DBLTAP's Top Nintendo DS & 3DS Games of All-Time

Image courtesy of Nintendo

This week, we're taking a look back at a handheld console that had quite an impressive run - the Nintendo DS.

With numerous iterations, styles, and functions, the hardy little Nintendo DS gave many players their first taste of handheld gaming way back in 2004. The Nintendo DS broke ground not only with its dual-screen gameplay, but also by popularizing touch controls. Players were able to pet digital dogs, try their hands at virtual cooking, and send scribbled messages via PictoChat - all thanks to the DS and its accompanying stylus.

Nintendo changed it up yet again in 2011 with the release of the Nintendo 3DS. Not content with just one or two styles of gameplay, Nintendo added a 3D function to its already-unique handheld, giving players a new perspective on gaming (literally!).

With an extensive catalogue of fantastic games to choose from, we've put together a list of some of our beloved favorites.

DBLTAP's Top Nintendo DS & 3DS Games of All-Time

Mario Kart DS

Ralston: There's perhaps no game that perfectly showcases the utility of handheld gaming for me other than Mario Kart DS. It was the game that quite literally broke players' R Buttons from spamming drift so often. The fact that you could invite up to seven others to race or battle — regardless of whether or not they even owned the game — is something that would still be impressive to this day.

Aside from the friendship-defining multiplayer moments this game gave me, Mario Kart DS had an awesome array of retro maps, creative karts, fun mechanics and pacing making for a highly re-playable title.

Pokémon Ranger

Jack: I think the reason I was so obsessed with this game as a kid was because of how different it was to other Pokémon games at the time. It was one of those first spin-offs that had you interacting with a Pokémon in an entirely different way than when you played as a stereotypical trainer. That and it was the only game I faithfully used the stylus with—because you had to. I entirely avoided using the touchscreen on the DS until I got Pokémon Ranger and, to be honest, lost my stylus more often than I care to admit. This is one of the only games that really made the DS distinct from the GBA, to me.

Pokémon Ranger also dug deep into a different facet of the trust and relationship between humans and Pokémon that we had never really explored before.

And, hey, now I'm into hiking!

Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire

Image courtesy of The Pokémon Company

Max: The best Pokémon release of all time, fight me on it. Gen 3 is my favorite generation of all time, as I so noted in my Top Pokémon Game of All Time pick. I had a love/hate relationship with the DS, originally getting one at launch. Then, as I'm sure many people also experienced, the hinges on the screen broke and I went to the PSP. So, once Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire came out, I had to get a 3DS. The best Pokémon release of all time, the best DS/3DS game of all time. Full stop.

Animal Crossing: Wild World

Alex: I often wonder if I'll ever know internal peace quite like when I picked up Wild World for the first time. I remember seeing advertisements for it in the Official Nintendo Magazine (remember magazines?) and being completely captivated by its style and charm, pleading with my parents to let me have it as an early birthday present.

Playing it truly felt like a unique experience, too. There was no rush, no pressure to do anything - just co-existing with these weird and wonderful animal villagers. I found furniture, caught fish, and played the game at entirely my own pace. I still listen to Wild World's soundtrack now; it embodies coziness, particularly on a rainy day.

I've been through many towns and villages now across Wild World and the later Animal Crossing entries, but I'll always remember the small things about my first: I had pears as my original fruit, and my first villager friend was Drake. You best believe I spent hours trying to track him down for my New Horizons island.

My Sims Agents

Michael: My favorite series to play on Nintendo DSi was the MySims series, and out of all of the games I played in MySims, I enjoyed My Sims Agents the most. The graphics were incredibly adorable to watch, and it was a short but fulfilling storyline to follow. Becoming a super spy and completing little missions to upgrade your spy home was rewarding to a young Michael, and it stands out as one of my favorite early gaming memories. I wish it was available on the Switch today, it would be all I'd play.

Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver

Image courtesy of Game Freak

Nathan: After the Game Boy Advance and Color, my hand-held journey basically ended. I had moved on to harder drugs like PC and console games. But my friends would hear none of it. Most of them were hardcore Pokémon fans, playing every iteration and generation. And while I appreciate Pokémon and my childhood games, I had moved on. So as a birthday surprise, my friends chipped in money and bought me a Nintendo DS and Pokémon SoulSilver.

It was an amazing gesture and is still one of my favorite games of all time. Side note, the second generation of Pokémon is my favorite of all time and playing an upgrade remake was the perfect way to get back into hand-held gaming.

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

Noam: Listen. I've never played a single game on the Nintendo DS. It is one of my great shames. However! I did play an em*lated version of this Fire Emblem game for a few hours. Pretty good! Also probably my least favorite Fire Emblem game. C'est la vie! Anyway please don't tell Nintendo about the em*lation thing I don't want to get in trouble with Mr. Bowser.

Fun trivia: This commercial apparently took 20 takes because 1) the actors kept overheating in their costumes and 2) the horse kept bugging out.