The Best Nintendo DS RPGs

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The best-selling handheld ever released, Nintendo's DS brought a new way to enjoy iconic Nintendo franchises on the go. The Nintendo DS innovated by allowing players to experience their game through two screens, one for touch controls and the other for displaying information or gameplay. The original models, the Nintendo DS and DS lite, featured backwards compatibility with Game Boy Advance titles, giving players the ultimate handheld experience with an insanely large range of titles available.

The RPG genre received a lot of support on the DS. Almost all of Nintendo's flagship RPG's featured entries on the Nintendo DS, along with excellent third-party support giving players a nearly endless supply of awesome games. Series like Fire Emblem, Pokémon, Dragon Quest, and Final Fantasy saw some of their best entries released on this now-classic handheld. Thanks to the DS's wifi capabilities, gamers could play cooperatively or competitively online as well. The DS is an RPG fan's dream come true, offering some of the best gaming experiences on the go.

Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver

Despite being a remake, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver beautifully restore one of the best Pokémon experiences to date. Included with the PokéWalker, players can now keep Pokémon with them even while they’re not playing the game.

Fans of Pokémon Gold and Silver will probably remember the amount of content this title offered as well, giving players the ability to explore the Kanto region after they’ve finished their journey in Johto. Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver is easily one of the most engrossing titles in the franchise, and is a must-have for DS gamers.

Chrono Trigger

Square’s best RPG, Chrono Trigger, was made available to DS gamers in 2008, providing a new generation of gamers with one of the best RPGs ever made. Not only is this a beautiful port of a SNES classic, but the DS version also includes some never before seen content that ties up the game nicely and will have fans excited. Along with the base game comes some new dungeons and music that has never been officially available to players through legitimate means.

Players can also change up the settings, modernizing some of the gameplay and menu options, so pausing every ten seconds is no longer an issue. Fans of RPGs will quickly fall in love with this classic, making Chrono Trigger for Nintendo DS an easy buy.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story

One of the best titles in the Mario RPG franchise, Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story is also one of the wackiest. This title follows the titular Mario and Luigi as they are inhaled into Bowser's body in order to fight the new foe threatening the Mushroom Kingdom. The RPG elements are similar to that of previous entries, but with organ and body part related enemies and puzzles. Not only do players get the chance to play as the Mario brothers, but they will also have the opportunity to control Bowser on the top screen, which can affect the surroundings of Bowser's insides for Mario and Luigi.

A remake was released on the 3DS, which featured new levels with Bowser Jr. Fans have claimed this title to be the best in the series, and the sales numbers prove it, outselling any other title in the franchise. This is an easy game to find and an exciting game to play for RPG fans.


One of the lesser-known RPGs for the Nintendo DS, Contact is another fantastic Atlus RPG featuring amazing art and engaging gameplay. The story follows Terry, a boy recruited by a crazy professor who has crash-landed on an alien world. Terry must explore this planet with the help of the player to recover the power cells required for the ship to run again.

This title is a lot deeper than it sounds, giving the player plenty to think about as philosophy and morals are thrown into the mix. While the combat itself is rather simple and requires little player input, Contact features an awesome job system and amazing questing, making the world and its NPCs feel very real. Contact is an underrated and under-appreciated title that will fascinate players with its strange little world.  

Pokémon Platinum

Pokémon saw some of its best releases on the DS, and Pokémon Platinum was no exception. Released as the updated version of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, Platinum features new areas, Pokémon, and battles that the originals did not. Platinum centers around the legendary Pokémon Giratina, who was featured in Diamond and Pearl but in a different form.

While much of the plot is the same as the previous games, as well as the base gameplay, Platinum adds the Distortion World, which can be ventured into and explored in order to find and catch Giratina, along with some changes to gym leaders' parties. Platinum is the must-have Pokémon game on the DS, with fans calling it the best Pokémon game ever made.

The World Ends With You

A game within a game, The World Ends With You is an emotional and exciting RPG that has become a cult classic. In this title, players will follow Neku Sakuraba as he and his friends are thrown into the Reapers' Game, a high stakes game that allows the winner to be brought back to life or transcend into a higher form of existence. Losing the game means the player character will be erased from existence.

The story itself can be a little complex, featuring a wide array of characters who all play special roles in the narrative. A remake of this title was released for the Switch, allowing new players to enjoy this classic.

  • Updated May 11, 2021