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"Did the original DS actually have internal lighting?"

That was my first thought when I turned on the new DS Lite and saw its two ridiculously bright screens bring light to an otherwise dark room. Logically, I knew that the original DS had a built-in lighting system that allowed games to be visible in low light conditions, but the improvement in the DS Lite is like going from a 60-watt light bulb to a 120-watt bulb.

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Much like the show it’s based on, 24 is a simple, fluffy experience that uses excellent production values as an excuse for an extreme lack of depth. While it might not be the most difficult or engaging gameplay experience out there, there are worse ways to while away a few hours.

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I don’t really "get" graffiti. I’m not a part of the street culture that insists it is a form of artistry and self expression. That said, I also don’t relish identifying with the elitist socialites who consider it nothing more than vandalism and property damage. So I was looking forward to Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, a game that would supposedly educate me on what graffiti culture is all about without requiring me to grab a spray can and tag a bus.

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There are a lot of games that can make you feel stupid, but there aren’t many that come right out and tell you exactly how stupid you are.

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Nintendo’s press kit for Electroplankton asks reviewers to consider whether or not video games can be art. A better question in Electroplankton’s case might be whether or not video games are games.

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Calling the PSP version of The Sims 2 a Sims game is a little like calling Mario Tennis a Mario game. Sure, some of the familiar elements are there, but the actual game has nothing in common with what made the series popular in the first place.

So don’t get your hopes up when I tell you that the PSP version of The Sims 2 lets you customize your characters appearance and home to an absurd degree, or when I tell you that part of the game still centers on the maintenance of relationships and character traits. The similarities pretty much end there, and so does the list of interesting parts of the game.

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The referee blows the whistle. The captain takes the ball and dribbles slowly up the sideline. He drops a pass back to his teammate, who sends a sailing lob up towards the center of the goal crease. An alert defender grabs the pass and boots it back up the field. His teammate at midfield cautiously protects the ball while waiting for offensive support.

Suddenly, a giant dinosaur comes crashing down on the field from the sky. He quickly incinerates one player from each team, while another player is frozen by a blue turtle shell surreptitiously thrown amidst the chaos. Two more defenders are knocked down by a shoulder-first tackle, leaving only a goalie between the remaining offensive players and the goal. The ball leaves a light green trail behind it as it soars in a perfectly centered pass, and everything seems to slow down as a dramatic upside-down bicycle kick plants the ball right in the corner of the posts.

Ah, the simple joys of soccer.

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When Konami released Karaoke Revolution in 2003 it was just that… a revolution in what was then a stale and clich├ęd barroom activity. By using the PS2 as an impartial judge of singing ability, Karaoke Revolution breathed new life into the pastime. Here, finally, was undeniable proof that your version of "I ‘m Coming Out" was better than your Uncle Frank’s.

The series has stagnated a bit since that initial revolution, with two sequels providing not much more than new songs and support for a second microphone. Konami seems to have realized this, and has thrown a handful of new features that try to bring new life to the gameplay. The result is, well, less than revolutionary, but still quite good.

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In its short life, the Nintendo DS has shown that its unique abilities can be put to some great, highly inventive uses. Countless original games have asked players to scribble on the touch screen, yell into the microphone, and keep track of two screens worth of action — and managed to be fun in the process.

But amidst that fun has been a troublesome question – where are all the "normal" games. It’s understandable that the first few games for a new system are obviously going to show off its new abilities, but are DS developers slaves to novelty? I mean, the stylus is great, but when are we going to use those face buttons? Can the DS handle classic gameplay without having to rely on its hardware gimmicks?

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (DOS) answers that last question with a resounding "yes."

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There has always been something about rhythm games. The pairing of simple, hit-the-button-at-the-right-time gameplay with popular songs has created one of the freshest new genres of the last decade. But not all rhythm games are created equal. While the best make you feel like an integral part of a concert experience, the worst replicate all the thrill of a science experiment (see the graphic, hit the button, repeat).

Guitar Hero falls into the former category, giving players an exciting simulation of the guitar playing experience.

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