give you everything you need to take your team to the very top, from bargain buys to the best players on the market, plus the best ways to find exciting new talent by scouting the globe. It’s all here.

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We’ll also take you through the brand new transfer negotiation system, which makes its long-awaited debut in FIFA 18. Instead of wangling transfer deals over the distant, cold medium of email the way you used to in previous games, you now get a chance to sit down with agents and the player himself to hammer out a deal.

There are now signing bonuses, release clauses, performance rewards, squad roles and more to discuss with your potential new recruits. You’ll need to really convince players to join your team with the new tools at your disposal. It’s a much more realistic and in-depth way to do business, but takes some getting used to – which is why we’re here.

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So whether you want to start at the very bottom of the ladder and work your way up, or begin with a huge budget and start splashing the cash everywhere you can, this guide will take you through the ins and outs of bringing career mode success to your club.

Next: FIFA 18’s new transfer system

Find more great FIFA 18 career mode guides at

Table of Contents:FIFA 18 Transfer Negotiation SystemFIFA 18 Scouting SystemFIFA 18 Best Buys

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Before Stardew”s gentle harvest there was Viva Pinata”s garden of horrors: revisiting Xbox”s classic farming sim

I’m a woman of simple needs. Give me some biscuits, a mini-USB charging cable and a cushion with an animal on it and I’ll be happy for hours, but there is one thing I want more than anything else in the world – a garden to call my own. I’m not greedy, a small patch will do. I just want somewhere to grow my own plants, attract wildlife and… then watch those first beasties get violently devoured, by bigger, more impressive ones to keep in my garden. Is that too much to ask?

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Since I don’t have anywhere like that in real life I’ve decided to revisit Viva Pinãta: Trouble In Paradise’s little garden of horrors and wanton candy-based slaughter. It’s a small customisable space that sees you set up houses and trees for things such as the earthworm-like Whirlms and dog-like Barkbarks. By managing your wildlife retreat you can attract rarer sweet-filled animals over time until you have a thriving oasis on your hands.

There are opportunities for day trips to the desert to find beasties to bring back home with you, but mostly it’s all about staying in one patch of land and enjoying the delights of nature around you as you bend it to your will and play God. Though sitting around in a garden all day isn’t quite as relaxing as I thought it would be.

The thing with gardening is that it takes a lot of work to transform it into a place worth visiting, but the labour in that process is part of what makes such a simple location so satisfying. It’s a tiny idyll that’s been crafted by your own hand and to your own exact specifications. So if you find a beach theme more relaxing than, say, a forest then you can build that for yourself. Of course there’s a long way to go before you can achieve that though; first you need to master the basics of dealing with regular, brown dirt and bugs.

Viva Pinãta is great at capturing that joy of growing your first plant and seeing it flower, but also that moment when, five to six plants into your gardening adventure, that joy turns to panic as you realise just how much you actually have to manage all at once to keep everything alive. Once you’ve got a vague handle on watering your plants so they don’t die, there’s also animals to consider. There’s a joy in attracting your first adorable Bunnycomb thanks to your crop of carrots, but there’s also something satisfying about those very same bunnies becoming bait for fox-like Preztails.

After a while, gardening becomes a battle against the forces of nature. Sure you get to watch the various courtship dances of the creatures around you, but they also have a habit of destroying all the plants you’re trying to grow. You might forgive something cute, like a Taffly, for eating your fruit harvest, but inevitably your garden will eventually attract pests that will destroy everything and make other pinatãs sick if you don’t form a strategy to deal with them.

Unfortunately this is a world without slug pellets so you have to deal with Sour Shellybeans (basically grumpy snails) the old-fashioned way – by smacking them with a shovel. If that feels too mean you can just watch in horror as they destroy all your hard work, or work to tame them to restrict the damage. If you do manage to master your pest problems you’re rewarded with totem pieces that can block them entering your space forever.

That constant battle with your tiny plot as you slowly improve it over time and attract rarer pinatas works as a surprisingly good training ground for a real garden. There’s always so much going on that it needs constant care and attention, although in real life there are more slugs and fewer sweets. Still, it’s the sense of managing chaos and building up something beautiful from nothing that makes Viva Pinãta’s garden such an inspiring location to spend a few hours.

This article originally appeared in Xbox: The Official Magazine. For more great Xbox coverage, you can subscribe here.

