Many people use video game reviews to determine how to spend their hard-earned dollars. While as an adult I don’t take this as seriously and I now make my own money I am more forgiving of games that aren’t perfect. As kids or teens, we have limited money and are usually picked through gaming magazines to determine if that one game was worth the money because we only got a few a year. For me, it was only during Christmas time that my parents bought games. I mostly rented mine throughout my childhood and teen years. Even for rentals, I was picky as I didn’t want to be stuck on my weekend with a dud of a game. Even a 7/10 or 3.5/5 would be considered a waste of time. This was the last generation in which AAA title after AAA title would be considered fantastic and with so many exclusives it was hard to keep up with. The HD era of gaming would see budgets balloon to insane heights and game releases slowed down as a result.
In my eyes, 7/10 or 3.5/5 games are mostly ignored. These aren’t always considered hidden gems either. Some are, but some are just considered forgettable. Not awful or good, but just passes under everyone’s radar. These aren’t the “so bad it’s good” games either. A few of these games have cult followings; a few I had only heard of while compiling this list and some I played myself growing up. I compiled this list from Metacritic with games between 74-70. I feel that’s the true blue 7 range. 79 and 78-rated games usually only have about 25% of the critics giving it a 7 to bring an otherwise 8 score down some. These games are at least rated by half the critics as 7/10. While I know many people don’t listen to critics and some might feel this game should be rated higher or lower is subjective. Like it or not, critic reviews drive sales and it may be the reason why you might find a few games on this list you’ve never heard of, thought was talked about worse than you remember, or something along those lines
Pokemon Trozei! – 2005
A fun matching puzzle game, but lacked any modes and overall content. The graphics were also really simple despite looking at the part. The issue is that the game gets old really fast. It’s not as addictive as other puzzlers of its ilk.
Most Recent Entry: Pokemon Shuffle – 2015 (AND, iOS, 3DS)
Inazuma Eleven – 2008
Inazuma Eleven 2: Firestorm/Blizzard – 2009
This a great jumping-in point for new players as this new set of games are almost identical to the first game. You just get more of the same, and that’s not always bad. The original game was praised for blending soccer with RPG elements, but the soccer part wasn’t all that great. It’s still a unique series to check out.
Most Recent Entry: Inazuma Eleven Go: Chrono Stones – Thunderflash/Wildfire – 2015 (3DS)
Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume – 2009
This is considered the worst game in the series, but that’s saying a lot. The story alone is worth playing, but the game can feel overly complex at times and the AI is pretty bad.
Most Recent Entry: Valkyrie Elysium – 2022 (PS4, PS5, PC)
99Bullets – 2011
Well-liked for blending two genres well, but lacked content and was a little on the hard side. It’s still a very unique vertical shooter and felt like a good diversion from the anime-based shooters at the time.
Zoonies – Escape from Makatu – 2011
A cute and fun albeit forgettable platformer. The game also had some control issues and was really short, but at least it felt at home eon DSiWare.
Meteos: Disney Magic – 2007
More of the same with a Disney skin. The changes didn’t improve the game, but instead just made it different. If you love Meteos this one is worth picking up. It’s sad this series was so short-lived.
Most Recent Entry: Meteos Wars – 2008 (X360)
Big Brain Academy – 2005
A good improvement to the series and the puzzles get harder are you continue to play adding replay value. However, the overall content is a bit lacking and is only fun in short bursts.
Most Recent Entry: Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain – 2021 (NS)
Drone Tactics – 2008
Yes, it’s an Atlus game so that means there are some big fans of this game. While the strategy is fun and the game looks slick, the storyline is childish and pretty stupid. Many rolled their eyes at the story and skipped past it just to get to the meat of the game. In any RPG that’s not a good thing, but the gameplay is good enough to justify this.
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood – 2008
This game doesn’t need any introduction to Sonic fans or those avid in their DS lore. Bioware of all people made this game and it was incredibly hyped. A dark and mature Sonic RPG? What’s not to love? The game is way too simple. There are no deep gameplay elements or RPG things in here. It was clearly geared towards younger children despite the great visuals and unique twist on the series.
Most Recent Entry: Sonic Frontiers – 2022 (PC, PS4, XONE, PS5, XSX, NS)
Bomberman Land Touch 2! – 2008
Bomberman tried the Mario Party approach and didn’t quite hit it off. The game was way too simple and there wasn’t much depth to the title. However, there was a lot of content and the use of the touch screen was well implemented.
