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Feature: Bargain Bin DS Games

Posted by Javier Santana Panero

The best things in life are cheap

With 3DS firmly established in the market for more than 12 months and the Nintendo DS entering what can be confidently called its twilight year, there is no better time to head to the (virtual or physical) bargain bin to nab yourself some overlooked DS gems to keep you entertained until 3DS releases pick up momentum later in the year.

Here’s a selection of games you can find for a fraction of what Animal Crossing: Wild World will cost you, while providing just as many hours of joy.

Jam with the Band
Available for around £5 on eBay UK / unreleased in the U.S.

A sequel to the Japan-only musical game Daigasso! Band Brothers, Jam with the Band took nearly two years to appear on Western shores, but when it finally did, Nintendo made sure it was jam-packed full of content to justify the wait. In essence a Rock Band-style rhythm game, Jam with the Band offers more than 75 pop hits ranging from Depeche Mode to Whitney Houston (plus plenty of Nintendo classic tunes) to tap buttons along to, with the option to play more than 60 different instruments in 5 different difficulty levels. Admittedly, something had to give in order to fit all this in a small DS cartridge, and quantity was chosen over music quality: the game uses MIDI tracks instead of the actual songs compressed into the game card, but if you can see past this limitation, its 8-player multiplayer Download Play and the possibility of downloading up to 100 extra songs for free more than make up for it.

The game was never released in the US, but is widely available in Europe and must have flopped hard enough for new copies to have such a low price tag, especially considering it’s distributed by Nintendo.

Another cheap alternative: Guitar Hero on Tour – while controls are nowhere near as tight as in Jam with the Band due to gimmicky add-ons, the use of the actual master tracks of the songs may give the Activision title the upper hand for some.

Advance Wars: Dual Strike

Available for around £8 on eBay UK / $12 on eBay U.S.

Strategy games, with their reliance on reflection and slow-burn tactics, generally provide a good bang for your buck. The DS is home to several of these titles, but the bargain bin crown must go to Advance Wars: Dual Strike for its perfect balance of cheap as chips price, refined turn-based gameplay and genuine replayability. Once you’ve conquered the standard 28-mission campaign mode, you can venture into the War Room for another 25 extra unlockable maps, while Survival and Combat modes offer unique spins to the traditional AW formula (the former is a non-stop combat against relentless enemy squadrons while the latter transforms the game into a real-time strategy title). The AI has become too predictable, you say? Spread the tactic fever with both single and multi-cartridge multiplayer, swap your own battlefield maps created in the editor mode or try your hand at the Hard difficulty level for some real carnage.

Another cheap alternative: A sequel, Advance Wars: Dark Conflict (Days of Ruin in the US), was released in 2008 and has a similarly low second hand value. If you don’t find its “grittier” take on the Advance Wars universe too off-putting, Dark Conflict offers new units, properties and online connectivity for both battling and map exchanging in case you can’t find any other strategists near you.

Rhythm Paradise (Rhythm Heaven — US)
Available for around £6 second hand on eBay UK / $10 on eBay U.S.

There’s weird, and then there’s Rhythm Paradise. A sequel to the GBA rhythm-action game Rhythm Tengoku that never left Japanese shores (is there a pattern emerging here?), Rhythm Paradise was marketed in the West as the funny uncle of the Touch! Generation games, a quirky but simple 50 music mini-game collection that any Brain Training regulars might enjoy. Nintendo went as far as hiring Beyoncé for the promotional campaign, pretending the game was so accessible even a successful popstar could grasp how to play it (if you’ve ever seen the TV adverts, she really couldn't.)

The reality is Rhythm Paradise turned out to be more of a cult title than a casual million seller and it struggled to find a mainstream audience, but if you happen to fall into the niche it caters for — gamers who like music games, rather than music fans who like games — it's one of the cleverest examples of sound design at the service of gameplay. It’s no walk in the park either, requiring players to use their ears more than their eyes and throwing random challenges to achieve perfect scores for a wealth of bonus content to be unlocked, including synchronised glass-tapping in singles bars (!) or rock guitar lessons to the tune of the Munchy Monk song.

