10. Pokémon Black and White 2 (DS)
Those who brushed Pokémon Black and White 2 off as simply more of the same at the time were sorely mistaken. On a superficial level the Pokémon games have not changed much, and for good reason; the foundation that was placed way back in Pokémon Red and Blue was incredibly solid and engaging from the off. By adding more around it and tweaking things under the hood, the series has grown far beyond its humble monochromatic origins even if the pace of change is a little more glacial than some would like.
The naming of these entries, their status as the first 'direct' sequels in the franchise, and the fact that they weren't being released on the then-new 3DS console arguably did these games a disservice and masked their greatness. Make no mistake though, these are two of the finest games in the series.
9. Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride (DS)
The first in the RPG series to come to the Super Famicom, it eventually made its way to the West in the form of this DS remake. That Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride is a finely crafted RPG should come as little surprise given its heritage, but it's arguably the poignant, personal storytelling which elevates this game as one of the very best in a series filled with greats. Innovations such as the collection of monsters along the way would go on to influence other monster-collecting games, and while it lacks refinement in some areas of its design, it's still an epic adventure. The hero of this adventure may only get 'Assist Fighter' billing in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but make no mistake, this is one of the best old-school Dragon Quests you can go on.
8. The World Ends With You (DS)
The World Ends With You is a mass of innovative ideas stylishly combined into a beautifully presented package. Its battle system, although complicated, can be tailored to suit each player’s style, and the flexibility displayed throughout the game is highly commendable. The end result is an RPG that’s every bit as unique as the person who plays it, and that is truly rare. The Final Remix Switch port is still a winner, but necessary changes to combat and controls mean it can't quite recreate the joy of the original dual screen experience - this DS version remains arguably the best way to play.
7. Professor Layton and the Unwound Future (DS)
The third entry of the mystery-solving DS Layton trilogy, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future doesn't stray too far from the winning formula of the first two releases, and instead focuses its attention on offering up what is easily the best storyline of the series on the console, not to mention some of the best minigames as well. It's no slouch with the puzzles, either, and it's safe to say that if you're a fan of the franchise, this is a game you absolutely do not want to miss.
6. Kirby Super Star Ultra (DS)
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.
5. Pokémon Platinum (DS)
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.
4. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky (DS)
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.
3. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations (DS)
The third game in the Ace Attorney series was originally released on GBA in Japan, but found its way to the west via the DS in 2007 (and the series has since graced most other platforms you care to mention). The culmination of the original trilogy, Trials and Tribulations puts you back in the shoes of the plucky defence lawyer for another round of convoluted cases and supernatural shenanigans.
Sure, you can play these games on Switch now, but the titular attorney's visual novels hold up well on virtually any platform (except for, perhaps, WiiWare, although you'll have a job getting your hands on that version these days) and if you fancy going through them on DS, you'll get no objection from us.
2. Chrono Trigger (DS)
Chrono Trigger has truly stood the test of time - a testament to the magical sustainability that occurs when you combine impeccable storytelling, gameplay, visuals and music. This version of the SNES classic contains a hefty amount of additional features and bonus material, including touch screen controls, a series of dungeons (the Dimensional Vortices), a monster battle ground (Arena of the Ages), a re-mastered script, and an additional ending. Some might claim that this masterpiece should be experienced on the biggest possible canvas, but despite the console's diminutive size, its dual screen layout frees up command menu clutter. Couple this with all the refinements and extras and the Nintendo DS version really is the definitive edition of this beautiful work of art. It's an essential purchase for any RPG fan, and even if you’ve played it before, you should follow those nostalgic urges, dig out your trusty DS (which will probably still have some juice in the battery) and take that journey through time once again.
1. Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver (DS)
The original Pokémon Gold and Silver games are fondly remembered by Pocket Monster fans all over the world, and with good reason: they introduced features that genuinely evolved the original Game Boy games, such as breeding and an in-game clock (not to mention colour!), features that have become series staples. Add in fan-favourite monsters and these remakes were always going to be well received.
Future games would trickle in additional quality of life features and other innovations, but some would argue it never got better than travelling across the land, searching far and wide in these DS remakes. The Game Boy originals may be a little hard to return to these days, but Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver strike the very best balance of nostalgia and that patented catch-'em-all gameplay.
Phew, what a list! Disagree with the ranking here? Can't understand how Animal Crossing is so low or how Brain Training and Nintendogs didn't even make the Top 50? Remember, it's not set in stone - head to our games page and get ranking to influence the order above.
For more on the system itself, check out our article on one of the best console revisions ever made, the Nintendo DS Lite. Let us know your thoughts with a little comment in the usual place.
No Michael Jackson: The Experience?! Farce... 😉 well it’s one of my favourites!
With no Corey in the House... this top 50 is a total farce.
Never owned a DS. From this list I've learned that you should buy anything Pokemon, Professor Layton, Phoenix Wright, Castlevania, or Dragon Quest related. Also Super Nintendo and 64 ports. Seemed like a good little system.
@lyle_catcliffe Amen brother
Oy! Surprised that neither The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass nor Spirit Tracks didn’t make the list!
I'm surprised neither of the DS Zelda games made it. They're probably my least favourite Zelda games, but they weren't terrible.
