Kotaku's 2010 DS Gift Guide

Christmas is fast approaching. Time is running out! You better start thinking about what you want to give (and get) this holiday season.

The Nintendo DS has a slew of solid titles that would make wonderful presents. Here's our take on the ten best Nintendo DS games to give and get for 2010. Hope you enjoy the list. Feel free to add your own recommendations in comments.

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies

Rating: 10+ Genre: Role-playing Ideal Player: The grandaddy of Japanese RPGs, Dragon Quest IX is for old-school gamers who enjoy turn-based combat and local multiplayer. What's It About? Players are a fallen angel helping people who are down on their luck by doing good deeds in this, the ninth numeric entry in the beloved Dragon Quest franchise. Players are free to roam about, chat up town folks and go on quests. The largely angst-free game features monsters with smiles on their faces. This is a happy role-playing game! Bang For Your Buck: The main quest takes around 40 hours, but even after completing it, there are still more "post-game" quests for players to complete. Read our review here.

Mario vs Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!

Rating: Everyone Genre: Puzzle Ideal Player: Mini-Land Mayhem! is a mix of puzzle and platformer and should appeal to fans of Mario and puzzle games. What's It About? Donkey Kong wants a Pauline doll, but doesn't get one, prompting him to grab the real Pauline and kidnap her! To rescue Pauline, Mario sends Mario wind-up toys after her. Players create pathways and bridges via the DS stylus and the touch screen for the Mini-Marios to cross and make their way to Kong in hopes of saving Pauline. Players that get stuck and use the Nintendo Super Guide autopilot to play through the game's more challenging bits. Bang For Your Buck: Mario vs Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! doesn't only have puzzle-platforming gameplay. There's also a new feature that allows players to create their own levels and play others'.

Super Scribblenauts

Rating: 10+ Genre: Puzzle Ideal Player: Got a big imagination? Like words? This game is for you. What's It About? As with the original Scribblenauts, players solve puzzles by entering words. The game has a dictionary of over 20,000 nouns. So whatever players type, appears on the screen. With Supper Scribblenauts, there are 120 new puzzles and the addition of over 9000 adjectives. Don't just conjure a dog, conjure an enormous robotic zombie dog. Bang For Your Buck: The ways that players can solve puzzles are seemingly infinite. So one time a player might use a "freezing flamethrower" to defeat a dragon and the next time a "zombie pizza". The game is only limited by the player's imagination (and the game's onboard dictionary). Read our review.

Final Fantasy The 4 Heroes Of Light

Rating: 10+ Genre: Role-playing Ideal Player: Gamers that don't mind strike that. Gamers that relish grinding through games, random encounters and traditional turn-based combat. What's It About? A young boy goes off to save a princess. When he returns back home, the entire town has been turned to stone. There are four characters for players to control, and the game features a crown-based job system. This means that whatever crowns players select effects the character's abilities. Clothes make the man? No, crowns do. Bang For Your Buck Finishing the main quest takes between 25 and 30 hours, so there is a lot to keep players busy. Read our review here.

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

Rating: 10+ Genre: Puzzle Ideal Player: This is a no-brainer for puzzle lovers, but the game should also appeal to anime fans and those who love a good mystery. What's It About? Professor Layton and his trusty assistant Luke travel through time to stop a malicious time machine scheme and even meet the future versions of themselves. As with other Layton games, everything is resolved through puzzles — and whether it be friend or foe, character take delight in presenting puzzles for the player to solve. Professor Layton and the Unwound Future takes advantage of the Nintendo DS' touchscreen. Bang For Your Buck: Professor Layton and the Unwound Future has over 150 different puzzles to keep players mentally engaged. Besides puzzles, there are also side quests to mix up gameplay. Read our review here.

Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver

Rating: Everyone Genre: Role-playing Ideal Player: Poké fans who missed Heart Gold and Soul Silver when they were originally released in 1999 as Pokémon Gold and Silver on Game Boy colour or those who owned the originals and want to check out these enhanced remakes. What's It About? It's... Pokémon. You train Pocket Monsters and have them fight. The aim here is to become the best Pokémon Trainer and stop the evil Team Rocket. The game is set in the "Johto" region (the Pokémon universe's take on Western Japan), which players can explore. Bang For Your Buck Tons. Besides the single player, HeartGold and SoulSilver can Nintendo's WiFi for battles with friends. There are also mini-games and even a Pokéball pedometer that encourages kids to be active as walking racks up experience points for players.

WarioWare: D.I.Y.

Rating: Everyone Genre: Mini-game Ideal Player: Those who aren't satisfied simply playing video games, but want to make their own. What's It About? Like previous WarioWare games, this is a mini-game title. The big difference is that players are given the tools (and a monster-sized manual) to create their own mini-games and then share them with other players. The game creation tools are straightforward and accessible, and it's even easy to correct one's programming mistakes. There are also around 70 pre-made mini-games to help inspire players. If that doesn't work, play games others created. Bang For Your Buck: As with many user generated content, WarioWare D.I.Y. could conceivably have an endless stream of mini-games. It's better to think of WarioWare D.I.Y. not simply as a "game", but as game development software for the massives. This is your canvas. These are your tools. What are you going to do? Read our review.

Sonic Colors

Rating: Everyone Genre: Platformer Ideal Player: Those looking for an traditional platformer. What's It About? The nefarious Dr Eggman is back and he's got a sinister theme park! Time for Sonic to save the day. The DS version of Sonic colours is an old school Sonic side-scroller with some new flourishes. Dr Eggman captured these little creatures called "wisps" to be an energy source for his theme park. Freeing them enables Sonic to harness their powers and turn into various things like a fireball - something that changes the gameplay up. Using the powers of these wisps is optional for those who want the standard spin, jump, run gameplay. Bang For Your Buck Since the wisps are optional and there is a variety of them, players can play through levels they've already cleared in an entirely new fashion.

Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth

Rating: Teen Genre: Adventure Ideal Player: Those who enjoy point-and-click games or locked room style mystery games. What's It About? The prosecutor from the Phoenix Wright games, Miles Edgeworth, gets his own title in which he uses logic to piece together clues and build his case. Edgeworth arrives at each crime scene, where he collects evidence and chats to other characters. What is unique about this Miles Edgeworth game in comparison to the Phoenix Wright games is that he has a truth meter during the investigation sections that functions much like a health bar. So if Edgeworth does not correctly use logic and reason, the truth meter decreases and this can result in the arrest and conviction of an innocent person.

Bang For Buck While Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth might not have the replay factor of other titles on the list, the game's punny dialogue is to be savored and enjoyed again and again.

Picross 3D

Rating: Everyone Genre: Puzzle Ideal: Fans of crossword puzzles, sudoku, you name it. What's It About? Picross 3D is the follow up to puzzle title Picross DS, but with an extra dimension. Players are given a large 3D block, and they must chip away to unearth what's underneath. Numbers on the side of the cubes clue players in to how many blocks need to remain hidden in each row to successfully complete the sculpture - and thus, the puzzle. Players carve an array of things that range from ultra low fidelity 3D representations of scissors, breakdancers and hot air balloons. Bang For Your Buck When the game originally went on sale, it was priced at the low $US19.99 sticker price. That's a good deal considering the game comes packed with over 360 puzzles as well as hundres more available for free via Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection. Picross 3D isn't only one of the best Nintendo DS games of 2010, it's also one of the best deals. Read our review.

Check out the rest of our platform-centric gift guides.

Don't have the money to buy a gift or a game? Check out our list of fantastic free iPhone games.


    I am considering getting one of the Phoenix Wright games for my wife. Does anybody have any sugegstion as to which would be the best game in the series to start? The more puns the better

    As a bit of background she doesn't play games on her DS much, she mostly uses the brain training and the sudoko (2nd question is there a good sudoko pack for the DS?)

    She has recently got one of the prof Layton games and is enjoying that and plans to buy herself another in that series.
    Thanks for your help

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