i bought an issue of the UK magazine ngamer, which, like nintendo power, is soon to be defunct. along with the eye-catching design, the publication is alluring to fans of lists like myself because in every issue they publish the top 25 or 50 games for every nintendo platform, with the opportunity for entries to be replaced based on reader response. in their top 10 games for dsiware they had included sujin taisen: number battles, released as number battle in the US. the game is by mitchell corp., who were also behind the enjoyable magnetica and polarium, both on DS. number battle easily trumps both games and has jumped to the top of my list of favorite DSiware games yet.
the game is often described as scrabble with numbers, but the gameplay recalls number-matching and sequence-based games like rummy and poker. the core mechanics are simple to pick up on and rock solid and provide an excellent balance of strategy and risk without involving too much luck and requires a blend of both defensive and offensive tactics. although items are part of the gameplay, they’re better integrated and aren’t generally complete game changers the way that items in games like mario kart are.
the single-player campaign is excellent and well paced and once you’ve mastered the mechanics there are gold medals to earn as well as a puzzle mode that will further finesse your abilities. of course the single player mode is by its nature limited since it pits you against computer-controlled opponents (who only in the latest levels really try to interfere with your strategy): human opponents (especially if you were able to find enough to have a 4-player game) would really turn this excellent experience into an essential one. i ripped through the game in just a few (rather long) sittings, and i found myself wishing the game had the same unlockable hard modes as the retail version which was only released in japan. i’m definitely going to be importing that game if i can find a copy, and hopefully will find some opponents to battle over wi-fi at some point as well.
all in all despite some fairly generic and unmemorable feudal-japan-style trappings and presentation this was a lot of fun and great game that deserves more attention. definitely one of my favorite games i’ve played this year.
try and trump these number battle links:
– review at nintendolife.com
– official page at nintendo.com
– fansite for the original DS release
– entry at wikipedia
– entry at metacritic
– user review at gamefaqs