The Nintendo DS, released worldwide in 2004, was meant to introduce a more casual audience into the colorful world of gaming. This decision to appeal to as many potential players as possible paid off in the end, as the DS is not only the highest-selling handheld console but also the second highest-selling video game console of all time, behind only the PlayStation 2.
From Animal Crossing: Wild World to Nintendogs, many of the Nintendo DS’ top titles put casual and accessible fun before anything else, which paid off exponentially. Unsurprisingly, a third of the DS’ bestsellers belong to the ever-successful Pokémonfranchise, and even the lowest-selling of the top ten managed to break a whopping ten million units.
10 Super Mario 64 DS
Total Units Sold: 11.06 million
One of the original titles that launched alongside the DS system itself, Super Mario 64 DS is a remake of the original 1996 Nintendo 64 title. Rather than being a straight remake, the DS version adds new characters, a multiplayer mode, and several brand-new minigames.
While the multiplayer mode was subject to criticism from critics, all the other new additions were met with positive reception. Super Mario 64 DS went on to sell just over eleven million copies on the DS and was re-released as a Wii U virtual console title in 2015, over a decade later.
9 Animal Crossing: Wild World
Total Units Sold: 11.75 million
Animal Crossing: Wild World is the second entry in the incredibly popular Animal Crossing series. While it’s missing many of the trademark holidays that other titles are known for, done to make localization easier, the addition of other new features — like true online connectivity — more than makes up for this to many players.
For a short while after its release, Animal Crossing: Wild World held the top spot as the Nintendo DS’ best-selling game, with close to twelve million units sold in total. Although the DS no longer has the ability to connect to the internet, there are still dedicated players of this eighteen-year-old title.
8 Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver
Total Units Sold: 12.72 million
It’s no understatement to say that Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver set an unreachable precedent for future Pokémon remakes. Not only do players get to explore the entirety of both Johto and Kanto, but every Pokémon can follow behind the player as they do so.
HeartGold and SoulSilver also introduced the Pokewalker, a cute accessory that allowed players to walk in real life alongside one of their partners. These Generation Two remakes are still immensely popular, with physical copies being sold to this day for double the original selling price in stores.
7 Brain Age 2: More Training In Minutes A Day!
Total Units Sold: 14.88 million
Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes A Day! is the sequel to the even more popular Brain Age. The main point of both Brain Age games is to determine how responsive a player’s brain is, before providing them with several mini-games a day that are meant to increase this responsiveness over time.
Brain Age 2 doesn’t re-use any of the mini-games from the original and is instead packed entirely with original content. Interestingly, the mini-games are controlled with the DS’ touch screen while also holding the console itself sideways.
6 Pokémon Black & White
Total Units Sold: 15.64 million
While not every aspect of Pokémon Black & White was beloved at launch, overall reception has become much more positive over the years. Despite fans feeling that many of the new Pokémon designs lacked originality, they’ve warmed up to them over time, and Black & White were the fastest DS titles to break five million units sold.
Apart from introducing over one-hundred-and-fifty new Pokémon, Black & White were the first games to introduce a seasonal cycle, triple battles, and fully animated Pokémon sprites. Black & White also introduced intriguing questions about the morality of catching Pokémon and using them for battle.
5 Pokémon Diamond & Pearl
Total Units Sold: 17.67 million
Pokémon Diamond & Pearl are the highest-selling Pokémon games on the Nintendo DS. They’re also the first Nintendo DS generation of Pokémon in general, and they make creative use of the system’s touchscreen controls with the addition of the Pokétch.
Wireless features were added for the first time in Pokémon’s history with Diamond & Pearl,with the Global Trade Center allowing players to easily trade with other trainers across the globe. Two extra times of day were added to the game’s day and night cycle, and many of the new Pokémon designs introduced in the fourth generation are still beloved to this day.
4 Brain Age: Train Your Brain In Minutes A Day!
Total Units Sold: 19.01 million
Although the actual effectiveness of Brain Age as an educational tool has been questioned, the game itself still provides entertaining, short bursts of fun. Like its successor, Brain Age 2, players turn their Nintendo DS sideways to make full use of the touch screen while playing through various mini-games.
Brain Age also makes use of the system’s microphone, as players have the option to speak their answers to certain puzzles aloud rather than writing them down. Players are given a stamp for each day they complete their tasks, and enough stamps unlock new puzzles as well as hard versions of base mini-games.
3 Mario Kart DS
Total Units Sold: 23.60 million
The Mario Kart franchise always manages to be a top seller regardless of console, with the DS version being no exception. The races themselves take place on the DS’ top screen, while the bottom screen displays a map of the current track, plus everyone’s current position.
Mario Kart DS also allowed players who owned the game to play with friends who didn’t own it over wireless connection, with the latter having to play as Shy Guy in a default Kart. While the single-player mode is described as repetitive, the inclusion of online play — in addition to Versus and Battle modes — more than makes up for this.
2 Nintendogs (All Versions, Collectively)
Total Units Sold: 23.96 million
There are a total of five different versions of Nintendogs, with the only major difference between them being which dogs are available to players at the start. Collectively, the franchise as a whole has sold almost twenty-five million copies, with kids all around the world falling in love with these fluffy, virtual companions.
Nintendogs is a simple pet simulation game at its core, with players routinely checking in on their dogs to feed, groom, train, and play with them. Players can collect various toys, accessories, and home layouts as they play, and work their way up the contest ranks.
1 New Super Mario Bros.
Total Units Sold: 30.80 million
Mario and Luigi traverse over eighty different levels in New Super Mario Bros., and this iconic Mario platformer is the best-selling DS game of all time, breaking just over thirty million units. It received praise overall for managing to remain true to previous Mario Bros. titles, while also adding enough new content to still feel fresh.
The actual game is displayed on the DS’ top screen, while the bottom shows how far players are from their objective, as well as their score and any coins or power-ups they’ve collected. There’s also a multiplayer mode where players compete to finish stages faster, and can attack each other to gain an upper hand.
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