What are the best Nintendo DS games of all time?
If you were a gamer between 2004 and 2013, chances are you had a Nintendo DS.
This handheld gaming console introduced dual screens, most notably the DS touchscreen, wireless connectivity, and a built-in microphone, all of which were groundbreaking in their time.
As the best-selling Nintendo system and best-selling handheld system, it is no surprise that this device meant so much to so many, and that’s not even mentioning all the incredible games it hosted that made it stand out further.
Although not all the DS games were something to write home about, we’ve made it a point to scour the lineup and find the best of the best.
The Best Nintendo DS Games of All Time
Our ranked lists are created by researching and rounding up information from the most reputable web sources.
If you enjoy this list, don’t forget to check out our other Nintendo game lists:
- The 50 Best GameCube Games of All Time
- The 50 Best Gameboy Color Games of All Time
- The 50 Best GBA Games of All Time
- The 50 Best Nintendo Wii Games of All Time
- The 50 Best Nintendo Wii U Games of All Time
Here’s our list of the 50 best Nintendo DS games of all time:
50. Rhythm Heaven
When it comes to awesome games, Rhythm Heaven ranks up there, and it starts off our list because of just how addicting it was.
This rhythm game allowed players to tap, flick, and slide their styluses to match the beat of the music.
While the premise is simple, that was what made it so fun to play.
49. Bangai-O Spirits
With levels that could extend both horizontally and vertically, this side-scrolling game gave players 160 levels of intense shooting and melee combat gameplay.
However, what made this game truly stand out was its use of Sound Load technology, which enabled players to transfer data to other Nintendo DS systems using the microphone function.
At the time of its release, this function instantly made it stand out from all the rest as one of the best DS games.
48. Bleach: The Blade of Fate
Bleach is an incredibly successful franchise, so it’s no surprise that The Blade of Fate did so well on the DS.
Enabling players to move between screens, this game also allowed up to four players to compete using the WiFi capabilities in the system.
47. Clubhouse Games
With an easy-to-use interface and the ability to play with up to seven friends using DS Download Play or Multi-Card Play, Clubhouse Games was a great way to play over 20 classic card and board games without investing in all the games individually.
While maybe not a game that everyone played regularly, it was a great way to spend time with friends and pass the time with some nostalgic games, and today you can even get it for the Switch!
46. Nintendogs: Lab & Friends
Nintendogs: Lab & Friends was one of several different Nintendogs games, and of course focused on one of the most popular dogs in the world – the Labrador Retriever.
Training, competing, and collecting virtual dogs has never been more fun.
45. Rayman DS
As a port of Rayman 2: The Great Escape, but with updated controls for the DS touchscreen, this game received a lot of positive praise when it was released.
Although it may have lacked extra features like minigames, it stood out as a favorite for Rayman fans.
44. Picross DS
The goal of this game was to fill a grid of squares to paint a picture. While that may sound easy, only players with the sharpest minds could complete these puzzles and knock out the competition.
Fans of this game also had no fear of running out of puzzles since it came jam-packed with a whopping 300 of them.
43. Tony Hawk’s American Sk8land
The early 2000s were a great time for Tony Hawk games, and American Sk8land was just one of many great games in the franchise.
This game was simple and pure, with no levels and no load time, just skating or riding wherever you wanted. Ultimate freedom.
42. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor
Another great game set in Tokyo, Devil Survivor dropped players in the middle of a demon outbreak with the news that they only have seven days to live. Talk about a rude awakening.
In terms of great RPGs, this game ranks high, with its compelling gameplay and top-notch graphics. Fans of Shin Megami Tensei especially loved this installment.
41. Dark Void Zero
Once shelved for almost 20 years, Dark Void Zero stems from a Capcom game known as Dark Rift.
In 2010, this game was released as a recreation of the conceived 8-bit game, and it featured quite a compelling story.
As a human born in the void, players needed to stop evil watchers from taking over the world with the help of Nikola Tesla.
40. Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride
With a story that spans three generations, Dragon Quest V was one of the most popular entries in the Dragon Quest franchise.
It’s even going strong today with an Android and iOS version being released in 2015.
