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Nintendo DS: 9 years, 50 must-own games

As it nears the end of its life, we summarise the best games for Nintendo's dual-screened wonder

Today's Nintendo financial results may tell a number of stories, but one that caught our eye was indication that Nintendo looks set to stop production of the DS, its most popular handheld ever.


Looking way back to 2004 when the portable was first released, it's hard to believe that the handheld many predicted was doomed to be outsold by the vastly more powerful PSP would end up selling an enormous 153.87 million systems.

As the DS nears the end of its natural life, we've come up with our definitive list of the 50 greatest DS games you need to own. The more of these games you have in your library, the more complete a human being you are. Don't raise any objections with that - it's just science.

1) Mario Kart DS

Nintendo / Nintendo EAD Group 1 / 23.34 million sold

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Despite kicking off one of the most heated debates in modern gaming - whether snaking is indeed cheating - Mario Kart DS remains one of the finest games in a much-loved series. It seems many DS owners agreed too, because the game ended up being the third-best selling game on the DS.

2) Pokémon Black and White 2

Nintendo / Game Freak / 6.5 million sold

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The first direct sequel to a Pokémon game, Black and White 2 was more of an evolution (which is apt) than a huge step forward. Still, that makes it the most feature-packed, deep Pokémon game by default and together with its predecessor, the entire Black and White saga sold over 21 million copies.

3) Advance Wars: Dual Strike

Nintendo / Intelligent Systems / 360,000 sold

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Its successor Advance Wars: Dark Conflict may have featured online multiplayer, but its focus on a darker, gloomier art style means that Dual Strike is still where we turn for our fill of turn-based strategic goodness. Despite its modest sales, its cult following shows anyone who tried it loved it.

4) The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

Nintendo / Nintendo EAD Group 3 / 3.18 million sold

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Although Phantom Hourglass was the first Zelda on DS and the first to offer unique stylus-only control, Spirit Tracks improved on it significantly with one change - the fact that players didn't have to traipse through the same dungeon over and over again. A brilliant Zelda adventure.

5) Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies

Nintendo / Level-5 / 5.67 million sold

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Not even a promotional campaign by Jedward could stop us loving this DS-exclusive Dragon Quest. The main adventure itself is epic enough but the fact you can download a large selection of free side-quests when you're done gives this a longevity that eclipses even most RPGs, let alone other games.

6) Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

Nintendo / AlphaDream / 4.13 million sold

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The third game in the popular Mario and Luigi series sees the brothers trapped inside Bowser's stomach as they team up with their arch-rival to try and defeat a greater power. The usual sense of humour is offered by the bucketload.

7) The World Ends With You

Square Enix / Square Enix / 680,000 sold

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Look up 'cult' in the dictionary and we wouldn't be surprised if you saw a screenshot of The World Ends With You. Square Enix's Tokyo-based action RPG is adored by its dedicated fans for its gripping storyline, unique combat system and its achingly hip soundtrack. Buy it.

8) Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

Rockstar / Rockstar Leeds / 1.26 million sold

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Many were surprised when Rockstar's hyper-violent series came to a Nintendo system (even though there had already been GTA games on the Game Boy Color and GBA), but in the end Chinatown Wars' return to the top-down viewpoint of the originals made it a perfect fit for handheld thuggery.

9) Animal Crossing: Wild World

Nintendo / Nintendo EAD Group 2 / 11.7 million sold

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Animal Crossing had already seen a GameCube release (and an N64 one in Japan) but the DS sequel showed that handheld was the ideal home for the series. In addition, the fact that it uses the DS's real-time clock meant we managed to shun many a real-life birthday and/or wedding to celebrate village holidays.

10) Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

Nintendo / Camelot / 640,000 sold

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The third game in Camelot's Golden Sun RPG series introduces a Djinn system, in which players can collect and summon 72 different elemental creatures and use them to help defeat enemies. Not only is it one of the best-looking games on the DS, but its approachable battle system makes it one of the most rewarding too.
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