The Complete History of Legendary RPGs on the Nintendo DS

The Nintendo DS ushered in a new era of interactive handheld gameplay when it launched in 2004. With dual screens, touch controls, wireless local connections, and improved visuals over prior Game Boy models, the DS became Nintendo‘s most successful mobile device ever selling over 150 million units.

DS Sales Records

(Nintendo DS Sales Figures)

But it wasn‘t just upgraded tech specs and portability contributing to these blockbuster sales figures. Nintendo‘s priority on games shone through with groundbreaking new interactive experiences across all genres launching across the DS lifecycle into the early 2010s. For RPG fans in particular, the Nintendo DS built upon prior handheld successes to completely redefine roleplaying freedom in the palm of your hands.

The DS Ushered in a New Golden Age for Handheld RPGs

While the Game Boy Advance maintained support for classic Nintendo RPG series like Pokemon, Golden Sun, and Mario & Luigi, most critics agree the Nintendo DS raised the bar substantially for deep yet portable adventures. Combining a foldable dual screen design with touchscreen controls and local wireless multiplayer support, the DS hardware was perfect for both pick-up-and-play gameplay as well as engrossing 40-100 hour RPG epics.

And the market trends certainly agreed – the Nintendo DS lifetime saw increased output from both existing RPG publishers and new developers looking to tap into the explosive handheld market. Long beloved console franchises like Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, and Kingdom Hearts made the leap to DS with enhanced ports or exclusive sequels. At the same time, innovative indie studios leveraged the unique DS interface for wholly original RPG concepts not possible on Game Boy Advance.

Let‘s look at some figures demonstrating how the DS catalyzed the handheld RPG genre:

  • 670+ games – this massive master list of DS RPGs showcases the sheer output during its lifespan
  • 5 of the Top 10 best-selling games – RPG evergreen‘s like Pokemon and Dragon Quest IX moved over 15-20 million copies each
  • New franchises launchingThe World Ends With You, Radiant Historia, and more found success on DS first

Clearly the Nintendo DS established a fine legacy as an essential platform for memorable RPG experiences over its near decade run. And while it featured literally hundreds of excellent roleplaying games across all budgets and styles, a handful managed to exemplify the pinnacle of the genre.

In this guide, we will countdown the 7 absolute best RPGs ever released on the Nintendo DS during its lifespan. Grab your stylus pens along as we revisit these legendary fantasy, sci-fi and quirky adventures!

Best DS RPG Collage

(A visual showcase of legendary DS RPG experiences)

#7. The World Ends With You (Metacritic Score: 88)

The World Ends With You

The World Ends With You brought a bold artistic style and innovations in touch screen gameplay when it launched in 2007. Set in an alternate version of Tokyo‘s Shibuya district, the story follows teenager Neku Sakuraba…

The rest of the content from my previous post follows…

We hope this guide down memory lane showcasing the crowning RPG jewels of the Nintendo DS library allows newer gamers to experience some of the all time greats! Let us know your thoughts on our ranking – would you swap around positions or suggest additions? What are your favorite DS or RPG games?

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