Do not let the Nintendo DS' small stature fool you. This handheld console packs a lot of punch including the grand strategy variety. Here are seven of the best strategy games on the dedicated portable console.
Best nintendo ds strategy games
7. Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift
The evolution from the dark and brooding original Final Fantasy Tactics to the lighthearted Final Fantasy Tactics Advance marked a significant tonal shift that most of the fans found irredeemably offensive. The latter, set in a fantasy world, introduced a clash of ideals within its storyline. In 2008, Square Enix followed up with Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift, a spiritual sequel to Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. The narrative follows Luso, a schoolchild transported into a fantasy world by a mysterious book, adding a lighthearted touch to the tale. The overdesigned meme of Luso may give Tactics A2 an iffy reputation. It does deserve criticism for its horrendous design, but the core gameplay of Tactics A2 is more than decent.
Luso, part of Cid's clan, embarks on quests available in pubs, providing a variety of challenges and optional tasks. These quests contribute to leveling up characters, earning currency and obtaining valuable items. The game introduces an extensive job system, where characters must learn specific abilities to unlock new jobs. The tactical RPG gameplay involves turn-based battles on isometric maps, featuring magick moves, opportunity commands, and a smash gauge for special moves.
The addition of opportunity commands and the smash gauge enhances the strategic aspect of battles. The law system, reintroduced from the first Advance game, offers predetermined rules with less severe penalties. Final Fantasy Tactics A2 significantly improves the graphics as compared to its predecessor including dazzling magick effects, and a meticulously designed isometric map. While it may not surpass the original Final Fantasy Tactic, Grimoire of the Rift shines as a tactical title with an ingenious quest system and endless job combinations fit for the portable nature of the DS.
6. Disgaea DS
The portable versions of the first Disgaea title, the PlayStation Portable and the DS, are some sort of a miracle. While the game itself is not a technical marvel, there is lots of content that got ported and even improved upon from the PlayStation 2 original and into the handheld gaming devices.
Disgaea introduces players to Laharl, the unconventional heir to the Netherworld throne. While the graphics on the Nintendo DS are a step down from the original, the game retains its charm with distinct character classes and engaging visual elements. The sound elements, including a solid musical score and fitting sound effects, are retained although the absence of some voice acting may disappoint fans of the PS2 version.
Much of the game's strength lies in its gameplay mechanics though, offering diverse character classes and customization options. Disgaea DS provides grind-friendly features like the Item World mini-game, contributing to extensive replayability, and the post-game content, while demanding grinding, offers over 100 hours of gameplay.
Disgaea DS successfully translates its SRPG charm to the DS platform, maintaining an enjoyable narrative and engaging gameplay. Despite graphical concessions, the game's strategic depth, witty storytelling, and extensive replay value make it a worthwhile addition to the Nintendo DS library, appealing to both strategy heads while not alienating newcomers.
5. Megaman Battle Network 5: Double Team DS
MegaMan Battle Network 5: Team Protoman, the fifth installment in the series, offers a unique take on the classic MegaMan universe. The story, while adhering to the familiar 'stop the new evil threat' formula, introduces slight variations, and players follow Lan as he strives to rescue his kidnapped father and thwart Nebula's plans. The narrative, although not a standout feature, serves its purpose in driving the gameplay forward.
Obviously, this is not an action-platformer, but a strategy game. The grid-based battles involve maneuvering through rows and columns, selecting battle chips, and executing attacks. The possibilities are vast, with options like Area Steal, Soul Unisons, and the intriguing addition of Dark Chips, which come with both benefits and consequences.
The replay value is exceptionally high with this title, as the game offers extensive post-game content, although some of these features should be difficult to pull off as they require other players with a DS. As a standalone experience, it is still as good as at the time of its release when you play the game today.
4. Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume
The Valkyrie Profile franchise has seen its ups and downs through wild changes in its core gameplay. While the original game on the first PlayStation is a unique action-RPG, Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume for the DS brings a refreshing twist to the beloved franchise as a strategy game.
