The Nintendo DS is a much-loved machine. It has been responsible for the first gaming experiences for most of the people we know, and the console is still very much a gaming favourite. Of course, it can’t possibly compete with the bigger consoles for graphics and sound, but it does have a number of games that make it a worthwhile choice for good gameplay. We have seen games released on the DS that have fiendishly addictive gameplay, and many that are more addictive than most of the games that you can buy on bigger consoles. We’ve managed to narrow down the field, so we can bring you this list of the best ten DS games available.
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
This is a particularly special game, in that it managed to bring to the DS all the complexity and sophistication of the GTA series, and it did so with style and a high level of quality. Sure, you were never going to have the 3D extravaganzas that bigger consoles were enjoying, but you certainly got an exciting game, with plenty of depth.
This game pretty much had it all, but one of the key areas it excelled in was the story. The campaign was rich and layered, and that was no small feat. To keep players hanging on until the end of a very long campaign was certainly a big deal. On top of that, amazingly, there was a series of mini-games that was rewarding and great fun to get involved in. A superb game and most definitely one of the truly most essential purchases for any DS owner.
Mario Kart DS
The character needs no introduction, and neither does the game, but this particular version made everyone very happy.
Having a high-quality Mario Kart in the palm of your hand was an incredible feeling. But the fact that the game ran so well made it all the more special. The local multiplayer alone made it worthwhile, because it wasn’t hard to find a friend who had a DS. In addition to that great feat of gameplay, the title also had excellent graphics, all the characters you loved and the NIntendo theme music. The atmosphere was amazing.
Most of all, it was fast. Previously, DS owners haven't really seen this kind of smooth gameplay. Testament to the quality of the title is the fact that many DS owners basically keep their machines solely for the purpose of playing this game.
Final Fantasy IV
This is a great version of the FF games, hands down. The gameplay is smooth and rewards players for putting effort in. The graphics faithfully reproduce the FF style and the lore behind it. And it is actually quite challenging.
That challenge aspect may have put some players off the game, but die-hards will persist. That’s the beauty of this version. It’s a handheld game that keeps the spirit and the style of it’s bigger versions. And call us easy to please, but we absolutely loved the cutscenes. They were fully voiced, which was a great way to show off the DS capabilities.
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
It’s not easy to improve upon games that were seen as classic when they came out, but this one does it perfectly.
Castlevania has had numerous versions over numerous platforms, and it is a much-loved game. This version didn’t mess with the format too much (still 2D), but it offered so much more, and plenty for fans of the series to enjoy. There are over 100 different bad guys in this game, and it is, at times, devilishly hard. But that is part of the appeal. Players just kept coming back, and even today, it’s rich story and super-fast gameplay appeals massively.
Not the most well-known game on our list, but definitely one of the very best DS games of all time. If you can get your hands on it, it is very much still worth a play.
The best thing about this game was the feeling of control. The player always feels like every decision means something, and it’s hard not to get swept up in the deeply involving gameplay. You can play around with time pretty much at your leisure here, but every single decision you make colours your experience.
It looks like a standard RPG, but around ten minutes after picking it up, you’ll know why that is as far from the truth as you could get.
New Super Mario Bros
This is a perfect example of a game that just simply ‘works’. It’s the gameplay, really, that makes this such a legendary title, but there are plenty of other aspects that thrill players.
The graphics are exactly what ‘classic’ Mario looked like, so immediately you’re pulled into a nostalgic trip. The colours and the sounds have been faithfully pulled across to make the best handheld platform game ever. It was a tough game too, like the best Mario games are, and players felt a certain degree of satisfaction when they finally managed to complete it.
The World Ends With You
A classic RPG, this game earns serious kudos for having a graphics style that is unique and beautiful. There was also a very satisfying progression system, where players could see real improvements to both character and outcomes the harder they worked.
However, an amazing amount of thought went into this title, so much so that players actually found themselves following fashion, with the game letting you know which brands were popular for your character in your local area. If you didn’t fancy the fashionable stuff, your character could wear their own style and soon have other local platers copying it. That’s right, you could set fashion trends.
Animal Crossing: Wild World
This was an incredibly compelling Animal Crossing title, and it worked on a number of different levels. The quests to find various ingredients to various products were there, just like in every other Animal Crossing game, but this one also offered an almost endless list of tasks and items to buy. Once you were sucked in, you’d find it incredibly hard to leave.
One of the main reasons why the game was so successful is the humour. You meet what feels like hundreds of other characters, who come out with the most hilarious conversations. A lot of this is inconsequential, but the fact it is so funny certainly made this game people came back to daily.
This is a fiendishly addictive game, with puzzle elements that would either have you pulling your hair out or rubbing your hands together with glee. The premise is simple: navigate the game by ‘drawing’ objects that will help you get past the current obstacle. It worked well, and created a classic DS game.
This is arguably the best ever game on DS. There is so much going for it that it is a title that is constantly being discussed years after its release.
Centered around time travel and a rescue plot, the RPG ended up with a total of 14 different endings with this DS version. On top of that, there were more dungeons, a solid control scheme, and some of the most beautiful game music ever recorded.
It wasn’t the longest or toughest game ever, but it certainly made people happy. A lot of this came through innovation, with the unique combat system still proving to be very satisfying today.
So these are our ten best. The DS is a fantastic machine, and is still popular today. Get any of these ten games for it, and you’re guaranteed hours of fun.