Who else remembers the Nintendo DS launch? I remember thinking that the Game Boy Advance had achieved perfection with the SP model… But then here comes along a handheld with TWO screens and a stylus! Talk about changing the conversation. But I suppose one thing I’ve learned over my years of retrograming is to never, ever underestimate the big N.
Let’s look back at the Top 10 games released for the Nintendo DS during its long and fruitful heyday. As always, it was tough to boil the entire library down to only ten games, and of course, some tough choices had to be made. But I think this list is solid and really shows the diversity of the Nintendo DS game library… What do you think?
10. Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies delivers a grand, immersive RPG experience. Players create a customizable hero and embark on a quest to protect the world from an ancient evil. The game features a vast, detailed world to explore, turn-based battles, and a deep character customization system. The objective is to complete quests, level up the hero and their party, and uncover the secrets of the celestial realm.
Sentinels of the Starry Skies captivated players with its charming art style, immersive world-building, and addictive gameplay. The game’s engaging storyline, memorable characters, and the option to team up with friends via local multiplayer added to its appeal and made it a must-play title for RPG enthusiasts on the Nintendo DS.
9. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Trials and Tribulations
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Trials and Tribulations is a captivating visual novel adventure where players assume the role of the titular defense attorney, Phoenix Wright. Players investigate crime scenes, gather evidence, and engage in intense courtroom battles to defend their clients and uncover the truth. The objective is to present compelling arguments, cross-examine witnesses, and prove innocence.
Trials and Tribulations captivated players with its gripping storytelling, memorable characters, and clever puzzles. The game’s engaging courtroom drama, witty dialogue, and the satisfaction of finding contradictions in witness testimonies made it a standout title for fans of mystery and puzzle-solving on the Nintendo DS.
8. Advance Wars: Dual Strike
Advance Wars: Dual Strike is a strategic turn-based war game that challenges players to command armies and outsmart opponents in strategic battles. Players engage in warfare across a grid-based map, capturing territories, deploying units, and utilizing different strategies to defeat enemies. The objective is strategically positioning units, taking control of critical locations, and ultimately achieving victory.
Dual Strike captivated players with its deep gameplay mechanics, intricate tactics, and ability to simultaneously control two COs (Commanding Officers). The game’s engaging single-player campaign, extensive multiplayer options, and addictive gameplay made it a must-have title for strategy enthusiasts on the Nintendo DS.
7. Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future presents players with a captivating blend of puzzles, mystery, and a compelling narrative. Players join the esteemed Professor Hershel Layton and his apprentice, Luke, as they investigate a time-traveling mystery in London. The objective is to solve various challenging puzzles, unravel the unknown, and uncover the truth behind the enigmatic time-traveling device.
Unwound Future captivated players with its charming characters, beautifully animated cutscenes, and a wide range of mind-bending puzzles. The game’s immersive world, intricate storytelling, and satisfaction from solving each puzzle made it a standout title on the Nintendo DS.
6. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow is a captivating action-adventure game that follows the story of Soma Cruz as he battles supernatural forces in a gothic setting. Players navigate through intricate levels, defeat challenging enemies, and acquire new powers and abilities. The objective is to explore Dracula’s castle, uncover its secrets, and save the world.
Dawn of Sorrow captivated players with its engaging combat, intricate level design, and addictive collecting and upgrading of souls. The game’s atmospheric visuals, haunting music, and the inclusion of touchscreen mechanics added a unique layer of immersion. Its satisfying exploration, challenging boss battles, and deep RPG elements made it one of the best DS games ever.
5. Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger, a classic RPG originally released on the Super Nintendo, found new life on the Nintendo DS. Players embark on a time-traveling adventure as Chrono and his companions save the world from a catastrophic event. The game features a deep and intricate storyline, strategic turn-based battles, and multiple endings based on player choices.
Chrono Trigger’s engaging characters, breathtaking music, and innovative gameplay mechanics captivated players. The DS version added animated cutscenes, additional dungeons, and a dual-screen display that enhanced the overall experience. Its captivating narrative, timeless gameplay, and multiple branching paths made it a must-play for RPG enthusiasts.
4. New Super Mario Bros.
New Super Mario Bros. delivers a nostalgic yet fresh 2D platforming experience. Players guide Mario through a series of inventive levels, collecting power-ups and defeating enemies on a quest to rescue Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser. The objective is to reach the end-of-level flagpole and progress through the game’s colorful worlds.
New Super Mario Bros. captivated players with its precise controls, imaginative level design, and the inclusion of new power-ups such as the Mega Mushroom and Blue Shell. The game’s mix of classic elements with new features, multiplayer mode, and the ability to play as Mario or Luigi made it stand out as one of the best DS games ever created.
3. Mario Kart DS
Mario Kart DS brings the beloved kart racing franchise to the portable realm with thrilling races and multiplayer mayhem. Players choose from a roster of iconic characters and race across imaginative tracks filled with power-ups, obstacles, and shortcuts. The objective is to finish in first place and claim victory.
Mario Kart DS captivated players with its addictive gameplay, tight controls, and extensive multiplayer options. The game’s robust single-player mode, challenging missions, and the ability to race against friends locally or online added to its replayability and made it a must-have title for fans of the series.
2. Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver offer an enhanced and nostalgic journey through the Johto region. Players embark on a quest to become the Pokémon Champion, capturing, training, and battling Pokémon along the way. The games feature a rich storyline, dynamic battles, and the ability to revisit the original Pokémon Gold and Silver games.
HeartGold and SoulSilver captivated players with their immersive world, improved graphics, and the inclusion of the Pokéwalker. This pedometer accessory allowed players to interact with their Pokémon in real life. The games’ deep gameplay mechanics, extensive post-game content, and the return of the beloved Pokémon following feature made them fan favorites on the Nintendo DS.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass takes players on a captivating adventure as Link in a quest to rescue Princess Zelda. The game utilizes the DS’s touchscreen for navigation and combat, providing intuitive and immersive controls. The objective is to explore dungeons, solve puzzles, and defeat enemies using a variety of weapons and items.
Phantom Hourglass captivated players with its clever use of the DS’s unique features, engaging storyline, and charming art style. Its innovative gameplay mechanics, such as drawing notes on the map and the ability to chart courses using the ship’s map, made it a standout title as one of the best DS games.