Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume (DS)

In Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, we have ourselves another DS winner. If you enjoy games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem, or Advance Wars, this is one to add to your collection. The battle system is the culmination of many great qualities of past strategy RPGs merged into one. Graphically and musically, this game does not disappoint, but it's worth keeping in mind that this isn't one for the kiddies; the game is dark and brooding and you won't always feel like you're playing the good guy.

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Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (DS)

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood is a solid looking game with an interesting universe and plot. The game will probably only appeal to a niche audience of Sonic fans who happen to enjoy RPGs but never the less, the gameplay is simple enough to be accessible by most. If you are patient enough to overlook a few niggles and are interested in investing some time into a decent RPG with an attractive cast of characters then look no further than Sonic Chronicles on the Nintendo DS.

Pokémon Black and White 2 (DS)

Those who would brush Pokémon Black and White Versions 2 off as "more of the same" are 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 solid and engaging. By adding more around it and tweaking things under the hood for each release the series has grown and evolved far beyond its humble monochromatic origins.

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 (DS)

The great thing about Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 is that once the story ends the real fun begins. With an almost limitless number of monster and skill variations, you'll find plenty to do even after the credits roll. Once again, Square Enix has concocted an enjoyable adventure and bundled in a wealth of local and online monster fighting and trading functions for players to sink their teeth into. While you can't help but wish the adventure mode was designed with a little more ambition, it's difficult to fault given the nearly infinite amount of replay value the tournament aspects bring to the table.

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon (DS)

In some ways playing Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon today feels a little bit like going back-to-basics, however, the compelling gameplay, lovely retro artwork, memorable music and beautiful presentation ensures this is still a joy to play and it's definitely a world well worth re-visiting. Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon remains a great game even when put into context alongside its own sequels. Clearly, it's less complex than recent offerings, but this is still a fantastic example of an accessible yet deep turn-based strategy RPG.

Infinite Space (DS)

Infinite Space will provide many, many hours of epic entertainment for anyone with the patience to plumb its greater depths. While the combat is compelling and tense enough to justify the frequent encounters throughout the story, it's the rich, detailed ship buying and modifying component that provides the most satisfying part of the game, and fooling around with the dozens of weapon and module combinations will provide hours of entertainment by itself. Just don't forget to keep a pen and paper handy.

The Dark Spire (DS)

Inspired by old computer RPGs like Wizardry, The Dark Spire is one of the most unforgiving role-playing titles on the Nintendo DS, and is all the more appealing for it. This isn't a title that will hold your hand and play nice; it delights in killing you over and over again. While the Etrian Odyssey series (also published by Atlus) took the same first-person, dungeon-crawling approach around the same time, The Dark Spire is arguably the deeper and more challenging experience. If you like your RPGs to be as tough as possible with massive potential for experimentation, then you owe it to yourself to check this little-known gem out.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time (DS)

Far exceeding its DS and GameCube ancestors, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time is a superb game for fans of RPGs as well as anyone eager to explore the unique Wii to DS connectivity offered here. If you own both consoles, we'd recommend picking up the portable version without a shadow of a doubt; it may be the first time a handheld game has outshone its home console equivalent, and for that is surely worthy of a purchase.

Contact (DS)

Developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and directed by former Square staffer Akira Ueda, Contact is one of the most unique RPG experiences on the Nintendo DS – a fact which has unfortunately led to it being somewhat forgotten when people come to discuss the best examples of the genre on the dual-screen handheld. The game often breaks the fourth wall by having the player control Terry, a young boy who offers to help "The Professor", who has crash-landed on Terry's planet. There's a disconnect between the player and these two main characters which gives Contact its unique feel, and the fact there's so much to do often makes the experience somewhat daunting. Even so, this is well worth reappraisal, especially as it was unfairly maligned by several gaming publications at the time of release.

Knights in the Nightmare (DS)

Let's be clear here: Knights In The Nightmare is a game designed for a very niche audience. It is a game that almost revels in being inaccessible to the average gamer. By this point I'm sure you've already decided whether Knights In The Nightmare is or isn't for you, but those of you willing to take the challenge will find a beautiful, genre-bending game with near-endless amounts of strategy, customisation and content. Truly, Knights In The Nightmare is a game worthy of the title "hardcore".