While the Itadaki Street games are all practically identical in terms of gameplay, that doesn't mean that each game is identical. Each features different aspects to create unique playing experiences. The two portable Itadaki Street games, Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Portable and Itadaki Street DS, are a great example of this. Each title seems to be geared towards a different audiences, despite being similar games.
The most obvious difference between the two games are the character roster. Itadaki Street DS features characters from the Dragon Quest and Super Mario series, and in it the player has a generic male or female avatar that can be dressed up in Dragon Quest and Super Mario clothing. Itadaki Street Portable features Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy characters, and the player picks one of them as their avatar. Because of this, Itadaki Street Portable is a better fit for older gamers and RPG fans, and Itadaki Street DS is better for a general audience.
Plus multiplayer options are a decisive matter in video board games like this. Playing against the computer is okay, but nothing beats decimating your friends and earning the sweet gloating rights. Itadaki Street Portable lets you play against friends who also own the game over ad-hoc wireless, or you can all play on one PSP, passing it around on each person's turn. Itadaki Street DS goes a step further, with play over the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and single card multiplayer. The PSP version is great for incredibly patient people with a lot of friends nearby ready to play and the DS version is perfect for playing with friends nearby and far away.
Maps and music also are different in each title. Itadaki Street Portable features maps and a soundtrack inspired Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy games, whereas Itadaki Street DS's are Super Mario and Dragon Quest themed. This part is probably the least influencial when it comes to buying, but if you're a fan of Final Fantasy or Super Mario, it could affect your decision.
The true deciding factor in an Itadaki Street purchase is the difficulty. After playing (and completing) both Itadaki Street Portable and Itadaki Street DS, I can safely say that Itadaki Street Portable is more difficult and requires quite a bit of patience. I don't know why, but it seemed like the AI in Itadaki Street DS was a bit more forgiving – plus it didn't start getting difficult until the later challenges. Itadaki Street Portable started out tough, and I had to replay the second board in the first challenge twice before I beat it. Also Itadaki Street Portable's boards seemed to take longer to clear.
So Itadaki Street Portable is really best for mature gamers with a lot of friends who live nearby and are willing to also invest in a copy to play. Itadaki Street DS is more of a general audiences title, where anyone could pick it up, play and enjoy.
Images courtesy of Square Enix.