Best DSiWare Games
Image: Nintendo Life

The demise of the 3DS and Wii U eShops has had many of us reminiscing on the days not too long ago when those digital stores were in their prime — as well as firing those stores up on their respective consoles to make sure we have all the games we want before they disappear for good next March.

One part of the 3DS store in particular feels like it may have gotten a little lost in the crowd: the DSiWare store. The handheld counterpart to WiiWare, this was a walled garden of digital-only games that appeared first on the DSi hardware revision of the original DS is often overlooked but is still currently accessibly via the 3DS eShop in its own little section, and it's got a lot more games of note than you might have expected! A bunch of first-party-developed and published titles appear below, from studios with great pedigree. DSiWare gave developers room to experiment with smaller ideas unburdened by the financial risks of a full physical release — and the results were often fascinating. It's not just a bunch of clock apps, you know! Although it's got those, too.

3DS EShop
Lots of blocks to fill (Image: Nintendo Life)

Below we've collected together a large selection of DSi hidden gems and curio classics that — for the most part — simply aren't available anywhere else. While you may happen across them on secondhand consoles in the future, at present there is no other official way to purchase and play these games, which is a crying shame. We've got archived reviews for every one of the games below, so check those out if you want to know more.

Just be aware that you can't use credit cards to pay for 3DS eShop games after May 23rd, 2022, and you won't be able to add funds via gift cards at all past August 29th, 2022 (although if you have your Nintendo Network ID linked to your Nintendo Account, the pooled funds will still be accessible on the closing stores until March 2023). So, now's the time to load up on gift cards while you can — and, if you fancy, get a nifty 10% off with our eShop gift card discount code. Details below!

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So, let's take a look — in no particular order — at a large portion of the Best DSiWare games money can buy. If you don't hang around, that is.

Note: We've included prices below where possible. Some games are only available in specific regions, as indicated by the currencies shown (US or UK), as well as the release dates for each entry. Also, most — but not all — of the DSi's catalogue transferred over to 3DS eShop prior to the service's discontinuation on DSi consoles in March 2017. Therefore, we haven't included any unavailable titles (Picdun and Pop Island: Paperfield, for example), nor titles that are easily available in physical form, or on Nintendo Switch via a port (hello, Shantae).

Photo Dojo (DSiWare)

Photo Dojo (DSiWare)Photo Dojo (DSiWare)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: SRD Co.
Release Date: 10th May 2010 (USA) / 19th Mar 2010 (UK/EU)

It’s hard to knock fun fighter Photo Dojo: its versatility and use of the DSi’s functions — including the in-built camera which lets you become the world's greatest fighter — are superb, and the potential to create fighters based on friends, figures and anything else you can photograph is enough to forgive its simplicity and lack of gameplay modes. For the slight asking price, it’s almost impossible to go wrong with this one if you have a few friends to play with and don’t mind laughing at your own expense.

Price: £1.79 / $1.99

X-Scape (DSiWare)

X-Scape (DSiWare)X-Scape (DSiWare)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Q Games
Release Date: 31st May 2010 (USA) / 16th Jul 2010 (UK/EU)

The sequel to the relatively obscure Japan-only Game Boy release X, X-Scape (or 3D Space Rank in PAL regions) stands as one of the most polished games on the DSi store. You play as the ace pilot of the VIXIV super-tank, blasting your way through aliens across several Tron-like worlds. X-Scape features a pretty meaty campaign and still holds up extremely well today. This one was also developed by Q-Games and Dylan Cuthbert, he of Argonaut and Star Fox fame.

Fun Fact: The tunnel music from this game made an appearance in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.

Price: £7.19 / $7.99

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! (DSiWare)

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! (DSiWare)Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! (DSiWare)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo Software Technology
Release Date: 8th Jun 2009 (USA) / 21st Aug 2009 (UK/EU)

Minis March Again is a competent, fun, and engaging little package — easily one of the top games to be had on DSiWare if you're into marching mini Marios. The level designer in this entry is excellent, but even if building devious contraptions isn't your cup of tea, you're still bound to have a grand old time.

Price: £7.19 / $7.99

Starship Patrol (DSiWare)

Starship Patrol (DSiWare)Starship Patrol (DSiWare)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Q Games
Release Date: 18th Jan 2010 (USA) / 18th Dec 2009 (UK/EU)

Another release from the talented developers at Q Games, Starship Defense (as it's known in North America) is a challenging tower defense game with an interesting visual style. The whole thing looks like it's drawn on mathematical graphing paper, and everything has a very clean look to it. Though it doesn't stray too far from the standard tower defense formula, the progression and upgrade systems are well paced and it can be surprisingly challenging.

Price: £4.49 / $4.99

Aura-Aura Climber (DSiWare)

Aura-Aura Climber (DSiWare)Aura-Aura Climber (DSiWare)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo Software Technology
Release Date: 22nd Feb 2010 (USA) / 1st Oct 2010 (UK/EU)

Don't be fooled by its adorable exterior — Nintendo Software Technology's Aura-Aura Climber offers an addictive arcade-style experience. This surprisingly complex game features intuitive controls and fluid gameplay that will have you hooked as soon as you've finished the tutorial. With two different modes of play available, ten unlockable levels, and thirty different Medals to collect — not to mention the incentive of beating your own scores — Aura-Aura Climber offers quite a bit of replay value and is an excellent addition to the DSiWare library.

