The Best Nintendo DS Platformers

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Released to the public in 2004, the Nintendo DS quite quickly became the most successful handheld ever made. The DS was a massive upgrade to the insanely popular Game Boy line of consoles, featuring a touch screen, dual displays, and the ability to play wirelessly with friends. The Nintendo DS, and its multiple upgrades, were an easy pick for any gamer on the go in the mid to late 2000s.

The platformer genre was probably the most supported on the console, giving DS owners some of the best platformers to date. The DS launched with a remaster of probably the best platformer ever released, Super Mario 64 DS, and continued to offer amazing first and third-party DS titles throughout its long lifetime. All of the games listed are must-plays and relatively easy to find thanks to the DS’s extreme popularity.

New Super Mario Bros.

New Super Mario Bros. is an obvious choice, but for good reason. Up until this game’s release, Nintendo had not made an official 2D Mario platformer since 1992. People were excited for Mario’s return to form, and New Super Mario Bros. delivered one of the most accessible and fun platformers to date. The formula itself hasn't changed much, except Mario has gained the ability to wall-jump and ground pound as well as retaining the triple jump that was introduced in Super Mario 64. Two new powerups have also been added, the Mega Mushroom and the Mini Mushroom, which are pretty self-explanatory for fans of the series.

Despite being similar to the classic Mario titles, this game feels amazingly fresh and gives the original Mario experience to a new generation of gamers. New Super Mario Bros. is a must-own for DS owners and just an extremely fun title to play.

Yoshi’s Island DS

A sequel to the SNES classic, Yoshi’s Island DS is a great game that fans have been wanting for 21 years. The gameplay itself is mostly the same as the original, with some new tweaks to make the game feel fresh. The Yoshi mechanics have stayed the same, but the babies are the notable difference. There are five different playable babies, Mario, Peach, Donkey Kong, Wario, and Bowser, each giving Yoshi different abilities that allow the player to traverse levels differently.

There are five different worlds to explore too, each with its own theme and two challenging bosses to fight. If you're a fan of the original Yoshi’s Island, Yoshi’s Island DS is a must-have.

Kirby Super Star Ultra

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Kirby series, Nintendo released Kirby Super Star Ultra. This title is a remake of the original Kirby Super Star for the SNES, with a bunch of new features to excite both newcomers and long-time fans. The game retains all of the game modes from the original release but adds four new ones for players to enjoy. These include Revenge of the King, Meta Knightmare Ultra, Helper to Hero, and True Arena. All of these add a new way to experience what was already a nearly perfect game.

The graphics and sound have also been updated to accommodate the new hardware. The last new feature is DS Download Play which allows four players to connect wirelessly and enjoy this awesome game together. If you’re a fan of Kirby, Kirby Super Star Ultra is an easy pick for the Nintendo DS.

Mega Man ZX

One of the best Mega Man titles of the last 20 years, Mega Man ZX is a new spin on the series, taking place 200 years after the events of Mega Man Zero 4. Players assume the role of Vent or Aile, two new heroes that have merged with the Mega Man Model X. From here, the gameplay is similar to more recent Mega Man titles but has a few notable differences. The first of these is the open-ended world.

Rather than following the typical Mega Man formula of linear levels, Mega Man ZX makes use of a world similar to Kirby’s Dreamland, where players can hop between different doorways to other levels. The graphics and gameplay have also been updated to fit the modern systems, offering a more enjoyable and accessible Mega Man experience. If you are looking for an updated Mega Man experience, Mega Man ZX is a fantastic title and works perfectly on the Nintendo DS.

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow

A direct sequel to Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Dawn of Sorrow picks up where the last game left off. Featuring the same cast as the first game, players assume the role of Soma Cruz, a teenager fated with becoming the dark lord. After thwarting Dracula's plans, a cult forms in Dracula's Castle in an attempt to fully turn Soma into the dark lord. Soma must once again travel through the castle in order to fight off the cult and be free of this curse.

This game perfectly mixes action, platforming, and RPG elements to create one of the most unique experiences on the DS. The Tactical Soul feature has been brought back from the previous game, as well as a brand-new feature - the Magic Seal. This novel system utilizes the touch screen to deal a fatal blow to a boss. If the player enters it correctly, the boss dies, but if not, the fight resumes. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow is a must-own for both Castlevania fans and platforming fans alike.

Super Mario 64 DS

Probably one of the best launch titles ever, Super Mario 64 DS brings back the perfect platforming of the original Super Mario 64 while adding some awesome features to lure in fans of the original. The game begins with Yoshi as he is tasked with exploring Peach's castle in order to find Mario, Luigi, and Wario.

Similar to the original game, there are multiple levels scattered through the castle that the player must discover by jumping through paintings. The player can unlock more levels by collecting Power Stars. Fans of the original will enjoy this new content while new players will finally get to experience one of the best games ever made. Super Mario 64 DS is a fantastic title and almost better than the original release.

  • Updated March 11, 2021