The grainy, low-resolution version.
Everyone’s played Myst by now, right? It was originally released on the Mac in 1993, but has since appeared on just about every console or handheld since. It’s considered revolutionary for a number of reasons, including its slow pace, various puzzle elements, no threat of death or failure, and the richness of the game's world. Myst, on the DS or anything else, is a point-and-click adventure game—really just a series of images—that challenges players with sequence-based and logic puzzles. Solving certain puzzles allows you to be transported to other locations, and puzzles solved in one location may affect the environment in others.
Unfortunately, traversing the island and solving puzzles requires the ability to utilize high-resolution pictures. On just about every other version of Myst I’ve played (including on the iPhone), the pictures are bright and detailed, and it’s easy to make out every little detail on the screen. This is important, because very often, it’s the little details that you must investigate to proceed. On the DS, however, Myst looks grainy and low-resolution. I was especially surprised to find that a wall panel early in the game looked more like a splotch on the wall or a spot of light than what it was supposed to be. Another puzzle, involving changing the colors of different symbols, becomes a comical farce when the symbol towers blend right into the trees behind them. As you can imagine, this gets very frustrating very quickly. New Myst players most will suffer the most—with such bad resolution on the images and no existing memory of what to do next, I can easily see them turning the game off in frustration after an hour of aimless wandering.
The game introduces a few new tools to aid the player along. The first is a map that displays the current location on the top screen. Unfortunately, the view is from quite far away, and its resolution is such that you can’t really tell what it’s showing. I found it to be a useless tool. The second, more helpful tool is a screenshot button. When you’re looking at something important, tap the screenshot button to project that image to the top screen. This is handy for solving puzzles, though you can only keep one screenshot at a time. Back in what I like to call “the day,” of course, we used a pen and paper to solve Myst's puzzles. This DS version also includes “Zip Mode,” which was integrated into Myst’s immediate successors. Zip Mode allows the player to skip around the island, though they may miss out on clues. The menu, displayed as a bar on the bottom of the touch screen, is intrusive. I would have preferred an icon that brought up the menu so that the view could be larger.
The real crime is that Myst simply hasn’t aged well. It moves at a very slow pace, and the interface feels a bit clunky at times, especially when negotiating tight spaces (no, I wanted to look back, not to the side!). Myst’s descendants ultimately one-upped it at every turn. Riven (the sequel to Myst) improved almost every aspect of the game design, though the puzzles were harder.. The genre has since gone out of style due to its archaic trappings. But if you’re chomping at the bit to experience the granddaddy of first-person adventure games (and some would say, first person shooters), then I recommend finding Myst on any other system. The iPhone version is great. Just avoid this DS port, which makes Myst frustrating and ugly.