History Behind Nintendo DS Purchase
After it was first announced, my interest in Nintendo DS was tepid at best. It wasn't clear how it was going to be better than Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP). But something happened over the system's first year: It established itself through its uniqueness (i.e., touch screen, built-in microphone), free online play, and vast library of quality games. Third-party developers had not flocked to a Nintendo system like this since the Super NES era.
Although Nintendo DS came out in November 2004, I actually did not purchase mine until January 1, 2006. What finally caused me to get one? Three little words: Mario Kart DS. If you've read my work, then you know how much of a Mario Kart fan I am.  The idea of playing Mario Kart online was fabulous to me. Because I decided to buy the Mario Kart DS Bundle Pack (red, original-sized DS and Mario Kart DS for $149.99) after Christmas, I sweated because I had shop around 4 or 5 stores before I finally purchased it from an EB Games.
Strangely, I am very fond of the DS, yet I do not have that many games for it, nor did I ever play it all that much.  For me, I know that the Nintendo DS would have been a gaming system that I would have absolutely loved as a kid.  Unfortunately, I was in my late-20s to early-30s during its primetime and could not give it the attention it deserved.  My most vivid memory is playing Brain Age while waiting for my wife at a Park 'n Ride.  Furthermore, since I'm only an avid collector of Nintendo's home consoles, I doubt I'll go back to collect and experience any other DS games.  Fortunately, later on, my Nintendo DS had a second life by serving as a good introduction to Nintendo handheld gaming for my young kids.
All in all, Nintendo DS reached a pinnacle within the realm of dedicated, portable video game systems.  Certainly, the charm of this handheld was its dual screens, with one having touch screen functionality, and that enabled developers to create both easy-to-play and wildly imaginative titles.  Amazingly, the DS had a touch screen (resistive) years before smartphones and tablets.  Tons and tons of great and/or unique games were released for this system.  It was a handheld for the ages.
All-Time Favorite Nintendo DS Games
Nintendo DS Collection (11 games)
What lies below is a listing of my Nintendo DS collection along with some history behind the system's purchase. Please note that all of the games listed below are actual DS cards. I'm not into pirating the latest games.
Nintendo DS (original) system and stylus
Mario Kart DS screenshot
1. Mario Kart DS
This is the reason I finally purchased a Nintendo DS, and the game did not let me down. Mario Kart DS comprised everything that was good about the Mario Kart series, removed the things that never were quite right, and catered to the fans by including old Mario Kart tracks for online play. This mash-up of old and new was incredibly deep, polished, and balanced. Looking back, its online offerings were limited (i.e., no battle mode, only two-thirds of the tracks, and just four racers), but the entire package made it one of the best DS games of all-time. Besides, who wouldn't want some handheld Mario Kart action that was as good as or even better than its console siblings?
New Super Mario Bros. screenshot
2. New Super Mario Bros.
Talk about a one-two punch. Between Mario Kart DS and New Super Mario Bros., Nintendo really nailed the retro-inspired, fresh updates to its beloved Mario series of games. As hard as it is to believe, New Super Mario Bros. in 2006 represented the first side-scrolling platformer starring Mario since Super Mario World in 1991. And, man, it was a great Mario game. It walked the fine line between feeling retro and being fresh, using old and new technologies, and balancing fun and challenge. Ironically, it really didn't use any DS gimmicks, either. A fantastic return to 2D Mario games.
3. Brain Age
Brain Age screenshot
Now this is the type of software for which I've grown to love and appreciate my DS. The games that make fantastic use of the touch screen functionality, such as Brain Age, represent what truly sold me on this handheld. Brain Age's fantastic design lends itself to be captivating for all age groups during quick, mobile play sessions. Edutainment was never like this growing up.
Tetris DS screenshot
4. Tetris DS
Tetris DS may not have been as important to the DS as Tetris was to the original Game Boy, but it serves as a reminder that Nintendo knows how to do Tetris best. Tetris DS incorporates the best modern features of Tetris, such as multiple piece previews and holding a piece, and it uses themes based around the NES era of games. Furthermore, it finally provided Nintendo fans with a way to play against others online.  Certainly, the game does include its share of game modes that you will want to forget, but Tetris DS did "core" Tetris better than any other handheld variant (at this point).
Clubhouse Games screenshot
5. Clubhouse Games
Clubhouse Games proves that a game's interface can make all the difference. The DS touch screen was innovative in 2006, and it provided a fun way to play all of these classic card and board games (along with random others). Furthermore, Clubhouse Games included another great use of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection by Nintendo. Although it probably will not be the favorite game of a kid, it is definitely one that will be enjoyed by adults. Highly recommended.
  • Atari Greatest Hits: Volume 1* (NS)
  • Atari Greatest Hits: Volume 2* (NS)
  • Big Brain Academy*
  • Brain Age*
  • Clubhouse Games*
  • Intellivision Lives!* (GCN)
  • Mario Kart DS*
  • New Super Mario Bros.* (Wii U VC)
  • Nintendogs: Lab & Friends
  • Pokémon Pearl
  • Tetris DS*
* permits DS Download Play (share 1 DS Game Card wirelessly)
Note: The games listed to the left are physical cartridges. Nintendo's Virtual Console service on Wii U allowed me to augment my collection digitally by purchasing 5 more DS games individually:
  • DK: Jungle Climber (Wii U VC)
  • Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (Wii U VC)
  • Super Mario 64 DS (Wii U VC)
  • WarioWare: Touched! (Wii U VC)
  • Yoshi's Island DS (Wii U VC)
Random Notes & Thoughts
The following bulleted points are some random notes and thoughts about the Nintendo DS. In the list, you will find information about the system and games that I could not place anywhere else.
  • Previously, I did consider making these games part of my permanent collection back in the DS era: Elite Beat Agents, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Scribblenauts Collection, and Trauma Center. Even to this day, I decided to "take a pass" on their Wii U or Switch releases.
  • Since the Nintendo DS surpassed the Game Boy in terms of units sold, there is no doubt that the DS should be regarded as the best dedicated handheld video game system ever made.
  • In case you were wondering, I never had any desire to add a Nintendo 3DS (or 2DS) to my collection. But, years later, I did purchase Pokémon Pearl for my kid to play.
  • Finally, I thought long and hard about purchasing The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (or The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks) on the Wii U Virtual Console before its shutdown, but I just could not fathom controlling Link with a stylus...
Last Updated: March 27, 2023
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