This pair of Pokémon games from Chunsoft were sequels to Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team, games which (unusually) straddled the GBA and DS respectively, using the latter's GBA cartridge slot to interface between the two. Both Explorers of Time and Explorers of Darkness were DS-only and brought along all the Gen IV Pokémon. The game sees you transformed into a Pocket Monster at the beginning and, of course, you'll need both versions if you want to catch 'em all. Two years later the enhanced Explorers of Sky would arrive with added 'mons, dungeons and features. These games' repetitive gameplay isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if you're after dungeon crawling with added cuteness from your favourite franchise critters, it doesn't get much better than this.
Starting out on the N64 in Japan, Animal Crossing was arguably better suited to portable play from the very beginning and Animal Crossing: Wild World became an incredible time sink for millions on DS. We remember playing every single day over the course of a year and a half - no exceptions, no excuses. The online connectivity and the gentle day-to-day relationships you built with the game and its characters were as addictive as any video game we've ever played. This was one of the various DS titles with the power to hook people who'd never before played a video game.
Of course, going back now would expose just how far the series has come since 2005, and the crushing guilt of seeing our desolate, weed-infested village would be too much to bear, but this incredible video game became part of our lives for a good while there, and we'll treasure the memories we have of our little town forever.
The second in the DS trilogy of Ace Attorney games (that originally appeared on Game Boy Advance in Japan), Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice For All takes the baton from the first game and simply runs with it. A new psyche-lock mechanic was the only real addition - the player can unlock these mental barriers by finding clues relating to the secret they contain while questioning witnesses. This is very the middle part of an overall story - one that's collected together as a whole in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy on 3DS and Switch, but as a short and sweet courtroom visual novel, this second chapter is still one of the best.
37. Picross DS (DS)
It's Picross. It's on DS. It's great. There's really not much else to say about Picross DS. The introduction of touch controls opened up this game to a much wider audience and at a time when you couldn't board any form of public transport without brushing somebody filling out Sudoku puzzles in the back of their newspaper, this was the perfect way to zone out with a brain-teaser and ignore all those sweating commuters on the train. Plus, you get 100% less news ink on the side of your palm. Result!
Pokémon Black and White may not have the added nostalgia of HeartGold and SoulSilver, but they're still up there with some of the best in the series. What they lack in links to the past they gain by recreating the sense of discovery felt when embarking on that first Pokémon journey. Although there was no 'Pokémon Grey' updated edition, this pair arguably suffer in reputation from being the only games in the series thus far to have direct sequels set in the same region (albeit visiting new locations). Despite being shoved to the back of the queue in people's minds, these introductions to Gen V are still fantastic games in their own right and well worth revisiting if you're a fan of the franchise.
Hotel Dusk: Room 215 was an impressive and innovative title for the DS. It's scratchy pencil-line aesthetic looked great on the console and really fit the visual novel's mysterious tone, as well as the form of the system itself. Holding the DS like an open book, it showed other developers and players alike the potential of the system beyond the traditional approach gamers might expect, and made the console even less intimidating for a new audience who would go on to discover other games through touch controls. That hand-sketched art style also went down a treat with A-Ha fans, exposing a hitherto unknown overlap of the video game enthusiast and Norwegian synth-pop demographics.
The DS hosted a bunch of Final Fantasy titles, including some remakes - this one a reimagining of the game western audiences knew as Final Fantasy II on the SNES. This 3D iteration goes well beyond the improvements in the GBA port from three years earlier, and it comes as no surprise that this version of Final Fantasy IV is arguably the most approachable one going. It's still a very challenging game and not for the faint of heart, but with superb visuals, a great soundtrack and the top-notch gameplay you expect from this series, it's still a must-have RPG.
Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation might not be as flashy or intricate as something like Dragon Quest IX, but that certainly doesn't keep the game from being every bit as charming and engaging. Retaining the original's 16-bit style and not deviating a great deal from the classic formula, it upgrades various aspects of the Super Famicom game (it never made it to the west back in the day) to make it look and feel like a much more modern experience. Realms of Revelation is yet another fantastic addition to the impressive DS RPG library and a great way to revisit a classic.
Rhythm Heaven (or Rhythm Paradise as we know it in Europe) is the epitome of simple, clear game design, yet it never feels half-hearted in any regard. Its bare bones presentation helps new players get into into the swing of things, and once you 'get' it (and its strange sense of humour), you'll find it very difficult to put down. It’s packed full of content and replay value, with tunes you'll find yourself whistling when you're away from the game, and still stands as one of the finest titles to grace the DS. Sure, the Megamix entry on 3DS collects together many of the best games from this and other games in the series, but this is still worth picking up in its own right. Trust us, you'll be in rhythm game heaven (or paradise, depending on your side of the pond).
31. Picross 3D (DS)
Picross 3D is an addictive game which takes everything you love about regular old Picross and adds the third dimension to really start twisting your melon (man). Developed not by Jupiter - the studio responsible for the steady flow of 2D games on Nintendo platforms - but instead by HAL Laboratory, the rules might be a little more complicated but the game offers hours of brilliant puzzle-y content for those willing to persevere, and for anyone who has already played boring old 'normal' Picross to absolute death. Picross 3D Round 2 on 3DS brought stereoscopic 3D to the table and really fulfilled the promise of this game, but the original is still a winner. After all, you can never have too much Picross. Just ask Jupiter.