A few of my favourites that are missing are Rune Factory 3, Suikoden:Tierkreis, Contact, and Magical Starsign. All of the games on this list are great, though!
Decent list, but not as many hidden gyms as I was hopping to see. Games like Infinite Space and Avalon Code are extremely underappreciated, and I only have myself to blame for not having voted.
Interesting that so many adventure/visual novels games are so high up on the list.
Great list. But, I’m surprised the Zelda DS games didn’t make it on the list.
I didn't vote because I didn't want to add DS games into my collection but the Ace Attorney games, 999 and TWEWY would be at the top of my list.
Glad to see Rocket Slime on there. It's amazing and maybe, just maybe my favorite DS game. I also hold Contact in very high regard, but it's most definitely not for everyone.
The DS is such a wonderful system! Shoutouts to Ivy the Kiwi, SMT Strange Journey, and the dozens of other great games that were on the DS.
That top 10 surprised me a little, I think I'll check the games I didn't play. Thanks for the list.
Surprised to see pokemon BW so low in the list :0 blasphemy!
Man the DS has so many great games! Hotel Dusk will always be # 1 in my heart 💙
No Sonic Rush? That was my jam and probably the best DS game i've played, followed closely by AC Wild World
Honestly really surprised to see nine hours, nine persons, nine doors so high on the list, and really happy that chrono trigger takes the number 1 spot, really cool list
50 games, and still so many great ones not even listed. The gap in quality between the DS and 3DS libraries is really interesting.
This list is incomplete without Retro Game Challenge!
It says DQIV on DS is a better way to revisit the game than the mobile version...Not if you care about party chat!
Days of Ruin should have been way higher on this list too. Y'all dropped the ball.
And none of these games will ever be on Switch, because they're handheld. I can't wait until Nintendo releases the 4DS, because clearly Switch Lite isn't the DS/3DS replacement, because it's only a home system that came out simply to replace the failed Wii U, meaning Switch Lite is just a home console that can't connect to a television- strange as that sounds, a home console you can't play on a television? Huh.
I wish it was still easy (and not crazy expensive) to buy these games new now.
Also have to say to NL, I always love going through these lists, so kuddos. ^^
EDIT: I do own a bunch of them, but not nearly all and there are definitely some I'd purchase if they were still in stores.
Chrono Trigger deserves that spot at No. 1, even if it didn't originally come out on the ds... I also feel Chuggaconroy's let's play may have influenced that score.
Looks like not many people played Might & Magic: Clash Of Heroes.
I don't think very many people were concerned about the PSP overthrowing Nintendo before release. One thing people noted was that the price was maybe the one thing Sony didn't want to talk about before release.
Solid list, I'm only sad that I couldn't vote. The DS has such a stellar library that unlike the Gameboy, I couldn't easily pinpoint any particular favorites. I pretty much liked all of the major DS titles outside of the Zelda entries.
My top 3 would probably be New Super Mario Bros, Pokemon HGSS, and Mario Kart DS. Dawn of Sorrow is another one of my favorites. Actually, I was rather fond of Tetris DS and Mario 64 DS too. Bah, there's just too many great DS games.
I must be the only person in the world who prefers the D-pad controls of SM64DS to the original. The DSmake is a much better game all round, with unlockable characters giving a slight metroidvania to proceedings and that the abundance of touchscreen minigames that still put many mobile games to shame.
The list itself needs more PacPix
Eh, I’d rearrange a lot of this. Not a bad list overall, though.
I actually hadn't anyone even speak of FFTA2 in quite some time and began to wonder if it was the forgotten child of the franchise.
Still, Chrono Trigger #1 DS game, I don't know about that. A great game and it might be the best version of the game I've seen short of the original (I mean, the PS1 version and those derived from it are tied to awful emulation of the time of its original release), but I wouldn't put it as representative of the "DS" experience.
No Metal Slug 7, the list must be rigged
I genuinely only bought Ghost Trick because I read one of the characters was inspired by Michael Jackson... but I’m so glad I did. Tremendous game that deserves its lofty position on this list.
I’m so glad TWEWY, Ace Attorney 3 and Ghost Trick are that high. It’s also very close for me with Chrono Trigger vs HeartGold. I’d edge it HeartGold but that’s just because I played it more.
50 games and not a single mention of The Dark Spire?
Many great games. Glad to see all of the Ace Attorney games in the original trilogy appear on the list. And yeah, Chrono Trigger on DS is amazing, even though it's an old SNES game.
Glad to see a top 10 not dominated by first party titles. Good job community!!
A solid list. The DS has a fantastic library.
100% disagree, the WiiWare versions of Phoenix Wright are excellent and translate very well on TV, sharply scaled, motion controls are optional, touch screen controls translate flawlessly to pointer controls, etc.
Not to mention that the sound quality is a lot better than DS. Plus... you only use one hand to play it.
Anyway, I'm surprised to see Ghost Trick so close to 1st, I forgot to vote for this game, it didn't make a great impact on me as the Ace Attorney or Last Window games, it was definitely more game-y.
That top 10 surprises me.
Neither of the DS Zelda games showing up is a bigger shocker... I really enjoyed both titles; ST in particular I feel was a great game.
Didn't think Chrono Trigger would do THAT well.
And here I skipped it since I went through the original enough times.
@XiaoShao That was a truly quirky little gem of a game!
