What’s Worth Keeping…on the Nintendo DS?
by Alex Lucard on June 7, 2013

Welcome back to the fourth installment of “What’s Worth Keeping?” where we help me pare my game collection down to twenty games per system. After all, I own pretty much every system, handheld or console out there and there’s no chance of me ever playing all of these games again, so it make sense to keep only the ones I know I’ll come back to regularly, giving other gamers a chance to own (and hopefully play) the titles I jettison. So far we’ve looked at the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox and Sony Playstation. This time we’re going to look at a handheld – specifically the Nintendo DS. It’s actually going to be one of the easier columns as it’s perhaps my least favorite handheld. The GBA, GB, Game Gear, Wonderswan, PSP, Neo*Geo Pocket Color and even the Atari Lynx are systems I’ve found more games with staying power than the DS, which has had a lot of games I’ve played but very few I’ve found worth experiencing a second time. It sounds a lot worse than the reality actually is, so keep reading and together we’ll find games I can put on the trade-in list and perhaps a few gems I might have missed along the way.

Out of the 507 reviews I’ve done so far, a whopping seventy-nine have been for the Nintendo DS – the second most for any system. The average score of those seventy-nine games? 5.94. Not too bad, but the XboX had a 6.57 average and the Wii a 6.18, so it is noticeably lower. There are only two systems that have a lower review average – the PC (5.27) and the PSP (5.42) but somehow I have a surplus of PSP games and only eighteen DS games. So why is that? Again, it really comes down to whether a game is worth keeping or not. I’ve played several games like Magical Starshine and The Legend of Starfy that I really enjoyed, but that lacked any replay value. Here now is a list of all the DS games I’ve reviewed from the first (Age of Empires: Age of Kings on 02/21/2006) to the last (Monster High: Skultimate Roller Maze on 11/13/2012):


Age of Empires: The Age of Kings
Pokemon Trozei
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon -Blue Rescue Team
Bubble Bobble Revolution
Mage Knight: Destiny’s Soldier
Magical Starsign
Touch Detective
Pokemon Ranger
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
Pokemon Diamond and Pearl
Etrian Odyssey
Sim City DS
Hoshigami: Running Blue Earth
Dementium: The Ward
Professor Layton and the Curious Village
Dungeon Explorer
Bubble Bobble: Double Shot
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time
Rondo of Swords
Mystic Valley
Arkanoid
Gourmet Chef
New International Track and Field
Bangai-O Spirits
My Chinese Coach
Commando: Steel Disaster
Hi! Hamtaro Ham-Ham Challenge
Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood
Pokemon Platinum
My Japanese Coach
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
Theresia
Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia
Tecmo Bowl Kickoff
Metal Slug 7
What’s Cooking: Jaime Oliver
Personal Trainer: Cooking
Cate West: The Vanishing Files
Personal Trainer: Math
Retro Game Challenge
Legacy of Ys Books 1 and 2
Avalon Code
Pokemon Platinum (US)
Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers of the Sky
Super Robot Taisen OG Endless Frontier
Magician’s Quest Mysterious Times
Steal Princess
Knights in the Nightmare
The Legendary Starfy
Black Sigil
My Healthy Cooking Coach
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor
Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers of the Sky
Laevatein Tactics
Sands of Destruction
Glory of Heracles
Ragnarok DS
Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver
Pokemon Ranger 3
America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s Get Cooking
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey
100 Classic Books
XG Blast
Samantha Swift
Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs
Atari’s Greatest Hits, Volume 1
Vampire Moon
Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Osborne House
Pokemon Black and White
Wappy Dog
Pokemon Conquest
Diamond Trust of London
Pokemon Black and White 2
Hotel Transylvania
Monster High: Skultimate Roller Maze


So there’s a good mix of games there. Some like the Castlevania games were fun but I didn’t keep for various reasons. Some like The Vanishing Files I ended up getting for the PC or like Knights in the Nightmare which was a free digital download for my PSP that I picked up somewhere along the way somehow. Mage Knight I would have loved if it hadn’t been a terrible conversion. The majority of the above were either “one and done” games or titles that I thought weren’t very good and was happy to rid myself of once the review was over. Out of the whole list above the only games I think I would consider picking up again would be Portrait of Ruin, Order of Ecclesia and Strange Journey. Hell, I’ve even gotten rid of a lot of the Pokemon games on the list. I prefer the GBA version of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon so I kept that and there was no point in keeping any of the three for the second generation of those games. I got rid of all the Pokemon Ranger games because as fun as they were, I had no desire to replay them and I even got rid of Black and White 2 because, let’s be honest, they were the least interesting of the core RPGs in that franchise by far and when that includes Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, that’s saying something.

