To some of us, the Nintendo DS might feel like a rather recent addition to the handheld world, but its become more retro that we’d like to admit. With the great success of the Nintendo DS came many of copies of quality titles in circulation, which then leads to especially-affordable aftermarket prices. So if you’re looking to take advantage of the best deals to build up your Nintendo DS collection, this is just the list for you. This particular revision of the guide let us not only expand the list of primary recommendations, but also a lengthly list of honorable mentions at the bottom that are worth looking at to flesh out entries for franchises or genres that suit you personally.
In this revision, we did mostly focused on games that go for $10 or less in loose cartridge form with some extra ultra-high-quality games under $15. Since many collectors also value having games with original cases, we also included those prices below the title (and most of those prices are $20 or less) We primarily based our prices on average eBay price for US games, including shipping with also local resale some values factored in.
Check out the other Cheapest Games Worth Your Time articles
Sonic Rush: $10
Sonic Rush takes all of the great things you loved about the 16-bit Sonic, modernizes them a bit to create compelling and satisfying experience that the Sonic Advance series couldn’t dream of attaining. Sonic Rush also uses both of the DS’s screen to give Sonic more visibility and is backed by an amazing soundtrack from Hideki Naganuma of Jet Set Radio fame.
If you’re a Sonic fan, Sonic Rush is highly recommended. But for Sonic newbies, Rush is still a solid place to dip your toes in and a great use of the DS hardware.
Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass : $15
Even though they don’t get quite the attention of their console counterparts, Nintendo’s portables often get blessed with a high-quality Zelda game. Phantom Hourglass not only is a high-quality example, but is one of the most loved games in the DS library.
Phantom Hourglass has Link returning to the world of Wind Waker in an effort to forge the Phantom Sword and rescue his pirate pal Tetra. While Phantom Hourglass’ more casually-slanted gameplay and occasionally hand-holding makes it divisive among Zelda fans, it also introduced a number of mechanics that made fine use of the DS’ unique hardware.
This scenario may seem familiar to Metroid fans when comparing the GBA’s Metroid Fusion to Super Metroid, but when you’re picking up games a decade later on the cheap, you tend to appreciate the nice things the game offers.
Puzzle games are perfect for portable platforms like the DS. Meteos, in particular, is not only one of the most compelling puzzlers of the era, but it also fits in surprisingly well with the DS touch screen and feels incredibly natural when playing.
It’s also worth mentioning that Meteos was produced by produced by Tetsuya Mizuguchi (of Rez and Lumines fame) and designed by Masahiro Sakurai (who worked on many Kirby titles). If you are a fan of their work, you will be enthralled by Meteos.
To the old school puzzle fans that grew up playing Tetris on their Gameboy, controlling a puzzle game with a stylus might seem intimidating, but I can assure you, you will wish there were other puzzle games like this. (And, BTW, avoid the Disney version — it’s more expensive and not as good)
Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story : $11
The Mario & Luigi series has been a reliable source of portable lighthearted RPG entertainment on Nintendo’s handhelds since the GBA days. This installment provides a fun take with two different storylines.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story uses the DS to the best of its abilities. Jumping between both screens, using the touch screen in battle, and large-scale battles between Bowser and his enemies. It’s quite mesmerizing. Inside Story also has one the best Mario RPG stories. The series typically has great humor, but this installment is still one of the best of the bunch.
Bowser’s Inside Story is the second installment that was released on the DS, but much of what has kept this resale price down is that there was a remake/enhancement released for the 3DS (this 3DS release also adds a third storyline from the perspective of Bowser Jr.). So if you either have a 3DS already or think you might get one before too long, you might want to weigh that decision. However, the 3DS version is about three times the price at the time of this writing.
Space Invaders Extreme : $9
If you’re ever wondered what Rez would be like in 2D, Space Invaders Extreme is one of the closest examples you will find. That’s right, this is not another one of those vanilla Space Invaders remakes. Much like Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s masterpiece, Space Invaders Extreme is a wonderful mix of rapid shooting, a juxtaposition of colors, and a dynamic audio experience that is partially created by you’re the rhythm of your shooting..
