DS has been a watershed for creative ideas that fall outside of the carefully constructed realm known as gaming. Besides playing games, you can make music, keep a virtual pet happy, learn to cook, exercise your brain, keep yourself organized, draw beautiful animations, and even learn a new language while on the go. So this is definitely a tough category, not because there are so few good choices, but rather because the choices threaten to bring the list to titanic proportions. So the staff put its heads together in serious deliberation and came up with three non-games– apps, if you will– that stand head and shoulders above their brethren.
Brain Age: Train Your Brain In Minutes A Day
One of the earliest entrants in the “Touch Generation” line of casual fare, Brain Age: Train You Brain In Minutes A Day really set the casual world on fire. Where before parents would tell their kids that video games would undoubtedly rot their brains, now it was time for Jimmy and Sally to try and wrest the DS from mom and dad’s greedy clutches. It was simple. It was fun. It was brilliant. No matter where you stand in gaming, it is plain to see that Brain Age, and similar games, had as much to do with its monumental success as any big-name blockbuster. It was even popular enough that Nintendo, upon launching DSi XL, broke down some of the components of the game into “express” versions to entice parents to pick up the bigger model. Brain Age entered our consciousness as a force to be reckoned with, and entered our list of one of the best non-games on DS.
Whereas Brain Age appealed to mom and pop, Flipnote Studio brought out the inner artist in all of us. Nintendo delivered a simple flip-book animator that anyone could use and then let the idea explode. Not only could budding animators draw their creations and show them to their friends, they could also upload them to a social video site and share them with the world. Yeah, there are some duds in the bunch, animations that would have been better un-created, but all-in-all some amazing things have been created using what is essentially a free animation tool. Seriously, the only reason not to check out Flipnote Studio would be in you don’t own the requisite DSi. Otherwise, it’s a no-brainer.
Back in the fun-for-everyone category, Nintendogs took one of those old fads, the Tamagotchi, and gave it some Nintendo polish, offering an almost-alive representation of a dog that anyone could own. Later inducted into the Touch Generation line of software, the various versions of Nintendogs sold amazingly well since anyone could now have a dog that reacted and played almost as if it were in the flesh. Plus, even those who had severe pet allergies could finally have a faithful Fido of their own. So successful that it will see new life as a launch title for 3DS, Nintendogs is truly one of the best non-games on DS.