The Pokémon franchise has a collection of iconic games that were originally released for the Nintendo DS. Both the majority of mainstream and spin-off Pokémon games released for the Nintendo DS from 2004 to around 2012 have become favorites among the community in some form or another.
The mainstream Pokémon titles for the Nintendo DS in particular now retail for insanely high prices due to being some of the most beloved in the series. This phenomenon has made it near impossible to find authentic copies of these coveted games, which are not only among the best titles on Nintendo’s portable system but also Game Freak’s long-running franchise.
Here is our list for the best Pokémon DS games.
13. Pokémon Dash
Pokémon Dash is one of the more forgettable titles for the Nintendo DS. It functions as a Pokémon-themed racing game, with players being able to race against their favorite Generation 3 and 4 Pokémon.
The main issue comes from the game’s repetitive gameplay and the fact that players can only play as Pikachu. The gameplay is also designed around the Nintendo DS’s stylus, with players essentially guiding Pikachu around a track rather than controlling them akin to a kart racer.
The charming graphics and sprites for the game give it some redeeming factors, but its no surprise that this formula never took of for Pokémon spinoffs in the future.
12. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers Of Darkness & Time
The dual sequel releases to the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series have an impactful story, unique sprites and art styles, lovable characters, and captivating gameplay. Mystery Dungeon takes on the dungeon-crawler genre, and these spin-offs are among the license’s most famous releases. Not to mention they do offer a nice change of pace from the standard Pokémon game.
11. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky
Fans of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series may be shocked to see this beloved game ranking so low on this list. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers Of Sky is a classic example of a game that critics did not like, but has become a favorite for many fans in the community.
Critics argued that Explorers Of Sky didn’t include enough new content to be made into a completely separate game, this is the definitive way to play this generation’s iteration of Mystery Dungeon to many fans.
This game brought enough new ideas to the plate to justify its existence including several new playable Pokémon, playable special episodes, new items, exclusive dungeons, and minor tweaks to the original game’s excellent story.
10. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team
The alternate version to Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team, which was released exclusively for the Game Boy Advance, Blue Rescue Team was released only on the Nintendo DS. The games are practically interchangeable as far as story and playable characters go, with the differences lying in certain creatures players can encounter and recruit in dungeons.
The debut of the Mystery Dungeon was a welcome one for Pokemon fans, with this entry still delivering on the core aspects fans love about the series. Even though it would go on to be surpassed by its sequels, these games still hold a special place in the hearts of fans.
9. Pokémon Ranger: Shadows Of Almia
Shadows of Almia is the second game in the Pokémon Ranger series. The title made several improvements to its predecessor’s story, which was a bit lacking in this regard. Despite the improvements, Shadows of Almia kept the Pokémon Ranger-style gameplay mostly the same. This was disappointing since there hadn’t been any significant improvements to the base-level gameplay of the first installment.
8. Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs
Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Sign saw the spin-off series stagnate to an extent. This entry introduced a few improvements to the gameplay style, such as adding ridable legendary creatures and a time-traveling mechanism that allowed for multiplayer gameplay. Drawing the unique, individual signs to summon these Pokémon was pretty cool, but the game did roll back on some features that were enhancements featured in Shadows of Almia.
7. Pokémon Ranger
The first installment in the Pokémon Ranger series is the most critically successful. It introduced the concept of playing not as a trainer or another Pokémon, but as a Ranger set on maintaining peace throughout the region and saving wild Pokémon that were in danger.
The circle-drawing gameplay style that allowed players to capture the friendship of wild Pokémon was revolutionary for the franchise and was a step forward to show that the Pokémon series was ready to transfer into the world of the Nintendo DS.
6. Pokémon Trozei!
Pokémon Trozei! is a puzzle game that bears some resemblance to classic puzzle titles such as Tetris and Yoshi’s Cookie. Blocks with the faces of different Pokémon fall from the top of the screen, but only the last row can be moved and matched with the ones above it.
It’s a the spin-off is unlikely to appeal to anyone besides die-hard Pokémon fans, but Trozei! is a fine option for players who like puzzle games with a splash of Pokémon added.
5. Pokémon Conquest
Pokémon Conquest is one of the most unique takes on the Pokémon franchise as its the first and only attempt to try its hand at the strategy genre. This spin-off introduces a unique storyline set in feudal Japan as well as a fresh turn-based, tactical battle system. Players moved different creatures across a battlefield, encountering enemies as well as harmful field hazards.
Pokémon Conquest is surprisingly an incredibly fleshed-out game, and hits the mark as a spin-off title. Fire Emblem fans likely adore this game if their fandom crosses over with Pokémon at all.
4. Pokémon Black 2 & White 2
The final mainstream games released for the Nintendo DS, and the first main series games on this list, are Pokémon Black 2 & White 2. These entries were the first time any mainstream Pokémon game(s) received a proper, direct sequel.
Black 2 & White 2 offer a refreshingly new take on the Unova region, and continue the story from the previous games. Their return to the more bog standard Pokémon formula is likely why they sit lower than their predecessors, but few can argue that this was 2D Pokémon at some of its best before it said farewell during the 3DS era.
3. Pokémon Black & White
Pokémon Black & White were revolutionary entries for the Pokémon franchise that introduced several new concepts and mechanics that remain in the franchise to this day. Some standouts include triple and rotation battles, multiple rivals and fully animated 2D sprites.
Although controversial in some aspects with fans, Black & White are renowned for their incredibly strong main storyline.
2. Pokémon Diamond, Pearl & Platinum
The fourth generation of mainstream Pokémon games debuted with Diamond & Pearl on the Nintendo DS. Pokémon Platinum was the third mainstream installment for Generation 4, released after the success of Diamond & Pearl. Unlike many “third versions,” Platinum received a lot of critical praise for adding more content, graphical and gameplay improvements.
Although the storylines are relatively similar, Pokémon Platinum not only introduces new wild Pokémon, but the game also changes parts of the story. Even though Diamond and Pearl were remade on the Nintendo Switch, Platinum remains the definitive Gen 4 experience for many Pokémon fans.
1. Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver
Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver remain atop the fan favorite rankings for very good reasons. These remakes of the original Pokémon Gold & Silver for the Gameboy Color provide one of the most definitive Pokémon experiences with excellent graphics, an updated storyline, and Pokémon sprites that follow the player.
These remakes are so good, its no wonder they are some of the most expensive Pokémon games to get your hands on. A price tag well worth it to experience some of the best games the Pokemon franchise has to offer.