There have been some other Space Invaders revival games released since this one, but I still find this to be the sweet spot. (SIE also used to be a DS exclusive, but has been ported elsewhere) If you end up enjoying this one, Space Invaders Extreme 2 is just a bit more expensive.
Professor Layton and the Curious Village: $10
The very first in a series of popular story-based puzzle-solving games, Professor Layton can be likened to a Sherlock Holmes setup where you visit different places and scenarios where a mystery needs to be solved. You gather information and clues along the way to help your patrons. The surprisingly-deep story really helps make the game, but the puzzles can be interesting as well.
Even if you aren’t big into puzzle-solving games, Professor Layton and the Curious Village is still highly-recommended and was one of the many titles that made the DS a mainstream success. In fact, to this day, this original installment is one of the best in the series and the most affordable.
Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: $15
Much like with Professor Layton, many gamers original came into Phoenix Wright for the puzzle and problem solving, but stuck around for the storyline. The personality of Phoenix Wright and the Ace Attorney franchise is indeed different than its peers, but it is a splendid mix of point-and-click adventure vibes, courtroom drama and a quirky sense of humor.
The game barely made it out of Japan, but once there was enough buzz around it, there was reprints of the game to make the rounds. Now, copies are quite plentiful and all DS owners should have few excuses to avoid picking this up — even if they don’t think it’s within their typical genres.
Elite Beat Agents : $10
As an Americanized followup to the very popular Japanese title, Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, Elite Beat Agents is a wonderful music rhythm game. Players tap and slide the stylus across the screen, hitting markers in time with a licensed soundtrack. As great as the rhythm gameplay is, the story and presentation really sets this one apart. Elite Beat Agents is filled with quirky personality and catchy tunes and ended up being one of the most plentiful DS releases that didn’t involve a major Nintendo character.
If you’re a fan of rhythm games, this is one of the best — especially on a portable. It may not have the fun Japanese kitsch of some other rhythm games, but the American pop touches hold up better than one might think.
Bangai-O Spirits : $14
The original Bangai-O made an appearance on the Japanese N64 and became a cult classic on the Dreamcast. This little gem from Treasure is a portable follow-up that got a bigger print run, but not quite the attention it deserved. If you enjoy shooters, this one is a steal.
For those that aren’t familiar with the series, the player controls a robot with the ability to fly and must navigate through levels spanning two dimensions. These levels can extend horizontally or vertically and have gravity which effects the robots trajectory.
It’s a great game for fans of shmups, but offers something that is outside of the norm.
New Super Mario Bros : $12
Before this release came around, Super Mario games were pretty much fully transitioned to 3D gameplay (aside from the 8/16-bit released on the GBA). As great at the likes of Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy were, fans still loved 2D Mario.
While this new foray in 2D Mario wasn’t sprite-based, it still pleased old-school fans while keeping it inviting for modern gamers.
Eventually, Nintendo transitioned this successful concept to the Wii, Wii U, 3DS, and Switch, but the “original” New Super Mario Bros. still holds up quite well and remains relevant with its quality level designs and classic Nintendo polish.
Clubhouse Games: $6
This gem of a cart is filled with lots of old-school diversions such as classic card, board, and parlor games. That may not sound terribly exciting, but the execution of these games with the DS’s dual screen and touch abilities is amazing. (Also, if you’ve ever enjoyed Solitaire or other card games on your PC, this is even better)
Clubhouse Games is a great single player cartridge, but it is amazing when playing with a friend via wifi. For the longest time, Clubhouse Games was a rather pricey cart in the aftermarket, however, it saw a budget re-release that flooded the market with lots of copies.
Radiant Historia: $14
If you’re the type that yearns for the best Super Nintendo RPGs, Radiant Historia is an old-school Japanese RPG that will provide you with much gratification. Even though it does scrap some antiquated mechanics like random battles, it maintains the retro charm. At the same time, Radiant Historia does manage to take risks with the gameplay formula to create a compelling, semi-modern experience.
