Best 12 Nintendo DS Games Ever

Not even Nintendo knew how the DS would be received by players. Originally positioned as a “third pillar” to complement the Game Boy Advance and Gamecube, the first two-screen handheld device was initially dismissed as a gimmick. It was Nintendo’s desperate attempt to stave off the Sony PlayStation Portable, which looked ready to take the market by storm.

If the early sceptics have learned anything, it is to never take a wager against a Nintendo handheld device. In addition to being an enormous success, the DS ended up being Nintendo’s most successful console ever, portable or not, based on its final sales estimates. Adding a second screen was a brilliant idea that spurred developers to produce one of the greatest game libraries ever.

12. WarioWare Touched! 

Nintendo handheld devices served as the birthplace of the WarioWare series, which has consistently discovered inventive ways to take advantage of newly available hardware. With 180 microgames, WarioWare: Touched! is no exception. Each game requires rapid use of the DS’s microphone or touchscreen—a useful feature that far too many games ignore—and none of these functions takes very long to accomplish.

All of that is bundled with the standard WarioWare elements, such as trials that become harder every time, nods to old-school favourites, and just plain strangeness like rolling toilet paper and tickling people as fast as you can.

11. The World Ends with You

The World Ends with You is without a doubt the most inventive role-playing game on the Nintendo DS. It took some of the fundamental concepts Square Enix had previously explored in the Kingdom Hearts series and turned them up to eleven. The central theme is a sombre and elegant examination of a subterranean, youthful Japanese-oriented Shibuya neighbourhood in Tokyo.

But the feature that most players will find most memorable about this game is its exclusive battle system, which lets you control both Neku and a companion at the same time on two displays. This remains the definitive way to play The World Ends with You, even if the game is now available on several platforms. It’s a great illustration of a game that never would have been possible without the DS’s advances.

10. Professor Layton and the Curious Village 

Another game that most likely wouldn’t have run on any platform other than the DS is Professor Layton. With its sophisticated (but never unfair) challenges, this small mystery game was an instant favourite with anybody who played it, flawlessly fusing the adventure and puzzle genres with some gorgeous European-style animation.

Three additional sequels to The Curious Village were released exclusively for the Nintendo DS, and although they are all fun games in their own right, none of them could ever quite match the excitement of exploration found in the original title.

9. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Is Phoenix Wright a realistic figure? As a practicing attorney, I can attest that the real legal profession is far more tedious. But really, that’s the whole point of video games—taking the banal and turning it into something enjoyable. Ace Attorney is a difficult game to put down once you get into it, even though the core visual novel gameplay isn’t particularly inventive. The five cases are written incredibly well, and the characters are incredibly compelling.

I can assure you that Phoenix Wright is a far more affordable and pleasant way to get to the highlights if you’ve ever considered attending law school and passing the bar exam.

8. Chrono Trigger

Although Chrono Trigger is consistently ranked among the top SNES titles, the Nintendo DS port of the game is actually the ultimate edition of one of the greatest JRPGs ever made. Square Enix went ahead and updated the translation, introduced an arena mode, and added a few additional destinations. Even the thirteenth ending is entirely fresh. As if all of that wasn’t enough, the DS makes full use of touch controls and the ability to remove any menus from the top screen.

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It’s unlikely that Chrono Trigger will ever be surpassed, even if Square Enix decides to go through with a complete remake. Chrono Trigger will always rank among the best video games of all time. Even if this version’s cost has skyrocketed in recent years, it’s still worthwhile to find.

7. Advance Wars: Dual Strike

The Advance Wars series, one of Nintendo’s biggest portable hits, exploded onto the international scene in the early 2000s after years of relative obscurity in Japan. With nine new COs and the ability to command two of them at once during combat so that they can counterbalance each other’s advantages and disadvantages, Dual Strike is undoubtedly the best game in the series. It builds on the great strategy features of the first two GBA games.

Even while earlier Advance Wars games on the GBA had amazing graphics, it’s difficult to go back to those classics now that you can create maps with the touchscreen and get extra unit information during battle.

