This ranked reader-voted list of the 50 best Nintendo DS games is governed by Nintendo Life User Ratings and can change depending on those scores. Feel free to rate your favourites and, perhaps, rejig the ranking below. Enjoy!

One of the joys of Nintendo's Switch is how it marries the company's home console heritage with its equally prestigious handheld line. Ask anybody over the age of 30 to name a handheld system and "Game Boy" will likely still be the first answer; the name became synonymous with portable gaming just as home consoles were routinely referred to as "Nintendos" back in the day. Younger generations, though, are more likely to name the unlikely upstart that stole Game Boy's portable crown and permanently ousted that mighty brand name from the company's lineup: Nintendo DS.

It's strange to think back to a time when the Nintendo DS — that odd-looking folding system — was positioned as a 'third pillar' alongside GameCube and Game Boy Advance. That was until it promptly slayed the Boy king and took his throne.

Nintendo DS Tetris DS
Image: Damien McFerran / Nintendo Life

The original prototype and even the initial 'Phat' version of the hardware certainly didn't look like much of a threat. The early reveal model Reggie pulled from his pocket looked undeniably clunky, especially up against the sleek elegance of Sony's PSP. There was a nervousness from fans that Sony's arrival on the handheld market was the death knell to Nintendo's dominance in the same way it had been with the home console market nearly a decade earlier. How was an ugly dual-screen Game and Watch-alike going to win a console war?! Nintendo seemed to be grabbing at straws, and inexplicably jumping off the good ship Game Boy, scuppering its flagship handheld for no good reason.

The gamble paid off, though, and the Nintendo DS became the first movement in a blue ocean strategy that Nintendo President Satoru Iwata would soon employ on the company's home console line with the Wii. With its approachable touchscreen input and huge breadth of software to appeal to audiences old and young, gamer and non-gamer alike, the DS helped bring handheld gaming to the masses which had felt 'excluded' from the Game Boy phenomenon for whatever reason.

Software like Brain Training and Nintendogs sat alongside core RPGs and classic games on a system that could be as wacky or as straight-laced as a developer desired. Gamers' favourite franchises continued to arrive in fresh forms while games like Animal Crossing: Wild World found a huge new audience, too. Perhaps the biggest compliment we can pay the Nintendo DS is that it made us forget entirely about the retirement of the 'Game Boy' brand - it's got one hell of a library!

We asked Nintendo Life readers to score for their favourite Nintendo DS games and, thanks to those User Ratings, the following ranked list of 50 games steadily congealed into existence. It's a very fine selection, but not one that's set in stone. This list can still evolve as games receive new user scores, so don't worry if you missed out on 'voting' — simply scroll down and rate them now! Be sure to check out our feature on the 50 best Nintendo 3DS games if you want to compare this console's lineup with its successor.

If there's a game bubbling under the top 50 that you'd like to rate, feel free to find it using the search tool below and give it a score out of 10. Otherwise, we proudly present the 50 best Nintendo DS games ever...

Note. In order for games to become eligible, they need a minimum of 50 User Ratings in total.

50. Okamiden (DS)

Okamiden is an epic adventure in every sense that just happens to be running on a diminutive DS. With a well written storyline, a huge over-world and gorgeous visuals and sound, it's an experience that compares favourably to the original Okami. There are occasional frame rate drops and some awkward D-Pad controls (much like Super Mario 64 DS, we recommend playing on a 3DS and using its analogue nub), but this is an exceptional achievement which will enchant you with its cute hero and heart-warming story. Even all these years later, it deserves a chance to be enjoyed if you liked Okami, or are a fan of Zelda-style adventure games.

49. Meteos (DS)

A tile-matching game from producer Tetsuya Mizuguchi, the developer behind such memorising titles as Rez, Lumines and, more recently, Tetris Effect, Meteos was an early puzzle hit in the life of the DS and a is good enough to stand proudly in the company of the very best in the genre. Discovering that quickly swiping the stylus across the screen often gave better results that consciously puzzling your way through was a minor disappointment, but those who avoided that temptation found a brilliantly addictive game - one that occupied our cart slot for many months.

48. Contra 4 (DS)

Contra 4 isn’t for everyone. The difficulty level, even when set to ‘Easy’, is quite frankly on the insane side. But with such a series you have to accept that this is intentional; a Contra title that doesn’t pose a stiff challenge isn’t worthy of the name. Stick with it, though, and you're virtually assured of huge rewards and plenty of ‘old school’ entertainment. It's an impeccably crafted blast-a-thon of the highest standard.

47. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice For All (DS)

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 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.

46. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (DS)

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks might suffer from a bad reputation, but if you can get past being tied to a train track, it really is an excellent entry. Trading sailing the high seas for choo-chooing across the kingdom by rail, you'd plot a route, set the speed, and clear the path of enemies using the in-built cannon. Spirit Tracks gave Zelda a proper role in the game for once, and also famously used the DS's microphone. You could blow into it to use the Whirlwind and Spirit Pipes, among other items. A fun little idea in concept, although it relied on audio to function, meaning that a noisy environment would interfere with play.

Spirit Tracks tweaked, expanded, and in some ways improved on Phantom Hourglass while throwing in some new novelties. Its fabulous soundtrack stands alongside the best of the series and we think it's time to reevaluate this entry in the storied franchise. C'mon, ride the train. It's a choo-choo.

45. WarioWare: D.I.Y. (DS)

Being able to create your own microgames was a dream come true for many WarioWare fans and the developers came through with flying colors in delivering not only a very functional set of creation tools, but a package that was easy enough for just about anyone to use. While the built-in games aren't quite of the variety and calibre of some of those found in other series entries, they're still quite enjoyable and a nice blueprint for those setting out to create their own. Those willing to put in the time and effort to become familiar with the creation tools found a very powerful and rewarding gaming experience in WarioWare: D.I.Y. limited only by their imaginations and free time.

44. Final Fantasy IV (DS)

Final Fantasy IV has seen more remakes and rereleases than most other Final Fantasy games, but don't let that put you off of the DS version. Final Fantasy IV on DS is a very challenging RPG that'll appeal to all fans of the genre: the graphics are superb, the soundtrack is great, and the gameplay is top-notch. Added features such as the Augmentation system and voice acting also add new wrinkles to this version of the classic. Aesthetic preferences aside, it's tough to play a 'bad' version of this game, so take your pick.

43. 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!

42. 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.

41. Pokémon Conquest (DS)

Pokémon Conquest is a game that no one asked for, but many will enjoy — fans of either series will be drawn in by the familiar and be taught to love what’s new. It does just about everything right, though there are shortcomings: more Pokémon being included would have helped, as would a deeper story – Pokémon Black and White showed that the monster-catching series is capable of telling a story with some heft to it. These are little more than nicks in the armour, though. Pokémon Conquest absolutely stands with Pokémon Snap and Pokémon Puzzle League as one of the best spin-offs the franchise has seen.