Classic Nintendo DS games?
December 25, 2010 10:45 AM   Subscribe

What are the classic games for the Nintendo DS? And, bonus, what are the best games that can be played in five minute increments?

So I just got a Nintendo DS for Christmas, and now I need GAMES. I'm starting from absolute zero here, so I want to know which games are the ones that are considered the classics for the system, whether they came out last year or five years ago. Note that I'm asking for something slightly different from the "best" games for the DS. It looks like Mario Kart is rated very highly, for example, but that seems more like a retread of the game that first came out for the Super Nintendo/N64, rather than a classic unique to the DS.

Second, I'd like to know about games that can be played for about 5-10 minutes at a time, and then turned OFF. So platforming games with shorter levels, puzzle games with 10 minute puzzles, that kind of thing.

In terms of what I like, I tend to like platformers, adventure games, and rpgs. The various iterations of (2D) metroid are among my favorite games of all time. I tend to dislike games without a plot (like racing games), and any games based strictly on reflexes (like Guitar Hero).

About the only game I know I'm getting so far is one of the Professor Layton games, which sounds like it combines short puzzles with an adventure setting, making it a good fit for me. What else is out there?
posted by kingjoeshmoe to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (25 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Phoenix Wright and Trauma Center might be up your alley. And while they're not unique to the DS, I think it's the platform where they're best.
posted by box at 10:47 AM on December 25, 2010

Best answer: Trauma Center is a difficult reflex based game. You need to be fast. Based on what you said, I wouldn't recommend it.

New Super Mario Bros. was a launch game and holds up well, and you can play a level in 5 minutes. If you like the 2D Metroid games, you may be interested in the many Castlevania games on the DS, which have a similar action-adventure style.
posted by demiurge at 10:57 AM on December 25, 2010

I found Professor Layton a bit boring. It's not really an adventure, just a string of puzzles linked by slightly tedious exploration.

Puzzle Quest on the other hand, is a masterful combination of puzzle game and RPG.

New Super Mario Bros is also great, although obviously a re-tread of an existing game.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:09 AM on December 25, 2010

Wario Ware
posted by brevator at 11:15 AM on December 25, 2010

Are you talking about the classic Nintendo DS or one of the differnt models? Animal Crossing was pretty fun when I was into my DS. Also they rereleased FFI, II, IV, V and VI for the Gameboy Advance (which can be played on the DS). I spent a good chunk of my life playing all of those (still do actually). Also Cooking Mama for the DS was really fun too.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 11:19 AM on December 25, 2010

Kirby: Canvas Curse and Elite Beat Agents.
posted by neushoorn at 11:20 AM on December 25, 2010

Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime will probably be right up your alley, if you can still find a copy.

For puzzling, you'd be hard pressed to do better than Picross DS and Picross 3D, both which fit the 10 minute puzzle mark pretty well.

I would ignore the recommendations for Wario Ware and Elite Beat Agents, because while they're both wonderful, they're entirely reaction based.
posted by Remy at 11:31 AM on December 25, 2010

Best answer: One game that meets the five minute qualification (and uniqueness to the DS) would be Scribblenauts. You have a problem where you can use over 20000 different words to try to solve it. Is a bee guarding a hive? Why not have cthulhu come and kill the bee.
posted by drezdn at 11:35 AM on December 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

You probably want all five of the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney games. They're super fun and playable in chunks (and you can stop at any time since it's not like there's action as such.)

Also, the Zelda games for DS are basically the best Zelda games ever. The dungeons aren't doable in five minutes apiece (at least not by me) but none of them are too huge. You might be able to do the in-between parts quickly and plan a longer stretch of time for tackling the dungeons (about 30-60 minutes for most of them.)

Puzzle Quest is good stuff and will probably suit you well. I loved Super Princess Peach in spite of her superpowers including super-tears and super-rage (WTF?). If you do crosswords, there are several good crossword games.
posted by asperity at 11:35 AM on December 25, 2010

The World Ends With You is one of my favourite DS games - it's a 2D action-RPG with a unique battle system, set in a stylized Shinjuku. Battles are short and intense - a little twitchy, but not overly so.

Also, if you're willing to consider ports of older games, Disgaea is another fantastic (turn-based) RPG with some puzzle elements. I guess it's possible to play it in 10 minute increments, but I keep saying 'just one more level' and end up playing for hours, so buyer beware. The plot is particularly good (and bizarre), a pastiche of JRPG and adventure tropes.
posted by Gortuk at 11:43 AM on December 25, 2010

New Super Mario Bros. It is not a "retread of an existing game." Hence "New Super Mario Bros."
posted by John Cohen at 12:48 PM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you like the 2D Metroid games, you might want to try the DS Castlevania games. They're all very excellent and have that classic 2D "metroidvania" set of mechanics going on.

2nd asperity's comment about the Zelda games for the DS.