I love Nintendo but Nintendo DS is my least fav handheld maybe because Of the library ? I’m not sure .... the most game I enjoyed is the Mario 64 remake mostly
Still 3DS is my fav handheld of all time
Yikes! Whoever voted in this poll has some questionable and terrible taste in gaming.
I was expecting a lot more out of Bowser's Inside Story and the Zelda games.
Not surprised to not see Star Fox Command on here (as I think it's one of the weakest entries in the series, right down there with Zero, if not worse), but to not have the DS Zelda games comes as a shock.
Also surprised that no mention of Trauma Center was even uttered in this article. We need a new entry into the series on the Switch, preferably one with FMV cutscenes and full voice acting. And maybe a tie-in anime.
Kudos to the voters for bringing Radiant Historia to a near top spot.
For some reason I expected to see bloody Ocarina of Time at #1, before realising it wasn't released on DS. Something new then! And actually no Zelda on there. Which is good because my only memory of DS Zelda was repeating that damned dungeon over and over again. And Star Fox Command was one of the angriest, most immediate marches to trade in a game that I can remember. Utter rubbish. Anyway, great list, and some good memories on here. For me Meteos was an underrated gem (forgive the pun).
I poured a lot of time into Zoo Keeper. And Brain Training. I'm going to have to give those games a nod on the voting form
Not surprised hg/ss are the highest ranked pokemon games, to me they nailed the formula with these remakes and have never come close to the quality of them
@smithpa01 That's what I find disappointing. The best DS games are apparently remakes (Chrono Trigger, Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver.) So newer games will never be as good as the older classics.
Correction: Portrait of Ruin was the second Castlevania on the platform, not the third.
Such a great system. So many outstanding games. And the comment about the battery is so true. Turn it on even after it's been dormant for a year (or more) and it'll boot right up.
That's an odd top-ten, but I can't argue with the voice of the people.
Such a fantastic little system.Looking at this list I can't believe how many of these games I have actually played!
I'm just glad to see Ghost Trick is on there and I'm the top ten too.Fantastic game that I always wanted a sequel too.
Great list. I forgot how great the line up was. Wish I’d kept my collection. Note to self - don’t ever sell your games!
Where’s Phantom Hourglass!!?? Can’t take this list seriously....😂
Judging by that list I can see why I never wanted one!
Square Soft(Enix) has three of the top four? I would like to know what the 3DS results would have. Possibly Ocarina and Majoras in the top spot. I wonder will the Switches game list of fan favorites involve so many Square Soft(Enix) games just like the DS? There's so many on the Switch from Square Soft(Enix), it's only been two years.
Great top 50. Well done everyone!
No Metroid Prime Hunters, but I'm more surprised by the lack of Zelda. Outside of Pokemon and the Mario & Luigi games, I haven't really gone through many RPGs on the DS and have yet to experience one of the system's puzzle/visual novel games. I've heard good things about those titles; however, it would've been nice if the Top 10 was more reflective of how diverse the DS library is. It's easily to me the best system around.
No fire emblem shadow dragon that was a great entry in the series. Took me alot of effort to find it when it came out though.
@stiligFox i said the same thing. Very surprised
@Deliesh Indeed! Corrected - thanks
@biglittlejake I might be able to help you with that:
@ForgottenArctic nostalgia is a powerful thing more modern games often get pushed aside due to it
This list comes just as I've lost my pouch containing all of my DS/3DS games 😔 Hopefully they resurface soon. Otherwise I might have to just start my collection all over again. The only ones I have left are Pokémon Ranger, Pokémon Black 2 and Pokémon Ultra Moon.
Odd odd list.
No not sold.
Obviously not going to entirely agree with the list (I feel it's a bit RPG-heavy at the top and I think New Super Mario Bros. should be much higher), but these User Score lists certainly provide an interesting and often surprising alternative to the usual, obvious, basic: 1. Zelda, 2. Mario, etc. type lists. In fact, it's pretty funny how Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks didn't actually get in. This must be the only Nintendo list in history where a Zelda game doesn't even make the top 50... Which perhaps goes to show how much Zelda games get an easy ride from game critics, considering all the obligatory "10 out of 10 'cus Zelda" scores they got at the time.
Anyway, if nothing else, I'm interested to try out Ghost Trick now.
Thanks, I agree fully with that list, no Square Soft(Enix) in the top ten. Lost third party support at that time?
I am shocked that Spirit Tracks or PHG didn’t make the top 50. Perhaps because the controls divided opinion there’s been some tactical voting to artificially lower the score? Whatever they are genuinely good handheld zelda games and I most enjoyed them albeit with some hand cramps
It's missing the best game, Pic Pic. I spent hundreds of hours playing that game in the drawing mode. It's like the perfect kind of game for the device.
Nice list, quite a few on it I apparently need to still pick up for my DS. Looks like some gold I missed out on.
I'm not surprised at all that neither Zelda made the list. The control and gimmicks were awful and not fun at all. I love Zelda (usually), but I couldn't even finish Spirit Tracks.
@smithpa01 That's true.
I'd better do something about it.
The fact that neither spirit tracks nor phantom hourglass nor starfox command nor metroid prime hunters nor jump ultimate stars even made this list shows you how stacked the ds library is.
Interesting list! Lots of games I missed.
