The 20 Weirdest Nintendo DS Games (And The 10 Best) (2023)

The Nintendo DS was the first Nintendo system I bought with my own money. Not only that, but it was the first Nintendo system I got since the Super Nintendo. That’s right. I never owned an N64, GameCube, Game Boy Advance, or Wii. Not from a lack of interest either. As a poor teenager I could only ask for one system and that was always Sony related post-SNES. In college, I wanted something to play in between classes and the PSP’s drought periods were getting to me. So I scraped together enough to finally get another Nintendo thing. Actually, it was Chrono Trigger’s port in 2008. That’s literally what got me to buy it the day it launched. Let’s just say I ate a lot of ramen the next few months. It was cheaper than the cheap stuff too. You don’t even want to know…

Anyway, it was a worthwhile investment and is probably the greatest collection of handheld games in Nintendo’s history. Plus the DS Lite could play GBA games. Although the 3DS can play DS games so maybe that...ah that’s a debate for another time. Point is the DS’ library is out of control. This list is split into my top ten favorites along with twenty weird games. They are strange for various reasons whether they were console exclusives for big properties, or just had weird play styles. Some are actually really good while others are odd and bad. Hopefully some of these you’ve never heard of. Okay, let’s start touching!

30 Weird: Metroid Prime Pinball

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Surprisingly Metroid Prime Pinball is really good. It also makes me a hypocrite with my rant about Kirby because this game does the same thing to Samus. She’s permanently in her Morph Ball form as you swat her around various tables. Strangely enough there’s a story too. Unlike Kirby though this is actually good. Very strange, but also very good. I would take another one of these over another Canvas Curse sequel any day of the week. They could make it into a Metroidvania too since Yoku’s Island just proved it was possible. Do it Nintendo!

29 Weird: Guitar Hero: On Tour

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The only reason Guitar Hero: On Tour is on here is so I can make fun of that horrible peripheral. I know Guitar Hero was a big brand at that point, but I think they missed why when they came up with this. You can’t play out your rock god fantasies with an accordion-like controller on a portable system. The sound quality is poor and it’s a hassle to just hold the darn thing. Did someone get fired for this?

28 Best: Castlevania: Dawn Of Sorrow

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Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow is my favorite Castlevania game. It’s the pinnacle of that Metroidvania formula that was basically started, or at least honed by Super Metroid and Symphony of the Night.

What makes it so good is its beautiful pixel art, tight controls, tons of weapons, the ability to learn skills from monsters, and so much more. If you’ve never played any game in the series then I suggest starting with this.

27 Weird: Sonic Chronicles The Dark Brotherhood

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Now here’s a game lost to time. Did you know BioWare made a Sonic the Hedgehog RPG? It was called Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood and it took the timed combat from the Mario and Luigi RPGs. It also had BioWare’s signature dialogue trees. Unfortunately, it’s not very good. I know. A bad Sonic game you ask? Get out of town. While everything seems half-baked the ideas are sound and I hope there’s another RPG some day. I can’t believe this was the only one.

26 Weird: Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime

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Slimes are to Dragon Quest as Chocobos are to Final Fantasy. They are the series’ mascots. It stands to reason that they’d eventually get their own games too. Enter Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime wherein you play the titular mascot trying to rescue his fellow slimes from an evil pack of platypuses. You control it by stretching the little guy out and launching him forward. Get it? It’s like you’re rocketing the slime around. Ha, oh the Japanese sure do love their puns.

25 Best: Pokémon Black And White

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Part of me wanted to put Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver on here because those are my favorite games in the series. Since those are remakes I decided to go with the best DS originals aka Pokémon Black and White.

They had a good line of new Pokémon especially the starters. The game looked good, had great areas, fixed a lot of issues I had with the previous DS games, and had a story I actually cared about.

24 Weird: Feel the Magic XY/XX

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Feel the Magic XY/XX was a launch game for the system that featured mini games more bizarre than the last. You have to guide a goldfish out of a man’s stomach, steer a shopping cart from avoiding spikes down a hill, and so many others. Each game is quick, which is great when you want to relax and have a quickie. The best part about this game is its European title: The Rub Rabbits. Don’t know why and I don’t want to know why.

23 Weird: The Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass

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I love everything about The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass since it’s a direct sequel to The Wind Waker. All that sailing is made even better with ship customization and you can even battle monsters at sea. Plus you have a stand-in for Jack Sparrow as your guide. Yes, it is good except for the fact that it makes you use touch controls. You need them to walk, fight, and so on. Als,o you blow into the DS’ mic. What a peculiar way to sell a Zelda game.

22 Best: The World Ends With You

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This year marks the tenth anniversary of this hidden gem and I am overjoyed it’s getting a port to the Switch. Not $60 excited, but that’s a rant for another day. In this RPG you’re trapped in Tokyo and must play a dangerous game before you’re eliminated.

