7 Nintendo DS Games Still Worth Playing Today because nothing plays better than them

The Nintendo DS' massive and incredible, quality wise, library is not the usual target of up ports and remakes by the publishers. The reason being of the exotic form factor that is not anymore used by modern game consoles. Here are seven of the best DS games still worth playing today because they remain the only way to play them.

Nintendo ds games still worth playing today

7. The Dark Spire

This game serves as a nostalgic tribute to the classics of the past—Dungeons & Dragons, Might & Magic, and Wizardry. The Dark Spire stands as a revival of the old-school genre, which was left unserved during the peak of the DS.

The graphics present two distinct modes, each offering a unique visual experience. In Modern Mode, dungeon-roaming unfolds with colorful 3D designs, providing a vibrant and eerie atmosphere. The NPCs and various environments, including towns and dungeons, are well-crafted.

Classic Mode replicates the simplicity of old-school visuals, featuring white lines and black spaces reminiscent of early PC games. Despite lacking graphics in town areas, NPCs and monsters adopt sprite-based designs detailed enough even for retro style fans.

Character creation at the town's guild involves choosing from four classes, four races, and three alignments. Battles, governed by AD&D rules, introduce the concept of Armor Class (AC), where lower values are advantageous.

The core gameplay is turn-based and demands strategic thinking. Battles provide options such as attacking, defending, casting spells, using items, or fleeing. The game is brutal in its difficulty, especially for those unfamiliar with its intricate mechanics, praising its appeal to old-school gamers while encouraging new-school gamers not to dismiss it. The reason this game is worth playing even today is that there are only a few games that share the same genre.

6. Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes

Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes, while maintaining the thematic ethos of the Might and Magic series, diverges with innovative gameplay akin to puzzle fighters. Departing from the seriousness of the PC Might and Magic games, Clash of Heroes injects humor into its narrative. The shift from 3D to 2D art, reminiscent of manga, marks a visual departure for what is largely known as a Western RPG. 

The core gameplay involves army-versus-army clashes in a puzzle-fighter style, with the top screen displaying the opponent's forces and the touch screen illustrating the player's army. Units, categorized into core, elite, and champion troops, strategically align on an invisible grid, initiating attacks or forming protective walls through color-based shuffling.

The campaign mode adopts a storytelling approach, offering an engaging DS gaming experience within a structured narrative. Divided into chapters representing distinct factions like Elves, Humans, Demons, Undead, and Wizards, each chapter unfolds a character's story arc throughout the entire game. RPG elements impact both troops and characters, with troop strength improving through XP and characters gaining HP and increased troop limits. Despite RPG elements, skilled puzzle-solving can propel players further without extensive grinding.

5. Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies marks a significant entry in the Dragon Quest series, breaking away from remakes and spin-offs on the DS. Positioned as the most extensive Dragon Quest game in terms of content at the time of its release, it boasts a massive world that can easily consume over 100 hours of gameplay. The narrative begins with players creating their celestial hero, undertaking a celestial mission, and subsequently being stripped of powers after a dramatic fall to earth. The game's story unfolds through various town-centric vignettes, each presenting its own unique challenges and stories that players must address.

The gameplay adheres to the traditional Dragon Quest battle system, offering a turn-based approach with party commands. Twelve classes, ranging from damage dealers to healers, allow for diverse party compositions, and the ability to carry over skills between classes adds strategic depth. The game's open-world exploration, questing system with over 100 quests, and engaging post-game content contribute to a highly immersive experience. Visually, Dragon Quest IX is lauded as one of the better-looking DS titles, combining 2D and 3D elements. The character designs by Akira Toriyama, known for Dragon Ball, exhibit the familiar spiky-haired, big-eyed aesthetic. The game includes occasional FMV movies, adding to the visual appeal.

There have been no modern ports of this game, and it looks like there will not be any effort to do so. A remake chance also looks dim.

4. Super Princess Peach

Super Princess Peach introduces Princess Peach as the protagonist, taking a unique twist by making her rely on her emotions to navigate through the adventure. Set on Vibe Island, Peach embarks on a quest to rescue Mario and others following Bowser's mischief involving a legendary Vibe Sceptre. The game allows players to choose between Modern mode with colorful 3D designs and Classic mode that replicates an old-school visual style with sprites.

