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TECHNOLOGY

Review: Chill out with cool Nintendo DS games

By Marc Saltzman
Gannett News Service

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Bounce a ball with a paddle to destroy colored bricks in "Break'em All."

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The portable Nintendo DS became the top-selling U.S. video game system in June, according to independent sales numbers released by the NPD Group.

Nintendo says it has shipped more than 21 million units worldwide.

This surge at retail -- to nearly 600,000 units sold for the entire month -- is largely attributed to the June 11 launch of the Nintendo DS Lite ($129), a smaller and lighter version of the popular hand-held system.

The clamshell Nintendo DS Lite offers two brighter displays than the original DS in which to view and interact with games. The bottom is a touch screen so you can use your finger or the bundled stylus pen to control the action.

As with its predecessor, the Nintendo DS Lite offers a built-in microphone for voice commands, Wi-Fi support for downloads and head-to-head play and the ability to play older Game Boy Advance titles.

The Nintendo DS will make its motion picture debut in the upcoming teen spy thriller "Stormbreaker," slated for an October 6 launch, where the hand-held gaming system is used as an ultimate spy gadget.

If you're looking to pick up new Nintendo DS games, the following are a couple of cool picks for a hot summer.

Both titles are $20 and are rated "Everyone."

'Break'em All'

Gamers in their 30s or 40s likely remember arcade classics such as "Breakout" or "Arkanoid." The goal of these games is to aim a bouncing ball using a paddle to destroy colored bricks. You also must prevent the ball from escaping at the bottom of the screen. You advance to the next level once all bricks have been destroyed.

"Break'em All" is a pocket version of these games, with an incredible 3 million variations of randomly generated boards to complete. You also can catch a dozen power-ups, such as one that initiates a multiball mode and another that turns your paddle into a gun to fire away at remaining bricks.

"Break'em All" offers multiple solo game modes, bonus levels with huge "boss" characters to defeat and wireless multiplayer support for up to eight Nintendo DS players over a wireless network.

'Sudoku Gridmaster'

Sudoku, the popular pen-and-paper puzzle phenomenon, has taken the nation by storm -- and now you can play without getting newsprint on your hands.

Nintendo's "Sudoku Gridmaster" takes advantage of the DS Lite's touch-screen display to solve puzzles with taps with the stylus.

"Gridmaster" is an addictive head-scratcher that challenges you to fill all the blank squares on a 9-by-9 grid with the correct numbers. The catch? Each row and column must contain the numbers 1 though 9, with no repeats. What's more, the nine 3-by-3 boxes that make up the grid must also contain the numbers 1 through 9.

"Sudoku Gridmaster" offers more than 400 puzzles, all created by Nikoli, the original Japanese creators of Sudoku. The game also has helpful tutorials, four difficulty levels and awards for solving puzzles.

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