With the Nintendo DS's lifespan coming to an unfortunate end soon due to the advent of the apparently awesome 3DS, I think now is as good a time as ever to go over the best the superior handheld console has had to offer over the last few years. While most people will point to standard Nintendo fare like New Super Mario Brothers and MarioKart DS and the Zelda games from Capcom, for me the competition isn't even close. The winner, in a landslide is Hotel Dusk Room 215.
Most casual DS gamers probably haven't heard of this game. It got a little press at the time of its release and received generally positive reviews. It's essentially a point and click adventure with a fantastic story and engaging characters reminiscent of early 90s games like Monkey Island and the like.
The characters, including the lead Kyle Hyde, are essentially all stereotypes ranging from the burnt out cop (Hyde), the burnout (Lou DeNonno), the crusty old guy with a heart of gold (Dunning), and many other characters that fill generally stereotypical roles throughout. But they aren't flat or uninteresting in the least. There's just the right mix of cowboy police work, drug allusions, the possibility of Dunning blowing your brains out in the end and a creepy girl who doesn't say a word. Oh and your burnt out cop friend who apparently stole art or something depending a lot on the ending or something. Don't ask me.
There is just something about the story combined with those characters that drew me in. The fact that there's no way you could've solved the mystery without Lou DeNonno, presumably on an LSD trip, bowling in the hallway, hitting a plant with a key in it. It seems kind of like Deus Ex Machina except for the fact that it's awesome.
I'm a sucker for police stereotypes just like Hyde so this game had me from the get go. He's basically just doing the fabled "cowboy stuff" throughout the whole game, bucking authority and taking on people like Dunning, who eventually leaves you locked in the basement. No spoilers. The game's years old at this point and you should've already played it.
There's randomly a girl who can't speak. There's a deadbeat dad, an author, a hipster doofus, a helpful Hispanic maid and an old lady with an eye patch. That alone is worth the price of admission. AN OLD LADY MISSING AN EYE! Beat that Mario.
Then there are the multiple endings. Some have the mute going with you. Some have you remaining the lone wolf. I wanted Lou to come with me for the acid potential, but that's neither here nor there. There's also the fabled ending where Dunning shoots the place to smithereens and the game ends as he gets Kyle Hyde in the cross hairs.
The animation style can't be beat. It all looks like the Take on Me Aha video from the 80s except nobody can actually move. Kyle has roughly 2 expressions on his face throughout the whole game no matter what happens at least until he passes out in Dunning's makeshift prison. OOOH LOOGIT NO SPOILER ALERT.
You can play through the game multiple times and always get a different ending depending on how many times you fail and either are found out or killed or what have you. You find out secrets that people randomly have throughout the place including stolen authorship. Summer might as well be James Frey and you get to find out about it. By the way, I even made a Mii on my Wii of Summer. I really loved this game.
The story can either be described as complex or nonsensical. Half the time you have no idea why you're at Hotel Dusk, who the people are, or why you should care at all. But then the characters' lovability (new word!) comes into play and you're brought right back into the story.
It's also one of the longer DS games you'll play. It doesn't have the constant replayability of a MarioKart for example, but for an adventure game, especially one on the DS, its lifespan is incredibly long and enables true character development which is extremely rare for the system.
In my opinion (mainly because I love cop stereotypes), Kyle Hyde is one of the all time characters on any video game platform. His essential sidekick, Lou, is the perfect amount of unintentional comedy and the entire story is filled with characters just like him. They're all meant to be taken seriously but either are so strange or just meant to be funny, that you take them seriously in the context of the game while making jokes about them on the outside.
The game has everything from classic gameplay, a fantastic story, awesome characters in every possible context while doing all this on the most limited system. The game isn't going to win any technical awards but takes an innovative approach to a seemingly tired genre and reinvigorated it.
That's why Hotel Dusk Room 215 is, in my opinion, the greatest game in Nintendo DS history.