Another cheap alternative: Is the DS the home of the overlooked rhythm games? Elite Beat Agents, with a friendlier if slightly schizophrenic song selection ranging from Deep Purple to Avril Lavigne, has unjustly been relegated to obscurity (and the bargain bin) when it should have achieved immortality.

Picross DS
Available for under £5 on eBay UK / $10 on eBay U.S.

The DS isn't short on puzzle games, but while some of its most famous ones (Tetris DS, Puzzle League DS) favour a frantic pace and a heftier price tag, Picross DS has a humble admission ticket and a deceiving sudoku-lite presentation to lure you in. Its premise — reveal the picture hidden behind a grid using numerical clues — is not entirely dissimilar to Minesweeper, which may sound like faint praise until the first 40-odd puzzles of its 300-plus compilation are out of the door and you're left to brave some real mind-benders armed with just a stylus and blind confidence in Nintendo’s masterful puzzle design. Before you know it, Picross DS has turned its siren charms onto you, becoming a huge time sink that can take over your life with its alluring “just one more” chants.

Another cheap alternative: Picross 3D, released in 2009, swaps the grid of its predecessor for a geometrical prism made of cubes that players must chip away following the same numerical clues as in the 2D version. The transition into the third axis is seamless and the game is every bit as addictive as Picross DS, albeit with a slightly higher price (£15-20) due to smaller distribution numbers.

Sim City DS
Available for under £5 on eBay UK / $8 on eBay U.S.

In terms of value for money, you can’t really go wrong with a game that has no ending, especially one you can buy for the price of a pint. It also helps that Sim City DS doesn’t stray too far away from the tried and tested formula of the series it belongs to but still manages to take advantage of unique features of the DS such as the double screen and the touch controls. Portability also fits a city-building simulator like a glove, as part of the fun in the game comes from learning how to prioritise the different mayoral tasks — creating residential areas, laying down road tracks, managing crisis — in short periods of time. The ability to save at any time also guarantees that every little bit of progress contributes to the overall betterment (or fall from grace) of your mayoralty.

The randomness of events like strikes or natural disasters manage to constantly keep you on your toes, but should you feel like you’ve already mastered the art of building your own perfect city, Sim City DS offers a ‘Save the City’ mode where players are thrust in the middle of a troubled scenario with the objective of turning the tables like a super-human politician.

Another cheap alternative: If local politics isn't your cup of tea, why not try your hand at the ruthless business of amusement parks? Theme Park DS, although simpler in scope than Sim City and marred by some dodgy touch screen controls, oozes micromanagement charm and is a decent remake of the 1994 classic.

What cheap DS games do you think are must-haves?

From the web

User Comments (98)



Bass_X0 said:

Nope. I got Little King's Story for £5. That was the best deal ever.



CanisWolfred said:

I think I'm actually caught up on DS games, now. I'd love to throw in some more interesting and cheap games, but I'm afraid I have very expensive tastes (the best Bargain Bin game I grabbed was a copy of Super Robot Wars L for $30 on Play-Asia. Even after a $40 discount, it's still a relatively high price). Though I did notice there was no mention of Feel the Magic XX/XY.

Also, Retro Game Challenge was in Bargain Bins for the longest time...and still is. Why aren't you buying this game, people? Solatorobo is cheap, too.



Whopper744 said:

I was wondering where that purple wearing, guitar playing girl came from. She's an assist trophy in Smash Bros reason I wish they wouldn't put stuff from games that are from Japan only. Kind of feel left out. Anyway, way off topic here...



BulbasaurusRex said:

Outside of Pokemon, I find the DS library to be extremely dull, although those Advance Wars games sound good. Does anyone know of any other good hardcore genre DS games without a Wii counterpart or overly weird/complicated control schemes (Kirby Mass Attack, Starfox Command)?

Hmm, now that I have the Kid Icarus stand, I should look into finding a decently priced copy of Metroid Prime Hunters.



Tasuki said:

Oh wow I totally forgot about SImcity DS until now glad I waited $8 is a steal.



Wheels2050 said:

As MickeyMac said, Feel the Magic is incredibly cheap (I got it for $5 including shipping, brand new, from eBay). There are plenty of other bargains around the place, particularly on eBay.

