The Nintendo DS Lite is one of the most beloved handheld consoles ever made.
As part of the ultra successful line of Nintendo DS handhelds, the 2006 sophomore iteration saw massive improvements to the overall look and feel of the DS.
Slimmer, brighter, lighter and really… just cooler. The DS Lite looked awesome.
Nintendo obviously intended to cram a new DS model down consumer’s throats as often as possible.
And we happily ate it up… making the DS the best selling handheld console ever made.
During the DS Lite’s two-year reign as king of handhelds, there were some pretty incredible games released.
So it is only fitting that we rank the best Nintendo DS Lite games… games released when the DS Lite was the most current Nintendo handheld.
(To qualify for this list, the game must be released for the Nintendo DS between March 2006 and November 2008. We also kept it to original games, no remakes/remasters from earlier consoles.)
15. Bleach: The Blade of Fate
Anime fighting games have kind of been our jam lately.
We recently released our list of the best anime fighting games of all time.
One of the coolest anime fighting games to come from the DS Lite era is Bleach: The Blade of Fate.
A 2d fighting game with a solo story mode and online multiplayer that offers up some pretty unique battles.
The game was well quite well received, and it won IGN’s Best Fighting Game of 2007.
Definitely one of the best fighting games for the DS, and an easy addition to our list of the best DS Lite games.
14. Contra 4
Contra 4 is a direct sequel to the Super Nintendo installment from the beloved series, and also came at the 20th anniversary of the original release (which scored pretty high on our list of the best NES games).
Serving as a perfect example of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”: game play is much like the original titles, with a super soldier running and gunning their way through jungles and fortresses.
Collect power-ups and blast your way through hordes of human renegades and invading alien forces.
Making full use of the stacked screens, Contra 4 gives players that unique portrait format view that only the Nintendo DS can deliver.
Contra 4 is a true return to the roots of the franchise, and fans loved it. And so did we.
A must have game for the Nintendo DS Lite.
13. Wario: Master of Disguise
Wario is one of my favorite characters to come from Nintendo’s history.
He is a bad guy.. but like.. a likable one. He’s funny. He’s weird. I love him.
Wario: Master of Disguise is as weird and eccentric as you might expect.
Take control of the beloved character and make full use of his seven disguises to help him through a new world of platforming puzzles.
The Nintendo DS Lite release makes full use of the touchscreen, throwing a new twist on the standard platforming formula.
A very unique game for the DS, and one not to be missed for any Wario fan.
If you like to discover new games, you should check out our sister-site Games Like, you won’t be dissapointed!
12. Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground
Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground is a skateboarding game that saw releases on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and yes.. you guessed it… the Nintendo DS Lite!
While previous entries in the franchise have come to handheld, they often felt like “shovelware” (games developed with little care for their quality).
Obviously, when you have a game come to 64 bit and 128 bit consoles, their portable editions just will never compare.
But “Proving Ground”… well.. proved that a quality 32 bit skateboarding game can be delivered.
Developer Vicarious Visions handled the Nintendo DS edition of the game. And they delivered a classic Tony Hawk experience, making massive improvements from the previous Nintendo DS release in the franchise.
I absolutely love the Tony Hawk game franchise, and this is no exception.
It’s just good old fashioned fun, and I am glad to see Tony Hawk make an appearance on our list of best DS Lite games.
11. Guitar Hero: On Tour
Typically, when you think of the Guitar Hero game series, you will probably think of those crazy guitar peripherals.
They are actually pretty awesome. And for that reason, they made an appearance on our lists of the best PS2 accessories and the best Wii accessories.
But it would be a pretty difficult endeavor to pair one to a Nintendo DS…
So for the 2008 Nintendo DS release, developer Vicarious Visions (who also brought us Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground) created a very cool guitar grip that slips right onto your DS Lite.
This unique peripheral, in combination with touchscreen controls, results in totally unique game play that only be experienced on the Nintendo DS.
The Nintendo DS itself is a very unique console with a lot of unique functions for a gaming handheld.
And Guitar Hero: On Tour is a perfect example of developers taking an already unique console and delivering something that just takes it to the next level.
10. The World Ends with You
The World Ends with You is an action RPG… sort of.
Explore the famous Shibuya shopping district of Tokyo in a game that combines elements of JRPG, visual novel and beat-em-up game play.
Developed by Jupiter for Square Enix… who brought us a TON of classic games (Mario’s Picross, Pokémon Pinball, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, to name a few).
The game received high praise, mostly for its graphics, music, and unique game play style.
And it is a really unique gaming experience that we highly recommend for fans of the JRPG genre.
9. Advance Wars: Days of Ruin
The classic 2008 iteration of the Advance Wars series takes a more serious tone than the previous installments.
Taking place in a post-apocalyptic world, “Days of Ruin” introduces a brand new storyline and setting for the series.
Offering familiar turn-based strategy game play while also making it even more approachable, the game was well received by new fans and those familiar to the series.
With online and local multiplayer modes, Advance Wars: Days of Ruin gives players even more reasons to join the fight.
Lucky for fans of the Advance Wars franchise, there are some Nintendo Switch remakes coming very soon!
But if you can’t endure the wait, why not check out this classic game for the Nintendo DS Lite right now?
8. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
The Castlevania franchise is absolutely loved, praised and defended by its loyal fans.
And it seems the series has very few misses. Spoiler alert: this game is no exception!