I'm a little surprised Zelda didn't make the list, but I think both games are some of the worst in the series, and exemplify all the bad habits BOTW broke.
No SMT or Pokémon Conquest
yall add me my friend code is 3196-9884-3697 we can play together
NintendoLife you have a very good taste I completely agree this list!
So many bad games in that list and Resident Evil Deadly Silence didn’t make the cut??????
How did Curious Village make it that high!?
(Trivia point: the first DS game I ever played, and the first I completed. Wasn't that impressed)
I own all of the top 9 (though the ace attorney games only digitally on 3DS), and 33 of the top 50, with a few more of them coming soon - good list, just a bit too much Prof Layton if you ask me.
Interesting ranking with weird choices. I was put off by the many pages for voting. I would have preferred a single page with all the options and I guess I wasn't the only one. Still, I voted some. I made a clear distinction between Bowser's Inside Story, my favourite Mario & Luigi game and Partners in Time, the worst and not just worst of the bunch like the article says but also a boring game.
The DS was a great console and the 3DS was a refined successor with nicer visuals in 3D and backwards compatibility. The New 3DS still is my favourite handheld and I still play some DS games on it. Recently, I beat Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, very enjoyable game and story, that's not even on the list. With Virtual Console and backwards compatibility with DS, the 3DS is the definitive Nintendo handheld this far.
Y'all slept on Dragon Quest V and The Dark Spire
@Illusion @Xelha The Phoenix Wright games are fantastic.
No Zelda?? Wow!! Everyone loved both Zeldas at the time..
Happy to see the DS Dragon Quest games are on the list and are fairly up high, along with some of my other picks.
Sadly Fossil Fighters is nowhere to be seen.
Seriously? A SNES game and a GBC game in the top 2? With Chrono Trigger being almost a direct port...? Like, heart gold and soul silver were remakes, I get that, but Chrono Trigger? Shouldn't it be in the SNES list to begin with? Good to see though that the Castlevania games score so high (as they should)! Don't know my favorite DS game actually... I think Dawn of Sorrow (it's the one I played the most, so, I guess that one).
Actually, the article DOES pose the question....No love for Spirit Tracks? I know both it and Phantom Hourglass are weaker Zelda games, but I expected either one or both of them to show up.
As for the current top ten, I've either played or plan on playing most of them....Maybe not necessarily on the DS in some cases (I nabbed Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology off of GameStop's website for a decent price awhile back, for example). The only one I've never heard of is Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective. I feel like I should look into it now.
Your description of why Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Darkness/Time/Sky is so liked is pretty vague and misses the point entirely in my opinion. Sure, it is kind of a cute dungeon crawler, but there is a reason the other entries in the series aren't nearly as popular, while they have the same basic gameplay.
This one easily has the best written story of the entire franchise (okay, Pokémon is not exactly famous for it's gripping story, but still, this one is legit great), has incredibly deep underlying systems, and has an amazing amount of content and variety, even with its randomly generated, somewhat repetitive nature. I don't really enjoy grinding in RPGs, but this one is one of my absolute favorites.
@gamefreak77 TWEWY and the Phoenix Wright games are on Switch, for Example.
Spot on about Mario 64 DS. The 3DS actually does transform the experience, pity about the ultra low 192p.
Castlevania ones are my favorite.
Madden 08 should have been #1
FFIV makes sense, it's a good full 3d remake of a classic game, but visually identical Chrono Trigger? It's like picking Sonic Classic Collection over Sonic Rush.
I would have probably taken more time to rate more of the games but the selection was quite expansive and difficult to navigate.
@Knighty_IX if this makes sense to you, most kids who played with the DS like 9 years ago had their parents choosing based on rating. They probably at some point put down their DS and never explored their more mature offerings.
@Xelha Don't you 'ugh' Chrono Trigger, boy!~
Just kidding, you can have your opinion about it but this is one of those games that, even 25 years later, still holds up and not many games age that well. We remember a lot of good games and I love CT to death but as far as DS original titles goes I think Ghost Trick and the World ends with you and Bowsers inside story are better representations of what the system has to offer.
@Mauzuri Sonic Rush is one of my favourite DS games too. It's just plain awesome with it's sense of speed and the music is so infectious. I don't get why it didn't make the top 20
No love for Final Fantasy Fables Chocobo Tales
That game was an amazing combination of mini games and adventure along with classic tunes from the Final Fantasy series. Card battles were awesome too.
I was SO scared after not seeing TWEWY for 4 pages
@TempOr crhono trigger is the top game I reckon for its time.
@AlienX NO sonic classic collection was a terrible port job.
Chrono Trigger is a great game no matter what platform it is released on, granted the port is proper.
It could have been a few places lower because the DS has tons of great original games and yes Sonic Rush is a highly underrated game.
Very skewed list, seems to be mainly made up of Pokemon games, followed by Castlevania and Ace Attorney games, topped up with Japanese RPGs. A serious lack of famous DS classics in there.
@nmanifold I am pretty sure that this is because only people that really love text-heavy games were able to navigate the survey.
Sadly it didn't sell that much, I think.
There were several higher than I expected rankings for Rocket Slime (which I forgot to even rate ), Ghost Trick, 999 and especially Radiant Historia. Good job everyone. (even if Rhythm Heaven being so low is a tragedy)
After scrolling through 50-30 I realized there was no hope for shiny underdogs Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland and Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol making the list. The DS just has too many good games.