The storyline, with its multiple branching paths and character-focused narratives, is on par with the original. The game's unique approach to storytelling, offering different experiences based on player choices and actions, sets it apart from the typical RPG formula.
Valkyrie Profile 2 on the PlayStation 2 was one of the most technically advanced games on the platform. Even today, it is difficult to emulate the game. Well, obviously, such graphical detail could not be achieved on the DS but Covenant of the Plume’s art style is great to behold.
The game's length is reasonable at around 10 hours for a single playthrough, but with three true endings and a bonus dungeon, the potential for 30 hours of gameplay is at the option of the player.
3. Dawn of Discovery
Dawn of Discovery offers a refreshing twist to the city-building and civilization genre, making it a very unique strategic experience on the DS. While it may not fit the traditional mold of a Civ game, it is a blend of Sim City elements, treasure hunting, and RTS gameplay.
The initial gameplay revolves around establishing the essentials for a thriving society: ports, lumberjack huts, homes, and fisheries. The progression is gradual but purposeful, introducing new elements and challenges with each mission. As your settlements evolve, you'll encounter various ways to elevate your civilization.
Dawn of Discovery seamlessly weaves strategic action into the city-building mix, keeping the experience dynamic and engaging. The visual presentation, while not groundbreaking, is still attractive with its isometric view and well-designed 2D art. The absence of lag despite the bustling onscreen activity is a testament to the game's technical stability. The inclusion of quality voice work and a fitting soundtrack is expected in titles like these. Have you ever played a Civ or SimCity game with a terrible soundtrack? The answer should be never, since there is none.
2. Advance Wars: Dual Strike
Advance Wars: Dual Strike is another standout entry in this cutesy war series and building upon the success of its predecessors. Even with the new platform, the game preserved the original art style while enhancing details, introducing tilted maps, and adding subtle elements like waves and seagulls.
The story maintains the series' familiar premise of battling the evil Black Hole army, with room for potential freshening. Its core gameplay excels as usual, introducing new characters, battlefields, and modes like Combat and Survival, enhancing multiplayer capabilities and replayability.
Campaign mode sees improvements compared to the previous entries of the franchise. Notable changes include customizable CPU strats and tag team powers. The map editor becomes more detailed, providing extensive tracking options. Advance Wars Dual Strike’s addictive gameplay is compounded by its replayability due to the large amount of unlockables.
1. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor
Devil Survivor thrusts players into a harrowing tale of survival in the heart of Tokyo, plagued by demonic invasions and a looming countdown to death. As a high-school student caught in this nightmare, the story unfolds with a compelling mix of time management, tactical battles, and the ever-present threat of impending doom.
The storyline is a dark symphony of chaos, despair, and survival. The game intricately weaves character interactions and choices into a gripping narrative, offering multiple paths and endings based on your decisions.
The strategic gameplay seamlessly blends traditional SRPG elements with demon summoning and customization. The fusion system, auction house, and skill inheritance add depth to the demon recruitment process, ensuring your party evolves to face increasingly challenging foes. The absence of traditional equipment emphasizes the importance of skills and strategy in battles.
Time management becomes a crucial aspect, forcing players to prioritize events, interactions, and battles within a limited timeframe. The consequences of your choices extend beyond mere narrative branches, impacting character fates and available paths. The fusion of an engaging story with strategic gameplay is a testament to Devil Survivor's excellence.
The soundtrack amplifies the intensity, offering a mix of rock, metal, and dramatic tunes that perfectly complement the chaotic atmosphere. The lack of traditional animations during battles may be a drawback for some, but the detailed spell effects and character portraits compensate for it. The graphics, while fitting for a DS game, effectively convey the grim setting.
Devil Survivor earns its place as a must-have for SMT enthusiasts and SRPG fans alike. Its addictive gameplay, compelling storyline, and multiple endings ensure that each playthrough offers a fresh experience. Venture into the lockdown of Tokyo, navigate the chaos, and see if you can defy destiny in this unforgettable journey.