MachineGames on Wolfenstein 2″s development, controversy and what’s next: “we always planned this as a trilogy”

Last year was full of huge games, but Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus managed to stand out thanks to its impressive shooting and insane story – there’s no doubt that it’s one of 2017’s biggest releases. But just what went into making it as bombastic as it is, and where does the series go next from here? How do they keep dialling up the madness to top that ending?

We sat down to chat with Jerk Gustafsson, executive producer at MachineGames, about how far it’s come from the first game and the challenges that emerge when developing a highly anticipated, blockbuster game. They might make it look easy, but there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes to make sure the game turns out great when it reaches players’ hands.

OXM: How does it feel now that the game is in people’s hands?

Jerk Gustafsson: It’s a bit scary of course – it always is, when you have been working on something for a few years. You have invested a lot of time in it, so you’re always nervous about it. But I really do feel that we have a very strong and a very good game.

OXM: What kind of reaction did you think you’d get?

JG: Over our entire careers, ever since Enclave and Riddick and all those games, we have focused a lot on the narrative and also the first-person experience, and I think that in particular will be what people highlight now as well. The storytelling, of course, that is a big, big issue and the other thing is the shooting aspect – the way it feels when you move around with a weapon in your hand. I think we have made a lot of great improvements to that since our previous game and within that field, so I at least hope they will be the talking points.

OXM: What is it that makes it feel significantly different to the first one?

JG: I think the big step for us is to use the full body for the player. For The New Order – and what many games do – is have a floating model that you play with. But for this game, we moved over to a full body, similar to what we had in the Riddick games, so you’re always physically present in the world, which I feel makes it a lot more fluent and seamless. When you are going to perform certain tasks, certain actions, whether you fall down, you climb a ladder, whatever it is, it’s always the full body that is part of the experience. So it feels a little bit more integrated and seamless, and I think that’s a big step for us.

On the gameplay side that’s more noticeable too – we allow players now to dual-wield different weapons in each hand. In the previous game we’d only allow weapons of a similar type, but as an example, now you can sneak around with a silenced handgun in one hand and a fully auto shotgun in the other. So for those type of things, we have put a lot of focus on it to make sure that selection and movement with those two weapons are fluid.

OXM: Is there anything that didn’t quite make it into the game because you were forced to tone it down?

JG: Not really. I mean it’s always been somewhat controversial since we are fighting against the Nazis, but we really haven’t… The storytelling and the way we are writing stories, that doesn’t differ in any way from what we did with The New Order. People seemed to really like the story, so we have turned it up a little bit, I think it is a little bit more crazy and maybe a little bit more controversial but in that way we give ourselves freedom in how we tell the story. And of course, the entire story’s about going back to the home country, back to the United States and liberating it, like you say, from the Nazis, so of course that contributes as well to the controversy.

OXM: How did you go about getting that balance between fantasy and history to make it feel real?

JG: The main reason that we took it in this direction with alternative history is that it would give us a little bit more freedom in terms of storytelling, but also in terms of what type of gameplay elements we added. We could be a little bit more free when it comes to using sci-fi and enemies and weapons, and introducing robots as an example. For us that was the main reason for moving over to the alternative history – to give us a little bit more freedom in what we could do in terms of technology and those types of elements.

OXM: The series is known for being quite OTT. How did you go about topping the previous one?

JG: We haven’t really held back anything, so in terms of storytelling we’ve been pushing it in a way that we feel really dials it up.

OXM: What have been your greatest challenges making this game?

JG: When you develop games nowadays, the time it takes… the development periods are so long, so we are very careful that when we lay the foundations, we stick to them. But you always have to be flexible – over two-and-a-half to three years, a lot of things change, not only on the technical side but also in a lot of other respects. New people are coming in, some people may leave – there’s always those types of challenges, there’s so many things that change when you’re in development.

And since we are using an updated version of id Tech 6 we have encountered a lot of challenges in terms of tech in general; the new animation pipeline and the new script system. All of those things have been providing lots of extra challenges, but also fun challenges because they allow us to make the game that we really want to make, and make sure that we can meet our ambitions from where we start.

OXM: What’s your proudest moment?

JG: I think that usually is at the end. Also, [I’m really proud of] the team we have, since we have a core group that we have been working with for so long. We have always been good at making sure things get together in the end, and we’ve seen a lot of progress here in the last month.

