The iPhone may prove to be big player in video games in 2009, but right now, the five games we most want to play on the go are on the Nintendo DS and PSP.
Here are our five most-anticipated portable games of 2009:
5. "Rhythm Heaven"
How do I describe this one? It's a weird music game that involves tapping and swiping the DS stylus — not just in sync to the game's music, but to characters on the screen who dance or punch or karate-chop things — or all sorts of other oddness. The Japan-only original, "Rhythm Tengoku" for the Game Boy Advance, is one of my favorite games ever. This DS sequel will hopefully be at least half as good. Nintendo says this one is coming out in the first half of the year.
4. "Loco Roco 2"
The first edition of this PSP blob-rolling game was one of the most cheerful and creatively illustrated games I had played on any platform. The blob-rolling is back and looks to be even more imaginative this time. This game is already out in other parts of the world and will be released in America in the spring.
3. "Patapon 2"
This PSP sequel follows up last year's rhythm war-strategy game. That's right — rhythm war strategy. As with the 2008 "Patapon," players control an army of soldiers that almost look like a bunch of punctuation marks, marching from left to right across the PSP's screen in a battle against birds, dragons and other beasts. The player doesn't control the army. Instead, the player taps out the drumbeats that send the army marching forward, back or into various types of attacks. Keeping the rhythm keeps the combat going. Play this one with headphones, and you'll be hooked.
2. "Mario and Luigi RPG 3"
Good things about the "Mario" role-playing game series include the frequent use of Luigi as a projectile weapon, the industry-leading comedy scripts, the exhaustive cameos of many great Mario series characters big and small — and, my favorite, the "Mario" role-playing games are big without being bulky, sporting a streamlined RPG structure that requires a lot less time spent fiddling with menus and more time in action and expanding the story. This DS game probably won't be out until the second half of 2009.
1. "Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars"
Not much of a surprise, right? The folks at Rockstar have been working on this first DS "GTA" for years. It's still not clear how they can provide a "GTA"-quality soundtrack in a DS cartridge (I'm guessing they won't). But I do expect Rockstar's knack for great characters and creative chaotic gameplay to be in full force. This one is rated M and will be out in March.
Those are my five most-anticipated portable games for this year. Honorable mention has to go to Sony's upcoming "Resistance Retribution," coming out for the PSP this winter. And, certainly, those iPhone and iPod Touch games are getting better and better.
For more gaming coverage, check out the MTV Multiplayer blog.