Collecting together all four of the Game Boy Advance games in one convenient package, Inti Creates added an Easy mode and a couple of extra bits and pieces while assembling the Mega Man Zero Collection, but for the most the games were left to sell themselves in this compilation. Fortunately, the Zero series - which arguably follows the same trajectory of quality as the vanilla Mega Man games (good, brilliant, not-quite-as-brilliant, not-quite-as-brilliant-again) - was a short and sweet sideline of the Rockman brand and at a time when franchise fans had little else to look forward to from Capcom, this was one hell of a lifeline.
Alpha Dream created a fantastic take on the Super Mario RPG idea years ago on Game Boy Advance, but they took the concept to new heights with Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. The third title in the Mario & Luigi series, it would be easy to rave on and on about the game, but the best way to sum everything up would be to say Bowser's Inside Story is the kind of game that will remind you why you love playing video games in the first place. It's easily one of the best DS releases and although it received a 3DS update that we'd probably take in a straight contest, you really can't go wrong with either version. If this one passed you by, we recommend you get intimately acquainted with the King of the Koopas pronto.
Whether you can forgive its snaking ways or not, this was still a cracking entry in a series which arguably doesn't have a dud – even your least favourite entry is probably preferable to 99% of the alternative kart racers available. Snaking - a technique which involves using power slide boosts - did admittedly dampen the online experience back in the day if you hadn't mastered it, but online isn't an option now, so if you're unhappy with how your local competitors are snaking, you can simply lean over and communicate your dissatisfaction in a direct manner.
Of course, it's been surpassed since by its sequels, but having a fully 3D Mario Kart in your hands was a special feeling back in 2009, and Mario Kart DS holds a special place in many a kart-lover's heart.
The customary 'enhanced' third version of Chunsoft's Explorers of Time / Darkness pair, the meat of the gameplay in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky is found in constantly retreading through material and mechanics, so your mileage will vary and depend entirely upon how much you enjoy grinding in RPGs. However, the great story and charming presentation make this an enjoyable franchise spin-off and, provided you're not the type of player to be put off by a little repetition, this is a deep, fun and colourful dungeon crawler featuring everyone's favourite critters.
Kirby Super Star Ultra is a magnificent update of the SNES original with high production values and all the charm you've come to expect from the pink puffball over the years. HAL added a host of new modes and minigames for veterans, but this is accessible to all age groups. Though it may be a little on the easy side, the Kirby series is hardly known for its teeth-grinding difficulty and this is an outing for the saviour of Smash that's worth rediscovering.
From the new characters to the addition of the Battle Frontier and an enhanced online experience, Pokémon Platinum certainly offered a lot of game for your money back in 2009. Instead of taking the easy way out and adding only a couple of minor things, Game Freak went out of its way to add a ton of worthwhile additions that were enough to warrant a purchase even if you'd previously travelled across the Sinnoh region in Pokémon Diamond & Pearl when they released two years prior. If you're only going to play one Gen IV game, this is the one.
999 blends interactive novel elements with a digital escape room to stunning effect. It sports a captivating plot driven by a fantastic cast of characters, a satisfying mix of puzzles and mathematical, scientific and philosophical quandaries to ponder. While the third person descriptive prose might be lacking and solving the same unchanging escape sections repeatedly can become a bit of a bore, it's too compelling not to play through multiple times to see the "true" ending. The game more than makes up for its imperfections and creates a truly gripping experience that you owe it to yourself to try.
13. Tetris DS (DS)
You can see the 9am meeting at Nintendo HQ now: "Mornin' all. So, we're putting Tetris on the new portable and we need a name. Ideas?"
Fortunately, Nintendo SPD didn't head straight to the pub after striking upon the revolutionary Tetris DS title, but knuckled down to produce one of the finest iterations of the block-falling classic ever made. With touch controls, Wi-Fi connectivity and a truckload of Nintendo nods and winks, it is still one of the best ways to play the game and well worth tracking down if you've never had the pleasure.
Sometimes you can't help but marvel at how developers are somehow able to squeeze home console-sized RPG epics onto tiny handheld systems with the most modest of specs, and Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies stands as an impressive feat. Boasting a wealth of new gameplay features, Wi-Fi compatibility and multiplayer action as well, this remains a significant milestone in portable gaming and helped increase western interest in the hallowed Japanese RPG series.
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia was the third entry for the franchise on Nintendo DS, and the final Castlevania produced under the eye of Koji Igarashi, famed developer behind many series highlights including Symphony of the Night and, more recently, the Castlevania-inspired Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. With the Belmont clan gone, it's up to new heroine Shanoa to take on the world's most persistent vampire and his monstrous hordes.
Picking a favourite Castlevania is like picking a favourite child and something in the bottom half of one person's personal top 10 could easily be another's numero uno. This game was made over a decade after Symphony of the Night, with visuals and a soundtrack among the series' best, so if you skipped it for whatever reason, it's time to return to Dracula's castle once again.