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Portable games to take on your travels

Portable games are a godsend for Australian travellers faced with long trips and lots of transit time to kill. Here's our pick of the best trip-worthy DS, PSP and iPhone games.

Pam Carroll
Former editor of CNET Australia, Pam loves being in the thick of the ever-growing love affair (well addiction, really) that Australians have with their phones, digital cameras, flat screen TVs, and all things tech.
Pam Carroll
4 min read
(Credit: GameSpot)

Whether you are travelling overseas or even across Australia, you're likely in for a long trip. If you don't yet own an ebook reader like the Kindle, you'll want to while away an hour or two with some portable games.

If you've got one of the three big handheld game systems, a Nintendo DS, PSP or iPhone/iPod Touch (yes, they deserve to be called a game system now), you may be wondering about a few good games to take with you. Well, here's our little cheat sheet of recommendations.

Nintendo DS (Credit: Nintendo)

Nintendo DS

The DS actually comes in two versions: the DS Lite and the DSi. One has a Game Boy Advance cartridge slot and the other can download mini-games from Nintendo's DSiWare shop. Both can play Nintendo's tremendous collection of DS cartridges. For lovers of touchscreen puzzle games and lengthy adventures, or those who want family-friendly entertainment, the DS is perfect for you. The top games include:

PSP Go (Credit: Sony)

Sony PSP

While Sony's handheld isn't nearly as family-friendly as the DS, it's perfect for fans of full-fledged console games on the go. If you have a PSP Go, Sony's newer version of the PSP, you'll realise that it doesn't have a UMD drive, so you'll have to download games. Luckily, many of the most recent games are available on the PlayStation Store already, but you're likely out of luck on older games. Owners of a regular PSP can download games or play UMD games.

  • LittleBigPlanet — Sony's breakout Super Mario competitor for the PS3 is just as adorable and fun on the go, and can even download user-made levels over Wi-Fi.
  • Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars — same recommendation as for DS owners, but the PSP version has even better graphics.
  • Motorstorm: Arctic Edge — a surprisingly faithful recreation of the PS3 off-road racer, it has multi-path tracks and online multiplayer, too.
  • Patapon 2 — forget Rock Band. Sony's rhythm-based warfare-strategy game is infectious and has plenty of addictive replay-ability as you level up.
  • Final Fantasy VII or Dino Crisis — make sure you check out the PlayStation Store's extensive collection of PS1 classic games. (They have Dino Crisis!)

iPhone 3Gs (Credit: Apple)

Apple iPhone/iPod Touch

Apple's do-everything device is now a legitimate handheld game system, with thousands of titles and an unprecedented range of content. It's also the most portable way to play, since it also serves as your MP3 player/video player/email/web browser/etc/etc. Here are some great titles to stuff on your device before take-off:

  • Dragon's Lair or Space Ace — accurate down to the last Don Bluth brush stroke, these animated masterpieces of yore also happen to be 80's arcade games. They're worth the trip down memory lane.
  • Modern Combat: SandstormModern Warfare 2 on the iPhone? Not exactly, but Gameloft's take on desert warfare has great graphics and online multiplayer.
  • Bejeweled 2 — now that it includes Bejeweled Blitz as a free update, this is the most horribly addictive iPhone puzzle since Drop7 (which you should also buy).
  • Space Invaders Infinity Gene — Taito's reinvention of the classic arcade game is techno, minimalist and has infinite levels generated from the music you play.
  • Bookworm/Peggle — PopCap's brilliance is perfect for smartphone gaming, and both the word-based Bookworm and the kinetic Peggle have infinite replay value.
  • Monkey Island — Special Edition — LucasArts' classic graphic adventure has been ported over with updated graphics and sound.
  • Skee-Ball — just trust us on this one.
  • Rolando 2 — tilt controls and roly-poly mascots combine in an infectious puzzle platformer with great music. Ngmoco's sequel is as good as the original.

Any other recommendations? What games are you taking with you in your travel bag? Tell us in the comments below.