The Nintendo DS library is one of the best in the history of video games. Hence, there are a good number of underrated games that went below everyone's radar. Here are seven of the best DS games that are underrated and underappreciated.
Best underrated nintendo ds games
7. Lost in Blue
Lost in Blue provides a unique and engrossing experience, putting the players in the challenges of survival on a deserted island. The game introduces Kenneth, a character who wakes up alone in an unfamiliar land, and the player must navigate the perils of Mother Nature. Unlike traditional farming games like Harvest Moon, Lost in Blue emphasizes planning, resource management, and the fulfillment of basic needs such as hunger, thirst, and energy.
The island setting presents dynamic challenges with changing weather conditions, tides, and inaccessible areas. The addition of Skye, a vulnerable character found in a cave, adds responsibility as players must gather resources not only for themselves but also for their companion. Success in the game hinges on careful exploration, identifying key problems, and formulating strategies to conquer challenges.
Lost in Blue offers a rewarding and gradual progression as players discover new foods, utensils, and crafting materials. Activities like fishing, shooting, and fire-making utilize the DS's unique controls. There are sequels to the game and improves upon the original, so literally, just play the three Lost in Blue games.
6. Lock’s Quest
Lock's Quest, a DS tower defense/RPG hybrid, delivered an unexpectedly enjoyable experience. Set in a unique world where Archineers like the charismatic character Lock defend castles and towns, the game distinguishes itself by omitting traditional RPG elements such as leveling, random battles, and dungeon exploration. Instead, it focuses on a distinctive gameplay style that involves strategic building in Build Mode and intense, short skirmishes against Clockwork invaders in Battle Mode.
The DS stylus is the primary control. Build Mode requires players to set up defenses like walls, turrets, and traps within a time limit, emphasizing resource management with the in-game currency, Source. Battle Mode then immerses players in defending Source wells or NPCs in brisk 4-8 minute encounters against the Clockworks. The graphics feature clean animation and impressive on-screen enemy counts during battles. The sound and music contribute fitting atmosphere, including Gothic tones.
Lock's Quest unfolds a compelling story as Lock, an apprentice Archineer, navigates a world besieged by Clockworks, introducing intriguing characters and unexpected plot twists. The gameplay, while simple, remains engaging, introducing new abilities and objectives as Lock progresses. With a 15-20 hour campaign and potential replayability, the game successfully marries addictive gameplay, a well-paced flow, and solid stylus controls.
5. Lost Magic
There are only a few Real Time Strategy games on Nintendo handheld before the Switch. Hence, they are mostly underrated due to the lack of titles. Also, the hardware of DS seems to be unwelcoming for these types of games. Lost Magic offers a unique and engaging RPG/RTS hybrid experience on the Nintendo DS, utilizing the stylus for spellcasting and creature commands.
Developed by Ubisoft, the game stands out with its inventive use of the DS capabilities, providing a distinctive gameplay experience that cannot be replicated on other consoles. With 396 spells and 58 monsters, Lost Magic caters to RPG enthusiasts, offering depth and variety.
The narrative follows Isaac, a young wizard tasked with defeating the evil Diva of Twilight to save the world. While the storyline may have clichéd elements, it possesses a certain charm, offering three different endings that players can explore. The game's visuals resemble a Game Boy Advance title, featuring simple chibi sprites and basic special effects. But this is not to the game’s detriment as it provides the game a certain type of charm.
Lost Magic’s gameplay is where the goodies are.The world map navigation, random battles, and diverse objectives create a dynamic and engaging experience. The player wields spells and commands capturing monsters in battles with various objectives, such as defeating enemies, protecting villagers, or purifying crystals. The strategic depth emerges from managing monsters with different abilities and deciding which spells to cast in each situation.
4. Infinite Space
Infinite Space defies expectations with its expansive and engrossing Space Opera tale that unfolds across numerous galaxies and spans a significant passage of time. The game impressively manages to deliver one of the best stories on the DS, embracing its 80s space Anime influence and establishing the DS as a stronghold for RPGs in its generation.
The narrative begins with Yuri, a 16-year-old protagonist aspiring to venture into space against the rules of his frontier planet. The story unfolds into a grand Space Opera as Yuri and his crew travel through various galactic systems, facing political intrigue, battles against space pirates, an expansionist empire, and exploring the mysteries of the universe. Despite Yuri's young age, the game presents a captivating and multifaceted plot, involving player choices with significant repercussions, providing intrigue, mystery, and a diverse cast of characters.
Controlling fleets and managing various aspects such as distance, command gauges, and rock-paper-scissors mechanics is the core of Infinite Space’s gameplay. The game's difficulty and the constant need for fleet preparation and customization contribute to a rich combat system. The inclusion of crew members further enhances the strategic depth, improving fleet performance and adding a sense of scale to the expansive quest.