I've got a few more DS games I'd like to get if I can, but I've got nearly all of the ones that I'm interested in. In a way it'll be nice once games stop coming out for the DS - then I'll feel a sense of closure in terms of collecting!



Squashie said:

Yeah! I recently picked up Rhythm Paradise for a under a pound! From the GAME sale! It's a great game with insane difficulty!



-TR said:

I know there are bigger libraries out there, but I am the proud owner of 88 DS games (Plus 12 3DS games- What can I say? I'm a horrific impulse buyer), and honestly feel it has the best range of games I've ever seen from one system. And now you've reminded me about it, Sim City will probably be the 89th now!



rjejr said:

Not exactly bargain bin, but I did just buy DQ V and Solatorobo for about $12 each for my 2 3DS owning sons.



Zergling said:

I can assure you that nothing will ever get close to matching the amount of time I have spent playing Animal Crossing



JeanLuc_Vaycard said:

I agree with Elite Beat Agents. You can usually find the game used for like $5 or $6. I've seen it for even less than that too. Also I usually see Dragon Quest Rocket Slime for like $7 or $8 too. That game is an awesome little platformer with really fun tank battles. Get it now!



BudDudSlash said:

I see Henry Hatsworth pretty often for $15USD or less. That game's incredible and overlooked.



DarkCoolEdge said:

I got Rhythm Heaven for 3€ and AW: Dark Conflict for 4'95€, both new.

Oh, and Let's Tap (Wii)...2'95€ new too.



AVahne said:

My collection of DS games that I bought in anticipation for getting a 3DS was stolen, don't know when I'll have a nice collection again :/
But at least I've started it up again with Phantasy Star Zero, Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon, and Gundam 00(Japan).



Virus said:

Fantastic list, although I unfortunately (or fortunately?) bought most of these games when they were full price.



Daeseok said:

About £5 (used) games-

Well, there are Nintendo's brain training games, for a starter.
*Trauma Centre : Under the knife provides lots of frantic touchscreen actions, although the story's just rubbish.

  • Broken Sword: Director's Cut' - If you haven't tried this game 15 years ago, it's worth trying it now. Too bad the voice acting has been cut out for the DS version. but still has all the puzzles + extra chapters.
  • Magical Starsign is a good RPG in terms of gameplay- try this if the cutesy characters and trite story don't bother you too much.
  • MR. Driller Drill Spirits - as good as any other Mr. Driller titles.
  • Shiren the Wanderer - personally spent 100+ hours on this game. Some will hate this game, the others will love it. Roguelike without any compromises.
  • Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Like Shiren, but much easier. Repetitive, but some will find it fun. The first game (Blue Rescue Team) is traded quite cheap.
  • 100 Classic Book Collection - Books for cheap
  • Pokemon Link - Fun puzzle game.
  • Meteos - One of the very first games on DS and still one of the best ones.
  • Hotel Dusk - Nice adventure game.
  • Civilization Revolution - May not have all the glory of PC versions, but still a very good game.
  • GTA: Chinatown Wars - wonder why anyone missed this game? So much to do in the city. DS version still the best because of the controls.
  • Pac Pix - another early game, but drawing your own pacman and making move is defo the coolest thing in the Pacman history.
  • Yoshi; Touch&Go - Started as a tech demo when DS was being developed, this game's so simple, but so addictive as well.


abINC4L said:

It's not bargain, but I got The World Ends With You for about $16 and it's by far one of the best JRPGs I've played in a while, and one of the most creative.



Expa0 said:

Of those Advance Wars is the only one I've played and also the only one that is even vaguely interesting. Though Advance Wars Days of Ruin is infinetly better than Dual Strike.



AbuJaffer said:

Rhythm Heaven is $10 or less at those big-retailers like Sears (and its branches), Target, Walmart, etc. I suggest going there; the other games are discounted as well. I recall seeing Advance Wars for dirt cheap at one of the stores...

@abHS4L It single-handedly made my 3DS purchase worth it. $20 here, and it was worth every penny.