In a game filled with life-altering decisions and plenty of compelling characters, something that Square Enix excels at creating, it isn’t hard to see why this game was so impactful and why it became one of the best DS games.
39. Peggle: Dual Shot
Packed with 120 levels, two adventure modes, and loads of magic powers, Peggle: Dual Shot is one of the best games to waste time with, and it is incredibly hard to put down once you pick it up.
It might not have a compelling story, but as the levels get harder, you’ll be in for one hell of a challenge.
38. Space Invaders Extreme
A new take on a classic game, the DS version featured improved graphics, new backgrounds, and new minigames, giving it a fresh twist that players loved.
There was even a multiplayer mode that allowed players to battle against friends to prove that they were the ultimate invader slayer.
37. Final Fantasy IV
The Final Fantasy series is legendary, so it’s no surprise that this game turned out to be one of the best Nintendo DS games ever released.
Although it may not have taken advantage of all the features the DS offered, it still stood out as one of the most memorable RPG stories on the platform.
36. Tetris DS
Tetris for the Nintendo DS featured six gameplay modes, each based on a classic game such as Metroid, Legend of Zelda, or Super Mario Bros. It was also insanely addicting.
Up to 10 DS players could play using only one card, and special head-to-head challenges ensured that the competition was always interesting.
35. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
Castlevania games are great on any console, and Order of Ecclesia truly was a gem on the Nintendo DS.
Featuring 100 combat combinations, 20 explorable areas, and multiple interesting endings, this game was an instant classic in the franchise.
34. Pokémon Diamond
You can’t go wrong with any of the Pokémon games, and Pokémon Diamond certainly was a must-have.
Like other Pokémon games, Diamond was a traditional RPG that allowed players to live out their dreams of catching them all.
33. Professor Layton and the Curious Village
As the first game in the Professor Layton series, this game was immediately popular, and it definitely made you think hard to complete.
Tasking players to look for items in various static levels, this search for clues was anything but straightforward.
32. Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
Another Castlevania title that stood out among other DS games, Portrait of Ruin, was set during WWII as two sisters work to resurrect Dracula.
The coolest part of this game was the ability to change characters during battle to play to a specific strength.
Not a lot of games did that, and coupled with the interesting story, made it one of the best DS games ever released.
31. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition
This DSiWare game was released as a free download to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda and offered players a remaster of the Game Boy Advance game.
Containing the entire Four Swords game, excluding A Link to the Past, it was an immediate must-have for any Zelda fan.
30. Radiant Historia
A fun game that offers a brand-new adventure, this RPG makes great use of a time-hopping mechanic that isn’t seen in a lot of other games.
With incredible graphics, an amazing soundtrack, and an engaging story, Radiant Historia is a favorite game of anyone who has played it.
29. Pokémon Pearl
Released alongside Diamond, these two games were traditional Pokémon RPGs that made full use of the dual transfer slots and rich lore of the franchise.
If you didn’t have Diamond, chances are you had Pearl.
28. Super Mario 64 DS
Following the same story as Super Mario 64, this Mario Bros. game switched things up by allowing players to play as Yoshi, Luigi, and Wario, in addition to the titular plumber.
The touch screen controls are put to good use on the game map and camera, allowing for a lot of interactivity in this video game classic.
27. Metroid Prime: Hunters
This installment in the franchise garnered a lot of awards when it first dropped, and some DS buyers even got a demo of it when buying the system.
While not everyone liked this title, those that did understand why this game stands out as one of the best.
Plus, Samus is just an iconic character.
26. Pokémon Platinum
Pokémon Platinum comes in higher than Diamond and Pearl because it is an expanded version of those titles.
With all-new areas, a second form for one of the legendary Pokémon, and a new key character, this game was highly sought-after by fans, and even critics praised it as one of the best remakes of the Ultimate Pokémon games.
25. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Borrowing heavily from the Ace Attorney series, this adventure-puzzle game contains everything that made Ace Attorney good while adding additional mechanics that make Ghost Trick great.
Although there isn’t a lot of replayability like other titles on this list, the initial playthrough was something truly special, and you ended up never wanting it to end.
24. Advance Wars: Days of Ruin
Building on the first game, which was once hailed as one of the best Game Boy Advance games, Days of Ruin presented players with a grittier and more serious war title than the usual, more light-hearted ones.