The game has a fun but complicated three-by-three grid battle system (which offers tons of different strategies) along with an interesting time travel mechanic to keep the plot interesting. This all allowed Radiant Historia to stand tall alongside the 16-bit JRPG greats.
Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure: $11
The use of the dual screens is where Henry Hatsworth really shines. The top screen features a very pleasant platformer, in which you take down the enemies in your path. On the bottom screen, fallen enemies launch themselves into blocks that can be matched together to prevent the monsters from resurrecting. This might sound rather stressful, but in practice it’s quite enjoyable and satisfying.
If you enjoy either of the two genres, or just want to get some great retro fun, I strongly recommend picking this one up.
Brain Age: $3
In case you weren’t in the loop during the DS era, Brain Age was a landmark title that was quite successful in the mainstream (pretty much the DS’s closest thing to Wii Sports). Even my mom (who never really played video games prior) throughly enjoyed it and viewed it as “training” of sorts and played it regularly for many years. My only disappointment is that it hasn’t been ported to phones/tablets… (although it did inspire many other apps that surfaced on mobile platforms).
While these two landmark titles for the DS might not get the hardcore gamer excited, I can vouch for the fact that they are still quite a bit of fun (I’m especially partial to the original Brain Age). I’m still waiting for a title that executes this concept quite as well as Brain Age to show up on my smartphone…
Wario Ware Touched : $13
While we mostly focus on longer, in-depth games, we can’t forget the appeal of the well-crafted mini-game wonderlands like the Wario Ware series. The DS really let the Wario Ware series bloom with its touch screen, microphone and dual display.
For those unfamiliar with the Wario Ware setup, players are tested with a randomized grouping of quick “micro games” within a small time limit and ultra-brief instruction. As you progress, it can speed up these games to increase the challenge. Each of these “stages” also has a larger, more challenging “boss” mini game.
Nintendo made sure to utilize the DS hardware in clever fashion and make Wario Ware Touched produce high replayability. It’s an easy recommendation for a budget pick-up.
Mario Kart DS $10
Mario Kart is always a strong recommendation and there are many Kart fans that still rank Mario Kart DS as one of the best in the series. If you exclude the Switch from the “portable” category, Mario Kart DS easily ranks as the best Mario Kart on a Nintendo handheld.
It may not have as polished graphics as later DS games (Mario Kart DS was released after the first year of the handheld’s long life). However, this gem does offer Wifi racers and a perfectly-balanced single-player experience with lots of nice touches.
Puzzle Quest Challenge of the Warlords: $4
This classic blend of the puzzle and RPG genres was rather innovative in its day and still holds up as a quality title. If you are a hardcore fan of either genre, this won’t blow your mind, but it is a great change of pace.
Originally, Puzzle Quest was high demand, so it retained its value rather well. Eventually, there were enough copies floating around and came down in price, so you can now score a copy dirt cheap.
Platforming fans should have a blast controlling the little black ninja as he jumps, climbs, and rebounds from the walls of N+’s many creative levels. The game received lots of critical acclaim but remained an underground hit. Score it on the cheap while you can.
Soul Bubbles: $9
I’m guessing most DS owners haven’t even heard of this one, but it may be a bit of a challenge to find it anywhere other than in online outlets. If you enjoy puzzle adventures, this one is worth tracking down, however.
Metroid Prime Hunters: $7
Nintendo and Retro Studios did an amazing job of bringing the Metroid franchise to 3D gameplay on the Gamecube with Metroid Prime. To show off their new DS handheld, Big N wanted to be able to transition this formula to a portable.
The transition did create some compromises. Metroid Prime Hunters made heavy use of the DS touchscreen, but with no analog sticks, movement was sometimes a struggle. Still, the title was graphically impressive for a handheld at the time and maintained most of the atmosphere that Metroid games are known for.
Now that online servers are down, Metroid Prime Hunters isn’t quite as strong as it used to be, but for the price, it’s an interesting piece to have in your library — especially for Metroid fans.