Most Recent Entry: Amazing Bomberman – 2022 (X360)
Custom Robo Arena – 2007
A decent RPG if not mundane and formulaic. The story is boring and the quests aren’t all that great, but fans of the series or just anime RPGs, in general, might find some value here. This would be the third and final game in the series.
New International Track & Field – 2008
A remake of the original game with cutesy big-headed characters. Some said the game should have been on a console as the dual screens made the game feel off, but some preferred it. It at least had online play at the time which was nice. This would sadly be the final game in the long-running series.
Puchi Puchi Virus – 2009
A solid puzzle game that was different from the rest. While it did grow stale after a while and didn’t have the staying power of Meteos or Tetris it was different at least. The bright colors were nice and it had some character.
Luminous Arc – 2007
Luminous Arc 2 – 2008
This is a great game for casual gamers who want to dip their toes in the SRPG genre. While it looks good and has some good writing, the game isn’t very deep and can be too easy for vets of the genre.
Yoshi Touch & Go – 2005
A fantastic tech demo during the system’s launch, but that was about it. The game was really short and mostly focused on showing off the touch screen and other features. It’s still worth a pick-up to remind you just how unique and fun the DS really is.
Most Recent Entry: Yoshi’s Crafted World – 2019 (NS)
Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble! – 2005
While not the best use of the dual screens, and there’s no lefty mode, the game still looks great, but the action is mediocre compared to the console brethren. If you love the series you will like what’s here, but just know that it’s also rather short. This would sadly be the final game in the short-lived series.
Ultimate Mortal Kombat – 2007
Many criticized the game for not adding anything and being merely an emulated port. It was solid and ran well, but also had online play, but good luck finding anyone at the time. Included was the awesome Puzzle Fighter from Mortal Kombat: Deception which I personally really liked and spent more time playing than the fighting part itself. The special moves on the touch screen are nice and you can track your W/L ratio. It doesn’t utilize the touchscreen in innovative ways, but it didn’t need to.
Most Recent Entry: Mortal Kombat 11 – 2019 (PC, PS4, XONE, NS)
Prism: Light the Way – 2007
A fun and unique puzzle game if not bland in presentation. The story was considered silly and pointless, but the puzzles were addictive and that’s what matters the most.
Polarium – 2005
While a boring presentation and bland visuals might put you to sleep puzzle fans will find some joy here. The puzzles are rather hard, but not worth going back to. There is a puzzle maker that you can beam to friends though. There was a sequel later released on GBA of all systems.
Most Recent Entry: Polarium Advance – 2005 (GBA)
Yu-Gi-Oh! Nightmare Troubadour – 2005
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Stardust Accelerator: World Championship 2009 – 2009
These are considered the most newbie-friendly games at the time of release, but many will still get lost in the story without deep knowledge of the game’s anime lore. It captured the card game very well and had a rebuild of the entire series at this point in time. That was all well and good, but the steep learning curve for non-fans turned many away.
Most Recent Entry: Yu-Gi-Oh!: Master Duel – 2022 (NS, XONE, PS5, XSX, PS4, PC)
Summon Night: Twin Age – 2008
There’s nothing really wrong with this game. It’s a bit grind-heavy, sure, but the Diablo-esque combat and interesting quests made for a fun adventure. It just didn’t really stand out from the crowd much. It’s an Atlus series, so it has a lot of fans. The series would come to an end in 2016.
Most Recent Entry: Summon Night 6: Lost Borders – 2016 (PS4, VITA)
Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier – 2009
Good writing, if mostly pervy talk, but good nonetheless, and an easy yet addictive combat system won’t fans over. It’s not the best game in the series, but it’s a more relaxing and fun game rather than serious.
Most Recent Entry: Super Robot Wars 30 – 2021 (PC, PS4, NS)
Glory Days 2 – 2007
A unique game for the system but the small screens make playing a bit annoying. While nothing exceptionally amazing it does what it seeks out to do well enough.
Most Recent Entry: Glory Days: Tactical Defense – 2011 (DS)
Dragon Ball Z: Attack of the Saiyans – 2009
A well made if formulaic JRPG in the DBZ universe. Many praised the visuals and interesting story…for fans. Yeah, you probably won’t want to bother unless you’re a fan of the show.
Most Recent Entry: Dragon Ball: The Breakers – 2022 (PC, NS, PS4, XONE)
Contact – 2006
It’s an Atlus game. Yeah, Atlus had some very mediocre games on the DS, but they get credit for trying something new. Contact is one of those. Praised for its humor and interesting story, but had boring combat and exploration. You either love it or hate it.