With WiFi battle capabilities, map trading, and more realistic graphics, this game instantly appealed to fans of warfare games.
23. Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
Another entry in the Professor Layton series and the third game in the first trilogy, this is by far one of the best point-and-click games ever created.
Between the well-developed storyline and challenging puzzles, this game really did make players feel like Sherlock Holmes in their own homes.
22. Nintendogs: Chihuahua & Friends
If you couldn’t get a dog because of parents, allergies, or strict landlords, Nintendogs was the game that had your back.
In this adorable game, players got to care for, train, and play with their very own digital puppy and, while that may not sound compelling, it was hard not to fall in love with your digital best friend.
21. Planet Puzzle League
This awesome game was one of the best ways to keep your mind sharp while having a good time.
With six single-player modes, the ability to track your progress, and three different difficulties, this game made thinking fun, and your parents couldn’t complain because, technically, you were learning!
20. Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes
Although the battles in this game look like they came straight out of a board game, they were anything but boring.
In fact, this action-RPG game was just as much about brains as it is about the brawn of your armies.
Taking place 40 years before the fifth canon game, fans of this series immediately fell in love with this installment.
19. Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
Mario and Luigi take on time travel in this game with the help of their baby counterparts.
While the story’s main goal was to save Princess Peach — again — the way gameplay moved between the two screens really gave it a unique feeling.
18. Kirby: Canvas Curse
After having been turned into a ball, Kirby is forced to roll his way through levels while players guide him with the stylus by drawing tracks and paths.
This gameplay mechanic was extremely well received, and it gave players a tangible way to interact with the in-game world.
17. Pokémon Black Version
Pokémon Black for the Nintendo DS gave players the ability to catch, train, and use their Pokémon in battles as they navigated through the game.
This version also allowed players to catch a legendary Reshiram, something its White counterpart didn’t. It also featured an exclusive metro area called Black City that players could explore.
16. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
It’s hard to go wrong with any of one of the best Zelda games, and Spirit Tracks saw our favorite green garbed Hylian traveling across New Hyrule by train.
What made this game truly stand out was the larger role that Zelda got to play. It was a nice change to work alongside her again, instead of having to rescue her.
15. Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
Another Dragon Quest title that Square Enix blew out of the water, this installment was a direct port of the PS2 title, which was no easy feat.
Although some worried the game wouldn’t work as well on the dual-screen Nintendo DS, the DS version exceeded all expectations to become one of the best DS games ever released.
14. Pokémon White Version
Like its counterpart Black, this game featured the ability to catch, train, and battle with your Pokémon.
However, unlike Black, White gave players access to the legendary Pokémon Zekrom, as well as a lush area known as the White forest.
13. The World Ends with You
Taking place in one of Tokyo’s most famous shopping districts, Shibuya, this RPG adventure game had a unique style and showed off a great deal of influence from the culture of the area.
Battles in this game made beautiful use of the dual screens, and while it could take getting used to, the gameplay and graphics won players over almost instantly.
12. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
The game that kicked off all the other Castlevania titles on the Nintendo DS, Dawn of Sorrow, was an incredible game that threw players back into the world of Dracula.
Using the touchscreen, players could even draw specific patterns that acted as magic seals which could help defeat enemies.
As asteroids fell from the top screen, players had to keep a sharp lookout on the bottom to ensure that the blocks they turned into didn’t pile up the wrong way.
While it was similar to other block matching games, it was one of the most addicting Nintendo DS games of its time, and as the levels got harder, beating them became even more rewarding.
10. Animal Crossing: Wild World
Nintendo Switch players are well acquainted with Animal Crossing, and Animal Crossing: Wild World serves as a sequel to the original GameCube game.
Wild World worked along with your system’s internal clock, syncing day and night with real-time.
It also gave players the freedom to play however they wanted, something that instantly made it a hit.
Although the Nintendo Switch installment has further added to this great franchise, it’s nice to remember when this game was just starting out.
9. New Super Mario Bros.
With well-rendered 3D graphics to compliment the 2D gameplay, New Super Mario Bros. was a fast-paced installment that made fans want to jump on a mushroom with joy.
