The Nintendo DS arrived late in 2004, but you may not know that it was never intended to succeed the Gameboy Advance. With over 154 million units sold, I can safely say that we are all okay with the DS taking over the handheld market. However, with the dawn of mobile gaming taking away the casual consumer, Nintendo handhelds have taken a dip in sales.
Regardless, this is a list to celebrate the quirky, two-screened handheld that many thought would lose to Sony’s PSP. What a joke. With over 1,150 game released, there was no way I could only cut the list down to ten. Therefore, I upped the ante to twenty. This list contains games that you can pop in today and they still hold up. With that out of the way, here are my top twenty Nintendo DS games.
#20 – Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (2009)
The first Dragon Quest game to be made exclusively for a handheld also ends up being the best. While the Zenithia trilogy was an awesome addition to the DS library, how big of a deal was Dragon Quest IX? Enough so to warrant its own pub opening in Tokyo, Japan. Now that is some dedication.
#19 – Super Mario 64 DS (2004)
Yes, I know Super Mario 64 DS is a remake. That is why it is so low on this list. Moving past that, what makes it my favorite N64 game worth another purchase is the ability to play as Wario. Sure you can play as Yoshi, Luigi, and boring, old Mario. But, who cares about them when Wario is available? The improved graphics also did wonders to make Bowser look more like how we have grown to know him. Plus Mario stuck it to Portal before we even knew Portal was a thing. The cake is most definitely not a lie here.
#18 – Chrono Trigger (2008)
Chrono Trigger (our full review), the SNES classic, is absolutely amazing on the Nintendo DS. It would certainly place much higher on the countdown if it had been a DS original. Nevertheless, Chrono Trigger is by far one of the best RPG’s of all time. The lack of grinding, solid story, and no random encounters made this a must play for anyone.
#17 – Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (2007)
I have made it no secret that I am not the biggest Legend of Zelda fan. After not making my Top 10 GameCube list or getting above number five on the N64, you should have expected this. Phantom Hourglass was the debut of the touch screen-only controls that Nintendo was trying to push. What stood out to me about Phantom Hourglass was the visuals. They were simply astounding and had left me curious as to how far the DS could really be pushed.
#16 – The World Ends With You (2008)
Wait, it ends with me? Guess we are all screwed. What we have here is one of the best plot-driven RPG’s made in quite a long time. What is really crazy here is how there is a battle taking place on the top and bottom screen… simultaneously. It sounds nuts, I know, but it ends up working quite well. Combine that with a cast of characters you actually care about along with a unique story and you get The World Ends With You.
#15 – Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (2007)
Pick up your DS or 3DS and act like you are going to play Hotel Dusk: Room 215. I bet you thought it would be a standard affair, huh? You might have even grabbed the stylus. You are so silly. Hold that DS like a novel. Don’t question me! I am serious! Besides the unique way you hold your DS, Hotel Dusk is a point and click adventure through and through. What drives this genre is the story and that certainly has not changed here. I don’t want to ruin the plot but um… let’s just say room 215 has a history.
#14 – Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (2011)
You’re dead. That is how Ghost Trick begins. Not even close to joking. So uh… how do you play this game then? Dead people can’t really do much of anything. Well, as it turns out, you transfer your spirit from inanimate object to inanimate object. This allows you to manipulate the world to help you on your quest and find out all the mysteries surrounding your death. Along the way you will actually assist others from being killed as well by rewinding time by four minutes and then doing all you can to help them avoid their terrible fate.
#13 – Pokemon Black + White 2 (2012)
Chances are that if you owned a Nintendo DS that you also owned a Pokemon game. What you may not have owned was Pokemon Black and White 2. Releasing over a year after the 3DS launched, came the biggest, well second biggest, Pokemon game to date. Pokemon Black and White 2 took the Unova region and added a bunch of new towns, gyms, and expanded the Pokemon roster to include the other generations. The presentation was better than before and the amount of grinding was cut down considerably. This was truly the last game worth playing on the DS.
#12 – Nintendogs (2005-2006)
Aww. They are so cute! Who didn’t own Nintendogs? What was the definitive title in the early days of the DS was the ultimate pet simulator. Your dog never grows past being a puppy and never destroys anything. Like ever. It is beautiful. Coming in as the second highest selling title for the system it will always hold a special place in our hearts.
#11 – Sonic Rush (2005)
BOOST TO WIN! Ah yes, the birth of the boost. While modern Sonic was struggling to do well on consoles, Sonic Rush was showing us how exactly he is the fastest thing alive. I know many fans of classic Sonic hated the addition of boosting. However, to me this felt like how Sonic should have been the whole time. Maybe that is why Sonic Colors is my favorite of the series…