Brothers in Arms DS – 2007
While given props for being an incredibly good-looking DS game and keeping the core BiA action intact, the game was rather short and over before you knew it. It had some online play, but barely. Sadly, the series never saw a true sequel.
Most Recent Entry: Brothers in Arms 3: Sons of War – 2014 (AND, iOS)
Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming – 2009
While not perfect, the puzzle gameplay is a nice change of pace for the series. While some of the puzzles felt like they had to be completed a certain way, any puzzle fan could get into this regardless of their Harvest Moon affinity.
Most Recent Entry: Doraemon: Story of Seasons – Friends of the Great Kingdom – 2022 (PS5, NS, PC)
Front Mission – 2007
A remake of the SNES classic, this is a deep and involved game that requires patience and a love for either mechs or the SRPG genre. This game turned many fans of the genre away for its complexity and sometimes dry presentation, but it still has a few layers of fun.
Most Recent Entry: Left Alive – 2019 (PC, PS4)
Dementium: The Ward – 2007
I personally love this series. It’s not perfect and has some pretty bad level design, and can be really frustrating, but the engine Renegade Kid designed is gorgeous. A 60FPS shooter on this system looks amazing. It’s also one of the best horror games on the system. It was later remastered on the 3DS which is probably the best version.
Most Recent Entry: Dementium: Remastered – 2015 (3DS)
Theme Park – 2007
A straight port of the 1994 classic, but that’s all it was. Nothing new was added or changed, and the game is overly complicated sometimes which would turn off casual sim fans. If you have the patience for the small screen and complex gameplay then you will have fun.
Most Recent Entry: Theme Park – 2011 (AND, iOS)
Mario Party DS – 2007
I remember when this game came out. Everyone was hyped for it but was let down by the board design despite the stylus and touch screen bringing a new dynamic to mini-games. The single-player was also really disappointing and was best played with friends. This is the one and only Mario Party game on DS.
Most Recent Entry: Mario Party Superstars – 2021 (NS)
Boing! Docomodake DS – 2009
A cute and quirky DS game that came over from Japan. The downside is the extreme amount of trial and error to get through the game. If you can stomach that then this is one really unique game that flew under everyone’s radar.
Go! Go! Kokopolo: Harmonius Forest Revenge – 2011
Considered one of the best DSiWare games on the system, the fresh characters and fun charm of the game were well-liked, but the brutal difficulty turned many away. It would get one more sequel on 3DS before being forgotten.
Most Recent Entry: Go! Go! Kokopolo 3D: Space Recipe for Disaster – 2017 (3DS)
Nostalgia – 2009
The name says it all. This game is for those who grew up with SNES or PS1 JRPGs. With that in mind, the game doesn’t add anything to the genre and is pretty formulaic. The story is good but takes a long time to get going, but with patience and nostalgia on your side fans will love it.
Pac-Pix – 2005
Pac ‘n Roll – 2005
A fun and unique early title for the system, but the interface and gimmicky controls got old after a while and only the most patient or diehard fans would complete the game. It’s still completely unique to the DS ecosystem. Pac-Pix was a fun scribbling game that let your drawings come to life. Very simple, but a great tech demo for the DS.
Most Recent Entry: Pac-Man World: Re-Pac – 2022 (PC, PS4, XONE, NS, PS5, XSX)
Guitar Hero: On Tour – 2008
Guitar Hero: On Tour Decades – 2008
Guitar Hero: On Tour Modern Hits – 2009
I remember getting the first Guitar Hero game for DS with the hand grip keys attached to the GBA slot of the DS. It worked really well, but anyone who didn’t have child-size hands would get serious cramps. You were also locked out of the game if you had a DSi which nixed the GBA slot. The great addition to this game was being able to play with friends with a single cart.
Most Recent Entry: Guitar Hero Live – 2015 (XONE, PS4, PS3, iOS, X360, WIIU)
Jam Sessions – 2007
More of a learning tool than a game. Well, yeah. That’s where it stops. There’s not much of a game here. It also didn’t teach you how to play guitar like an expert but got the basics across. The DS was a unique system that allowed learning software like this.
Most Recent Entry: Jam Sessions 2 – 2009 (DS)
DodoGo! Robo – 2011
The smaller package didn’t improve upon the sequels but just felt like an expansion or DLC. The puzzles were punishing but satisfying once conquered. The game also lacked any nice presentation looking dull in most spots.
