Gaming giant Nintendo pioneered the handheld gaming industry with the Game Boy, first introduced in the United States in 1989. The Game Boy went through a number of iterations and upgrades before Nintendo took the next logical step and introduced the DS, a device similar to the Game Boy, but with two screens instead of one.
Although the DS has since been replaced by its relative, the 3DS, it’s still home to some of my favorite video games. A while back, I wrote a blog post about my Top 5 video games on another old Nintendo console, the GameCube, and today I’d like to do the same with the DS.
The “rules” for this list are similar to the ones for my GameCube post, but with one small exception.
- A game that was not completed can be included if I feel like I completed it enough to have experienced it fully
- Only one game per franchise, spinoffs included
- Games created exclusively for the 3DS are NOT included, as I consider that a different console.
Now, without further ado, here are my favorite Nintendo DS games in no particular order.
Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations
In fairness, all of the Ace Attorney games are enjoyable, but of the four DS titles that I’ve played, Trials & Tribulations is by far my favorite. The gameplay is relatively unchanged from the two games that precede it, but where T&T really shines is its story. Despite two rather mediocre “filler” cases, the overall story is woven cleverly through past and present cases, and even the filler chapters hint at elements that come into play in the final case. In addition, it brings many previous plotlines full circle, introduces new, dynamic characters, and brings back some old favorites for one last showdown. Although it’s been a while since I picked this one up, it still sticks with me.
Plus, it has a punny title. How could I not like it?
The first Pokémon game I ever played was Sapphire edition, so I missed the two generations that came before it. When it was announced that the Generation II games, Silver and Gold were receiving remakes, I was ecstatic. I’d always wanted to travel the Johto region, and now I’d have the chance.
Even though SoulSilver and its counterpart, HeartGold probably won’t be receiving any gaming awards anytime soon, I still enjoyed the adventure that this game provided. I could visit not just one but two different regions, and there was so much to explore. I had the time of my life playing this game, and I still dust it off every so often.
Dragon Quest IX
Truth: I bought Dragon Quest IX because I read about it in a Nintendo Power feature and thought it looked like fun. Up until that point, the closest thing to a role-playing game (RPG) that I’d played was Pokémon, and I’m not sure that really counts. But I decided to give this one a shot.
And wow, did I have fun with it! At this point, I can’t even remember if I completed the game or not, since the story just never seemed to end, but I really enjoyed creating my team of fighters, leveling them up, figuring out what different items and abilities could do, and so on. Dragon Quest IX is what really got me interested in strategy-based gameplay, which is still something I enjoy today. While I’m sure there are other RPGs you could say are much better, this one will always hold a special place in my heart.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
Technically, this was my brother’s game, but I took possession of it after he got bored of it. I didn’t know what to expect with my first foray into the Mario & Luigi franchise, but I was not disappointed. The story is convoluted, but to summarize: Mario and Luigi, the heroes of the Super Mario franchise, have become trapped inside the body of their nemesis, Bowser (hence the title of the game). In order to resolve this, you must fight and defeat Fawful, a mad scientist with a humorously poor grasp of basic syntax.
From there, you’re set up with two sides: The first, controlling Bowser in the overworld, and the second, controlling Mario and Luigi inside of Bowser. The game mixes side-scrolling platformers with RPG gameplay, which I’d never seen before. The two “worlds” of the game also fit together seamlessly – what Bowser does affects Mario and Luigi, and vice versa. This game also has some of the most well-written dialogue I’ve seen from the Mario franchise, matched only by Super Paper Mario.
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
Although not one of my favorite Zelda games, Spirit Tracks is still an enjoyable entry in the franchise. For the first time, I (knowingly) had Princess Zelda by my side, which brought a new gameplay dynamic to the table. This was also the first Zelda game I played on a DS, and the touch screen created some other new and interesting puzzles for me to solve in New Hyrule’s various dungeons. And, of course, it was fun to drive the train around.
Super Princess Peach – Great role reversal for the Mario franchise, but quite frankly, this game was too easy and not engaging enough to be considered a favorite. I do like the vibe power though.
Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia – One of the first games I played with a relatively engaging story, but its lost its replay value over time and I haven’t had the urge to play it in ages.