I also really like Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes, which is a superb puzzle rpg that probably best fulfills your 5-10 minute requirement of the things I've suggested.

Random usage tip: the sleep mode on my DS (Lite) is insanely good. I rarely turn off my DS (though it's still a good idea to save). Unless you're not planning on using the device for more than a week, I would just close the lid rather than turning it off. That way, you don't have to deal with the (comparatively) time-consuming boot/load/restore. Just open the lid and continue exactly where you left off. Just remember to charge it when you get a chance:)
posted by strangecargo at 1:19 PM on December 25, 2010

Clash of Heroes is pretty much (WARNING: OPINION) the single best DS game ever, and as long as you save after every important battle, no individual battle is so important that cutting out in the middle will Ruin Everything.
posted by griphus at 1:25 PM on December 25, 2010

Also: New Super Mario Bros is a giant pain in the ass regarding saving. Seriously, you can't save mid-world until you achieve certain requirements. I think saving-anywhere is an unlock you get for beating the game. (Great game, though.)
posted by griphus at 1:26 PM on December 25, 2010

Seconding Scribblenauts. It's the kind of game that you find yourself bringing your DS into the bathroom to play.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:37 PM on December 25, 2010

(I enjoyed Animal Crossing for a time, but realized that playing it was starting to feel too much like a guilt trip/obligation when I went on vacation and returned to find that all of my friends had moved out of town.) I'd also recommend Yoshi's Island DS, which is my favorite Mario game/platformer for the system. It wasn't made by the same people who did the SNES version, but it might have well have been.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:39 PM on December 25, 2010

Best answer: One game that meets the five minute qualification (and uniqueness to the DS) would be Scribblenauts

Make sure you get Super Scribblenauts though. They fixed the stupid control scheme in the first one and adds adjectives

Rune Factory 3 is fantastic. (ARPG/farming sim/dating sim) It's not as satisfying to play in 10 minute bursts, but doable. The dialogue in this game is amaaazing! Everyone's got a personality and a buttload of crazy, funny stuff to say. The action parts are great fun (and I don't even like ARPGs).

Maestro Jump in Music is pretty fun. (Rhythm) The mechanics of the game are different from other rhythm games (you flick the rope the character is walking on so it goes up or down to where the music notes are).
posted by fallsauce at 1:40 PM on December 25, 2010

Also: New Super Mario Bros is a giant pain in the ass regarding saving. Seriously, you can't save mid-world until you achieve certain requirements. I think saving-anywhere is an unlock you get for beating the game. (Great game, though.)

OK, but does the OP need to be able to literally turn the power off after 5 minutes, or is it sufficient that you can play for 5 minutes, then put the DS to sleep? You can easily do the latter with New Super Mario Bros.
posted by John Cohen at 1:42 PM on December 25, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice everyone. Please keep it coming! Here's what I've added to my list:

New Super Mario Bros.
Phoenix Wright
Super Scribblenauts
Might & Magic Clash of Heroes

Any advice for which Castlevania to get? Should I just start with the first?
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 4:34 PM on December 25, 2010

Professor Layton! I think there are 2 of them out now. It's a puzzle-slash-story-exploration game that can definitely be played in 5-minute chunks (although that could depend on how good you are at puzzles). And I think it's a DS original.
posted by Xany at 6:17 PM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Definitely get Puzzle Quest! Everyone I know who has played it has found it addictive, even a friend who doesn't game often. And as many people have said, the Professor Layton games are great. I also liked Final Fantasy III--it's a remake, from what I understand, not a straight-up port of the original Japanese game.
posted by zoetrope at 9:21 PM on December 25, 2010

If you like tactical strategy war games, the War Series is insanely good. The two DS versions, Advanced Wars Dual Strike and Advanced Wars Days of Ruin are well worth it, and use the second screen fairly well, if not the touch controls. So they don't quite match your "unique to the DS" criteria, but in America it's basically only been released on GBA (which are also fun) and DS.
posted by skynxnex at 9:31 PM on December 25, 2010

The original Scribblenauts is great too, and I just got Super Scribblenauts as a gift today and I think I've already played half the game. The first one had a few flaws but nothing game-breaking; don't count it out.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:52 PM on December 25, 2010

Classic titles that sound like they'd be perfect for you:

Planet Puzzle League
Both Advance Wars titles
New Super Mario Bros.

If you've ever played starcraft, warcraft, you'll love the Advance Wars series.
posted by teriyaki_tornado at 10:45 AM on December 26, 2010

I would probably try to do the DS Castlevania games in chronological order (of release). They're all good, but they do innovate a little with successive games; you might get a little bored with an older ones if you play it after a more recent one. I think the games may also get progressively harder, but my memory is a little fuzzy on that, since I played them as they came out.
posted by strangecargo at 5:47 AM on December 28, 2010

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