Electroplankton – 2006
A fun and unique take on art and music but lacked a save feature which really irked players back in the day. It offered something new every time you booted up the game and felt like a piece of interactive art.
Moon – 2009
Moon was an underrated FPS game on DS that used Renegade Kid’s engine. It was smooth, fun, and had a great atmosphere. It was later remastered for the 3DS.
Most Recent Entry: Moon Chronicles – 2014 (3DS)
Kirby: Squeak Squad – 2006
A fun game if formulaic when it comes to Kirby games. It didn’t do anything new and was really easy and only offered forgettable mini-games. Mainline fans will still find something here to like.
Most Recent Entry: Kirby’s Dream Buffet – 2022 (NS)
Nanostray – 2005
The short-lived series was well-liked by shmup fans. The game was fun, but very short and didn’t do anything particularly fantastic with the genre. It’s still a great addition to your library if you’re a fan of these types of games.
Most Recent Entry: Nano Assault – 2011 (3DS)
Phantasy Star 0 – 2009
A decent take on the series in portable form. The game offered online play and fantastic grinding with friends, but the single-player experience wasn’t as interesting. While it was fun and you could do it the series is meant to be played online. Just be prepared to do a lot of grinding.
Most Recent Entry: Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis – 2020 (PC)
TouchMaster – 2007
This was a fun set of “car ride” games, but not every game would be suitable for everyone. You would pick your favorites and never touch the rest. It feels like you got ripped off. Thankfully the series would improve.
Most Recent Entry: TouchMaster Connect – 2010 (DS)
Ontamarama – 2007
One of the best rhythm games on the DS, but everyone kept putting it up against Elite Beat Agents at the time. It’s by no means bad but does feel sort of generic in comparison. It’s not zany or whacky, but just a fun anime-style rhythm game.
Draglade – 2007
Another Atlus game on the list. Draglade is a unique mix of rhythm action and fighting, but the story is silly, there’s not much depth or challenge, and it’s over before you know it. It’s still a fun anime-style game.
Birds & Beans – 2009
A small $2 game that doesn’t utilize any of the DS’ features is brave, but it worked here. It’s a fun and frantic arcade game with no shame about what it offers.
Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light – 2010
If you’re dying to jump back into the world of FFXII then look no further. This is a by-the-numbers JRPG with simple combat and a simple plot, but sometimes that’s okay.
Most Recent Entry: Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin – 2022 (PC, PS4, PS5, XONE, XSX)
Space Bust-A-Move – 2009
If you liked more of what the series has offered then look no further. The formula hasn’t changed in over a decade, but it’s still a lot of fun with unlockables and a space theme.
Most Recent Entry: Bust-A-Move: Journey – 2017 (AND, iOS)
Avalon Code – 2009
The Book of Prophecy is a unique gameplay mechanic that allows you to capture things and manipulate their attributes. The UI and interface are a mess, and the game requires a lot of hours behind it to fully enjoy the game. The complexity is well worth overcoming for the unique gameplay mechanic.
Digimon World DS – 2006
The series struggled to find its own identity outside of Pokemon. While the farming idea was fresh and the capture method was different it was a new start for the series, but not quite enough. It’s still a solid handheld entry.
Most Recent Entry: Digimon Survive – 2022 (PC, NS, PS4, XONE)
Save the Turtles – 2010
While teaching you about marine conservation this puzzle game was cute looking and fairly good for the cheap price point. It won’t blow you away, but it was a fun offering for all ages.
Resident Evil: Deadly Silence – 2006
This remake using the DS controls works just fine, but it doesn’t offer anything new. The game itself feels dated despite how perfectly fun it was at the time. If you are tired of the original game don’t bother. However, this is a good jumping in point for those who want a more modern update.
Most Recent Entry: Resident Evil Re:Verse – 2022 (PC)
Spectrobes: Beyond the Portals – 2008
The poor man’s Pokemon, or Digimon for that matter. While the monster trainer part was fine it wasn’t very deep and too simple for anyone familiar with other games in the genre. It’s still worth a look if you’re tired of said games.
Most Recent Entry: Spectrobes: Origins – 2009 (WII)
Gunpey DS – 2006
This puzzle game series was short-lived at the time, and while it was easy to learn but hard to master the overall difficulty wasn’t that high and you could easily achieve high ranks without a sweat. It’s still a cute-looking and fun game. This would sadly be the final game in the series.