And when you see all of that coming together, even though it’s a hectic and stressful period with a lot of work, it’s also the most fun and rewarding time, because when you see all these things coming together, you feel great. You get that extra motivation and that extra push to finish the game, and of course you’re also very proud not only of the work you have done and the product that has come together, but also you become very proud of the team and all the effort that the team puts into it. Yeah – this one especially has been extremely rewarding.

OXM: Now that the game is out, what’s your next move? Is it time for a little break?

JG: I think when you put the pen down on something, then at that moment you’re at your most eager to get started on something new, because you have so many new ideas and new things you want to do. Of course, people will have some rest and the team will have well-deserved time off, but we are also eager to get started on something new and continue to work on this Wolfenstein IP that we have come to love so much. Then what we’re doing now is some DLC work.

OXM: What are your plans for the rest of the Wolfenstein series? How far along is Wolfenstein 3?

JG: Even from the very beginning – when we set out to start work on The New Order – we had always planned this as a trilogy, and this is the second game. Whatever happens in the future we will have to see; it depends on how well the game does – but we have always planned for a trilogy and we as a team would love to continue to work with Wolfenstein. Still, you never know what will happen.

OXM: So we guess the third game is already in some form of planning stage?

JG: No – we have focused on this game and there are always ideas you have floating around and there are things that you want to do but nothing really concrete. The focus has been this, and now we are focused on the Xbox One X release as well, and then we will go onto some DLC stuff from there, and then we’ll see.

OXM: How have you found working with the Xbox One X?

JG: It’s a super powerful machine and the game runs really, really well – it looks fantastic on the Xbox One X. The focus has been to make sure that we can present the game in the best possible way and use the console and the power that the new console provides. And of course, everything from lighting and graphics overall – in terms of visual quality it will be a lot closer to the high-end PCs than the regular consoles.

OXM: Do you think the Xbox One X will change the gaming industry?

JG: Yeah – I hope so at least. If you have the possibility to develop and deliver games that run in 4K resolution and look that fantastic, of course you want to take that opportunity. It will set a new standard for games moving forward.

This article originally appeared in Xbox: The Official Magazine. For more great Xbox coverage, you can subscribe here.

Knight fever: Everything you need to know about the history of the Jedi

Editor”s note: This article was written before the release of The Last Jedi, and does not include any revelations about the Jedi (or spoilers) from the movie.

A Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But a space-opera visionary’s inspirations flow from elsewhere: from books they’ve read, movies they’ve seen and arty short films that not a lot of other people have seen. Crack open the shell of the Jedi and the first face shown might belong to Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa.

Introduced to Kurosawa’s classics by fellow filmmaker John Milius, a young George Lucas borrowed the peasants from The Hidden Fortress (for C-3PO and R2-D2) and more besides for his Jedi. ‘Jedi’ echoes ‘Jidaigeki’, the Japanese word for period dramas. 

Darth Vader’s get-up mirrored imperial armour; samurai kimonos, meanwhile, influenced Obi-Wan Kenobi’s togs and title – an ‘obi’ is a kimono sash. Lucas considered Kurosawa favourite Toshirô Mifune for the role of Kenobi, though Mifune declined. And you don’t need Force schooling to link katanas to lightsabers, or Seven Samurai’s Kambei Shimada to Yoda. 

But Kurosawa was just one flavour in Lucas’ culture-soup. Consider Edgar Rice Burroughs’ lords of Barsoom, the Jed or Jeddak. Shamanic anthropologist Carlos Castaneda’s 1974 book Tales of Power featured talk of life forces. Tracing humanity’s belief in magic, James George Frazer’s earlier anthropological doorstop The Golden Bough (1890) pre-empted various Jedi-ologies. And mythologist Joseph Campbell’s 1949 book The Hero with a Thousand Faces offered a Jedi route-map in its cartography of narrative archetypes: mentors, oracles, temptation, the road of trials, and such. 

Historical influences included medieval warrior monks the Knights Templar. Modern influences, meanwhile, included avant-garde filmmaker Arthur Lipsett’s short 21-87, which sampled AI pioneer Warren S. McCulloch and cinematographer Roman Kroitor discussing “some kind of force” in nature and human connections. Lucas’ Force was, quoth master George, “an echo of that phrase”. From Lipsett to The Last Jedi, that echo hasn’t stopped reverberating. 

Old Republicans

According to Legends, a longer time ago than The Phantom Menace’s opening crawl, the Jedi were monastic protectors of justice in the Galactic Republic for more than a thousand generations. 

