Despite lacking the graphical fidelity to compete with other hardware of its time, when it was released in 2004 this handheld console was innovative and revolutionized handheld gaming, changing the scene forever. Many games that were released on the system made use of the dual-screen function to push the boundaries of what the console could offer.
The Nintendo DS was a popular console, and that popularity is also thanks to its wide library of games. The best games on the console make use of stylized graphics to make the most of the hardware, leading to charming graphics that are instantly recognizable as being a product of the DS.
10 All Aboard – The Legend Of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
While The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks isn’t quite as high definition as the likes of Breath of the Wild or Skyward Sword HD, the game utilized the console’s hardware well, especially using the top and bottom screens and stylus controls to create a unique gameplay experience you could only get on the DS.
While traversing the land via the Spirit Train, you’ll be treated to an array of vibrant and colorful environments. The cartoon style, first used in Wind Waker, fits in perfectly with the Nintendo DS, and uses the console’s limitations to its advantage.
9 That Was On The DS? – Metroid Prime Hunters
When it was first released on the Nintendo DS in 2006, Metroid Prime Hunters impressed fans with how well it used the hardware, with many wondering how the developers managed to pull off such a feat.
Often considered one of, if not the best, first-person shooters on the system, the game has a lot to offer, from fun online aspects to exciting gameplay. Alongside its graphics, fans also praise the wide array of weapons and forms to choose from, so this Metroid entry is definitely worth returning to.
8 Customization Galore – Dragon Quest 9: Sentinels Of The Starry Skies
The legendary Dragon Quest series is one known for its incredible world building and quintessential RPG stories, and this Nintendo DS title is no exception, showcasing why it’s one of the best JRPGs on the system. Character customization moves to the forefront of this epic adventure, letting you choose the appearance and clothes of the protagonist and your party members.
Combine the creativity you’re allowed to explore with the characters and the bright, colorful environments, and you’re set for an experience full of adventure and locations you’ll want to take in and savor.
7 Beyond The Grave – Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
One of the finest puzzle adventure games on the Nintendo DS, Ghost Trick has stylized graphics that don’t disappoint, showing what was so great about this handheld console. Designed by the mind behind the Ace Attorney series, Ghost Trick’s presentation upholds the polish that Shu Takumi is known for.
The game’s cast of characters come alive (or undead in the case of Sissel) thanks to the game’s animated and crisp sprites. Put your detective hat on and get ready for a story full of twists and turns, and graphics that’ll keep you glued to the screen.
6 Phantastic Graphics – Phantasy Star 0
The Nintendo DS’ hardware limitations meant this game was restricted in a way others in the series weren’t. However, this game still looks great, especially because of the fact that it’s on a handheld system.
Shifting its focus to a strong story, similar to its single-player roots, Phantasy Star 0 creates a world you’ll want to take your time exploring. It has impressive boss designs and vivid locations, making the most of that little DS screen. Whether you choose to play alone or using multiplayer, this game is one you’ll enjoy, even just admiring the graphics.
5 There’s No Place Like Home – The Wizard Of Oz: Beyond The Yellow Brick Road
A forgotten game on the Nintendo DS, The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road plays out similarly to the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz. All the classic characters from cinema’s golden age star in the game, this time with an added RPG flair.
This relatively unknown game is surprisingly one of the best-looking titles that was released on the system. The game’s beautiful environments are a feast for the eyes – especially for those who enjoy classic low-poly graphics – pushing the console’s graphical capabilities. It’s an often overlooked game that’s definitely deserving of praise for its art direction and graphics.
4 It’s A Me, Bowser – Mario And Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
In Bowser’s Inside Story, the series’ antagonist, Bowser, takes center stage, with Mario and Luigi taking on supporting roles as playable side characters. Playing as Bowser instantly makes this entry to the series stand out, as you finally get to take control of this legendary video game antagonist.
Although it did receive a remake on the Nintendo 3DS that updated the graphics for a new console generation, the original still holds a lot of charm because of its pixelized graphics, reminiscent of the series’ 2D beginnings.
3 Chibi Sequel – Okamiden
Okami has become well known for its stunning visual style, and Okamiden does its predecessor justice. Moving away from the hand-drawn graphics of the original Okami, Okamiden instead opted for the more pixelized graphical style that’s a signature of the Nintendo DS.
Okamiden has you visiting familiar and new locales, playing as Chibiterasu, Amaterasu’s child, as you protect Nippon from a curse on the land. Similar to Okami, Okamiden uses the touch screen controls for the Celestial Brush and allows you to draw and bring the game’s impressive environments to life.
2 Pixel Pokemon At Its Best – Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers Of Sky
Expanding on the stories of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness, this installment in the spin-off series is highly regarded by fans because of its storyline, characters, and colorful graphics.
Set in a Pokemon world separate from humans, the game allows you to become a Pokemon and experience a story unlike any other Pokemon game. Add in the adorable, pixelized graphics and beautiful locations such as Fogbound Lake and Sharpedo Bluff, and you’re in for a great time.
1 Make Some Noise – The World Ends With You
Headed by Tetsuya Nomura, The World Ends With You is a celebration of his distinct visual style. The game has you exploring the city of Shibuya, fighting off hordes of Noise in the Reapers’ Game alongside your partner.
Because of the game’s unique graphics, it stands apart from other titles on the system and carves out a space for itself among an already impressive game library. This game makes the most of the Nintendo DS’ dual screen functionality, especially in boss fights where you must control the top and bottom screens, and creates a spectacular visual experience.
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