A torrent of games is upon us. In the past week or so, a variety of games have been released for the Nintendo DS. Some are creative and some, well, not so much. Let's open up the game bag to see what's inside:
• "Drawn To Life" (THQ): What if you were able to draw your own character by using the DS touchscreen, creating a hero who will star in the game? That's the innovative twist behind "Drawn To Life," a game in which you'll try to rebuild a town when a slew of evil shadows spread darkness over everything, including the village. You'll control the elements, too, drawing to make rain, snow, moonlight and sunshine. Draw whatever you need to win in this world. You'll get average to slightly above average side-scrolling platform gaming here, but the main goal in "Drawn To Life" is figuring out which weapons or vehicles to draw to save the village and a family called the Raposas. If you want to see the latest and greatest that can be done on the DS, "Drawn To Life" is worth checking out. And if THQ can get the platform game to be more varied the next go round, "Drawn To Life 2" could be one of the best games released in the future.
• "Looney Tunes Duck Amuck" (Warner Bros.): Based on a "Looney Tunes" cartoon of the same name, you are the animator in charge of getting Daffy Duck to do your bidding. Unlike most DS games, you don't start by pushing buttons. Instead, there's Daffy, making fun of you, but in a humorous way. It is up to you to hunt for the 20 varied minigames by annoying Daffy (how much fun is that?). I'm happy to report that most of the minigames are completely intriguing and inspired.
• "Jam Sessions" (Ubisoft): This is more of a guitar simulator than a game. With a happy variety of tunes at your disposal, you'll play everything from Bob Dylan songs to Coldplay to Amy Winehouse. Strum the touchscreen with your stylus to hear your DS guitar. With 100 chords at your beck and call, you can compose your own songs, too.
• "Chibi-Robo! Park Patrol" (Nintendo): Tell Al Gore. This Wal-Mart exclusive is one of the first eco-games. The plot? Sergeant Smoggler wants to pollute parks all over the world. You must grow flowers to get the parks green again by using a boombox and, via the touchscreen, squirt the tiny spawn of Smoggler (called Smoglings) to kill them. It's inventive, but the game suffers from poor graphics and redundant text.
• "Flash Focus: Vision Training In Minutes A Day" (Nintendo): This sounds like a good idea on the surface. The problem is the latest in Nintendo's line of brain games doesn't train your vision, nor does it make your vision better. It tries to make your reflexes quicker with baseball and soccer exercises. Yes, that involves seeing, but I'm skeptical that the game helps your vision any more than, say, playing "Halo 3" does.
Harold Goldberg writes the Game Break blog for VH1games.com and has written about games for Entertainment Weekly, Radar and The Village Voice. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.