At one point, roughly 10,000 Jedi Knights were active. Going by the RPG game of the same name, the Knights of the Old Republic included ’saber-swingers such as Jolee Bindo. They occupied temples and outposts from Lothal to Coruscant, where the 12-strong Jedi High Council enjoyed plush CG-skyline views on a high floor over the Jedi Archives. 

Read more

10 essential Jedi facts that every young Padawan ought to know

A Jedi lives in contemplation of the Force, an energy what-not that binds the galaxy together and flows through every living thing. They observe a monkish life without desire, or at least try to – love was a problem for Jedi ranging from comics character Reess Kairn to Anakin Skywalker. Close meditation on the Force could help adherents develop telekinetic, precognitive and persuasive powers. 

Yet – surprise – these were open to abuse. Several thousand years pre-The Phantom Menace, a wayward Jedi quit contemplating, embraced Dark Side emotions (anger, fear) and ushered in the Hundred-Year Darkness, giving rise to the Sith. 

Their black-clad number included Darth Bane, who established The Rule of Two: the edict that there could only be two Sith in existence at a time, master and apprentice. The Jedi believed the Sith extinct after the Jedi-Sith War, but they were wrong. As Yoda said, “Hard to see, the Dark Side is.” He didn’t get to be Grand Master for nothing. 

Temple tutelage

Tread carefully: here be midi-chlorians. Jedi aptitude could be measured by checking children’s bloodstreams for midi-chlorians, microscopic organisms that talk with the Force. With barely time for a nappy change, children with a notable midi-count were whisked to Coruscant to train as Younglings. 

Training included a trip to the Temple of Ilum for The Gathering, a trial to find the kyber crystals that form the heart of a lightsaber. While constructing and contemplating their ’sabers, Younglings graduated to Padawans, with hair braids (if their species has hair) as proof. Padawan graduates became Knights, who underwent further trials to become Masters. Within these ranks existed other roles: guardians, consular, sentinels and more.

The Jedi helped maintain peace in the Galactic Republic for generations, engaging in missions of diplomacy and police-work. Prominent members of the High Council included Mace Windu and Yoda, alongside Plo Koon, Yaddle, Kit Fisto, Yarael Poof and others.

The Sith were thought extinct until Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi met Darth Maul, horned devil from the dark-magic planet of Dathomir and apprentice to Darth Sidious. Meanwhile, young Anakin fatefully became Obi-Wan’s apprentice, despite Yoda’s unsettling reservation that he was too old to start training (er, nine).  

The convoluted story that followed involved conflict in the High Council, the secret formation of a Clone Army, a Separatist Crisis and the machinations of senator-with-secrets Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious. This seething Sith Lord planted a chip in the clones that turned them against the Jedi. After he manipulated Skywalker’s emotions, drew the angry young man to the Dark Side and re-christened him Darth Vader, Sidious smeared the Jedi’s reputation and accelerated their demise. 

Exile on TV

Between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, the Jedi fought as commanders and generals in the Grand Army of the Republic. This period features in animated series The Clone Wars, where Anakin’s Padawan Ahsoka Tano reestablishes the idea of Force sensitive fighters who aren’t necessarily Jedi. 

Besides providing insights into Anakin’s downfall, The Clone Wars is richly braided with Jedi/Force lore. We learn about Yoda’s mission to discover the secrets of eternal consciousness. We discover Holocrons, storage devices that preserve holographic information for adept Force-niks. And we learn more about Maul (he lives!) and his beefcake bro Savage Opress. The Dark Side has all the best names.  

Another animated series, Rebels, details the Rebellion’s rise post Revenge of the Sith. We meet Jedi survivors of Palpatine’s purge, such as blind Jedi Kanan Jarrus, whose Padawan is the street-smart Ezra Bridger. Stuffed with Jedi intrigue, Rebels also introduces the Inquisitors: Force-wielding, meat-eating hunterassassins for the Empire tasked with converting or executing Jedi. 

One of the few Jedi survivors in A New Hope, ‘Ben’ Kenobi showcases Jedi powers of persuasion and Kurosawa’s powers of influence: the scene where he amputates a trouble-causer’s limb (a Kenobi speciality) echoes a scene from Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. Other seeded elements of Jedi lore in the first trilogy include Force spirits, trials, prophecies and big porkies – what Obi-Wan tells Luke about his dad is quite a whopper from most viewpoints. 

