2008's most impressive DS games

Most of the games on this list are gorgeous, which is no small feat considering developers are producing impressive graphics out of a system that’s essentially a dual-screen Nintendo 64. That’s good enough, but at least one title this year opted to forgo graphics altogether, focusing instead of the other end of the spectrum: sound. So, no graphics at all, really.

Above: Breath-taking to look at isn’t it? 

The DS is full of non-games, but the music-generator in KORG DS-10 is densely technical instead of insipidly shallow. It comes with an incredibly thick manual and little other direction, just a bunch of frill-free menus to make your electro-trance pop with.

While it made little sense to us, once we put it in the hands of a musician friend of ours, 30 minutes later he had a Slayer cover finished, was screaming at the top of his lungs and somehow had 10 girls waiting outside a tour bus we swear wasn’t there when he started.

Above: One amazing example

KORG set out to do one thing, and absolutely nailed it. Everyone else take notice: sometimes, instead of trying to do everything and spreading yourself too thin, pick one thing and own it.


Though this year had an official Ninja Gaiden sequel for the 360, many were disappointed with how similar it was to the Xbox original, including its soul-shattering difficulty. Who would have thought the real risks taken in the franchise would be a DS spin-off? Even fewer would think such a spin-off could be considered better than its full-price, HD counterpart.

Though it wasn't as insanely violent as the console versions, we were shocked how much it felt like controlling the everyday Ryu Hayabusa. We were pulling off crazy combos, quick slashes and casting Ninpo on the worst of fiends, all using the stylus while holding the DS like a book. Hard to believe controls like that could make this fully 3D title play like a 360 game, and aside from it being manageably difficult and not covered in blood, this was as close to the current games as it gets.

Another 360 exclusive made the jump to the DS this year, this one thankfully devoid of ninja stars and fire-belching demons. With a Blue Dragon title coming next year and Gaiden this year, it's a tad confusing why all these Microsoft titles end up on the DS, but in the case of Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise we understand. Microsoft has no portable of its own and Viva Pinata always seemed like a Nintendo game on the wrong system.

It starts up all the same as the big screen cousins, as you quickly set up your garden and start getting Pretztails in no time. In fact, it plays so close to the real thing, Rare, its developer, might have been better off just starting with the DS to begin with - you know a system children actually play. The fact we felt just as guilty when our first Mousemallow died in this game as we did when he was screaming for help in 720p is proof enough this was a great transfer. Along with Dragon Sword, these games represent the visual peak of the DS platform.


  • marioman50 - December 17, 2009 4:45 a.m.

    "but why.... WHYYYYYYY???!!?!!!" @nik: me too, w00t!
  • nik41507 - December 17, 2009 12:14 a.m.

    I clicked on the link from 2009's best games
  • sourpunch - December 17, 2008 5:54 p.m.

    You know I don't have any of these :( the only one I played was ninja gaiden demo off of the nintendo channel (Wii). Lack of money really sucks. Lol I just forgot to type in the words before I hit post and got "Ooops - that's not what was written in the image. You may be a robot. Try again." Me being a robot is news to me.
  • dreamgor - December 17, 2008 1:39 p.m.

    FFIV and WEWY is the best portable games i've played... they struck me dumb with amazement and when i think i'm done with it they just reveal new fantastic things
  • ssj4raditz - December 17, 2008 8:09 a.m.

    "It's like how dial-up modems worked when the first caveman successfully landed on the moon with Genghis Khan." LOL
  • TheSuburbiaRuins - December 17, 2008 4:25 a.m.

    First feature, good job Henry. I will actually look into many of these now
  • Corsair89 - December 16, 2008 11:25 p.m.

    WEWY, FFIV, and NinjaTown are amazing games. I wasn't thrilled by Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, though. Ninja Gaiden II is better because it is way more fun to chop enemies to bloody pieces than poke them with the stylus.
  • DontPanic - December 16, 2008 10:49 p.m.

    I must have that SIE paddle...
  • DEATHWISH - February 13, 2009 9:53 p.m.

    Ninja Gaiden was the the sh't on DS. Sadly, I never met anyone else who actually played it. >.> Ohh well. Glad you see it though, Henry.
  • secretsearcher - December 22, 2008 5:50 p.m.

    I never really got into the whole final fantasy thing, but IV looks real good. I'll have to get that. Anyway, props to GR for giving the DS a chance to shine.
  • supersonicsparky - December 18, 2008 9:03 p.m.

    Korg was to complicated, and I just couldn't get into TWEWY, I wanted to love it, but it just didn't click.
  • Gingerbread - December 17, 2008 10:49 p.m.

    those look like some cool games
  • GR_HenryGilbert - December 17, 2008 5:49 p.m.

    Yeesh, thanks for spotting the Arkanoid f-up. I owe you a no-prize. However, I just fixed it, so history will remember me spelling it right.
  • Bronzus - December 17, 2008 10:46 a.m.

    Arkanoid is a SHITE game. Good paddle, though.
  • year20xx - December 17, 2008 7:52 a.m.

    It's "Arkanoid." With no E. Kind of important when honoring a game to spell it right. I wouldn't reeeeaally care, except that it's such a good list of this year's significant DS games.
  • Cwf2008 - December 17, 2008 2:38 a.m.

    And really how many f**king Final Fantasys have there been anyway? I would guess at about 5 Final Fantaasy VII, 3 Final Fantasy V...PLEASE MAKE THE EMO RPG STOP!
  • Cwf2008 - December 17, 2008 2:29 a.m.

    fourth. Really though its sad so few games on the DS are good...
  • skyguy343 - December 16, 2008 10:50 p.m.

    i love that dial thing

Showing 1-18 of 18 comments

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