This game is a bit of an anomaly. At its core, it's a Japanese RPG with deep customization and ludicrous replay value. However, the Dragon Quest series' stubborn refusal to modernize will certainly be a turnoff to some players. When we played the original Dragon Warrior years ago, the ability to only save and revive in towns was standard for the times. But it's been twenty-five years, Square Enix. Dragon Quest IX is an amazing game, but it would have ranked a little higher on the list if it had more of the quality of life elements that most modern RPGs now have.
Tetris. The game helped popularize the NES, and made the Game Boy a household name. Porting it to the DS seemed like a no-brainer, and it comes equipped with classic Tetris mode and a slew of new options. Want to Tetris it out against another player? Complete timer-free puzzles that tax your brain more than your fingers? Or maybe you just want a twist on the basic Tetris gameplay, like the addition of special objectives you need to complete while filling out lines. Well, Tetris DS has got you covered.
The puzzler genre achieved massive success on the DS. The "pick up and play, stop any time" style of most puzzle games meshes well with the DS's on-the-go capabilities, and that's why titles like Tetris DS, Professor Layton, and Picross 3D are so at home on the system. Picross 3D challenges your spatial relation abilities -- how good you are at looking at the pieces of an object and figuring out how they relate to the whole. While it's not quite as stylish as Layton or Tetris, it's still plenty of fun, and worth picking up.
If Super Mario 64 DS is cheating a little, adding Chrono Trigger to the DS library is Jeff Winger cheat-your-way-into-being-a-lawyer cheating. Chrono Trigger is one of the greatest games in the history of gaming, and its 16-bit charm retains its full potential on the DS. Like Mario 64, Chrono Trigger DS adds some new features, such as an extra mode or two, and some extra bosses and storylines. Few games manage to stand the test of time the way this one does, so you'd be absolutely remiss not to pick up this time-traveling, triple-teching gem.
Sometimes you just need a little help to get the job done. Worry not, the Elite Beat Agents are here to help! They're not going to do your work for you, or help in any kind of a direct capacity. They'll dance to motivate you! This strange rhythm game combines furious beats and agent elites with a classically Japanese quirkiness. It'll keep you laughing and your toes tapping while the challenging, but never unfair, gameplay keeps the fun train rolling.
The story of The World Ends With You is ... a little complex to describe. Like most of Square Enix's games, it's walking the jargon-heavy tightrope between "magical," and "nonsensical." The action/RPG gameplay, however, is easy to understand and unique. It has you controlling two characters simultaneously, one on the top DS screen and one on the bottom. Don't worry, though, an AI will cover your butt sometimes — if you're too focused on one character, it'll pick up as the other. Combat aside, the game has a great set of uniquely "World Ends With You" tunes, each with their own distinctive urban flair. And the character progression system is perhaps one of the best elements of the game, requiring you to not only follow in-game fashion trends, but also rewarding you for periodic inactivity.
New Super Mario Bros. reinvigorated the 2D series of Mario games. It combines the best features of Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros 3, leading to a game with slews of secrets and thrilling platforming. As of 2013 the game has moved roughly thirty million copies. That's enough copies for everyone you've ever met to build their own individual Jacuzzis out of them.
There's been a lot of talk of the handheld Castlevania series in this list, and for good reason: they're awesome. Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow might just be the most awesome of them all. Its combat is fast-paced and satisfying, with countless ability and weapon combinations for players to experiment with. The environments are varied and imaginative. The story is razor sharp, featuring rounded characters who you'll actually care about, something seen all-too infrequently in video games.
Detective work is no easy task, and it's even harder when every other jerk on the street forces you to solve a puzzle before they'll give you any straight answers. It's fortunate, then, that the puzzles Professor Layton faces off against are all so brain-ticklingly ingenious. The Last Specter contains more content than most Layton games, including several mini-games and a surprisingly deep role-playing element. But those additions are mere icing on the cake. What keeps drawing people to the Professor Layton games over and over are their charming characters, intriguing mysteries, and fiendish puzzles.
Mario, Layton, Kirby. Ask any thug, and they'll tell you the same thing -- these are kids games. GTA: CW is where it's at. In it, you can sell drugs, kill prostitutes, and escape the police just as well as its console big brothers, but does so within the tiny confines of the DS. You can also just explore and complete missions without being a total hooligan, but that's not exactly what the GTA games are made for. Dead hooker? Don't know what you're talking about, officer.