And we learn, perhaps, that the Force moves in mysterious ways: Qui-Gon’s belief that Anakin was “the chosen one” may have been shaken by the boy’s Vader-ification but Anakin does eventually lob Sidious down a hole, suggesting a restoration of balance in the Force. For a while. 

Sale of the Jedi

After the deaths of Obi-Wan, Yoda and Anakin, Luke began fulfilling his promise to Yoda about passing on Jedi-deologies. In spin-off novels, the New Republic battle an alien race (the Yuuzhan Vong) while Luke trains a New Jedi Order. Among his students is Han and Leia’s lad Jacen Solo, who goes rogue and becomes Darth Caedus. 

“Crack open the shell of the Jedi and the first face shown might belong to Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa.”

Although these books were no longer considered ‘canon’ when Lucasfilm’s sale to Disney birthed a new saga, traces linger. The Force Awakens introduces the Church of the Force, protectors of Jedi history. Luke opened a Jedi training school but went into hiding after trainee/nephew Ben Solo was drawn to the Dark Side by the mysterious Snoke: assuming the name Kylo Ren as a ‘Knight of Ren’, Ben channelled his late grandfather Anakin’s anger-mismanagement influence, minus the bit about Vader’s redemption. 

Luke’s conclusion to these events seems to be that the Jedi gig is up. After the trouble the Force has caused in the wrong gloved hands, he could be right – if not for two powerful influences. Scavenger-with-secrets Rey’s untrained strengths open new avenues of potential in Force sensitivity. Factor in the powers of box-office temptation and one other thing raises doubts about Luke’s perspective. Time for the Jedi to end? We’ll see how that pans out. 

This feature originally appeared in our sister publication Total Film magazine, issue 266. Pick up the latest edition now or subscribe so you never miss an issue.

Look at this Star Wars space battle game that could have been and weep, Rogue Squadron fans

After watching ace pilot Poe Dameron at work in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, you”re probably all the more eager for a return to the days of Rogue Squadron and X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter. The space battles of Star Wars Battlefront 2 are good, but this 2016 pitch video from the developers of Rebel Galaxy will show you what a full-fledged Star Wars space combat game could look like in modern times. Hint: it”s real nice.

Developer Double Damage told Kotaku that it put the prototype”s “modernized take on X-Wing” together in a few weeks using a combination of new and existing assets, and then pitched its vision to Electronic Arts (EA has almost-exclusive publishing rights for PC/console Star Wars games, thanks to a deal it signed with Disney back in 2013). Nothing came from the proposal, though Double Damage founder Travis Baldree admitted the studio didn”t really expect it to; they “probably did it to please [them]selves rather than out of any hope that it would get greenlit.”

So far, the only games to result from EA”s Star Wars deal have been Star Wars Battlefront, Star Wars Battlefront 2, and the mobile-exclusive Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes. EA canceled or significantly altered a narrative-driven action adventure game in development by Visceral after it closed the studio. There”s also another third-person action adventure Star Wars project in the works at Respawn Entertainment.

So unless EA has another secret Star Wars project that we don”t know about, it probably didn”t turn down Double Damage”s pitch because it was too similar to something it already had going on. But we can always hope.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi spoiler free review

There’s a really well-hidden Star Wars Easter egg in Man of Steel – have you spotted it?

A well-hidden Easter egg can lie dormant for years, especially when it comes to superhero movies and games. Batman: Arkham Asylum famously hid a nod to its Arkham City sequel before it was uncovered years later, and Man of Steel has followed suit by including a fantastic Easter egg homage to one of Star Wars’ most daring escapes.

The fine folks over at Reddit have done their homework when it comes to Man of Steel’s final battle between Supes and General Zod. The CGI-laden scene may not feature any removed facial hair, but it does look strikingly similar to the Millennium Falcon weaving through an exploding Death Star in Return of the Jedi. Take a look for yourself:

Pretty cool, right? Zack Snyder is a massive Star Wars fanboy (aren’t we all?) but, even so, it’s an extraordinarily meticulous scene to pluck out and pay tribute to. Seeing it side-by-side makes it all the more impressive, too. Now we just need to know if Superman can do the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs.

It begs the question whether there are any other hidden nods and winks to properties lying throughout something Snyder-led, such as Justice League. Batman v Superman already has a Watchmen cameo that took a while to uncover, so expect something to crop up sometime around 2024.