Going through this list was so nostalgic. It is the system, alongside the GBA, Gamecube and Wii that made me a gamer and wich I experienced the fullest. Even if I did not play the game, I get nostalgia by seeing some cover-arts
@Illusion I voted chrono trigger and that's all. Deserves to be first👯♂️
No WarioWare DIY, no dice.
@khululy You speak as if I said SCC was CT level, though I don't see why the games running at a slower speed makes them any less Sonic 1, 2, and 3 which is exactly the point I was trying to convey. SEGA could have made the game a DSi exclusive but they didn't and I appreciate that.
Heck, it's probably the best example since it's the only known DS title to use emulation, that makes it 100% Genesis.
Should a 100% SNES or Genesis game represent the innovative DS?
A console that's quite flooded with good new games? (Like Bejeweled 3, which NL hates apparently because it wasn't even on the database.)
While the DS may have an overall good library, I still say it's way too narrow for many core gamers' tastes, including my own. Over 90% of its library consists of RPGs, puzzle games, casual touchscreen games, inferior handheld ports of console games, and games with lame controls that overuse the touchscreen ("Star Fox Command," "Kirby Mass Attack," etc.)
However, it's library is very light on quality games in popular, more action-oriented genres like platformers, fighting games, beat 'em ups, any kind of shooters, other action and/or adventure games, sports (including racing) games, etc. You've got "New Super Mario Bros.," the (arguably inferior due to the D-Pad) remake of "Super Mario 64," "Mario Kart DS," "Metroid Prime: Hunters," a couple Zelda games, some Castlevania, the "Sonic Rush" duology, and very little else.
Now I enjoy my share of RPGs, but when that was nearly all that I found interesting in the DS library, is it any wonder that I skipped the DS and waited until I got a 3DS to retroactively try out the DS library?
I just managed to snag a copy of Chinatown Wars for £14. I know it’s an old game but I’m looking forward to it.
@LinktotheFuture I still play Clash of Heroes once a year around Christmas. It is an amazing game and if someone hasn’t played it they are missing out.
@Desrever I agree that Infinite Space is an underappreciated gem, and it does have good enough user reviews to make this list, but it currently needs 10 more reviews to qualify. Come on, get voting, people!
Even 50-41 reads like a top 10. What an amazing system.
Great to see HeartGold & SoulSilver in the top 2 after the GameBoy debacle.
Unpopular opinion here: I mainly agree with this list. Chrono Trigger is definitely my favorite game on the system, remake or not, and I think both the DS Zelda games are garbage.
@I-U That's the thing: the DS library isn't very diverse at all! Those RPGs, puzzle, and visual novel games (and other casual touchscreen games) are the large majority of what the system has to offer.
"...exposing a hitherto unknown overlap of the video game enthusiast and Norwegian synth-pop demographics."
This is my favorite thing ever on this site. Well played.
This is a great list in my opinion - lots of great memories here, both old and fairly recent. I still adore my DS and play it fairly often, even with every other, newer game system in the house. Also, I think it's worth mentioning that my local GameStop stores still have a LOT of used DS games at pretty premium prices. The stock seems to rotate quite a bit too – far more than their PS3, Xbox 360, etc. titles do. It speaks volumes that a system as old as the DS has so many in-demand titles on it and they're still selling (again and again and again). Truly an amazing system.
@B238ben I agree. I am very grateful my brother got it for me for my birthday.
The 3ds version is better. Really fun game I figured I'd hate. But no.
No Nintendog? This was the game that sold millions of DS and showed the world the power of touchscreen. (This was before iPhone era) Before Nintendog, DS was PSP's ugly silver Frankenstein monster rival.
These should be included as well:
Space Invaders Extreme
Kirby Mass Attack!
Zelda Phantom Hourglass
Feel the Magic XY/XX
Super Scribblenauts (This game was so revolutionary back then, now it's just another 'has been')
Not many people knew about these cooking apps published by Nintendo and Ubisoft. I still use them today.
that is a ROUGH top 10. who decided the order here? lmao
So Ghost Trick is the best original DS game? Nice!
My list would have these: Metroid Pinball, Monster Tale, Docodomaki, (I love) Squishy Tank, Wire Way, Kirby Mass Attack, Away, Legendary Starfy, Line Rider, and Zoo Keeper.
Oh and Starship Defense, Pinball Pulse, and Inchworm animation.
I started to use My Japanese Coach to learn Japanese.
Those cooking ones are good. I still use them too.
@BulbasaurusRex I had a very different experience with the DS and never saw it as just an RPG or visual novel system. Like I said, I haven't even played any of the visual novel/puzzle games (like Ghost Trick and the Ace Attorney games) so that's another experience i can add to my diverse DS library almost 15 years later.
@Priceless_Spork 3DS version of The Experience?
Anyone played Soul Bubbles on DS? Another one of my votes, highly recommended by Official Nintendo Magazine way back when I think, @Scully1888 you remember it?
@BlueOcean Haha so true, I gave up after the first page. I don't think there was any need to list every single DS game.
Somebody's gotta vote "last window the secret of cape west", the sequel of hotel dusk. it currently has a mean rate of 9 with just 47 votes. I think 50 is the minimum to appear in the list?
