DBLTAP’s Best Nintendo DS and 3DS Games of All Time

This week we’re taking a look at a handheld console that’s had quite an impressive run – the Nintendo DS.

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

Nintendo changed it again in 2011 with the release of the Nintendo 3DS. Not content with just one or two styles of play, Nintendo has added 3D functionality to its already unique handheld, giving gamers a whole new perspective on gaming (literally!).

With a huge catalog of fantastic games to choose from, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite favorites.

Mario Kart DS

Ralston: There is perhaps no game that perfectly showcases the usefulness of handheld gaming for me other than Mario Kart DS. This is the game that literally stopped gamers’ R buttons from drifting so often. The fact that you can invite up to seven other people to race or battle – whether or not they own the game – is something that would still be impressive to this day.

Along with the friendship-defining multiplayer moments this game gave me, Mario Kart DS had an impressive array of retro maps, creative karts, fun mechanics, and rhythm for a highly replayable title.

Pokemon Ranger

Jack: I think the reason I was so obsessed with this game as a kid was how different it was from other Pokemon games at the time. It was one of those early spin-offs that had you interact with Pokemon in a totally different way than when you were playing as a stereotypical trainer. That and it was the only game I used the stylus faithfully with, because you had to. I completely avoided using the DS touchscreen until I got Pokémon Ranger, and to be honest, I lost my stylus more often than I care to admit. For me, it’s one of the only games that really sets the DS apart from the GBA.

Pokémon Ranger also delved into another facet of trust and the relationship between humans and Pokémon that we’ve 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 version of Pokemon ever, fight me on it. Generation 3 is my all-time favorite generation, as I noted in my pick of the best Pokemon game of all time. I had a love/hate relationship with the DS, originally I had one at launch. Then, as I’m sure many people also experienced, the screen hinges broke and I switched to the PSP. So once Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire came out, I had to buy a 3DS. The best version of Pokemon ever, the best DS/3DS game ever. Full stop.

Animal Crossing: Wild World

alexander: I often wonder if I will ever experience inner peace like when I first discovered Wild World. I remember seeing advertisements in the official Nintendo magazine (remember the magazines?) and being completely captivated by its style and charm, begging my parents to leave it to me as a birthday present.

Playing it was also a unique experience. There was no rush, no pressure to do anything – just coexist with these weird and wonderful animal villagers. I found furniture, caught fish, and played the game at my own pace. I still listen to the Wild World soundtrack now; it embodies comfort, especially on a rainy day.

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

Agents My Sims

Michael: My favorite series to play on the Nintendo DSi was the MySims series, and of all the games I played in MySims, I enjoyed My Sims Agents the most. The graphics were incredibly adorable to look at, and it was a short but rewarding story to follow. Becoming a super spy and completing small missions to improve your spy house was rewarding for a young Michael, and it stands out as one of my favorite early gaming memories. I wish it was available on the Switch today, that would be all I would play.

Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver

Image courtesy of Game Freak

Nat: After the Game Boy Advance and the Color, my portable console journey is almost over. I had moved on to harder drugs like PC and console games. But my friends would hear nothing of it. Most of them were hardcore Pokemon fans, playing through every iteration and generation. And while I enjoy Pokemon and games from my childhood, I had moved on. So, as a birthday surprise, my friends put up some cash and bought me a Nintendo DS and Pokemon SoulSilver.

It was an amazing move and it’s still one of my favorite games of all time. Side note, the second generation of Pokemon is my all-time favorite and playing an upgrade remake was the perfect way to get back to handheld gaming.

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

Noam: Listen. I have never played a single game on the Nintendo DS. It’s one of my great shames. Nevertheless! I played an emulated version of this Fire Emblem game for a few hours. Good enough! Also probably my least favorite Fire Emblem game. That’s life! Anyway, please don’t talk to Nintendo about the em*lation, I don’t want to get in trouble with Mr. Bowser.

Fun fact: This commercial apparently took 20 takes because 1) the actors kept overheating in their costumes and 2) the horse kept getting pissed off.

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