So it comes down to what I currently have. You can define my remaining DS titles in three major categories: Pokemon, Language Learning Software and Digital Cookbooks. That’s right – my DS is primarily edutainment games. Which is really quite sad when you think about it. Let’s look at the list.

1. America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s Get Cooking (Cookbook, Indies Zero/Nintendo)
2. Diamond Trust of London (Euro Board Game, Jason Rohrer)
3. My Chinese Coach (Language Software, Sensory Sweep/Ubisoft)
4. My French Coach (Language Software, Sensory Sweep/Ubisoft)
5. My Japanese Coach (Language Software, Sensory Sweep/Ubisoft)
6. My Healthy Cooking Coach (Cookbook, Ubisoft)
7. Nostalgia (Turn Based RPG, Red Company/Ignition Entertainment)
8. Personal Trainer: Cookbook, Nintendo)
9. Pokemon Diamond and Pearl (Turn Based RPG, Game Freak/Nintendo)
10. Pokemon Platinum (Turn Based RPG, Game Freak/Nintendo)
11. Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver (Turn Based RPG, Game Freak/Nintendo)
12. Pokemon Conquest (SRPG, Temco Koei/Nintendo)
13. Pokemon Black and White (Turn Based RPG, Game Freak/Nintendo)
14. Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor (SRPG, Atlus/Atlus USA)
15. Space Bust-A-Move (Puzzle, Taito/Square-Enix)
16. Theresia (Adventure, WorkJam/Aksys)
17. Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume (SRPG, Tri-Ace/Square/Enix)

And then my one DS game in my backlog

18. Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor 2 (SRPG, Atlus/Atlus USA)

Genre breakdown is: Three cookbooks, three language software thingies, four SRPGs, one board game, one puzzle, one adventure and five turn based RPGS. That’s not a bad spread and actually more varied than my Xbox, also less so than my Wii (which had ten).

So only eighteen games, which means I can have two more in my collection, so I could feasibly add both Castlevania games or Strange Journey back into my collection, although I got rid of them for a reason, but time has blurred my memory as to why. If you want to make a case for them, any of the others I’ve reviewed and chucked out, or some other DS game you think I might enjoy, I’m all ears. After all, I have two spots I can fill. Before that though, I should probably explain the others.

Diamond Trust of London is a Kickstarter exclusive and exceptionally rare and so I keep it because of that, but honestly I could let it go if needed to make room for something better. I speak/read/write French, Japanese and Mandarin to varying degrees and so I keep the Coach games around to keep me fresh. After all, if you don’t use it, you lose it and all three are actually surprisingly fun and good at teaching/refreshing you in the language. The cookbooks are all there because a) they are well made, b) I like cooking and c) they take up far less room that physical cookbooks. I have a bookshelf of cookbooks that all get used. The video games though, not so much – mainly because I forget to. Hmm. What do you think of a feature (or series of features) where I take each cooking game and document making recipes with them? Let me know in the comments. Anyway back on topic, I suppose I could get rid of those three if I don’t end up using them anymore, giving me five open spots to fill in my collection. The problem is I can’t even think of FIVE games I might consider owning for the DS. Maybe Warhammer 40,000: Squad Command, but I think I’d rather get that on the PSP for the better graphics and at half the cost. Seriously, I’m all ears here. Every time I look at my collection and see Cookbooks and Language Software as a dominate part of my system’s collection, I honestly have to ask if the DS was really that lackluster compared to other handhelds. In writing this I keep looking at my GBA collection and seeing games like Shining Force, Knight of Lodis, Robotech: The Macross Saga, Eye of the Beholder, Phantasy Star Collection, Double Dragon Advance and other titles and the sheer disparity between what the two had to offer never ceases to blow me away. So seriously people, help me find some quality games for the DS.