As a semi-sequel to the classic game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and a follow-up to Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (both on our list of best Castlevania games)…
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is an action adventure game that makes smart use of RPG elements to progress your character and build their abilities.
The third and final Castlevania game to appear on the Nintendo DS, and an easy entry on our list of the best Nintendo DS Lite games.
7. Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings
What do you get when you take one of Anthony Wallace’s favorite games of all time and make a spinoff for the Nintendo DS?
Well… a pretty awesome game, obviously!
Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings is a real-time tactics role-playing game that follows the events of the classic PS2 predecessor.
With gameplay reminiscent of Final Fantasy Tactics, Square Enix removes some of the overly complicated mechanics, giving players a more casual play… which is something I enjoy lately.
With great sales numbers and reviews, “Revenant Wings” was a win for Square Enix on the Nintendo DS Lite.
And you KNOW I had to include it on my list of best Nintendo DS Lite games.
6. Mario Party DS
As the second Mario Party title to come to handheld, and the only one to come to the DS… Mario Party DS had big shoes to fill.
And the Nintendo DS Lite iteration of the Mario Party series surely did not disappoint.
With 74 total mini-games making full use of the touchscreen, wifi for multiplayer games using only one game card, and even the microphone…
A truly unique experience that only the Nintendo DS can offer.
It scored VERY high on our list of the best Mario Party games of all time, and has sold over 8 million copies to date.
A true Nintendo DS Lite classic.
5. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations, the third installment in the beloved “Ace Attorney” series… and the epic conclusion to the trilogy.
I am fairly new to the visual novel style of game, but man do I love them. Perfect for casual bedtime gaming.
“Trials and Tribulations” originally released in Japan in 2004 for the Game Boy Advance.
But it was in October of 2008 when the west finally got their hands on an official English port.
Investigate crimes, collect clues, put the pieces together. And battle it out in court.
Quite a change of pace if you are used to epic gun battles or stomping on mushrooms.
But trust us, it works in all the right ways.
It’s these kind of game concepts to come out of Japan that sound so ordinary, but result in extraordinary gaming experiences.
If you’ve never experienced a visual novel video game before, please… do yourself a favor.. give it a try. You might discover your new favorite genre of gaming.
4. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games
Hey, how do you make one of the absolute coolest video games for the Nintendo DS?
Take the most beloved characters from Nintendo and Sega… and bring them together in one awesome cross-over title.
When you have both Mario AND Sonic in one game, it’s bound to be a party.
As the first installment in the Mario & Sonic series, “…at the Olympic Games” was also the official video game of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and licensed by the International Olympic Committee.
Doesn’t get more official than that.
Packed with twenty-four events based on the Olympic Games, the DS version of the game takes full advantage of the unique touchscreen functionality of the console.
Both the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Wii versions are praised and were best selling games at the time of release.
And it was yet another of many examples of Nintendo making brave choice and it paying off.
Who would have thought that we would see Sonic and Mario teaming up in a video game? And in retrospect… what a genius move.
Are you a Sonic fan? Take a look at our list of the best Sonic games of all time.
3. New Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. was one of the most iconic platforming video games ever created.
And when Nintendo decided to take our beloved plumber into full 3d… they had yet another iconic game in another genre.
So following classics like Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine… what was Nintendo’s move when creating their next great Mario game?
New Super Mario Bros. That’s right… a return to the classic platforming roots that we grew up on.
The familiar Mario Bros. format of running, jumping, stomping, and flag sliding that we all know and love.
The game was both a commercial success and a hit with fans and reviewers. Nearly unanimous praise for its improvements on the classic formula, and staying true to what made Mario Bros. a fan favorite.
As one of the best selling video games of all time at almost 31 million copies sold, there is no doubting the success of Nintendo’s brave choice.
And we are 100% in love with this game. We had no doubts it would score high on our list of best Nintendo DS Lite games.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
The Legend of Zelda will always have a special place in my heart (and on my skin… I literally have tattoos).
And this 2007 sequel to “The Wind Waker” is widely considered the absolute best Zelda title for the Nintendo DS.
With its beautiful 3D cel-shaded graphics, unique storyline, and simple controls… “Phantom Hourglass” had a winning formula.
And when we say “winning”, we mean figuratively and literally.
It literally won the best Nintendo DS Game of the Year award from several gaming resources. It was also the best selling game in Japan when released.
So you don’t have to take our word for it… look at the numbers.
“Phantom Hourglass” is one of the best video games ever made for the Nintendo DS, and it also happened to be released in the middle of the lifespan of the Nintendo DS Lite.
And for that reason, it has a very easy spot on our list of best Nintendo DS Lite games.
We really wanted to put it at number one… but when you see which game took that spot, you probably won’t be surprised…
1. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl
Come on.. did you have any doubts that Pokémon would top a best Nintendo list?
You make a list of best games… Pokémon is bound to top it.
“Diamond” and “Pearl” are the first games in the fourth-generation of the Pokémon series.
First released in Japan in September of 2006, the games had the most successful launch week of any game for the DS console and sold nearly three million units in its first month.
With remakes in 2021 and a prequel in 2022 for the Nintendo Switch, the legacy of “Diamond” and “Pearl” are still clear to this day.
In both sales and popularity, there is no stopping Game Freak’s Pokémon franchise.
And it is a very easy choice for our number one spot of best Nintendo DS Lite games.
Are you a big fan of the Nintendo DS? You like the other models in the series? Check out our list of the best Nintendo DS games of all time (covering the entire history of the DS handheld).
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Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.