@I-U So then what DS games do you play? There are only about a dozen good games in the entire DS library that don't fall into any of those genres, and it's not likely that all of them suit your individual tastes.
@nmanifold So then just search for the games you've played by name. That's not a good excuse for not voting at all.
@BulbasaurusRex It's a good excuse for a reader. That's why I suggested a single page with all the titles. You can't expect everyone to do what you don't mind doing.
I think it was us, the readers, that decided the list
3DS was definitely a JRPG lovers' dream, but the list still seems too heavily populated with them (also, FFIV and not FFVI? Or did I just miss it?)
The biggest add I would have to the list is Kirby's Dream Course. Super innovative and very fun throughout. Great use of the DS's capabilities.
@FantasiaWHT Isn't Kirby's Dream Course a SNES-only game?
@nmanifold more people should have participated.
@rrice64 number of users and the rating they gave.
Disappointing top 10 imo. Chrono Trigger, as much as I love it, is not the best game on DS. Too many Phoenix Wright and novel games in the top 10. I'm sure they're good, but not top 10. Radiant Historia wasn't even released outside the US so I'm confused by that getting so high. Interesting to see how different this list is to one ranked by journalists. Oh and there are some brutal entries on the first page.
I didn't participate in the vote because I was overwhelmed by the amount of games I have never heard about. I'm glad to see that I have played and enjoyed many of the games that made it into the top 50.
You guys are all sleeping on "Lost Magic" and "Knights in the Nightmare". Those were some stellar and unique entries.
No Jump Ultimate Stars! (That was my Childhood!). This list is basically all the games I owned LOL!
it's a shame that most of my top 10 (stuff that happened to only be released outside of Europe) were not in your database. So my votes were not really what I wanted them to be.
I love me some Chrono Trigger, but I never think a port/remaster should be at the top of any list for best games for a system.
@MartyFlan I haven’t heard of Soul Bubbles. Thanks for the recommendation! I love finding about lesser known puzzle games that are fun to play.
@XiaoShao Dang! I forgot about Retro Game Challenge! Great game. I would have rated it high.
@Tandy255 I hope you find it and get to try, and if so I really hope you enjoy it.
@BlueOcean Well so are half these games, but you're right! I meant Canvas Curse. Loved that game.
@FantasiaWHT Yep and I meant SNES-only. I edited it.
@BulbasaurusRex Have I played and that I don't recall seeing ranked...Metroid Prime: Hunters, Metroid Prime Pinball, Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol, both of the Zeldas, Sonic Rush, Sonic Rush Adventure, Moon, Dementium, Dementium II, Pac-Pix, Custom Robo Arena, Aliens Infestation, Mario Hoops 3on3, ATV Wild Ride, Star Fox Command, Kirby Squeak Squad, Lost in Blue, WarioWare D.I.Y., Super Scribblenauts and I feel the Guitar Hero games were all right as well.
Yes, it's in 3d. Great game.
I didn't like soul bubbles though.
I highly recommend Zoo Keeper, and try Big bang mini, Arkanoid, Mr Driller Drill Spirits ,Galactix, Labyrinth, Tofu, and WIreway are worth a check out.
Away is a cool rpg puzzle game. Lower on my list is Ontamaparma (sp?),Prism, Puchi Virus, Magnetica, Tsumiki, Tornado, and I have one called Polarium.
@Priceless_Spork Great list!
We've got good taste. I'd place any of those above the 2 Picross games on the list. I mean I like them and also Word Jong, but these kinda games wouldnt make my list.
No Etrian Odyssey games on here makes me sad, but great list overall!
Really makes you step back and marvel at how many amazing games were on the NDS.
Too bad Contact (grasshopper) isn't on there. That was probably my favorite game on the DS.
Good list. Absolutely insane order.
Lot of people seem to be forgetting that even though it was a port, DS Chrono Trigger was the first version released of the game released in Europe. Ever.
(Yes, I am indeed still bitter about that.)
Point remains for some the DS was the first chance to play the game, barring importing etc.
Do I think it's a quintessential DS game? No. However it's a very special game indeed and often recognised as one of the all time greats; there's no shame in ranking below it. By the same logic are we going to disqualify mario kart 8 DX from the list of top switch games of all time when that conversation happens in a few years? I doubt it.
@RainbowGazelle wasn’t it on iPhone too?
@fafonio Was it? I've no idea.
At this point we could make a top 100, and you'd still miss a lot of awesome games!
I'm one of the people who are probably responsible for this rpg/layton/visual novel fest of a list.
There was nothing nicer than crawling into bed early and finish an hour of hotel dusk, crack a few puzzles and throw an objection or two. It replaced reading a book before bedtime for a while. (Does the 100 books thing count as a game?...)
@Cynas I didn't even notice that until you said! I agree, by Zelda's standards they weren't anything amazing but they made interesting use of the touch screen, they're still worth a play. It speaks volumes about the quality of titles on the DS overall though.
@Milton_Burle I actually only voted for Meteos. I still own it and remember how much Nintendo Official Magazine (NOM) worshipped it. It was why I got a DS. I wonder if I was the only voter 😁
I’m saddened by the lack of Megaman ZX/ZXA love here. The Alien 2D game is also missing, and some FPS like Metroid, Call of Duty and Moon (yeah they are not the best FPS ever but they are good).
