Nostalgia (DS)

While Nostalgia never strays too far from the more traditional gameplay elements that have made Japanese RPGs so popular with fans of the genre, it does toss in enough unique design elements to make it stand out from the many other DS RPG titles available. In fact, aside from being a bit predictable at times, it's honestly difficult to find much to complain about: the real-life locales and fluid story-driven quest offer RPG fans something to really sink their teeth into, and the side quests turn an already epic main quest into an even meatier adventure for those who choose to take them on. Combine all of this with not only a very well-executed traditional turn-based combat system, but also some extremely enjoyable airship battles, and what you have is easily one of the more refreshing RPG releases to hit the DS system and a game that no RPG fan will want to miss out on.

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Solatorobo: Red the Hunter (DS)

Solatorobo: Red the Hunter is a game that we highly recommend. It has been crafted with care and in painstaking detail, incorporating a lengthy, well-written story with engaging battle mechanics and an impressive variety of quest styles. The only negatives are the occasional dips in sound quality, and some gamers may bemoan the relatively low difficulty. Likewise, if text-heavy Japanese RPGs don’t appeal to you, then this may not be a fit. However, fans of the genre or those seeking an original, enjoyable experience on their DS or 3DS should hesitate no longer; hunt this game down and enjoy.

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (DS)

Overall, any fan of the Kingdom Hearts series with a DS should pick up 358/2 Days. While it doesn’t really add a great deal to the overall story of the series and recycles a lot of content from the previous games, what you'll find is a very enjoyable experience, chocked full of content that will keep you glued to your DS for a long while.

Sands of Destruction (DS)

In the overall scheme of things, Sands of Destruction doesn't tend to deviate too far from many of the traditional gameplay aspects fans of the Japanese RPG genre have come to know and love over the years, yet somehow it still manages to introduce enough new twists into the mix to at least make the game stand out from the crowd. Sure the game is a bit on the linear side and the toned down difficulty might prove a tad easy for seasoned RPG fans, but if you can appreciate a well designed RPG experience that doesn't try to do more than it's capable of, you'll likely find Sands of Destruction right up your alley. What it lacks in originality, it more than makes up for with its unique charm and engaging storyline.

Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City (DS)

Etrian Odyssey and its sequel were credited with reviving interest in the first-person dungeon-crawling RPG, and both are well worth seeking out (as are the instalments on the 3DS, we might add). However, if you had to pick just one on the DS, we'd go for the third offering, which showcases the hook of the franchise – the need to draw your own maps using the touch-screen – as well as some amazing artwork and gorgeous music.

Pokémon Diamond & Pearl (DS)

Alongside Pokémon Platinum (which is an updated version of these two titles), Diamond & Pearl are fan-favourite Pokémon titles, and with good reason – they take the core gameplay seen in the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance outings and spruce it up for a whole new generation of players without losing any of the charm in the process. Both are getting remade for the Switch, but we'd still heartily recommend the DS originals. There's a good reason so many people love these entries.

Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light (DS)

Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light is certainly an interesting experience when it comes to many of its unique gameplay mechanics, but the game's overflowing sense of charm and hardcore level of challenge make it an irresistible experience for seasoned RPG fans. Sure, the game does simplify many of the traditional RPG elements a bit, but those who'll give it a chance and learn how to put them to good use will likely find a game that's every bit as strategic and challenging as past turn-based RPG offerings, maybe even more so. At the very least you'll get to experience one of the most engaging Final Fantasy storylines the series has seen, not to mention one of the most exceptional RPGs available for the system.

Luminous Arc 2 (DS)

Luminous Arc II is a clear improvement over its predecessor, with the new "Engage" system and improved interface drawing your eye away from the fact it’s still a straightforward strategic RPG. It may not be part of a classic, well-respected series such as Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics, but it takes itself far less seriously than either title and is as likely to make you chuckle as hatch a master battle plan. It sounds great and although the graphics could have been achieved on a Game Boy Advance, it’s charming and detailed, and clarity is most important in isometric RPGs. With well over forty hours of gameplay, multiple endings, online battles, great music and a solid battle system, Luminous Arc II is recommended to anyone after a strategic RPG built to last.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring Of Fates (DS)

Final Fantasy fans really did it have it pretty good with the Nintendo DS – the console is swimming in games from the series. Following on from the GameCube Crystal Chronicles offering, Ring of Fates boasts an enhanced single-player campaign, cute yet attractive visuals, sumptuous music and a captivating storyline. It's also been somewhat forgotten as the years have passed, which isn't really fair; this is an excellent DS exclusive that's well worth a second look, even today.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story (DS)

Alpha Dream created a fantastic take on the Super Mario RPG idea years ago with their original Game Boy Advance Mario & Luigi release, but they took the concept to new heights with this third title. While it would be easy to rave on and on about the game, the best way to sum everything up would be to say this: Bowser's Inside Story is the kind of game that will remind you why you love playing video games in the first place. The game was more recently updated for the 3DS.

Picking 30 of the best RPGs for this list was harder than we thought, but we imagine there are some games missing which you feel deserve a place. As ever, we want to know your thoughts, so drop a comment below to tell us which games you'd have included (and perhaps which ones you'd have taken off).