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  • Results from Game Design Challenge: DS Platforming Innovation

    - Danny Cowan
  •  Though the Nintendo DS has been out for years and is one of the most successful platforms in the history of gaming, very few games have truly innovated in the standard platforming genre. The system's most popular platformer, New Super Mario Bros. plays it safe with tested 2D gameplay and button input.

    HAL Laboratory's Kirby Canvas Curse, on the other hand, breathes new life into a series otherwise known for being reliable and cute. And it does this with a very DS-centric play mechanic: using the stylus to draw ramps for the ever-moving Kirby to traverse.

    There's much more room for innovation in this genre. challenged its readers to create an innovative, stylus-based platforming game mechanic for the Nintendo DS. The buttons on the system were disregarded; all game mechanics must only use the touch-screen.

    Many contest entries presented variations on existing Nintendo DS titles, with others drawing inspiration from previous releases on other platforms. A few standout entries, however, managed to come up with wholly original concepts that could only be executed using the Nintendo DS's unique hardware.

    What follows are the best and most original entries we received. Here are our top picks:

    Best Entries
    Dave Delisle, Generalist, Unibot (see page 2)
    Delisle proposes a game in which players indirectly control the actions of a robot using a magnet. The result is a challenging experience that features a surprising amount of flexibility in its controls.

    Elendil "Shin" Cañete, Game Designer, Running Beat (see page 3)
    Borrowing elements from the rhythm genre, Cañete suggests a momentum-based platformer in which progress is tied to successfully maintaining a steady rhythm. Featuring many of the same elements that drive successful DS releases like Cooking Mama and Elite Beat Agents, Running Beat promises to be a compelling play.

    Vladimir Villanueva, Artist, Haunt's Armor (see page 4)
    Villanueva's entry pairs a somber narrative with gameplay that puts players in control of a possessed suit of armor. The mechanics here prove solid enough to support the ambitious concept.

    Honorable Mentions
    Brian Lindsay, Student, Infinity Project (see page 5)
    Michael Christensen, College of William and Mary (see page 6)


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