The narrative unfolds as Peach journeys through 8 worlds, collecting Toads while utilizing emotional powers—Joy, Rage, Gloom, and Calm—to overcome obstacles. The Vibe Gauge regulates emotional usage, adding a strategic layer to the gameplay, and a heart-style health gauge further enhances the overall experience. Puzzle elements necessitate emotional manipulation, providing a more engaging platformer experience than traditional ones.

Super Princess Peach stands out for its innovative use of emotions, delivering a delightful platformer experience. The game's blend of charming, engaging gameplay and bonus content make it a worthwhile choice for DS gamers. While there hasn't been a direct sequel, Princess Peach: Showtime! is set to be released in September, sharing the same genre as 2D platformers.

3. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow

Dawn of Sorrow, the initial entry of the Castlevania series on the Nintendo DS, lives up to the legacy of the franchise, captivating players with its engaging storyline, impressive visuals, and rich soundtrack. Serving as a direct sequel to Aria of Sorrow, the game follows Soma Cruz, the reincarnation of Dracula, as he confronts a mysterious cult aiming to resurrect the Dark Lord. Assisted by a diverse cast, including Julius Belmont and Alucard, Soma battles both Dracula's minions and the darker aspects of his own soul.

The visuals in Dawn of Sorrow shine, rivaling Symphony of the Night in quality. The animation, reminiscent of Rondo of Blood, features fluid movements and detailed sprites. The variety of environments and enemies contributes to the game's visual appeal, making it stand out on the Nintendo DS. The soundtrack, a hallmark of the Castlevania series, combines familiar melodies with new compositions, enhancing the overall immersive experience.

Dawn of Sorrow successfully embraces the design shift seen in recent Castlevania titles. The fusion of exploration, collection, and minor puzzle-solving with intense combat and boss battles offers a satisfying portable gaming experience. The upgraded soul system and weapon synthesis add depth, and the replay value is extended through multiple playthroughs to achieve 100% completion. Bonus features, including a second game mode with playable characters like Alucard, contribute to the game's lasting appeal.

This game has yet to receive any modern ports, similar to the other two Castlevania DS titles. Dawn of Sorrow has aged very well and is still to be emulated. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow remains a modern classic that withstands the test of time.

2. Kirby Super Stars Ultra 

Kirby Super Star Ultra is considered as the ultimate Kirby game, offering a remake of the original Kirby Super Star with additional features and improvements. Featuring over six full-adventure Kirby games, the title promises endless fun and various mini-games, ensuring a lasting experience for players of different skill levels. The game deviates from the traditional single adventure format seen in other Kirby titles, presenting a collection of smaller games with distinct storylines, each ranging from 5 minutes to 2 hours depending on player skill.

The game's uniqueness lies in its variety of smaller games, with notable entries like "Spring Breeze," a remake of the first Kirby game, and "Great Cave Offensive," an expansive adventure where players collect treasures within a giant cave. The diverse gameplay experiences contribute to the game's longevity, and this game is as relevant today as it was the day of its release. 

Kirby Super Stars Ultra is completely amazing even after all these years, with all the recent releases of the property and any other games with similar gameplay. Although, the latter is much more rare or even nonexistent. 

1. Pokémon HeartGold

Game Freak responded to fans' long-standing demands with Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, remakes of the beloved Pokémon Gold and Silver versions. The development spanned five years, and the result is a meticulous recreation that preserves the nostalgic charm of the originals. The classic Pokémon battling mechanics were retained while introducing groundbreaking features like the PokéWalker, a pedometer allowing Pokémon to gain experience points through walking. The Pokéathlon, a skill-based mini-game replacing Pokémon Contests, and the return of features like the Pal Park and Battle Frontier contribute to an enriched gameplay experience.

The touch screen's enhanced functionality improves user experience for tasks like PC system navigation and key item registration. The soundtrack masterfully combines nostalgic classics with beautifully remixed tracks.

Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver stand out as exceptional remakes that cater to both longtime fans and newcomers, combining nostalgic elements with innovative features. These games were able to extend the life of these games even several years after its release.