Price: £1.79 / $1.99

Link 'n' Launch (DSiWare)

Link 'n' Launch (DSiWare)Link 'n' Launch (DSiWare)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Intelligent Systems
Release Date: 8th Feb 2010 (USA) / 6th Aug 2010 (UK/EU)

A gem from Intelligent Systems, Link 'n' Launch is easily one of the more unique puzzlers you're ever likely to play. It takes a very basic gameplay premise and moulds a unique outer space puzzle theme around it all. Intuitive touchscreen controls and an extremely basic set of gameplay objectives make the game easy to pick up but difficult to put down. While it can become a little repetitive after awhile, it's a game that you'll find better suited for short quick bursts of play rather than long drawn-out playing sessions — perfect for a handheld, then. Link 'n' Launch might not go so far as to set the puzzle genre on fire, but it's definitely unique enough to warrant investigation from puzzler fans.

Price: £4.49 / $4.99

Dragon Quest Wars (DSiWare)

Dragon Quest Wars (DSiWare)Dragon Quest Wars (DSiWare)
Publisher: Square Enix / Developer: Intelligent Systems
Release Date: 28th Sep 2009 (USA) / 9th Oct 2009 (UK/EU)

Another one developed by Intelligent Systems, if you can somehow curb your expectations of Dragon Quest Wars being a typical Dragon Quest-style RPG experience and accept it for the simple, yet enjoyable strategy title it is, then you'll find a very fulfilling and playable game here. The stylus control could have used a little tightening up and the single-player experience can be a bit bland, but the local multiplayer modes (if you can find a friend with the game for some DS Wireless play) more than make up for its shortcomings. It's another DSiWare offering that further proves the adage that sometimes less is more.

Price: £4.49 / $4.99

G.G Series THE HIDDEN NINJA KAGEMARU (DSiWare)

G.G Series THE HIDDEN NINJA KAGEMARU (DSiWare)G.G Series THE HIDDEN NINJA KAGEMARU (DSiWare)
Publisher: Genterprise / Developer: Genterprise
Release Date: 11th Jun 2015 (USA)

Genterprise put out a large series of smaller releases on DSiWare in North America — the G.G. series — and The Hidden Ninja Kagemaru manages to set itself apart as one of the most unique thanks to distinct art direction and interesting stealth platforming that mesh together to create a fantastic arcade experience that shouldn't be missed. We'd highly suggest you pick this one up while you can, it sits right up there with the best of the DSiWare series.

Price: $1.99

Dark Void Zero (DSiWare)

Dark Void Zero (DSiWare)Dark Void Zero (DSiWare)
Publisher: Capcom / Developer: Other Ocean Emeryville
Release Date: 18th Jan 2010 (USA) / 5th Mar 2010 (UK/EU)

This one was released by Capcom as a tie-in for the ill-fated Dark Void, amusingly receiving more critical acclaim than its big-budget PS3 counterpart.

Dark Void Zero is a 2D action platformer (also now available on Steam) where you run 'n' gun your way through three lengthy levels, with the ultimate goal of saving Earth from an alien threat. Its runtime may be a bit on the short side, but the collectables go a long way towards extending replayability and it's challenging to a satisfying degree. Also, that sequence where you have to "blow on the cartridge" is a nice touch.

Price: £4.49 / $4.99

Pinball Pulse: The Ancients Beckon (DSiWare)

Pinball Pulse: The Ancients Beckon (DSiWare)Pinball Pulse: The Ancients Beckon (DSiWare)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Fuse Games
Release Date: 12th Oct 2009 (USA) / 5th Mar 2010 (UK/EU)

When it comes to pinball games on the DS, one's mind generally thinks of the rather odd Metroid Prime Pinball. As it would happen, Fuse Games – the developer of Metroid Prime Pinball – also put out an original pinball game on ye olde DSi Shoppe back in 2009 - Pinball Pulse: The Ancients Beckon.

Featuring a pinball table inspired by Greek mythology, this game is quite well-designed and offers plenty of value for money. The dot-matrix display is a lovely touch, it features a good mixture of objectives, and the physics are surprisingly realistic.

Price: £4.49 / $4.99

Art Style: PiCTOBiTS (DSiWare)

Art Style: PiCTOBiTS (DSiWare)Art Style: PiCTOBiTS (DSiWare)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: skip
Release Date: 18th May 2009 (USA) / 22nd May 2009 (UK/EU)

Creating a killer puzzle game is a difficult task, but developer Skip succeeded in cooking up an entirely fresh take on the 'falling block puzzle game' for DSi. The formula for PiCTOBiTS (or Pictopict outside North America) is not as simple as some other games of its kind, but it works well enough. The bottom screen of the DS is essentially like a grid, and when you begin there are several BiTS along the bottom corresponding with a square on said grid. By touching the BiTS you essentially absorb them into the stylus, and by touching a blank spot on the screen you send them back out. Soon variously shaped blocks will begin falling, and it’s your job to make them into a symmetric piece at least four blocks in size.

It's a beautifully presented puzzler that's well worth a look.

Price: £4.49 / $4.99