While Infinite Space suffers in graphical presentation due to limited backgrounds and modest 3D models, its visual design and dynamic anime stills compensate for the shortcomings. The soundtrack maintains a consistent quality, with notable vocal tracks enhancing key moments. Infinite Space is one of the biggest and most ambitious RPGs on the DS, delivering an exceptional Space Opera experience with an engaging battle system, extensive ship collection, and memorable characters. It rightfully earns its place among the best RPGs on the platform.
3. Rhythm Heaven
Rhythm Heaven, the Nintendo DS successor to the Game Boy Advance's Rhythm Tengoku, emerges as a paragon of flawless perfection in the realm of rhythm games. Developed by Nintendo's WarioWare team, the game dazzles with fifty original and inventive minigames, presenting a delightful fusion of quick, simplistic gameplay and catchy tunes. Departing from conventional music games, Rhythm Heaven emphasizes mastering tempo, beat, and rhythm to navigate through various eccentric challenges, such as clapping with monkeys, rocking with ghosts, or feeding dumplings to a hungry monk.
The game's structure involves completing minigames to earn ranks like OK and Superb, with the elusive Perfect rank bestowed randomly on selected games. A Perfect rank unlocks the corresponding music, allowing players to relish the tracks independently. Each minigame's completion contributes to an overall "flow" score, reflecting the player's consistency throughout the game. Remix stages, occurring every five levels, blend elements from preceding minigames, offering a challenging medley.
Rhythm Heaven extends beyond the core minigames, featuring Cafe and Medal corners. The Cafe allows players to relish unlocked music and seek tips or hints from the barista, who can also aid in skipping challenging games. In the Medal corner, players access bonus content based on earned medals, including Endless Games and Rhythm Toys, providing entertaining distractions and quirky doodads. The title's soundtrack spans diverse genres, leaving a lasting impact, while the hand-drawn visuals, reminiscent of WarioWare's style, convey mood and character.
Despite its relatively short duration, Rhythm Heaven captivates players with its engaging content and offers post-game incentives. Superb and Perfect rank attempts, coupled with bonus materials, sustain player interest. The game strikes a harmonious chord with both casual and hardcore gamers, making it a remarkable and enjoyable experience, if not universally perfect.
2. Orcs and Elves
Orcs and Elves, developed by the magnificent ID Software, attempt to revive the classic dungeon crawler genre, bringing it to the portable realm with a focus on turn-based, first-person movement. As a successor to Doom RPG, Orcs and Elves places players in a vast mountain fortress with a simple premise: save a dwarven king and prove yourself as the son of a renowned elfen warrior.
The game adheres to the traditional dungeon crawler formula, where players navigate tight corridors, battle hordes of monsters, solve puzzles, collect loot, and progress to the next level. Despite the lack of character customization and absence of towns or overworlds, Orcs and Elves maintain their appeal through addictive gameplay. The protagonist, Elli, is a versatile character combining warrior, archer, thief, and wizard attributes, streamlining the experience for casual players.
Orcs and Elves eschew towns and focus purely on dungeon exploration, providing a centralized safe spot for healing and bartering. Interactions with dwarves offer guidance, tasks, and passwords for locked doors. The core of the experience lies in field interactions, where dwarves guide the player, offer tasks, and provide passwords. Secret rooms, varied potions, weapons, and spells enhance the loot-collecting aspect. Combat, turn-based and grid-driven, involves strategic use of weapons, spells, and potions, with monsters possessing unique skills to spice up encounters. Despite occasional overwhelming battles, combat remains engaging, requiring players to adapt and strategize.
Orcs and Elves offers a solid dungeon-crawling experience, providing around 7 hours of satisfying gameplay. This game successfully introduces the genre to a portable platform and is a hidden gem especially for those who are just starting to delve into dungeon crawling.
1. Trauma Center: Under the Knife
Trauma Center: Under the Knife is an incredibly unique game and presents a unique and addictive core gameplay by blending the intensity of surgical simulations with challenging gameplay. In this game, players assume the role of Dr. Derek Stiles, a surgeon aiming to save lives by combating tumors, polyps, and viruses. The novelty of the game lies in its departure from traditional RPG themes of saving the world, instead focusing on the intimate act of saving individual lives.
The art direction is that of an anime. Character portraits on the top screen are detailed, and the 3D representations of surgery rooms on the bottom screen. The game effectively balances the tension of surgery with the emotional weight of the patient's condition.
The gameplay involves managing three key meters: time limit, miss limit, and the patient's vitals. While time constraints are generally manageable, the miss limit and the patient's vitals introduce a challenging dynamic. The touch screen becomes the central interface during surgery, providing a 3D model of the patient and offering tools for incisions, removals, sutures, and more. The game's difficulty is notable, requiring players to multitask and make split-second decisions.
The variety of tools adds depth to the gameplay, with each surgery presenting its own challenges. The presence of assistants and their reactions, conveyed through voice clips and text, further enhances the overall experience. The game's tough difficulty adds a sense of accomplishment when successfully completing challenging surgeries.
Trauma Center: Under the Knife has gained popularity since its release on the DS but it is still one of the most underrated games of all time. The addictive nature of the game, combined with its unique concept and challenging gameplay, has made it to the top of this list.