If you want to gorge yourself on even more Easter eggs, be sure to head on over and check out this whopping list of Star Trek Discovery Easter eggs, as well as the 30 greatest Marvel Easter eggs.

Image: Warner Bros.

Movies to watch this week at the cinema: All the Money in the World, Brad”s Status, and more

Out on Friday January 5

Ridley Scott steers an ideas-rich, character-based thriller. Aaron Sorkin takes on poker for his dizzying directorial debut. Ben Stiller leads a perceptive portrait of fortysomething angst.

Yes, here”s this week”s new releases. Click on for our reviews of All the Money in the World, Molly’s Game, Brad’s Status, Hostiles, Jupiter’s Moon, Renegades, Walk with Me, Glory, Persona, and Rey.

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The Last Guardian devs have put up a new teaser – meet a different kind of Beauty and Beast

The studio behind The Last Guardian may be teasing its next project. Just over a year after The Last Guardian arrived on PS4, Gen Design updated its website with well-wishes for the New Year and a verrrrry long image. You can see part of it embedded above, here”s more. 

Most of the image is darkness with a few birds circling around a pillar of light. The source is found at the base of the image: a young woman lifting herself up from a stone dais. Her nigh-luminescence and white gown evoke Yorda from Ico, which was also directed by Gen Design founder Fumito Ueda, though the stark shadows indicate that she”s reflecting light rather than emitting it. A series of steps leads down and to the right, where something big rests on the landing. Something a bit furry? Not Trico furry, no, but it has a good coat going on. And instead of weird dog-bird paws, this thing has a hand. There also might be a leg and even a chin, but it”s too dark to be sure.

ResetEra user Rösti poked a bit deeper into the image”s source script, which revealed a layer named “Beauty and the Beast 2018.” Don”t get your hopes up about a title reveal, that”s probably just a codename or overt reference to the image”s contents (though I wouldn”t be surprised if Disney”s lawyers are already drafting up the C&D letter just in case).

The Last Guardian took seven years to arrive after it was first announced in 2009. Hopefully the turnaround time on this new project – whatever it turns out to be – is much shorter!

The 25 best GBA games of all time

Oh the times, they are a-changing. When the Game Boy line of hardware debuted in 1989, the idea of a device that could play fully-fledged games on the go was revolutionary. Now we have cell phones that allow us to talk to others, stream video, play games, and look up facts (like what year the Game Boy debuted) in the palm of our hands. But let us never forget these dedicated little machines, or the last of its lineage, the Game Boy Advance (GBA).

This was the handheld that gave us amazing games like Boktai: The Sun Is In Your Hand, Advance Wars 2, and The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. It had a wide range of third-party support, updated versions of SNES classics, and some of the most gorgeous sprites this side of Rainbow Road. The library spanned more than 1,000 titles, but we”ve combed through that extensive list to bring you the 25 best GBA games of all time. So even if you”ve got a phone that can do everything the GBA does and more, be sure to give these games some love.

25. Boktai: The Sun Is in Your Hand

You could count on one hand the number of Game Boy Advance games that”ve actually used the system”s portability as a key gameplay feature–and you”d still have a free hand to play GBA games, inside, next to your TV. Boktai: The Sun Is in Your Hand changes all that, with a stroke of the vexing ingenuity for which producer Hideo Kojima will forever be known. 

Equipped with a built-in clock and solar sensor, the vampire-hunting Boktai challenges you to charge your in-game weaponry with IRL solar energy–and ramps up the difficulty during the hours of darkness. It”s an intriguing twist on player immersion, and more importantly, it”s a lot of fun as well.

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24. Mario Golf: Advance Tour

“Why, oh why,” you”ve doubtless asked during rounds of Tiger Woods PGA Tour, “why doesn”t this golf simulator include more top-down JRPG elements? It”s as if they didn”t know why people play golf games at all!” 

Happily for you and all your very real, not-just-invented-for-journalistic-purposes friends, Mario Golf: Advance Tour developer Camelot has elected to remedy the glaring lack of golfing games that double as item-heavy, level-based RPGs. And happily for anyone still unsold on such a formula, the developer has done it near-flawlessly, turning out the GBA”s best golfing title in the process.

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23. Kirby & the Amazing Mirror

Seen most recently among the freebies handed out by Nintendo to placate early 3DS adopters and now available on the Wii U eShop, Kirby & the Amazing Mirror”s already in fine company. The title earns its prestige with a twist on the usual suck-“em-up Kirby formula, one which paid off. 