Nervous Brickdown – 2007
A fun and stylish Breakout clone, but it doesn’t do anything new with the genre. The mini-games are fun, but they feel constrained to the gameplay element of bouncing a ball around and it hinders it a bit.
Cooking Mama 2: Dinner With Friends – 2007
The series was feeling stale at this point, but no game is incredibly awful as long as the unique controls work. These games are addictive and fun, but short-lived and don’t vary much between sequels.
Most Recent Entry: Cooking Mama: Cuisine! – 2022 (AND, iOS)
Trace Memory – 2005
An early DS title that used the stylus well and looked great. This touch-and-click adventure was praised for its story, but the slow pace, short run time, and lack of action put some people off.
Most Recent Entry: Another Code: R – A Journey into Lost Memories – 2009 (WII)
100 Classic Books – 2010
This may not be relevant these days, but before the rise of e-readers, the DS was thought to be a great option for reading books. While the backlight might be harsh on the eyes this is more of a piece of software and there’s no game here. 100 classic books on one cartridge could keep you busy for months or even years. It actually sold quite well, especially in the UK.
Photo Dojo – 2010
The DSi was the first handheld with a built-in camera. This, of course, sparked the start of augmented reality games, and while the cameras were of poor quality this game did a good job of injecting you and your friends into the game with zany mini-games.
The Legend of Kage 2 – 2008
A direct sequel to the classic side-scrolling platformer. The game didn’t offer much of new gameplay elements but still was hard as nails. This was a lot of people’s complaints. No difficulty setting and unless you loved old-school side scrollers you wouldn’t find anything worthwhile here.
Neves – 2007
While the design isn’t anything original this shape puzzle game gets the job done. It’s incredibly basic in presentation and if you don’t like this type of puzzle game you won’t enjoy it. It’s for a specific crowd.
Sonic Classic Collection – 2010
This is just a bog standard collection that we’ve seen before. It also doesn’t run super well on the system. Poor emulation aside if you have to have a classic Sonic game on your DS it’s not the worst thing.
Most Recent Entry: Sonic Frontiers – 2022 (PC, NS, PS4, PS5, XONE, XSX)
Fossil Fighters – 2009
It doesn’t look amazing or have any interesting story or characters, but it’s down right fun and has good combat. There are also a lot of things to do. Some may find it a bit too easy, but fun is fun.
Most Recent Entry: Fossil Fighters: Frontier – 2014 (3DS)
Atelier Annie: Alchemists of Sera Island – 2009
The one and only Atelier game on the DS. Annie is more of a city builder and less of an RPG. It also has a comedic story that’s very whimsical and fun. If you’re a fan of the RPG elements in the game then this may not be for you.
Most Recent Entry: Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream – 2022 (PC, PS4)
Metal Slug 7 – 2008
A surprising DS exclusive. It’s Metal Slug without any enhancements or advancement of the formula. It’s the same old Metal Slug we’ve either grown to love or tired of. The smaller screen thankfully doesn’t make it a chore to play and it runs really well.
Most Recent Entry: – 2009 ()
Dragon Ball: Origins 2 – 2010
If you loved the original you will like this one. Just be in for some unfixed controls and slowdown. It’s a fun RPG for fans of the series and you will be in for a good time despite its simplicity.
Most Recent Entry: Dragon Ball: The Breakers – 2022 (PC, NS, PS4, XONE)
Garfield’s Nightmare – 2007
Great visuals and level design help this game along quite a bit for older gamers. However, the pre-teen range this game shoots for shows. It’s easy and simple, but can be relaxing and lightweight for older gamers.
Most Recent Entry: Garfield Kart: Furious Racing – 2019 (MAC, PC, NS, PS4, XONE)
Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits – 2004
If you love Mr. Driller then this is for you. It’s also a good jumping-in point for new players. If you are tired of the series and want something new then this isn’t for you. It’s the same old game built for touch screens. That’s about it.
Most Recent Entry: Mr. Driller: Drill Land – 2020 (PC, NS, PS4, PS5, XONE, XSX)
Beat City – 2010
A simple but fun rhythm game. If you’re tired of the bigger hits on the DS then this might be for you. It’s really short, and doesn’t have much replay value, but could be a fun evening with cute graphics.
Art Style: AQUIA – 2009
The Art Style series was popular due to its simple design and minimalistic looks. Aquia mixes Tetris with Bejeweled and while it does a decent job it’s very simple and won’t hold your attention as long as other puzzle games on the system.