A long time ago I wrote an overview to highlight some of my favorite Nintendo DS games. Looking back at it now, I feel like I’ve missed out on enough games to warrant a second post. In fact, it seems like I really started getting to the really good games shortly after writing my last post.
Keep in mind that this list is about the games that ended up being the most memorable and fun for me. They’re not necessarily the best games in the DS library. In fact, I still play my DS quite often, so there’s still a good chance I’ve missed out on a lot of good gems. If your favorite games are not listed in this post or my previous post, please post them in the comments section below. I’d love to hear what everyone’s favorite games are!
Advance Wars Days of Ruin
When I first played this version of Advance Wars, I wasn’t too fond of it. It was too different from the norm. I missed the CO powers from the Gameboy Advance games that I had accepted as a basic element of the series. It wasn’t as broken as the first DS game, Dual Strike, but something still felt missing from it. Having gone back to it, knowing what to expect from the game, I can say I really like it now.
Of all the strategy games on the DS, this is easily my favorite. I still don’t hold it as high as the two GBA Advance Wars games, but it is up there.
Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure
Easily the most British of all DS games. You play as an old British adventurer, finding his way to a special treasure piece that unlocks a magical puzzle on the lower screen. Once fully activated, the puzzle activates Tea Time, turning you into a giant robot named Union Jack, as heavy metal plays in the background.
Tight controls, great levels, tons of secrets. Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure is by far my favorite platformer. It has that whimsical charm of old times when everything was possible in gaming.
You can read my full Henry Hatsworth review here.
After the success of Henry Hatsworth, the same developers set out to make a Metroidvania game set within the Monster World franchise of the old days. A young blue-haired girl named Ellie finds herself in a world filled with monsters, immediately befriending one, a small baby monster called Chomp.
You can read my full Monster Tale review here.
Metal Slug 7
I am a massive Metal Slug fan. I honestly don’t know what I could say to make you play this game if just the knowledge that there is a Metal Slug game on the DS isn’t enough. It’s frantic arcade side-scrolling shooter madness, just like Metal Slug has always been.
My personal favorite Contra game. It’s hard. Very hard. That precious Contra Code? It’s not going to work. Older Contra games are hidden away as unlockables. Expect tough bosses, long stages, and just about everything that made old Contra good, it’s all here. The franchise has managed to stay true to its core.
Valkyrie Profile – Covenant of the Plume
Typical Japanese StratRPG set within the Valkyrie Profile universe. Instead of playing as a Valkyrie, you’re just one soldier, given a valkyrie’s plume. Using that plume unlocks their full potential, but it kills them after the battle. It’s up to you whether or not you use the ability, and on who, but the game will put you against nearly unbeatable challenges that make it all the more alluring to use it on someone.
Shin Megami Tensei – Strange Journey
A much more traditionally SMT-styled game than Devil Survivor, which took cues from Persona. A group of elite soldiers are sent into a stretching “Schwartzwelt”, an area that defies the laws of time and space, that’s been slowly creeping over the planet. Each area within the Schwartzwelt based on different aspects of mankind’s collective psyche.
The only way to gain new demons to fight for you in this SMT is to have reach a mutual agreement by talking to them during battle. Although messing that up can enrage them to attack without you getting a turn to counter-attack. As always, demon fusion is a large part of the game. And your actions do get to change the content later on, as well as the ending you’ll get. If you’ve played any Etrian Odyssey game, you’ll feel right at ease with the basic mapping and battle system.
Etrian Odyssey 3
First-person dungeon-crawling goodness. You create your party of heroes, and start crawling through the dungeons, keeping the map on the lower screen yourself. All three games within the series are worth giving a shot, but the third game is my favorite by far. There’s nothing in the way of ongoing story for this franchise, and even if there was, the story isn’t all that important to enjoy the games. If you’re only interested in playing one of these games, go for the third. Otherwise, play them in order. They get better with each one.
Dragon Quest remakes
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend remakes of older games. However, the Dragon Quest series is one case where I’ll happily make an exception. I’m not too sure how it worked out in the US, but not all of these games have had a global release before. Europe didn’t get Dragon Quest until the PS2 entry, which was the 8th game in the series. The remakes cover parts 4, 5, 6, which together are also known as the Zenithian trilogy by the fans. Absolutely worth checking out.
Action-based tower defense title in which you create walls and turrets in between turns, and get to run away to attack monsters, and repair construction during your turns. There isn’t too much to say about this one. It’s just really simple, straight-forward and fun.
Mystery Dungeon – Shiren the Wanderer
Most people should be familiar with the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon titles by now. Fun and simple rogue-likes with Pokemon. Shiren the Wanderer is the original that the Pokemon titles were based on. A port of a SNES game that never made it outside of Japan, Shiren is a much harder title than the Pokemon versions. Death is permanent, and there are a lot of ways to permanently have your stats lowered. At the same time, there are storage rooms that let you keep items and carry them over from different attempts at the game.
The most polished and well-made JRPG on the DS. By far. Fantastic music, great characters, and an amazing concept in itself, Radiant Historia finds you traveling back and forth between two possible outlines to try to find the ideal route for the history of the world to take.Carrying over skills, items, and abilities to survive situations you wouldn’t make it through otherwise.
Thanks to the ideas of time travel, a lot of people compare Radiant Historia to Chrono Trigger, and it holds up to that game.
999: 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors
You wake up on a ship, just as the room starts to flood. Once you’ve found your way out, solving a key-card puzzle your captor left behind, you learn you’re on-board with eight other people, making nine people total, each numbered. There are nine special doors on the ship, each only opening if 3-4 people open it together using their special numbered watch having their numbers reach a digital root of 9. They have nine hours to find the door leading to the exit, door number 9.
Despite all of this, the game only has 6 endings. Still, the experience rated higher for me than playing the Ace Attorney series did.
Remember Blitzball from Final Fantasy X? This game plays like that, except it does it with soccer. Expect over-the-top super abilities, turning the football into a dragon, people stealing the ball by making shadow clones of themselves, or goalies stopping the ball by creating a giant God’s Hand.
Away: Shuffle Dungeon
Imagine a traditional 2D Zelda style dungeon with 2 rooms, one on the top floor, one on the bottom. After enough time passes, one of the two screens switches out to replace itself with another room. Enough time passes, and the other screen’s room switches out to be replaced for yet another room. This is how the dungeons of Away: Shuffle Dungeon works. You have to quickly make your way back and forth between the two screens to make sure you won’t be on the screen that’s going to be shuffled away, biding your time for the loot and exits to appear. The main town feels like a mix between Soul Blazer and Animal Crossing
Retro Game Challenge
Game Center CX – The Game. If you’ve never seen Game Center, you should. It’s a Japanese TV show about a guy named Arino who locks himself into a room to play old NES games, often imposing challenges upon himself. In this game, Arino traps you back into the 80s, forcing you to play retro games with a series of challenges before allowing you to come back to regular every-day life. All of the games were specially made for this game, and play like proper NES games would. There’s even fake magazine reviews, cheat guides, and manuals to help you progress through all of them. Once the challenges are met, you’re allowed to freely play the games as much as you want.