Neku, the main character, is controlled on the bottom with the stylus, while his various partners are controlled on top with the buttons. It’s less complicated than it sounds and is one of Square Enix’s most unique games.

21 Weird: Henry Hatsworth In The Puzzling Adventure

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Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure is a mouthful isn’t it? It’s a typical action platformer starring an old timey explorer who accidentally unleashes an ancient evil. That’s where things get crazy. On the top screen is said platformer while the bottom is a match-three puzzle game. It’s constantly filling up and if you aren’t paying attention the blocks will invade your top space. It’s a tricky balance, but makes for a surprisingly good time. Oh yeah and there’s a mech.

20 Weird: Retro Game Challenge

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Retro Game Challenge is about as obscure as you can get. It’s based on a Japanese game show, GameCenter CX, wherein comedian, Shinya Arino, is tasked with beating old games and he’s pretty bad. It’s fantastic! Now the game is about two kids playing clones of NES classics like Dragon Quest, Gradius, R.C. Pro-Am and more in order to defeat this digital god who is basically Arino. There are even game magazines you need to read to get codes. I can’t believe we got this in the West.

19 Best: Final Fantasy Tactics A2

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Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was good, but a bit of a disappointment to the original. Final Fantasy Tactics A2 still doesn’t reach its heights, but it is a better game to its direct predecessor.

The A2 stands for Advance 2, duh.

Yes, there are still Judges, but they don’t get in the way as much. And yes it isn’t as mature as the first, but it is a charming story nonetheless. It’s a perfect fit for this handheld and is the best Final Fantasy game on the DS, excluding ports and remakes.

18 Weird: Super Princess Peach

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Peach has only gotten one side adventure to herself: Super Princess Peach. As you’d imagine it too is a platformer with some slight alterations. On the bottom screen are four hearts each corresponding to an emotion. Activate your sadness and Peach will cry, which makes her run fast and the water grows plants. Another example is happiness, which makes her fly. It was controversial at the time for giving a female character emotional power, but as strange as it is I liked it. Where’s the sequel?

17 Weird: Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

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Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective comes from the same team as the Phoenix Wright games. You’re a ghost who has the power to rewind time and posses objects in order to solve who did you in. Each chapter acts like one big puzzle. You can only transfer your soul into one object at a time in a pattern. For example, you can’t take over a lamp and then jump to the other side of the room to posses a chair. I know it’s weird, but you need to play it!

16 Best: Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney

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I wasn’t sure which game to feature as my favorite so I went with the original Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. It’s a light novel at its core, which is to say it’s very text heavy.

Don’t object to this classic!

You’re a lawyer who is also pretty much a detective trying to prove your clients are innocent. The characters are engrossing and each case’s mystery will keep you guessing till the last minute. It’s the perfect starter for the genre.

15 Weird: Star Fox Command

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Star Fox Command is kind of a cross between a “normal” Star Fox game and a tactical one. On the bottom screen is your battle map wherein you set up targets and pathways. Once you cross them you’ll enter a dogfight on top. As you can imagine from an early DS game it’s pretty complicated to control. Why can’t Nintendo just make a standard space shooter like their first two games instead of going crazy all the time? Fox McCloud and his crew deserves better.

14 Weird: WarioWare D.I.Y.

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The WarioWare games have always been bizarre what with the titular character as the star and its inclusion of random mini games like picking your nose and trying not to get caught. Well WarioWare D.I.Y., as the name would suggest, let’s you make your own games. So now the weirdness level is up to you! Will you help Wario start a thriving video game company, or will you choose to plummet his stock. The choice is yours. It definitely goes places.

13 Best: Radiant Historia

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Radiant Historia was the subject of the first article I ever wrote when I started in this profession. It’s a fairly standard turn-based RPG all except for the time travel element. It acts like a puzzle. Your way is constantly blocked so you then have to investigate the past in order to solve the solution to move forward in the present.

For example, an early part has you rescuing two mercenaries that then save your party from a foe too powerful. It also just got a re-release on 3DS. Check it out!

12 Weird: Trauma Center: Under The Knife

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Trauma Center: Under the Knife is part light novel similar to Phoenix Wright and part Surgeon Simulator. There is a vague story going on, but what’s most bizarre here are the surgeries you’ll perform, which play out like mini games. Really gross mini games like operating on a spleen and stapling it back together, but a mini game nonetheless. Think of it like an anime version of Grey’s Anatomy. Yes, there are pretty doctors here too...

11 Weird: Kirby Canvas Curse

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Kirby: Canvas Curse boggles my mind. It took everything away from what made the Kirby games special. Instead of running around and swallowing up enemies to gain new powers you’re instead forced into a ball. You control Kirby with the stylus by drawing lines. It’s very boring and clunky to boot. It’s one of those early DS games that tried to justify the touch controls. Maybe if this wasn’t Kirby I’d like it more, but yeah it’s not exactly great.

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