Geometry Wars Galaxies :$4
Some of you may have experienced some Geometry Wars fatigue after its initial success on the Xbox platforms and its multiple spinoffs flooded the market. However, if you either haven’t spent time with the series or could use a refresher, the DS version can be easily obtained for $10 or less.
If you haven’t played the series, it’s a great ultra-retro styled shooter that is in the vein of Asteroids and Robotron with a modern flair. Good stuff.
Hotel Dusk Room 215: $13
If you are into graphical adventures like the old SCUMM games or the Ace Attorney series on the DS, Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is an excellent value. The setup will also be attractive to fans of graphic novels
Hotel Dusk Room 215 has you hold the DS like a book and the black and white, hand-drawn character portraits and their animations give the title a unique, engrossing feel. Along the way, players use the touch screen to grill characters, search for clues and solve mystifying puzzles.
Initially, this was a bit of an underground gem, but sales warranted an additional print run that has kept the resale prices relatively low. This is far from the cheapest title on this list and I recommend picking this gem up before this one starts creeping back up in price.
Star Fox Command : $9
Up until the DS era, we went quite a while without having a pure space-shooting adventure with the Star Fox crew. The DS installment pretty much delivered that premise to us with some rather gimmicky touch-screen controls added in. Once you get use to them, Star Fox Command is a more-than-enjoyable experience as is quite a bargain for a big-name Nintendo release.
Of course, it has been a challenge for the Star Fox series to return to greatness after the Nintendo 64, but Star Fox Command is often regarded as the best in the series after the N64 and SNES installments.
OTHER CHEAP GEMS:
- Tetris DS: $14-$20 (eBay)
- Professor Layton and the Unwound Future: $11-$14 (eBay)
- Professor Layton and The Diabolical Box: $8-$10 (eBay)
- Super Mario 64 DS: $15-$26 (eBay)
- Animal Crossing Wild World: $15-$19 (eBay)
- Kirby: Mass Attack: $11-$15 (eBay)
- Picross 3D: $6-$9 (eBay)
- Picross DS: $6-$10 (eBay)
- KORG DS-10 Synthesizer: $20-$24 (eBay)
- Space Invaders Extreme 2: $11-$11 (eBay)
- Wario Ware D.I.Y.: $10-$13 (eBay)
- Yoshi’s Island DS: $12-$19 (eBay)
- Phoenix Wright Trials and Tribulations: $15-$19 (eBay)
- Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth: $19-$51 (eBay)
- Phoenix Wright Justice for All: $13-$18 (eBay)
- Super Scribblenauts: $4-$4 (eBay)
- Scribblenauts: $4-$5 (eBay)
- Scribblenauts Collection: $7-$9 (eBay)
- Golden Sun: Dark Dawn: $14-$18 (eBay)
- Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2: $14-$27 (eBay)
- Sonic Colors: $9-$11 (eBay)
- Sonic Rush Adventure: $13-$20 (eBay)
- Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2 March of Minis: $8-$12 (eBay)
- DK Jungle Climber: $13-$18 (eBay)
- Puyo Pop Fever: $17-$23 (eBay)
- Art Academy: $6-$8 (eBay)
- Brain Age 2: $3-$4 (eBay)
- Big Brain Academy: $3-$4 (eBay)
- Final Fantasy III: $13-$20 (eBay)
- Kirby Super Star Ultra: $15-$20 (eBay)
- Bomberman: $10-$15 (eBay)
- The Legendary Starfy: $9-$18 (eBay)
- Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith: $11-$17 (eBay)
- Polarium: $2-$4 (eBay)
- Yoshi Touch and Go: $10-$13 (eBay)
- Mario Party DS: $9-$14 (eBay)
- Drawn to Life Collection: $10-$13 (eBay)
- Nanostray: $14-$24 (eBay)
- Kirby Squeak Squad: $12-$21 (eBay)
- Mr Driller Drill Spirits: $9-$12 (eBay)
- Scurge Hive: $9-$13 (eBay)
- Cooking Mama: $9-$9 (eBay)
- Namco Museum: $8-$9 (eBay)