In other news, I have updates on the previous three columns. I found my final Xbox game in Robotech: Battlecry. I got an unopened collector’s edition for less than ten bucks! With the PSX, I’ve dumped Metal Slug X and if they ever announce Dragon Warrior VII coming stateside for the 3DS, I’ll replace that as well. After that I’ll probably be dumping Battle Hunter but I have to play through it first. Then it’s just one game to go…and I’m thinking it’ll be either HELLNIGHT (my last remaining import title), Echo Night or Puzzle Star Sweep – I just have to play through them first to decide. Finally with the Wii, I ended up picking up another game – Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun because it’s the only Poirot game I have yet to play, and you can’t get the PC version anymore as the company went under. This however, is a one and done that I know I’ll be trading in. I still have to get rid of two games for that system though. I need to have time to clear out my backlog though and that involves getting other writers to well…review more games so I don’t have to. Or hiring new writers that want free games. HINT HINT HINT.

We’ll see you back in two weeks as I try to narrow down another system’s collection of games to twenty or under. See you then.



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Alex Lucard

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  • Aaron Sirois

    Well this article is incredibly depressing. The DS is STACKED with quality games. Just looking at the shelf to my left, without looking at the games behind the first row, I see Yu-Gi-Oh WC 2008, Picross 3D, 999, the entire Ace Attorney series, Trauma Center, Henry Hatsworth, Hotel Dusk, Fossil Fighters, NSMB, and Elite Beat Agents. They’re all fantastic. I mean, I could easily pare my collection in half and still have over sixty games I want to keep. The only reason I could cut that much is that writing for this site has given me a plethora of licensed drek and shovelware. Even though I’m a staunch supporter of the PSP, I guarantee you I’d end up keeping more DS games.

  • Alexander Lucard

    You’re also a massive packrat though Aaron. All of those games you named are pretty much one and done titles, things I found to be mediocre at best or that can be found digitally for less than the original DS versions.

  • Aaron Sirois

    I’d argue they are far from one and done titles. YGO is something I’m STILL working on, as there is so much content as to make completion near impossible without dedicating your life to it, Picross has hundreds of puzzles, plus the ability to download extra, several of these games have challenge modes and/or higher difficulties. You haven’t really beaten EBA until you’ve gotten through Hard Rock. As for the adventure games, I suppose we just differ on those. I found them so much fun that I’ve played them multiple times just to experience the story again. I have played each AA game at least twice, and some of them three or four times.

  • Alexander Lucard

    I was talking more the adventure games like Hotel Dusk, 999 and the Ace Attorney games are the one and done ones. I didn’t care for HD or its sequel at all and the Ace Attorney games were cute, but I never saw a reason to replay them. Same with 999, although in the case of either, if I had a longing, it and the AA games are available on the iPhone for a lot less than the 3DS versions.
    The others you mentioned do nothing for me. I’ve never liked Yu-Gi-Oh, I have enough Pokémon games for my DS that I didn’t need to keep Fossil Fighters, I’ve got the digital version of Picross and EBA was fun, but I couldn’t fathom going back to it over say, the other 3DS games I own or even any of the other portable titles I have for other systems. It’s really a matter of “Am I really ever going to play XYZ again” and most of the time the answer is no.

  • Ted_kazynski

    Get a CycloDS and keep them all on one card. Not to mention you could play the translated version of Soma Bringer. (one of the best titles on the system.)

  • Christopher Hopkinson

    I didn’t see The Dark Spire anywhere on your list, if you enjoy old-school dungeon crawlers. Its unfortunately a one and done, but you may like Solatorobo. Its a game that has definitely has a love-it or hate-it going for it, though. There are also the ports of Dragon Quest 4, 5 & 6, depending on how you feel about those. (Looking at my personal DS list, I always forget how many of my DS games are RPGs of some type.)

  • Alexander Lucard

    I loved The Dark Spire but I am not really a fan of DQ save I-III. VII I like for the weird time travel world building but job system, but I get bored with it about twenty hours in. Hence it’s so easy to put it on my chopping block for the PSX.
    I got rid of Dark Spire because I find I prefer my dungeon crawls on a console, like Wizardry, Bard’s Tale and the like.

  • Alexander Lucard

    AH, Soma Bringer. Another great game NoA never brought stateside BECAUSE THEY ARE ASSHOLES.

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