Kotaku AU's Top 10 Nintendo DS Games


With the DSi launching today without any dedicated DSi games - outside of a handful of DSiWare apps - first-time owners are going to be looking for some DS games to pick up. Here are my choices.

Advance Wars: Dual Strike The strategy genre is well-served on DS, where solid interpretations of stalwarts Age of Empires and Civilization are joined in the trenches by SRPGs like Disgaea and Fire Emblem. But for me Advance Wars offers just the right combination of depth and accessibility; its rock/paper/scissors formula is easy enough to understand, but the mission and map design provides endless variation.

Animal Crossing: Wild World Although some may suggest any adult playing Animal Crossing is doing so for the wrong reasons, they are, frankly, cretins. This playfully aimless social sim is a breath of fresh air in a world dominated by goal-oriented games. Years later, you'll still be dropping by your village for a few moments each day and still find something new to do or see.

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia Some might name New Super Mario Bros. as the pinnacle of DS platformers, but I can't help but think its appeal is diminished by falling short of the series' true greats, whether 2D or 3D. I'd pick the third DS Castlevania title as my platformer choice; not only is it the best of the three, it's almost as good as Symphony of the Night. Almost.

Chrono Trigger Forget those Final Fantasy remakes. Forget those Dragon Quest remakes. The finest old-school RPG in the combined Square Enix back catalogue is Chrono Trigger. The exquisitely executed time travel mechanic is just the starting point of a character-driven tale that describes the consequences of your actions like few other games have even attempted. Superb.

Elite Beat Agents Utterly nonsensical yet joyously playable rhythm-action game. You might not be a fan of the at times terrible soundtrack (hi Avril!), but that won't stop you grinning like a fool as you tap your way through one of the most infectious gaming experiences on any format.

Etrian Odyssey Hardcore role-playing doesn't get much more hard - nor indeed core - than this. Roll up your party, outfit them with gear, take on a quest, then head to the dungeon. You can't save in the dungeon. You have to draw your own map as you go. You'll get your arse kicked. For a handheld RPG, Etrian Odyssey steadfastly refuses to hold your hand in any way. But it's brilliantly addictive.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars It shouldn't work, but it does. Unlike the PSP GTAs, Rockstar have played to the strengths of the DS rather than trying to shoehorn a console game into ill-fitting hardware. The technology is formidable, but what truly impresses is the inspired use of the touchscreen where every mechanic feels perfectly natural. It doesn't feel like a compromise but rather an extension of the core GTA experience.

Phoenix Wright Adventure games are sadly under-represented on DS. Sadly, because the genre strikes me as perfectly suited to stylus control. The new Broken Sword demonstrates how smart porting can revitalise the traditional point-and-click adventure. But it was Phoenix Wright that did it first and forged its own identity through charming characters, snappy dialogue and hugely entertaining scenarios.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village While Brain Training may purports to keep your mind sharp, Professor Layton will bend it to breaking point. Little more than a series of logic problems dressed up in an endearing tale of mystery, may at times make you feel stupid but it never stops making you want to keep playing. Now where's the sequel, Nintendo?

WarioWare: Touched! Easily the best version of WarioWare. Translation to the DS sees the micro-game formula benefit enormously from the touchscreen and even the microphone. It's also the ideal game for short bursts of play whenever you have 5-10 minutes to kill and feel like switching your brain off.

So, there you go, they're my picks for the DS. Do you agree with me? What have I overlooked?


    I happen to agree with most of your choices, but where's The World Ends With You? Great and unique storyline (set in an alternate Shibuya), enough gameplay for those who just want to fang through the main game and plenty of post-game fun for those more committed. I've personally clocked up 55 hours of gameplay and I'm only half-way through the main game, as its levelling system just has me drawn in. You level up as you would expect to (killin' things), but you can set your current level to any level that you've gotten up to, which increases your drop level for pins (each pin is a separate attack you can attach to your character) and the amount of EXP you gain on pins being used in battle (yes, each pin has its own EXP bar). And that's really just scratching the surface of what the game offers. It really is a grinder's dream.

    And hey, if you haven't played it, I'd definitely suggest giving it a whack. I recently saw it on shelf in EB as part of their 2 for $50 sale, so you really can't go wrong for $25.

    I too picked up The World Ends With You on the cheap.

    It goes dramatically downhill later on, don't bother farming badges too hard bro ;)

    I'd like to submit the underrated Another Code: Two Memories as a DS favourite. But it was super short.
    And the Korg synth for the best use of the technology.

    Otherwise, yeah, it is an rpg machine.

    You missed out Mario Kart!!

    And probably Ninja Gaiden for some hack and slash fun.

    Sorry but I've gotta say Wario Ware: Twisted is easily the best of the series for me. There was something a lot more fun about twisting my GBA (or DS) side to side and the force feedback helped add to that.

    The list is great though and I've yet to check out a couple of those games. Maybe we should do a readers top 10 picks since there's so many other great titles that didn't get a mention?