I agree with some of the list but I think it is too heavy on text games (RPG genre is over represented so I don’t mind having many of them here). Also Spirit Tracks is an awesome game that improves vastly over Phantom Hourglass and should be here.
@Dazzle Wasn't the sequel called Last window: Secret of Cape West and was only released in EU and Jap in 2010?
not too bad, but half a dozen franchises take up too many spots on the list. They should have been condensed down to make space for lesser known IPs
@BlueOcean That's why I offered a much easier alternative instead. It's not hard at all to simply search for your games by title.
@BulbasaurusRex You still had to navigate the many pages before using the browser's search function.
@I-U Ah, I forgot about "Kirby: Squeak Squad," and the Zeldas, Sonics, and Metroids are all among the rare exceptions, but the rest of your choices only cement my point.
You've listed a few puzzle and casual touchscreen games (Chibi-Robo, Pac-Pix, WarioWare D.I.Y., and Scribblenauts) that I already mentioned as being part of the problem of the narrow library, "Star Fox Command" sucks, there's no point in playing "Guitar Hero" games on a handheld instead of their much superior console versions, and the rest of those games range from mediocre to decent, not at all high quality picks that would even deserve ratings in the Top 75.
@BlueOcean Why would you even need to navigate the pages at all?! Just use the search bar at the top of every page on Nintendo Life.
I do not agree with the majority of this list. OPINIONS !!!!
@Cotillion People like you were the reason why neither Zelda got in. How does that feel that the games got enough negative scores to prevent it from being in the Top 50?
@Dog They didn't make the list because they didn't deserve to, clearly, since it was a vote.
People like me, I presume, means people who upvote Zelda because....Zelda? Zelda shouldn't make or top lists just because it's Zelda. I normally love Zelda, but the DS games were horribly implemented with way too much gimmick.
Anyway we can have this list expanded to show a top 100? I would love to see what 51 to 100 are
Hope you add DSiWare games to the list in the future. After all, you don’t exclude eShop games from the «best of» other consoles.
(At the moment, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge would’ve made the list with 8.5, and I’m sure there are other games as well.)
Wow! A top 10 list not packed with 1st party games.
Oh, Meteos is far more enjoyable than FFTA2 and some Castlevanias. Otherwise, yeah, the DS has a sprawling library and spawned some rather vocal fanbases through the quality of its games.
Too many rpgs at the top imo. Most users seem to be fans of that genre here. NSMB needs to be much higher.
Good timing, Gavin, for holiday shopping. Nice work.
Odd part about this list, not a single Zelda game.
@eltomo Did you like a Zelda game on the DS? I got Spirit Tracks, but the stylus heavy control scared me off. Did you adapt to it, and like it?
I really liked Metal Slug 7 on DS. I know the PSP version is enhanced, but I did play it first on DS and it's very good. I also liked Thor and Alien Infestation both by Wayforward. Dawn of Sorrow is my least favorite of the three Castlevania games on DS because of the touch gimmicks. It was good, but those touch gimmicks were so annoying.
I didn’t vote so can’t complain but I can’t help but feel the loss of my old favourites Okamiden and Phantasy Star Zero.
But I will have a moan: WHERE THE HECK WAS PHANTOM HOURGLASS?!?
Everything higher than 999 is too high
I love that people really love 999 this much. I thought it was a hidden gem. I can't think of anything else I wouldn't put on here but personal favourites are Lunar Knights (Boktai 4) and MMBN5DTDS...if you want me to expand that I will.
Wow! I thought build a bear would be #1. Wow. Who would've thought that. Geez. I don't know what to say.
Phantom Hour Glass wasn’t that good and repeating the temple was not any fun.
Spirit Tracks was a much better game and would make my top 50.
Brilliant to see 3 Shu Takumi games in the top 10, the Ace Attorney games are superb and Ghost Trick is easily one of my top 5 games of all time. TWEWY is another personal favourite along with DQIX and honestly, the DS might have the greatest library of any console ever.
@Woomy_NNYes I remember loving both Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, but I was 12 and 14 when they released. As I've gotten older, my tolerance for things like touch only controls has greatly lessened. I might still enjoy the games today though, who knows...
My Nintendo DS Top 6 is nowhere to be found in this Top 50.
1. Freshly Picked: Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland
2. Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol
3. WarioWare: D.I.Y.
4. Nintendo Touch Golf: Birdie Challenge
5. Metroid Prime Hunters
6. KORG DS-10 Synthesizer
The masses have bad taste.
Nintendolife doesn't even have a page for NINTENDO TOUCH GOLF and KORG DS-10 Synthesizer???
What's wrong here?!?!
Wow, no Fire Emblem games on the list.
I'd like to get Dragon Quest V Hand of the Heavenly Bride on DS but it's very expensive second hand. Might have to consider the phone version.
@Woomy_NNYes I played Spirit Tracks last year for the first time. Managed to complete it and nearly got everything. However I didn't really enjoy the stylus controls and if it wasn't a Zelda game I might have stopped playing.
Didn't enjoy stylus controls in Phantom Hourglass either but still completed it because it's a Zelda game.
No Valkyrie Profile DS? ...lame....some narrow tastes the community has.