Contracted out to Minish Cap developer Flagship, Amazing Mirror forgoes the left-to-right platforming action in favor of a Metroidvania-style quest incorporating a large game world and multiple Kirbies. Fans of the character – or of anything Metroid-esque and Nintendo-approved – ought to keep an eye out for a copy.

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22. Car Battler Joe

Car Battler Joe is the Mad Max-inspired JRPG you never knew you wanted. The world lies in ruins, pockets of civilization band together in run-down villages, and car battlers make their living by going into the wastes looking for scrap and competing in deadly competitions. Your father has gone missing, and rumor has it that he”s been hanging out with the most ruthless car-battling gang out there. 

And so you must travel from town to town, chat with the locals, take on odd jobs, upgrade your car, and scour the land looking for clues to your father”s whereabouts. It”s a bizarre blend of genres, but Car Battler Joe makes it all come together in explosive fashion. 

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21. Wario Land 4

A title that lucky 3DS Ambassadors and Wii U owners can enjoy today, Wario Land 4 continues the series that began life as a Mario Land spin-off and has since blossomed into its own sneering, garlic-reeking, treasure-grabbing epic entirely. 

Developed by Nintendo R&D1 and released when programmers” prowess with the GBA was really hitting its stride, Wario Land 4 is a late-period throwback to the golden age of side-on platforming. As such, the title”s design may be more traditional than the open-world likes of other Advance hits like Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and Metroid Fusion, but it”s no less ingenious for it.

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20. Advance Wars 2

Nintendo and Intelligent Systems” Advance Wars came seemingly out of nowhere to emerge as one of the best reasons to own a Game Boy Advance. When players dug into the Famicom Wars” long and storied Japanese history, the obvious question was: When do we get some more of this great thing. Without much further ado, an answer appeared less than two years later. 

Advance Wars 2 doesn”t do much to rewrite its predecessor”s winning formula; but as you”ll recall from some 24 words ago, “some more of this great thing” was exactly what we wanted, and that”s what you get. More characters, more powers, more arenas, more battles… it”s more Advance Wars, and that”s just great.

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19. Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis

The Ogre Battle franchise remains a hidden gem in the west, never commanding the same fevered enthusiasm as your Final Fantasies or Elder Scrollses. But for those in the know, Quest”s series occupies a special place in the history of the tactical-JRPG genre. 

Drawing inspiration from the Balkan conflict of the early “90s, creator Yasume Matsuno laid the foundations for Ogre Battle before developing the acclaimed Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy Tactics, and FF12 for Square Enix. The Knight of Lodis was developed after Matsuno left the company, but it”s still a fitting continuation of his first tactical masterwork.

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18. Dr. Mario & Puzzle League

Sometimes you can”t be bothered with inventive power-ups or innovative level design or relatable characters. Sometimes you just want to strap a stethoscope to a plumber and hurl pills into a bottle of bacteria until your eyes glaze over. And with this solidly realized port of Dr. Mario, you can do that on the bus, in the bathroom, wherever. 

Someone at Nintendo sure must like you, because they packed in something extra. A good deal better than Dr. Mario, Puzzle League is a bare-bones version of the title sometimes known as Tetris Attack and Pokmon Puzzle League. It may lack any new frills. but the addicting puzzle challenge is still at the top of its game.

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17. Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town

New to Harvest Moon? Then what you need to know is that this series is considerably more engrossing than one might expect from a game whose basic premise is “like a JRPG, but without the fighting or plot.” Harvest Moon knows its lack of magic swords or monstrous bosses may seem like a sticking point, but the game is eager to accept that challenge. 

And if you”re not new to Harvest Moon, you”re aware the game packs an admirable amount of charm and challenge both. The series has commanded a cult following since its inception in the SNES days, and this GBA conversion of the PlayStation iteration is a perfect entry point – or, for aficionados, more of what you love.

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16. Drill Dozer

We love Pokemon games as much as the next potential collector, but its always nice to see series creator Game Freak try something new in addition to the monster collectors it keeps pumping out. Drill Dozer ended up being quite the departure for Game Freak, thanks mostly to its interesting approach to platforming, that mostly involved drilling everything around you. 

Protagonist Jill and her highly customizable drill explored many impressively expansive stages, and the storytelling reminded us of our favorite manic anime series. The game was made more even more impactful thanks to the rumble pack attached to the cart, a feature exploited in few games, and one that Drill Dozer uses with panache.

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