This game made use of the dual-screen to introduce all-new challenges that could really throw you through a loop if you weren’t crafty enough.
You could even bring a friend along as Luigi if you didn’t want to play alone, which made this game stand out even more as one of the best Super Mario games of all time.
8. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
This game took our favorite characters and turned them into the pseudo-magic school bus Mario gang by putting them inside Bowser’s body.
If that doesn’t sound awesome enough, the game also made use of the dual screens by showing Mario and the crew on the bottom and Bowser on the top, where he could help out as one of the playable characters.
There’s a reason this is the best-selling Mario RPG of all time; it’s literally just that good.
7. Advance Wars: Dual Strike
This Advance Wars title served as a second sequel to the incredible Advance Wars, which was one of the best on the Gameboy Advance.
Selling over 35 million copies on day one, Duel Strike was a DS original that challenged players’ abilities to strategize by using aerial, sea, and land assaults to defeat troops and take over enemy locations.
6. Flipnote Studio
Flipnote studio brought out the artist in every gamer by giving players the ability to draw, write, and capture sounds on their DS. You could even save multiple pages and literally make a flipbook!
While it may not have had a storyline, it was a great way to kill time and show off your artistic skills.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Taking place after Wind Walker, Phantom Hourglass was one of the best Nintendo DS games, if not one of the best Zelda DS games in general.
Bringing back a top-down perspective, this installment went on to win numerous awards, and fans of the Zelda games immediately claimed it as one of their favorites.
4. Chrono Trigger
As one of the best SNES games ever created, Chrono Trigger is also one of the most impressive RPGs in gaming history.
Although the SNES version is incredibly expensive today, Chrono Trigger DS is much more affordable.
With an immersive storyline, immersive quests, engaging battles, and numerous endings, this game is by far one of the greatest.
3. Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver
Bringing players back to the Johto region from Gold and Silver on the Game Boy, this installment in the Pokémon franchise introduces new graphics, more unique environments, and a new Pokéwalker accessory which players can use to bring their favorite Pokémon anywhere.
2. Mario Kart DS
Mario Kart DS brought all the fun of the classic Mario Kart right to the palm of your hands.
The third best-selling DS game, this version came with brand-new karts, new unlockable characters, and the ability to battle friends on WiFi.
Although the WiFi functions were shut down in 2014, this Mario Kart game stood out as one of the best Nintendo DS games ever.
1. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
There’s just something hilariously fun about all the games in the GTA franchise, and Chinatown Wars was no different.
Featuring cell shading, top-down gameplay, and absolutely no rules, this game was one that you could spend hours messing around with, driving cars through pedestrians, and showing the digital citizens just how much of a badass you were.
When it comes to portable console games, the Nintendo DS hosted some of the best.
Due to the touchscreen technology, interactivity could be expanded, and the dual screens made for fantastic gameplay mechanics.
While choosing the best DS games isn’t an easy feat, given that there are so many of them, these 50 stood out the most, and many are still being played today.
Here’s a quick recap of the 50 best Nintendo DS games of all time:
- Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
- Mario Kart DS
- Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver
- Chrono Trigger
- The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
- Flipnote Studio
- Advance Wars: Dual Strike
- Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
- New Super Mario Bros.
- Animal Crossing: Wild World
- Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
- The World Ends With You
- Pokémon White Version
- Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
- The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
- Pokémon Black Version
- Kirby: Canvas Curse
- Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
- Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes
- Planet Puzzle League
- Nintendogs: Chihuahua & Friends
- Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
- Advance Wars: Days of Ruin
- Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
- Pokémon Platinum
- Metroid Prime: Hunters
- Super Mario 64 DS
- Pokémon Pearl
- Radiant Historia
- The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition
- Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
- Professor Layton and the Curious Village
- Pokémon Diamond
- Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
- Tetris DS
- Final Fantasy IV
- Space Invaders Extreme
- Peggle: Dual Shot
- Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride
- Dark Void Zero
- Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor
- Tony Hawk’s American Sk8land
- Picross DS
- Rayman DS
- Nintendogs: Lab & Friends
- Clubhouse Games
- Bleach: The Blade of Fate
- Bangai-O Spirits
- Rhythm Heaven
What’s the best Nintendo DS game of all time, in your opinion? Leave a comment below.
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