(All prices are new by the way)



NESguy94 said:

I go to a second hand game store in town that will beat anyone but Goodwiill's prices. I picked up Pokemon Diamond there for $15. Most of the stuff I've picked up is vintage so I won't mention it here.

I am going to have to buy some new DS games the next chance I get.



Freelance said:

SimCity DS is a bad choice. Muddled colours, LONG saving times, stupid minigames. No undo button. SimCity shouldn't have left the PC platform.

Civ: Rev is a better choice. Not as indepth as the PC versions, but it doesn't have the problems SC DS has..



argus said:

"Elite Beat Agents, with a friendlier if slightly schizophrenic song selection ranging from Led Zeppelin to Avril Lavigne"

Hang on a second there - Led Zeppelin? There's no Zeppelin in EBA. It would be awesome if there were, but there isn't.

Now you've got me wondering which track you mistook for Led Zeppelin. Please don't tell me you mixed them up with the Rolling Stones!



OldBoy said:

No one mention Soul Bubbles yet? Try it ,its a great little game and cheap as chips too.Also everyone should try GTA:CW even if you don't like the recent console versions. The top down view is superb and the driving is so fun.It also has the best set up for getting rid of cops ,mainly, ramming them off the road!!
So many great games on the DS ,I hope we see the same kind of library on the 3DS in the future.



jspanero said:

You're absolutely right argus, there is no Led Zeppelin in EBA, I got them mixed up with Deep Purple. Apologies, dinosaur rock is not my mastermind subject of choice We'll correct it asap.



DarkCoolEdge said:

Oh, I forgot. I also got (all new) The World Ends With You for 5€, Project Rub for 4'5€, Moon (7€), FFTA2 Grimoire of the Rift (3€ and 155 hours, lol), Dragon Quest IV (7€)...



KoiTenchi said:

I wasn't aware Jam with the Band had a UK release...

Around 2 years back I imported it from Japan. It's a fun game, but importing from the UK instead would have kept me from having to struggle around with menus whenever I decide to play it.



black-kyurem said:

These games should be on this list
·All of the ds pokemon rpg's before black/white.
·New super mario bros.
·Megaman starforce 1-3
·And mario kart ds



PokeNas said:

I found Metroid Prime Hunters the other day for 8 euros and im loving it. I just cant put it down especially for the multiplayer!



HandheldGuru97 said:

I found Simcity Creator a bit better than the original Simcity DS, I believe they are both cheap so which ever one floats your boat than go for it. There not bad games at all for a few bucks.



TheRegginator said:

You should have also mentioned Picross 3D. The game's very fun like it's predecessor Picross DS and was only $20 when it came out. It's sure to cost even less now.



NImH said:

I've been totally taken with Alice In Wonderland for the DS. It's dirt cheap and really fun with a sweet design style. Disney impressed me with that little obscurity.



RevolverLink said:

After glancing through Amazon's DS selection for a few minutes, Picross 3D, Monster Tale, The Legendary Starfy, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, Elite Beat Agents, Rhythm Heaven, WarioWare D.I.Y., Retro Game Challenge and N+ are all quality titles that can be found brand new for less than $15.

And if you bump your budget up to $20, then you're really expanding the amount of great stuff to choose from (999, Okamiden, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, the 2nd and 3rd Professor Layton games, Solatorobo, The World Ends With You, Super Scribblenauts, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks and Chrono Trigger, to name just a few).



warioswoods said:

Picross 3D is consistently much cheaper than Picross DS in the US. I'll take your word that the two prices are reversed in Britain, however.



CanisWolfred said:

@Daeseok Even the gameplay in Magical Starsign was mediocre, IMO. It did try to do some different stuff here and there, but overall it was just boring to play. A shame, too. It was the first time I was tricked by pretty graphics into playing a boring game.

@black-kyurem Those Pokemon games still go for over $20 used. That's far from Bargain bin material.



CanisWolfred said:


Almost every DS game I still own are games that you should be looking for. My BL's here:

Ones to avoid: TWEWY (weird controls), Mass Attack (Weird Controls), and Ni no Kuni (Japanese, very expensive import). Note, though, that I lack platformers. I'm looking to grab Monster Tale, Henry Hatsworth, and a few others I'm sure I could think of if I read the rest of the comments.



