When Nintendo announced the DS in 2004, it came as a bit of a shock in a Game Boy world. This was the year of Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green, and in that same year Pokemon Emerald was released, not to mention other excellent titles (I’m not going to)
To make things even more unsettling, the GBA was only 3 years old at the time.
Initially it was marketed as an experimental third console that was not a replacement for the GBA, but due to the backwards compatability (200 IQ play by Nintendo) the DS was poised not only to replace the GBA with it’s far superior hardware, but also was set up to springboard off of the GBA’s popularity.
At the time, I didn’t have a Game Boy so I wasn’t worried, but I do remember some of my friends being alarmed at the announcement, but when Pokemon Diamond and Pearl were announced for the DS it was the final nail in the coffin for the wildly successful Game Boy brand. The DS would go on to sell over 150 million units, not including the 3DS family of systems.
The PSP was announced in 2005 and I think, at least initially, posed a serious threat to Nintendo’s business - the bigger screen and beefier hardware of the PSP dominated my local market, but I eventually picked up a DS along with a copy of Pokemon Pearl in about 2010, and from there I went on to play a bunch of excellent games on the system.
Funny story, for some reason I was a little embarrassed to be buying a DS. Literally nobody I knew at the time owned or wanted to own one, so I quietly approached a shopkeeper and stiffly inquired about the DS lite, my ears reddening as I did so. He reacted nonchalantly, probably detecting my sheepishness and I am to this day grateful for how naturally that shopkeeper led me over to the display case, saying he would let me have the display model at a discount. I left feeling much more confident, and picked up a few games before heading home.
Here are a few of the ones I remember.
Can’t really talk about Nintendo without Pokemon, so let’s get it out of the way. Solid game, best mons. A little too much water but much depth and some of the deepest lore comes from this gen.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time
In 2010 you could slap a Final Fantasy logo on anything and I would buy it. Crystal Chronicles was probably ahead of it’s time, I think the re-release they are working on looks sharp and will be quite successful.
Back then, I remember wishing I had people to play the game with, but I still enjoyed it. It has a unique aesthetic all it’s own, but definitely still has that Final Fantasy feel that I didn’t really get from FFXV.
This isn’t really a game, but rather a powerful synthesizer. I got it for cheap, and while I don’t think I made anything really outstanding with it, it’s still a very cool piece of software that you won’t find anywhere else.
The World Ends With You
This game has such an attractive aesthetic with some of my favorite character designs from Tetsuya Nomura. The fact that this game has been ported twice and is now the subject of an upcoming anime speaks for itself.
I recently did some fan art, and made a cool timelapse video you can check out here if you like.
I know, this was originally an SNES game and the extra content they added wasn’t that good, but I still like to talk about Chrono every chance I get because I want a remake of Cross. You could still say that as this is objectively one of the best JRPGs ever made, it deserves a spot on this list no matter what.
Another great JRPG, this time by Atlus, that also has time travel mechanics! Naturally, I love this kind of thing, so that’s why it’s here.
Digimon World DS
I have a lot to say about the Digimon World brand as a whole, and how it’s an absolute shit show of a brand that doesn’t know what kind of game series it wants to be. That’s an entirely different article.
That said, this game confuses matters even more by not even being part of the Digimon World series of games, but rather is the first title in the Digimon Story series that has to date spawned a handful of sequels. I love Digimon, I love RPGs, so this one was a treat for me even though objectively it wasnt a the best game.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
This was a rare find for me, and was rather expensive, too. Fortunately, it’s a decent ARPG - the best on the system - featuring worlds from the aforementioned The World Ends With You, among others.
I have to admit, the story just bleeds angsty teenage drama. It’s great.
Final Fantasy III
I didn’t finish this one, my dog chewed it. It’s a nice port, though, and I remember being very upset about not being able to finish it.
Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume
Step aside, Final Fantasy Tactics! CotP is a comparatively hardcore TRPG, with some interesting and deep mechanics. The story wasn’t the best but overall, this was a good title for lovers of this genre. My dog chewed this one too, but it still worked!
Honorable Mention: Pokemon HG/SS
The Johto remakes are probably my favorite games in the series but I felt as a remake it should get an honorable mention rather than a spot on the list.
So there you have it- the best games I remember from the Nintendo DS. Which games did you like most on that system? Are there any you really want ported? Hit me up in the comments!