Top 10 RPGs on the DS series of consoles

Nintendo's DS line has been a powerhouse despite a lot of doubt and some poor initial sales. Nintendo won gamers over with a huge library of fantastic titles that have utilized great features of the consoles like the iconic touch screen, online functionality and motion control, among other things. One of the biggest surprises about the DS and 3DS has been the quantity and quality of RPGs on the system. The systems have seen RPGs of all bents, including the flowing action of Kingdom Hearts and the Tales of series, the strategy of Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem and so many others. Here are my top ten RPGs for the DS and the 3DS combined (no downloadable games in this list and in no particular order):

Rank Game Release Date GameSpot Score Pyreofkol's Score

Fire Emblem: Awakening

Most Americans were introduced to Fire Emblem when series characters Marth and Roy were added to the roster of Super Smash Bros Melee. A select few knew of the Japan only tactical RPG series (and even fewer imported the older titles) but the series soon came stateside on the GBA with the extremely well received Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. A two solid entries on the GameCube and the Wii, the next entry was brought to the 3DS to much well-earned fanfare. Awakening made the notoriously difficult series more accessible to the masses by including a Casual mode that eliminated the infamous series staple of permadeath (if a unit went down in battle, there was no way to res him and he'd have to replaced after the battle; only a few story important characters were immune to this effect). Still, this doesn't mean that the game lacks challenge. The maps are big and filled with varied terrain and strategic obstacles that force you to make your moves carefully and really pay attention to your opponents. Throw in the deep promotion system and tons of downloadable content (a lot of it free!) and this game is one exceptional package.


Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

KH has had a lot of side stories, and this glimpse into Roxas's tenure with Organization XIII is one of the best. Great combat, tons of content, multiplayer and a surprisingly good story make this a true gem of the series and the DS catalogue.


Pokemon X / Y

What's a Nintendo handheld without a Pokemon game? Heck, Pokemon might even have saved the Virtual Boy! The concept is simple: catch creatures and battle them against other people. That simple concept belies a lot of depth. With over 700 pokemon, a deep stat system and a number of great ways to battle, the game has persisted as a staple of handheld systems and is one of the most incredible phenomena in gaming. Pokemon X/Y, the sixth generation of the series, save the series fatigued by making the long overdue jump to the third dimension. A beautiful new look for the series and even more features make this the best Pokemon game in the series by far.


Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift

Square Enix first tried their hand at turn based strategy back in 1998 with Final Fantasy Tactics on the PS1, and the result was one of the best games in the franchise. Five years later, the industry titan made the series mobile on the GBA with Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and once again found an instant hit on their hands. After another five years, the long anticipated sequel came to DS and did not disappoint. The story wasn't as strong as the previous two entries but the incredibly deep job system and hours of story line and side content made this truly worthy of the pedigree.


Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

Golden Sun was the premier RPG series on the Game Boy Advance. Thanks to the deep combat, beautiful visuals and compelling story (not to mention developer Camelot, the minds behind the classic Shining Force games, lending their prowess to the series), the games became true classics for the venerable handheld. The DS entry retains the charming aesthetic and loving homages to classic JRPGs that make the series shine and adds a fantastic visual punch to the huge world and the gorgeous, show-stopping summons


Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

Back in 1996 a game was born of the most unlikely crossover imaginable: Square Enix, in their golden age, took their immense talent and merged it with the quirky, colorful world of Mario in Super Mario RPG. What starts as a routine "beat down Bowser and rescue Peach" mission for Mario turns into an epic adventure to save the world from a new evil. A wonderful timing based combat system combined with a quirky, memorable cast and brilliant humor to create one of the great classics from the SNES's library. For a time the series vanished, leaving Paper Mario to fill in the gap but then made a triumphant return on the Game Boy Advance with Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. The hilarity was cranked to 11 and the combat was streamlined and improved with new abilities and duet combos for everybody's favorite plumbers. The series only got better after a jump to the DS that yielded two sequels: Partners in Time and Bowser's Inside Story. The latter game makes this particular list things to a hysterical story and more of that same brilliant, reflex-testing combat. The game begins with brothers Mario being inhaled by Bowser, who cursed after being bamboozled by the game's main antagonist. After realizing their predicament, the long time enemies grudgingly agree to work together, with Mario and Luigi clearing the residue of the bad guy's nasty spell and Bowser tromping about the wide world trying to find the fiend who landed them in that mess. Watching Bowser argue with his stomach and trade sarcastic barbs with every character he meets will have you laughing constantly and the great level design will have your brain working more than you'd have imagined for a game that seems so simple on the surface.


Final Fantasy III

The original six Final Fantasy games are a bit confusing for most. Originally we received three Final Fantasy games here in the States and each entry was leaps and bounds ahead of the previous one. Then we found out that FFII was actually FFIV and FFIII was actually FFVI and so began to wonder about the real FF II and III. These games, along with FFV have all received rereleases here in the US and FFIII proved to be an interesting and enjoyable game. A rather generic story and occasionally grind heavy gameplay are balanced quite nicely by the signature FF job system, great graphics and fun side content added to this DS version of the game.


Project X Zone

Gamers lover a crossover, but never in our wildest dreams would we have believed a crossover game like this was possible. Veteran publishers Capcom, Namco and Sega mashed together some of their most iconic characters and worlds (sort of) into one huge tactical RPG with fighting game elements. Like most tactical RPGs you move your characters around a gridded map using items and abilities on enemies and allies. However, when you enter combat, you're taken into a side-scroll view and are able to choose from a set of moves the expands as you level the character pairings. The coolest part of this is that the gauge you draw from to use abilities can be maxed out and used for flashy, powerful super attacks. Now, about that "sort of" from earlier...Capcom and Nacmo boast some solid rosters. Capcom favorites such as Ryu and Ken, Frank West and the ever pompous Sir Arthur and Namco brings in big names like Jin and Heihachi from Tekken. Sega...Sega's roster is disappointing. Their only recognizable characters are two of the protagonists from the venerable Virtua Fighter series, but that's it. Their most egregious offense in regards to their roster is their choice of Shining Force characters. The Shining Force series are Sega Genesis classics as well as classic tactical RPGs, but when Sega tried to modernize the series they removed everything great about it and turned them into mediocre action games. It was from one of these, namely Shining Force EXA, that Sega chose representatives. That aside, seeing Mega Man rubs elbows with Yuri from Tales of Vesperia is an absolute blast and the supers never get old.


Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

Fans have been waiting on Kingdom Hearts III for nearly ten years now and were only tided over by side games for so long. Dream Drop Distance came about and made it clear that KHIII was on the way at last (which was followed shortly by an official announcement for the game). The game has plenty of its own merits, however. Great graphics, great use of the 3DS touch screen, a new set of enemies/allies called Dreameaters, and even more cameos (including a batch of characters from the DS cult classic The World Ends with You) and you have a great KH title.


Tales of the Abyss

It's hard to go wrong the Tales of series. The franchise put a new twist on action RPGs with a unique combat system that was face paced but well balanced. Each character was unique and could learn powerful spells and abilities as they leveled up, including screen-filling summons. The story has become largely the same with only minor variations as the series has progressed, but the stunning visuals (especially the animations for the most powerful abilities) and the deep and accessible combat make this series worth coming back to every time.