The top 10 Nintendo DS games of all time
Do you remember how cool the Game Boy was? A gaming console that you held in the palm of your hand – mind-blowing!
It was black and white, everything was so tiny, and the sounds were so cool. All out of a small little box.
It’s incredible to think how quickly the Game Boy evolved. We got the color, the SP, the advanced….
And then, we got the Nintendo DS.
The idea of a touch screen, at the time, was simply crazy. In a world dominated by smartphones, tablets, and even touch screen laptops, it doesn’t seem so wild today, but it was revolutionary.
Let’s take a stroll back to a simpler time and revisit some of the games that truly made the touch screen device unbeatable.
These games are ranked, and are absolutely influenced by my own personal bias. Let’s start with some furry friends...
I had four dogs growing up. And yet, the idea of taking care of an animated, fake dog on a handheld device was insanely fun.
Why would I walk my actual dog when I could use my stylus to walk one on the screen? Nintendogs was really fun because it utilized all the DS had to offer. You could teach your dog its name and commands using the microphone on the DS. You could brush it, bathe it, pet it, and play with it using the stylus.
Nintendogs may be a simple, “girly” game in your opinion, but your opinion is wrong.
9. Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
To be quite frank, this wasn’t a fantastic game. It was the same old Lego Star Wars that we had already played, and it had quite a few glitches.
However… it’s Lego Star Wars, so it makes the list. It was still a really fun game, and did bring a few new dimensions to it with the touch screen. The multiplayer features, as with Mario Kart, made it really fun as well.
There’s not much to argue for or against here. But again – it’s Lego Star Wars.
8. Kirby Canvas Curse
The hours of my life I spent playing this game are hours I truly don't want back. Because they were so amazing. Kirby Canvas was simply a fantastic game. Unlike normal games with Kirby in it, you couldn’t control him using any buttons. Rather, you had to draw a path with the stylus for him to move along on, and you could also tap on enemies to stun them, or Kirby to speed them up.
It was a really challenging, new kind of way to interact with the protagonist of a game and his foes.
7. Yoshi’s Island
Like Kirby Canvas Curse, this game was a fresh spin on an old character. Controlling Yoshi with the stylus was fun, and it was also really cool that he could jump into the top screen.
This game is very similar to the other Yoshi’s Island games, but because the controls were so different it made it feel almost brand new. So while Yoshi carrying babies on his back was something we had all done before, controlling him with the tap of your hand wasn’t.
6. Mario Kart
Of course Mario Kart makes this list—it’s freaking Mario Kart.
Now, I think this game could have utilized the touch screen more than it did. But, the fact you could blow into the microphone to inflate balloons was pretty cool!
The ability to play other people was great; instead of sharing one console and multiple controllers, you had your own device and could play sitting across the room from each other. It made family vacations even more fun, when you could yell at your brothers through the walls of your hotel room for throwing a blue shell your way.
Sorry, mom and dad….
5. Final Fantasy III
Similar to some of the titles on this list, Final Fantasy is very far from a new game. It’s familiar, and right off the bat you know it’s going to be fantastic. A big bonus feature of this game is the return of experience points. The one downside that’s pretty disappointing about the game, keeping it from a higher ranking on the list, is the lack of using all of the Nintendo DS’s features. Not using the dual screens for a majority of the game felt a little pointless.
However, great story, features, and the ability to play a familiar game on a new system is always a win.
4. Advance Wars: Dual Strike
Chess has been around for countless generations. It simulates warfare at a basic (but very strategic!) level. What if chess had tanks, zany maps and fictional generals that grant you superpowers?
Enter Advance Wars: Dual Strike, which does all of this and more, and even allows you to play with friends on the same DS. The vibrant colors and upbeat music accompany a surprisingly deep strategy experience—even those aforementioned superpowers require good planning to use effectively—complete with a map editor so you can create even more varied or off-the-wall scenarios to play with your friends.
3. Pokémon HeartGold Version and Pokémon SoulSilver
Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver deliver nostalgia in spades.
Remakes of the sequels to the original Pokémon games, they featured beefed-up graphics, a remixed soundtrack, and new characters and secrets to uncover. While the games don’t necessarily reinvent the Pokémon formula—choose a starter, travel the world, defeat Team Rocket, collect gym badges, and finally beat the Elite Four—they offer a great experience and a lot of memories for those who still remember the Game Boy Color. And they even contain the entire map of Kanto, the original Pokémon world, to explore alongside the newer Johto.
Sequels can often disappoint, but HeartGold and SoulSilver knew how to do it right.
2. Super Princess Peach
This game was exactly what the doctor called for. I’m sick of you, Mario!
It was super fun (no pun intended) to go through levels defeating enemies as Princess Peach. While the game could’ve taken much more advantage of the touch screen, this was a fresh, brilliant game.
The colors, graphics, music and everything felt really new. As a young girl, it was exciting to feel like I had a game made for me and marketed to me that was still beating up bad guys.
1. Animal Crossing: Wild World
As far as I’m concerned, every other game on this list doesn’t even compare to Animal Crossing: Wild World. Go home, guys. Pack it up.
Animal Crossing was back in a BIG way with its second game. The touch screen opened up an entirely new world (okay, pun intended this time) of possibilities for your villager. Run, fish, catch bugs, wave to your neighbor, all at the tap of a stylus!
There were some old features I missed from the GameCube version, but this game overall was just marvelous. Visiting other player’s towns, no matter how far away they were from you, was incredibly exciting. The introduction of the hair salon so you could ditch the ugly cone hat—amazing! Just amazing.
Crossbreeding flowers, the coffee shop in the museum, and even the music was fantastic.
My only complaint, though very minor, is that the top screen could maybe have been used a bit more. But it was still fun when a package flew across and you could slingshot it.
Overall, I’ve sunk more time into this game than almost any other. It never gets boring, it’s always fun, and I still play it 14 years later.
About the Author: Kelcey McClung is a freelance reporter who has been featured in a variety of publications. She loves Star Wars, Animal Crossing, and almost every PlayStation game ever made. If you think you’ve completed all the park objectives in Roller Coaster Tycoon more times than she has, she’ll take you up on that bet.