Consider this an atypical entry in the mini-reviews canon. The beginning of 2009 signals the typical lull in gaming releases, so with nothing new flooding my mailbox I find myself focusing today on a re-release of a 14-year-old Super Nintendo game and a title only available on the iPhone.
Chrono Trigger DS — $40 — Nintendo DS
I'm not sure how exactly I ended up working as a gaming writer without having played Chrono Trigger before, but now that I've experienced it via the gorgeous Nintendo DS remake I totally get the hype. Best roleplaying game of all time? Yeah, I'd agree with that.
The only real problem is that in the subsequent decade and a half since Chrono Trigger was first released so many games have lifted its then-novel ideas that most players won't grasp how innovative and well-crafted it all is.
Still, this is the gaming equivalent of required reading. Think Kurosawa's Seven Samurai for film students, or Vampire Weekend for guys with scarves.
Verdict: Buy it
Rolando — $10 — iPhone, iPod Touch
I'm still not convinced that the iPhone is the next big gaming platform, but I will admit that Rolando is as entertaining a handheld game as I've played in months.
Synopsis: Each level is a colorful maze populated with cutesypoo spherical people. By tilting the iPhone left and right you cause them to roll in each respective direction, overcoming various environmental hazards and eventually reaching each stage's goal.
It's a simple premise, but the rad bit is in how flawlessly it's executed. Most other iPhone games run like shit or have poorly implemented iPhone-specific controls, but the simplicity of Rolando lends itself to a game that you can pick up and play for minutes or hours without ever running into any real design flaws.
Add an Xbox-esque Achievement system, tons of levels (each with optional objectives) and the cutest character designs on the platform and you've got the finest non-Bejeweled game you can purchase for your electronic status symbol.
Verdict: Buy it