Well, I managed to buy 2 Nintendo DS units for the kids for Christmas. I also bought 4 games, but 3 of them have been sitting on the shelf. That is because one game called Elite Beat Agents has been a runaway hit, not only with me and my kids but also with the neighborhood kids.
Elite Beat Agents is the Americanized version of one of those wacky Japanese games that tend to be so addictive. It is a rhythm game; if you have ever played Dance Dance Revolution or Space Channel 5, then you know what sort of game I'm talking about. The basic premise is that there is a group of agents that shows up whenever someone cries for help and dances to give the person encouragement while she works through her problem. I told you it was wacky :-).
As you can see in the screen shot above, there are numbered circles that show up on the lower screen. You have to tap them with the stylus in order, but only when the outer ring shrinks down and touches the border of the circle. If you do it correctly, it sounds like someone clapping her hands in time to the music. There are also phrase markers where you have to drag the stylus across the screen in time with a little ball and spin markers where you have to trace a circle over and over really fast. If you go to the Elite Beat Agents website, they have video of the people playing the game so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about.
Since this is an American version of the game, there isn't any of the J-pop or club music that you usually hear in DDR games. Out of 19 songs, there were only 4 that I didn't know before playing the game. Songs are unlocked as you beat the current songs on the screen, which you make you think that the early songs are easier than the later songs. For me, though, that wasn't always the case. With the songs that I knew really well before playing the game (like that rhythm game staple, "Rock this Town" by the Stray Cats), I flew through them. Other songs that I only knew slightly were harder.
One feature that has made this game very popular with the neighborhood is the multiplayer game. With only one game card, you can have up to 4 people play head-to-head. The player with the card can beam a limited version of the game (5 songs) to the other players' DS units, the same way you beam contact information from one PDA to another. I love this feature and I am looking for more games that have it. Being able to have the kids play together has cut down on arguments over who gets the game card first.
Kids love this game, but I also think it is perfect for the adult who is into casual games. There is no long storyline or difficult puzzles to solve. I've played it whenever I had 15 minutes to spare and it scratched my gaming itch. I would highly recommend adding Elite Beat Agents to your DS game collection.