The Best NDS Games: A Comprehensive Guide

Looking for the best NDS games to revisit or discover? You’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive guide covers the top titles for the Nintendo DS, celebrating its rich history and diverse game library.

The Nintendo DS, launched in 2004, revolutionized handheld gaming with its dual-screen design and innovative stylus controls. It became a massive hit, selling over 154 million units worldwide. The DS’s extensive game library includes everything from iconic franchises to unique indie gems. In this article, we’ll explore the top NDS games, curated by gaming experts at GamesRadar and Nintendo Life, and uncover what makes these titles timeless classics.

The Legacy of the Nintendo DS

The Phenomenon of the Nintendo DS

The Nintendo DS, with its groundbreaking dual-screen setup and touch controls, redefined portable gaming. Launched as a "third pillar" alongside the GameCube and Game Boy Advance, the DS quickly surpassed expectations, becoming a cornerstone of Nintendo’s gaming legacy. With over 154 million units sold, the DS’s diverse game library catered to a wide audience, from casual players to hardcore gamers.

The DS’s unique hardware allowed developers to experiment with gameplay mechanics not possible on other systems. Games utilized the touch screen for innovative controls, such as drawing paths in Kirby: Canvas Curse or solving puzzles in Professor Layton. The built-in microphone enabled voice commands and interactions in games like Nintendogs. This versatility made the DS a beloved console among both developers and players.

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Top Best NDS Games  

1. Mario Kart DS

  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Released: 2005
  • Description: Introduced online multiplayer, new items, and 32 tracks, combining new and classic courses.
  • Why It Stands Out: Mario Kart DS set a new standard for portable racing games. Its online multiplayer mode was groundbreaking at the time, allowing players to compete globally. The game also featured a robust single-player experience with a variety of modes, including the innovative Mission Mode, which added unique challenges to the traditional racing gameplay.

2. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

  • Developer: Rockstar
  • Released: 2009
  • Description: A bold, mature game featuring a gripping story, innovative use of the DS’s capabilities, and a detailed open world.
  • Why It Stands Out: Chinatown Wars brought the Grand Theft Auto experience to the DS with impressive results. The game’s top-down perspective harkened back to the series’ roots, while the touch screen was used for various mini-games, such as hotwiring cars and assembling weapons. Its mature storyline and open-world gameplay made it a standout title on the handheld.
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3. Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan

  • Developer: iNiS Corporation
  • Released: 2005
  • Description: A unique rhythm game where players use the stylus to tap and drag to the beat, guiding a cheerleading squad through various scenarios.
  • Why It Stands Out: Ouendan’s energetic soundtrack and innovative gameplay made it a hit. The game’s Japanese cheerleader theme added a layer of charm and cultural flavour, making it a unique experience even among rhythm games. Its challenging gameplay and catchy music ensured it remained a fan favourite.

4. Advance Wars: Dual Strike

  • Developer: Intelligent Systems
  • Released: 2005
  • Description: A strategy game featuring new COs, units, and dual-screen battles, adding depth to its tactical gameplay.
  • Why It Stands Out: Dual Strike expanded on the Advance Wars formula with new commanding officers (COs), units, and battle modes. The ability to control battles across both screens added a strategic layer, making each decision critical to victory. Its engaging story and challenging missions solidified its place as a top strategy game on the DS.

5. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story

  • Developer: AlphaDream
  • Released: 2009
  • Description: An RPG that creatively uses the DS’s dual screens to show different perspectives, combining humour and engaging gameplay.
  • Why It Stands Out: Bowser’s Inside Story is renowned for its clever use of the DS’s dual screens, with players controlling Mario and Luigi inside Bowser’s body while also playing as Bowser in the overworld. The humorous dialogue and inventive gameplay mechanics made it one of the most beloved entries in the Mario & Luigi series.

6. New Super Mario Bros.

  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Released: 2006
  • Description: Revitalized the 2D platformer with new power-ups and modern graphics while retaining classic Mario gameplay.
  • Why It Stands Out: New Super Mario Bros. brought classic Mario platforming to a new generation with updated graphics and fresh gameplay mechanics. The introduction of the Mega Mushroom and Mini Mushroom added new dimensions to the traditional platforming experience. Its nostalgic appeal and polished design made it an instant classic.
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7. Bangai-O Spirits

  • Developer: Treasure
  • Released: 2008
  • Description: A chaotic shoot-’em-up with puzzle elements and a level editor, offering endless replayability.
  • Why It Stands Out: Bangai-O Spirits stood out for its intense action and creative level design. The inclusion of a robust level editor allowed players to create and share their own stages, adding immense replay value. The game’s over-the-top action and strategic depth made it a favorite among shoot-’em-up fans.

8. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

  • Developer: Capcom
  • Released: 2010
  • Description: A puzzle adventure game where players use ghostly powers to solve mysteries and prevent deaths.
  • Why It Stands Out: Ghost Trick’s unique gameplay mechanics and captivating story set it apart. Players controlled a ghost named Sissel, using his abilities to manipulate objects and alter events to prevent deaths. The game’s stylish animation and intriguing narrative kept players hooked from start to finish.

