Race Driver: Create & Race

Racing games are not something the DS is remembered for; trying to think of one that isn't Mario Kart might make you go mad and start eating shoes. But here is one so stuffed full of content that it makes you wonder why no one else has bothered, or why all the others are rubbish.

It has World Tour, Simulation, Challenge, Time Trial and Free Race modes each providing an ample challenge. The latter is the most interesting, though, as it lets you race around your custom maps made using the intuitive level editor. Knocking a course together here is quick and simple and can be done in a handful of minutes, and is about the only time the stylus creeps into use - no gimmicky driving controls here, just solid old-fashioned d-pad stuff. Race Driver also lets you head online and take-on your friends as well as share tracks. Handily it tracks your stats and penalises drop-outs, too, flexing the kind of usability seen more often in fully-fledged infrastructures like Xbox Live or PSN.

Games like this can often be overlooked, but Codemasters should be applauded for putting real time and effort into a DS racer, and showing the rest what can be done.

Biggest fan: Britain, Germany, Scandinavia, and Australia all really like Touring car racing; Wikipedia says so.

Freshly Picked: Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland

tingle

Tingle is the little green one out of Zelda. The weird one obsessed with rupees. Mind you, most of us like money, has something to do with capitalism. Which all brings us merrily to the point of the game: to make a profit by buying things cheaply and selling them for lots more. Those of you with an extortionate streak will be right at home, Tom.

At its heart, Freshly Picked is an odd sausage resembling a point-and-click adventure. You seek your profits at shops and then fling your cash into a pond. Chuck enough in and a tower will grow, unlocking new areas as it does, eventually soaring up to the paradise you were promised at the beginning.

Quirky and original, Tingle stands out for its charm and wry humour, and carved a much more lasting impression on us than many other best sellers so far.

Pluck it up: Beetroot, cabbage and sprouts are in season at this time of year. Pity sprouts taste like farts and farts smell like cabbage.

Magical Starsign

magical

Starsign is a charismatic little fellow, and strangely only one of a handful of DS turn-based RPGs. The idea and concept will be instantly familiar to any with a history in the genre, but it is how Starsign pulls it off that makes it special. Rather unsurprisingly one way it does this is in its use of the DS touch-screen controls, which are responsive, clutter-free and intuitive - I like that word. Another way is its bright presentation, with vivid primary colours and contrasting environments pleasant to faff around in.

Combat is its best innovation, though. At its roots it is a rock, paper, scissors affair. However, on top of this are starsigns that give temporary boosts to characters whenever their starsign is in season. In addition, protagonists are granted Light and Dark powers that gain strength in the day or night time, respectively. Pop in a well-timed tap as you cast a spell and your magic gains even more effectiveness, introducing a kind of rhythm-action affair.

Wrap that all up with the usual formation of your party and who should take front-line damage or be somewhat restricted at the back and it all gets a bit complex. But in a good way. Quirky and often overlooked, Magical Starsign gives a sterling lesson in complexity but not at the sake of playability.

Sting: "Scorpios make everyone go weak at the knees they are so utterly gorgeous." Not my words; the words of Kelly's Star Signs. Must be true.

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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