BulbasaurusRex said:

@Mickeymac Unfortunately, most of those are RPGs, and I've already got all I can handle there between Pokémon White, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, and Xenoblade Chronicles. I don't know how you have the time to play so many RPGs, the lengthiest genre known to man (outside of the MMO subgenre).



sinalefa said:

Of these I bought EBA and Rhythm Heaven, the latter a total steal at $5, EBA was around $10 more expensive but still a great purchase. I would love to get Picross DS but I have never seen a bargain price for it. Quite the opposite, as that cart is out of print. Picross 3D is much cheaper, though.



Undead_terror said:

yep the last time i went to the store black ops ds was 30 bucks now its 18
something on yet off topic,i found rhythem heaven in a game bin and the game bin is suppose to be 18 bucks or less but the game cost 34 bucks,SOMEONE TROLLING ME >:[



Mattiator said:

Here in Canada, I found like 6 used copies of Tom Clancy's EndWar on the DS going for $2 at an EBGames. It's a generic strategy game, but it's functional enough, and for two dollars it's definitely worth a purchase.



Scissors said:


I've purchased 3 counterfeit games off of eBay. ONLY BUY DS GAMES WHEN THERE'S AN ACTUAL PICTURE OF THE GAME AND CASE, NOT A STOCK PHOTO. I cannot stress this enough, I've been duped 3 different times. Even if the seller has hundreds of positive ratings and no negatives they might be selling fakes. DO NOT BUY especially if they're selling from Hong Kong.



FonistofCruxis said:

The only one of those that is interesting to me is Rhythm paradise which is good but very overrated. Rhythm thief is where its at! The best deal I got on a DS game was Phoenix Wright: Ace attorney for around £7.00.



CanisWolfred said:

@BulbasaurusRex I'm unemployed in a horrible job market. It's really not that hard. And not even half of them are RPGs. I counted. That leaves around 30 non-RPGs, which shouldn't be too hard for you to find a few you'd be interested in.



GamerZack87 said:

A fraction of the price of AC:WW? Let's see...I paid $15 for my copy, so that means...I can get quality DS games for $3 each?!



RetroGBHippie92 said:

Do preowned games games count? i got a bargain on Legacy of Ys: Books 1&2 on DS for $20 NZD AND it came with the Music CD too! It's a decent RPG, Book 1 is extremely short but i'm pretty sure Book 2 makes up for 1.
I was actually excited getting this cos it's my first Atlus RPG, not bad so far, but i've played less than 7 hours and pretty much completed Ys book 1, looking forward to book 2 though.




I have played all of those already and sold them on! I did get two of them for well under 10 pounds about a year back I think. There's likely to be quite a few other DS bargains around such as Super Scribblenauts and Bangai-o-spirits for under a tenner if u hunt around on line



chewytapeworm said:

@MickeyMac Mass Attack has weird controls??? They couldn't be simpler and easier to use! It makes it an essential purchase in my eyes, but I'm not quite sure whether I'd spot it in any bargain bins just yet...



ThumperUK said:

You can pick up a new copy of Super Scribblenauts on Amazon for £7.99 - an absolute bargain for an underrated and highly addictive game. As well as grown-ups, it is also great for children as it helps expand their vocabulary and improve spelling!



Laytonmobile said:

I think I found Infinite space for under £10 a while back. That's definitely not to be missed.



Dodger said:

The gamestop at the mall was selling Animal Crossing: Wild World new for $20 which is the same cost as most bargain bin games that aren't used so that isn't THAT bad for an absolutely fantastic game.

Civilization: Revolution is a rather good handheld version of Civ that I got for $8. Not as good as the PC versions but still fun.

I got my sister Rhythm Heaven new for $10 which is cheaper then Gamestop's used price at Sam's Club. Actually not a bad place to check for some good bargain bin games that everyone else stopped selling a long time ago. Saw a Boy and his Blob for $12, might pick that up sometime.