Super Mario 64 DS is criminally underrated. If you invest the 5 minutes or so it takes to get used to the D-pad and run button, it still controls very smoothly and the extra content is easily worth the trade-off.
one of the best for me is yoshi island ds, but I haven't seen it in anyway ...
I remember being surprised to hear that people had issues with the controls for Mario 64.
Man, that top 10 kinda rules. Props to everyone for some great taste instead of just "THE GAMES THAT HAVE THE MOST MARIO IN IT!11!11!"
@FantasiaWHT I have to agree with you on Final Fantasy VI being omitted. If it's there, I definitely missed it as well.
I saw FFIV on the list, which is my personal favorite, but FFVI is right up there with the greats.
This is an unfair poll. If the DS has 1,000 games, then you should have 1,000 positions. That way nobodies game is left behind. Everyone would be happy and world peace will finally be achieved.
No wonder I disliked the DS years. Story based games were definitely not my thing
@RadioHedgeFund I don't know if I'd say prefer, but I definitely think the complaints are over blown and prefer the DS game overall. 😁
No Style Savvy? 🤔
I'm sad Fossil Fighters didn't make it to the list
@Euler Nah. Even on 3ds its pretty bad compared to 64.
Chrono Trigger and Radient Historia are top for me.
@Woomy_NNYes they were okay, but when you see a list of top games, Zelda is always there in some form. That's what makes it odd.
Wrong! Mario Kart DS is still the best Mario Kart and should be top 5. Tetris DS should be higher too. Games 5 & 4 I've never heard of. A joke! Metroid Hunters should have got a mention, and Yoshi Island. That's the best one after SNES.
The this votes works, apparently makes well known titles and ports come up high... a decent list, bus as @Gingerbeardman said, it only scratches what the DS was about.. I see some reactions that DS was 90% rpgs, but i don't think there has ever been a system with such a deep library... I just give you this article, full with games from every genre made in the heydays of the console, 2008/2009 http://worldofstuart.excellentcontent.com/console/oftheyear.htm
This list is missing:
Giana Sisters DS
The Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
Ni no Kuni: Dominion of the Dark Djinn (best Ni no Kuni game)
I can not take this list seriously at all, all the Phoenix Wrights at the top, Mario so low. No Zelda!? Sure, okay.
I think people forget the two Zelda DS games used the stylus to control link, and not many people enjoyed that control system. Not surprised it didn't make the list.
Now Super Princess Peach not making the list is such a shame. I can only guess people don't like the emotions mechanic, or Peach isn't taken seriously. I need to go back and play this.
I played Metoes once and had no idea what I was meant to do. It must have some fans if it made the top 50. Personally Panel De Pon / Planet Puzzle League is the much better puzzle game. It fact, why didn't Polarium get any love?
The Phoenix Wright series is really good on the DS. I'm not the biggest fan of point and click games, but the presentation, music, and clever writing make for a very good "visual novel" game. So it's not too surprising they have made the list, but I can understand this "game" isn't what a lot of people would want to play. It's more like playing through a movie, but you control where to go. Without spoiling the game too much, I think the second one has the better cases, while the 3rd one had better characters.
I have played Style Savvy, and honestly couldn't get into it. At least they put effort into the game. Although I do find it funny the developers use to make wrestling games (including Ultimate Muscle: Legends VS. New Generation on the GameCube), and now only make fashion games. Thanks Nintendo. XD
Bejeweled 3 is a game that exists and it was on the DS. It is quite good.
-> No FMA: Dual Sympathy? I have no dual sympathy for you so-called DS fans!
-> Excessive Dragon Quest is fine, but what about a game where FMA characters can read you your fortune?
where is Nintendogs ...??? you guys didn't vote for it?
literally defined my DS experience
The DS has so many great titles. Restricting the list to 50 and zoning in on the most popular titles won't make a ranking worth reading. Not to mention there are so many obscure and hidden gems on the DS that can blow some of the games on this list completely out of the water.
New Super Mario and Warioware were the two games I played for years till I finally got the 3DS back in 2011
SMT Strange Journey deserved to be there in my opinion. Also, it would be possible to fit Solatorobo, Final Fantasy 4 Heroes of Light, and at least one Etrian Odyssey... But it is a good list overall.
It's a shame that my favorite Nintendo Website has such a different taste then me of what's good and what's bad.
Nonetheless a nice compilation of games!
those were'nt great games to pick for a top 50. DS was one console or the only one i did'nt follow. I mean i bought that game doors ( to play on 3DS ), that was a very good game, surprised it was'nt in the top 50.
phew. Least I have the number one game!!
I like how this list gives me more extra ideas of what DS games to get because from this list only games l played or own are the Pokemon ones and Mario Kart DS
I was really digging this list until I realized there were no Megami Tensei games. A major oversight.
@GrailUK Zookeeper was fantastic. I spent countless hours on that one!
@TrevRockOne I agree. To me, Strange Journey was one of the best SMT games ever.
@rfelixvulture All 4 of those are real classics.
@beazlen1 But they did make top 50. Its 48th and 50th
❗️My Top 5️⃣ DS Games:
2️⃣Custom Robo: Arena
3️⃣New Super Mario Bros. 1
4️⃣Super Mario Kart DS
5️⃣Advance Wars 3: Dual Strike
"and the feeling that the whole 'Metroidvania' template is growing stale by this point"
Boy did that statement not age well. Y'all are dumb.
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