9. Castlevania: Dawn Of Sorrow

  • Developer: Konami
  • Released: 2005
  • Description: A Metroidvania game with RPG elements, featuring intricate level design and challenging bosses.
  • Why It Stands Out: Dawn Of Sorrow continued the Metroidvania legacy with tight gameplay and a compelling story. The Tactical Soul system allowed players to collect and use enemy abilities, adding depth to the exploration and combat. Its atmospheric graphics and challenging bosses made it a standout title on the DS.

10. Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

  • Developer: Level-5
  • Released: 2008
  • Description: A puzzle game with a compelling story, featuring over 160 diverse puzzles that challenge the mind.
  • Why It Stands Out: The third game in the Professor Layton series, Unwound Future, was praised for its complex puzzles and emotional narrative. Players followed Professor Layton and his apprentice Luke as they solved puzzles to uncover a mystery involving time travel. The game’s beautifully animated cutscenes and varied puzzles made it a must-play for puzzle enthusiasts.

11. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Released: 2009
  • Description: Features innovative train travel mechanics, a rich storyline, and unique puzzles.
  • Why It Stands Out: Spirit Tracks introduced a novel train travel mechanic, allowing players to explore the game world in a unique way. Zelda played a more active role, assisting Link in various ways. The game’s charming graphics and inventive puzzles ensured it remained a favourite among Zelda fans.

12. Final Fantasy IV

  • Developer: Square Enix
  • Released: 2008
  • Description: A challenging RPG with superb graphics, voice acting, and new gameplay features.
  • Why It Stands Out: This DS remake of Final Fantasy IV offered enhanced graphics, voice acting, and new features like the Augment system, which allowed players to customize their characters’ abilities. The game’s epic storyline and challenging gameplay made it a standout entry in the Final Fantasy series.

13. Picross DS

  • Developer: Jupiter
  • Released: 2007
  • Description: A puzzle game that uses the DS’s touch controls to make solving nonograms intuitive and fun.
  • Why It Stands Out: Picross DS brought the addictive nonogram puzzles to the DS, utilizing the touch screen for easy and intuitive controls. The game’s extensive puzzle library and daily challenges provided endless hours of brain-teasing fun.

14. WarioWare: D.I.Y.

  • Developer: Intelligent Systems
  • Released: 2010
  • Description: Allows players to create their own microgames, offering endless creativity and fun.
  • Why It Stands Out: WarioWare: D.I.Y. empowered players to create and share their own microgames using the DS’s touch screen and stylus. The game included a variety of tools and tutorials, making it accessible to both novice and experienced game designers. Its creativity and community-sharing features made it a beloved title.

15. Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime

  • Developer: Tose
  • Released: 2006
  • Description: A charming spin-off with engaging gameplay and adorable characters.
  • Why It Stands Out: Rocket Slime offered a delightful blend of action and adventure, starring the lovable Slime from the Dragon Quest series. The game’s engaging tank battles and charming art style made it a hit among fans of the series and newcomers alike.


The Nintendo DS has left an indelible mark on the world of gaming with its innovative features and diverse game library. The best NDS games, as highlighted by GamesRadar and Nintendo Life, showcase the creativity and excellence of this beloved console. Whether you're a veteran gamer or new to the DS, these timeless classics offer unforgettable experiences and endless fun. Explore these iconic titles to rediscover the magic and nostalgia of the Nintendo DS. Share your favourite DS memories and keep the legacy of this groundbreaking handheld alive. Happy gaming!

Note: Explore our latest blogs for in-depth insights and stories on these timeless classic games: Pac-Man Game, Contra Game, Prince of Persia Game, Tetris Game, Doom Game, Sonic the Hedgehog Game, Super Mario Bros. Game


Frequently Asked Questions 

Q1. What makes a game one of the best NDS games?

Ans: The best NDS games are typically innovative, offer engaging gameplay, and leave a lasting impact on players. They make the most of the DS’s unique features and often evoke nostalgia. These games are well-designed, polished, and provide a memorable gaming experience.

Q2. How were these rankings determined? 

Ans: The rankings from GamesRadar and Nintendo Life were determined by expert reviews and reader votes, ensuring a balanced and comprehensive list. Expert reviews provide in-depth analysis and insights, while reader votes reflect the community’s preferences and experiences.

Q3. Can I still play these DS games today? 

Ans: Yes, many of these games can be played on the original Nintendo DS, DS Lite, DSi, and even on the Nintendo 3DS. Some titles are also available on digital platforms. Additionally, some games have been re-released or remastered for newer consoles, allowing players to experience them with updated features and graphics.

Q4. Are there any modern equivalents to these DS games? 

Ans: Many of these games have sequels or spiritual successors on newer Nintendo consoles like the 3DS and Switch. For example, New Super Mario Bros. has several sequels on newer systems, and series like Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright continue to receive new entries. These modern equivalents build on the original games’ foundations while introducing new elements and improvements.

Q5. How can I find more information about these games? 

Ans: You can find detailed reviews and additional information on gaming websites, as well as on forums and community sites dedicated to Nintendo gaming. These resources offer comprehensive guides, user reviews, and discussions that provide valuable insights and recommendations.

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