I want Picross DS but I can never find it used and I don't like buying online. Shipping always makes it cost more. Well, I can find it used but not at a store that isn't out of my way. I haven't beaten Mario's Picross yet though so I should be fine for a while.



BulbasaurusRex said:

@Mickeymac It's not necessarily the touch controls. Where Mass Attack is concerned, I don't like controlling multiple characters at once or controlling characters indirectly.



CanisWolfred said:

@BulbasaurusRex Okay. You still probably wouldn't like TWEWY, then, since you di control multiple characters at once, this time in a "Rub-stomach-pat-head" type fashion.



theblackdragon said:

@Mickeymac: he can probably pick it up for pretty cheap at the moment if he'd like to give it a try. I very nearly passed it up myself because the controls looked too complicated for me, but damned if it's not one of my favorite DS titles now. You can change the difficulty if you're having trouble, after all, and you kinda get used to spamming attacks on the top and bottom screens simultaneously. :3



CanisWolfred said:

That is true, it is cheap. I'm just saying that it doesn't sound like something for him from what he's told me.



CanisWolfred said:

@theblackdragon That's the thing, I'm not preventing people from making recommendations. I'm just reminding them of the information the person they recommended already gave people - information they obviously overlooked - so they can make better recommendations. I'm just trying to be helpful here, but I see my help is not wanted, so I guess I'll just take my leave.



rosemo said:

Good games I have gotten on DS for cheap (i.e.less than $10):
1. Soul Bubbles
2. Lock's Quest
3. Elebits: The Adventures of Kai and Zero
4. Retro Game Challenge
5. Elite Beat Agents
6. Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure



Fuzzy said:

Picross DS, Retro Game Challenge, Monster Tale, Mega Man Zero Collection. 4 cheap games I've picked up in stores that I've really enjoyed.



Luigi_is_better said:

I found Rhythem heaven for $8 at a retail store! The first time I turned it on I realized I would have paid a full $30 for it and still felt I was getting a good deal! I couldn't put it down, playing it almost exclusively for months. When I only had perfects left to get, I would have to take some breaks so I didn't break my DS in frustration; it's that demanding of a game, and I loved it all the more for it. I am pleased to say that I have all perfects in the game and unlocked everything, a feat I am very proud of. I can't recommend it enough to others. Anybody else get 100%?



Burning_Spear said:

Picross 3D can be found for 10 or 12 bucks new, and it's a ridiculously good value. One of the top 10 DS games, IMO.



thedanman64 said:

I mananged to get Super Street Fighter 4 3D from GAME for just 98p! It was completely new and sealed. Turns out they had overstocked on Street Fighter and were trying to get rid of them as quickly as possible.



KotoneMira said:

@BulbasaurusRex The DS library is actually a treasure trove of hardcore games if you dig through the mounds of shovelware!

I personally recommend the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series, Dragon Quest/Final Fantasy, 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons 9 Doors, Disgaea, Chrono Trigger, Castlevania, Contact, Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor (1 and 2), Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey (classic draw-your-own-map dungeon crawler with an emphasis on story and battle), Etrian Odyssey (really addictive dungeon crawlers in the same style as Strange Journey, with an added emphasis on exploration), Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, Ghost Trick, the Mario & Luigi games, Okamiden, the Professor Layton series, The World Ends With You, The Dark Spire (for extremely hardcore minimalist dungeon crawling), Trauma Center: Under the Knife (1 and 2), and Suikoden: Tierkreis. There are a lot of other ones that I love, but these seem to be the more "hardcore" ones. Please give some of them a try!



SyFyTy said:

@Scissors All you have to do is ASK if it works on a DSI or XL/LL if thier answer is YES, it's real, if NO, it's fake. It's that simple. I am a seller myself, though I never sold fakes I often use stock photos to save time. Many people ,unfortunately, don't mind playing the fakes on thier DS Phat or DS lite. Even Gamestop/EB Games and such have fakes too. People trade thier ebay fakes in there for credit. It's now the nature of things. It is sad because it gives a whole venue (Ebay) a bad name. The sellers WILL tell you (as above) BTW, because thier rating decides how far down the line they show up on your search. SO they DO care even though they sell these. They can't afford a bad rating..

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