6. Mario Kart DS

There’s still a compelling case to be made for Mario Kart DS being the greatest game in the series, despite the fact that it appears a touch antiquated now. It was, at the very least, a significant turning point with a number of features (such the Bullet Bill and Blooper power-ups and remastered music from earlier games) that have persisted in appearing in successors.

Mario Kart DS stands out from its predecessors due to its unique feature of being the first in the series to include online play, which makes it a much more replayable game. Although the game’s servers were regretfully shut down years ago, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe retains a large number of the game’s tracks.


5. Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story

What transpires within Bowser? Although it’s possible that no one ever asked that question in the first place, Nintendo chose to address it nonetheless with this bizarre installment in the Mario RPG series, in which Mario and Luigi truly delve inside their rival to aid him in defeating a shared opponent.

As is customary for the series, this game’s combat is more action-packed than most RPGs and is mostly centred around timing. Even better, in a series renowned for its superb writing, the script stands out as one of the funniest—if not the finest. While every Mario & Luigi game is amazing, Bowser’s Inside Story remains the best of the bunch because of its amazing gameplay and overall entertaining strangeness.

4. Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver

Even if generations four and five of the Pokémon franchise are excellent, these amazing remakes of the second generation games still manage to surpass some of the better games released for the Nintendo DS. The quality of life enhancements they provide are simply irreplaceable, ranging from a significant graphical makeover to the ability to have your Pokémon accompany you across the overworld.

However, HeartGold/SoulSilver’s enormous journey is what people will remember it for forever. The entire Kanto region from the very first games is featured in this enormous campaign, not just the Johto region. Ultimately, the game presents a staggering 16 gym leaders for you to defeat. Many would argue that this is still the greatest game in the series, or at the very least, the ideal starting point, even as the series develops and adds new features and Pokémon.

3. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

Nintendo has long been seen as a family-friendly firm, and its portable devices in particular have a history of housing libraries with a broad appeal to a wide age range. Chinatown Wars, however, shows that if developers had the means, sophisticated games might potentially succeed on the DS. Fundamentally, this is an iconic open-world Grand Theft Auto game that incorporates many of the greatest elements from its forerunners.

However, this treasure also has a tonne of awesome DS-specific features. You will need to utilise the touchscreen to hotwire or use a screwdriver to start the car if you want to steal one. It was also the first—and, to date, the only—Grand Theft Auto game with a fully functional drug-dealing minigame for added revenue. It was simply an amazing realisation of the kind of distinctive Grand Theft Auto experience the DS could provide.

2. New Super Mario Bros.

Even though Super Mario Bros. titles are so popular, it’s amazing to think that over 10 years had passed since Nintendo launched a 2D game in the renowned series, until the 2006 release of New Super Mario Bros. Fortunately, Mario maintained all of his magic throughout the break. New Super Mario Bros. seems better than the original NES and SNES games in certain aspects.

The three new power-ups (the Blue Koopa Shell, the Mega Mushroom, and the Mini Mushroom) feel perfectly integrated with the core Super Mario experience, while the game’s timeless gameplay is still as fluid as ever. You’ll wonder why Nintendo never added the ability to play as a huge Mario in the older games once you’ve destroyed an entire level in that capacity.


1. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow 

Dawn of Sorrow is a game that is more iterative than innovative, in contrast to many others on this list. To be honest, its one major DS innovation—beating bosses by drawing mystical seals on the touchscreen—has never really taken off. But with how fantastic the rest of the game is, that really doesn’t matter. This is Castlevania at its finest, including incredibly fluid animation, a wonderful soundtrack, an absurd amount of customisation through its tactical souls system, a secret-filled map, and the continuation of the series’ most recognisable plot.

Following the great reception to its GBA game collection last year, Konami has recently expressed greater interest in re-releasing its older titles. It appears that a DS Castlevania collection is long overdue. Hopefully, Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin, and Order of Ecclesia will soon have an updated release, allowing a larger audience to finally enjoy this timeless work.


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