Andrew's Top Ten Nintendo DS Games of All Time (-> 2009)

Behold! The following is a list of my current favorite DS games of all time, as of  9/25/2009.

List items

  • The Pokemon franchise has, combined, easily eaten up over 1000 hours of my life. That's a lot of time. Obviously, I'm in love with these games. No, I'm beyond that point. We've been married, had 14 kids, and are now living the easy life of retirement together in sweet, sweet embrace. They're the games I feel like I should be afraid to admit that I like, and yet, I'll instead defend them to the death for being truly deep and engaging RPGs, once you get past the child-friendly story behind each.

    Pokemon Gold and Silver were my favorite of the series, so of course, these modernized remakes make top billing on my list of favorite DS games. Combining the mechanics of olde with the enhancements of new (the physical/special split), these games are adding to that 1000 hour play time rather rapidly.

  • It's a new Mario game, and who doesn't love Mario? It also, not so coincidentally, happens to be the DS's second highest selling game of all time. While it may not be the perfect Mario game everyone was looking for, being the spiritual successor to games like Mario 3 and Mario World, it was still about as good as I could have expected. The only thing it's really lacking is a type of flying suit; be it a cape, a racoon tail, or a tanuki suit. Besides that, the level design was spot-on, what new suits they did add were all pretty awesome, and the game had plenty of secret paths, reminiscent of the aforementioned Mario titles.

    Being a truly new Mario title, I put this ahead of Mario 64. It was a long time coming, and Nintendo actually delivered.

  • What more can I say about Pokemon? Diamond/Pearl were the first games of the DS Pokemon generation, and they brought the most significant change to the system since Pokemon eggs: the physical/special attack split. Maybe having nearly 500 Pokemon in the game is insane (okay, not maybe... yes, it is!), but the game is just additively fun to play and grind and play and grind through as all the games before it. I just didn't go in with the goal of "catching them all!"

    And yet, I've got over 400 of them. So, so close... but then I always get distracted when they go and release a whole new game.

  • I've spent countless hours on this game, without even actually completing the last of the 150cc courses and unlocking the rest of the game. It makes a great party game for when the family is over, be it races or balloon battles. My favorite Kart game, hands down.

  • The Aria/Dawn of Sorrow series is my favorite Metroidvania, by far, apart from Symphony of the Night. Dawn is a pretty lenghty adventure, and the story is actually kind of interesting, contrasted against the throwaway plots of most Casltevania games. The system of collecting enemies souls to use as spells/abilities was a great direction for the series, and Dawn refines everything about its GBA precursor, Aria, and adds better, DS quality visuals and one of the best soundtracks in a modern Castlevania.

  • An unappreciated DS game. This is really a sequel to GTA 2, but it's a sequel done right. It manages to use the top-down view to sort of merge components of the original GTA titles with some of the mechanics and feel of the later 3D games. The graphics are technically great, stylish, and they run more smoothly than you'd expect.

    The little stylus minigames are kinda unnecessary, but they don't detract from the game, either.

  • This being basically a straight port of Mario 64 (the additional characters are all almost identical, and their powers were in the original game), my love for this game was probably influenced by the fact that I never had the pleasure of playing this game on the N64. What can you really say about this game? It's a 3D platformer done right. That's a rarity.

    I have yet to collect every star, nor will I ever, but I still spent countless hours trying.

  • This is the big one for the DS. A game that appeals to practically everyone. It was also my first real Animal Crossing experience. The reason it gets such high marks, in my book, is for the sheer number of things it added to the Animal Crossing franchise; certainly upstaging City Folk, as basically a clone of its little DS counterpart.

    If you've played and enjoyed an Animal Crossing game before, you know why it's such a great game. The NPC characters all have great dialogue, and being able to influence what they say is a treat. The little things like fishing and collecting fossils are addictive; though the most addictive part is cashing them all in for bells so you can eventually pay off that son of a bitch, Tom Nook.

    And the best part? It's portable. Playing the original Gamecube version at a later time left me realizing just how important this is. You don't want to be glued to your TV doing all this mundane stuff. You want to be able to do it in the background, while you watch something on TV, relax, and unwind from a stressful day. You want your Animal Crossing world in your pocket, in case you meet up with a friend or relative with the game, to get your multiplayer on (speaking of which... one of the first DS WiFi games, as well!).

    Of course, like every game, it has it's share of flaws. Number one on that list is the lack of old Nintendo console titles embedded into the game. This was the one downgrade from the Gamecube version, but it was a big one. Also, the tasks of an Animal Crossing game eventually become too mundane and played-out to bare. This is especially true if you've purchased and played more than one.

  • A deceptively awesome game. Though it is largely a re-hash of past Kirby adventures, the sheer number of modes coupled with some cool new mechanics make it fun and fresh. For starters, you can play cooperatively (a feature I unfortunately didn't get a chance to try out, since I've got no one to play with). In single player, you can consume any kirby-ability type enemy and make it an AI controlled ally.

    The unfortunate side is that you have to unlock all additional modes, which, in the later stages of the game, can be difficult and tedious. They really should have unlocked them all from the start, because not being able to play them decreases the value of the game considerably, and without them, the game totally wouldn't have made my top 10 list.

  • Ah, Henry Hatsworth. I've yet to come anywhere close to beating you, yet I include you on my top top ten list. Why is that? Well, because the game is so damn unique and stylized.

    The only downside, and the reason I keep putting it down for extended lengths of time, is a steep difficulty curve. Seriously, when I first started playing this game, the ease was enough for me to nearly put it aside, dismissing it as a child's platformer (this, coming from a guy who played The Legendary Starfy to its conclusion). Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong! I'm currently about 50% through, according to the game's built-in percentage tracker, but already, I feel like every level should be the last level of the game. Deaths occur frequently, and the penalty for death is most often great, when you're tossed back to the beginning of a particularly long section of the game, due to checkpoints being so scarce.

    So why, you ask, *do* I love it? Well, once you invoke Tea Time for the first time, you'll understand. Becoming a giant, tea-drinking robot of mass destruction certainly wins it points. So does the surprisingly deep , yet manageable, puzzle switching element. The system is ingenious, well-balanced, and not the nuisance you'd think it might be. And then there's the voice acting; mixing the charm of Animal Crossing's animal speak with a stereotypical British accent twist. It's hilarious.

    Beyond that, the game is just fun to play, once I've settled my nerves after my last dastardly defeat.

    It stands as one of the DS's most unique games, and uses the system's capabilities quite nicely.