    Readers top 10 picks? That's what these comments are for!

    Also, you can't play Twisted on the DSi...

    Hamm I almost agree.. I love the DS for it's JRPGs :D
    1. Disgaea DS (thats right i'm a stat geek!)
    2. Final Fantasy Tactics A2 (lol@hammy Teh Stats geek)
    3. Chrono Trigger
    4. Advance Wars Dual Strike
    5. Animal Crossing Wild World
    6. Custom Robo Arena (Thats right armored core on the DS bitches)
    7. Bangai-O Spirits
    8. Kirby Super Star Ultra
    9. Jump Ultimate Stars
    10. N+

    I'd be another to include The World Ends With You.
    Puzzle Quest (if you don't already have it on another platform) for a quick puzzle fix when your commuting.
    Ninja Gaiden is good, but pretty short (I found no real replay value in it for me).
    Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is great.
    Civilisation Revolutions has taken up a lot of my time, not because it's good (which it is), but because it's portable Civ/crack.
    Disgaea DS is fantastic too if you can find/import a copy.

    Do any of you, David included, realise that most of the games you listed will not appeal to anyone buying a DS for the first time. Any true gamer has already owned one for years now and would've already played or owned most of the games listed.
    The DSi is purely for the new casual market. At the moment anyway.

    My top 10, in no particular order:

    Ninja Gaiden
    Phantom Hourglass
    Cotra 4
    Etrian Odyssey
    Dragon Quest Rocket Slime
    Mario Kart
    New Super Mario Bros
    Castlevania Order of Ecclesia
    Tetris DS
    Professor Layton

    Why wouldn't they Unicron?
    Just becuase they haven't owned a DS before, doesn't mean that they have never played games on any other platform.
    Or even if they haven't, some RPG's for example may not be the most accessible games for someone who has never played any computer games before, but if they've played any kind of PnP D&D or the like, they'd pick it up pretty quickly I would imagine.
    I'd rather the platform be represented by more complex quality titles, than overly simple minigame collections that leave prospective users dismayed and thinking that all DS games are shallow unrewarding titles.
    The DS is sometimes limited just as much by peoples perception of it, as its game line up. If you local EB thinks that all people think it is good for is minigames, then that's what their going to stock, and the non-enthusiasts out there, who may not have heard or read about some of the above games (since they aren't out there on the shelves for them to see) will miss out on some excellent titles.

    'True gamer' is a stupidly elitist title. Just because someone may have a budget for their Xbox and a couple of games every now and then, does that not make them a 'true gamer', even if they are dedicated to playing the hell out of the games they have?
    If 'true gamer's' exist, then so must 'false gamers'. Now how the hell do you define that!?
    End Dialogue.

    No particular order, beyond the first two:
    Chrono Trigger
    Ouendan 2 (plus 1 and EBA, but I'll leave them off to save this from being a boring list)
    Phoenix Wright (all of them)
    Professor Layton
    Animal Crossing
    Mario Kart DS
    Hotel Dusk
    Puzzle Quest (assuming its at least half as good as the XBLA version)
    Aaaaand...probably Chinatown Wars, although I haven't been compelled enough to play it a heap just yet.

    No particular order, beyond the first two:
    Chrono Trigger
    Ouendan 2 (plus 1 and EBA, but I'll leave them off to save this from being a boring list)
    Phoenix Wright (all of them)
    Professor Layton
    Animal Crossing
    Mario Kart DS
    Hotel Dusk
    Puzzle Quest (assuming its at least half as good as the XBLA version)
    Aaaaand...probably Chinatown Wars, although I haven't been compelled enough to play it a heap just yet.

    I have to agree that The World Ends With You is a glaring omission, not only for being a fantastic game but for being such a unique experience, but otherwise I think this is an excellent and well-considered list.

    Yay! Etrian Odyssey!
    It really doesn't receive enough love. Especially in Australia where I don't even think EO II is out. =S

    Also? Pokemon. Yay for that too, even if it isn't in the list. Maybe not a top-tenner, but it's Pokemon. Yay Pokemon!

    Also also, the guy in the picture has a smile on par with The Joker. Freakin' me out.

    The DQ remakes are not that bad. I am sure DQ9 is going to be a great addition when it is localized. Did you guys heard about what happened in Japan yesterday? There was a rumor that DQ 9 was released on April 1st and people were lining up since the day before. That is surely one of the worst joke that one can pull out on the Japanese because the DQ series is so popular in Japan such that the Japanese lawmakers have passed a law to allow new DQ games to be released on holidays or weekends.

    @ Unicron

    Do you realise that casual gamers arent very likely to be read any of those comments, or yours either.

    The suggestions are valid as not all gamers feel the need to spend on a handheld when they find very little time to play one. If you commute that is your best chance imo. Some of us just have to make to with our PC, PS3, wii and xbox360..... I would persoanlly like to play some of those games but so little time and so many games already

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