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The Nintendo DS first hit shelves on November 21st, 2004. Serving as the latest in Nintendo’s long line of video game consoles and much shorter line of handheld consoles, the DS quickly rose to become the second-best-selling video game console of all time (second only to the PlayStation 2, and missing the top spot by under a million units).

Part of this unrivaled success has to do with the ingenuity of the DS itself. A larger part has to do with the sheer quality of the DS’s game library itself — including puzzle games. But what are the best Nintendo DS puzzle games of all time?

The Nintendo Game Boy was the first to show the kind of potential puzzle games had on handheld consoles. The Nintendo DS, on the other hand, was one of the first to take the idea of a puzzle game and turn it into something as intense and exciting as any action-adventure game.

We’ve assembled seven of the absolute best Nintendo DS puzzle games of all time, making sure to note the titles that helped make the Nintendo DS a bona fide success in the process. Where do your favorites land on the list?

History of Puzzle Games

Whether it be problem-solving, logic problems, pattern recognition, word completion, or some other brain-teasing task, puzzle video games have been a part of console and arcade gaming since at least the year 1980.

Some video game historians trace the genre back to Universal Entertainment’s 1980 arcade game Space Panic. Others pin the honor of being first on Apple’s aptly titled Apple Panic (1981). Regardless of the true first, however, the video game subgenre blossomed throughout the early 1980s. The release of Tetris in 1984 only accelerated this growth.

First created by Soviet video game designer Alexey Pajitnov, Tetris derived inspiration from a classic puzzle game called Pentominoes. In this game, players are tasked with arranging different shapes and sizes of blocks into a space without leaving any holes.

Pajitnov’s Tetris was first released for the PC in 1987. A year later, the game came to the Atari. A year after that, Tetris sold over 35 million copies for the Nintendo Game Boy. (We’ll have more on the success of puzzle games on Nintendo consoles below.) For the first time, it seemed puzzle video games could reach blockbuster success.

Lemmings — first released for the Amiga in 1991 and later for countless other PCs and consoles throughout the ’90s — was another major advancement for the puzzle video game subgenre. One of the most beloved (and widely adapted) puzzle games ever, Lemmings is estimated to have sold more than 20 million copies across all its platforms over the years.

With Minesweeper and Mahjong also hitting computers in the mid-1990s, it was clear that the puzzle video game was certainly enjoying quite the moment.

Puzzle Games Come to Nintendo

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Nintendo was founded in 1889 as Nintendo Karuta.

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Nintendo’s work in the handheld console sphere did a lot for the advancement of the puzzle game. We already touched on how Tetris performed exceptionally well on the Game Boy, but it didn’t stop there for the handheld Nintendo console.

Dr. Mario — which functioned like a hybrid of Tetris and Dominos — was another Game Boy success story, earning the distinction of being the #6 best-selling Game Boy game. From arranging pieces on a table to using a pencil and paper, it seems there’s something inherently handheld about puzzles. No wonder they did so well on the Game Boy.

This success carried over to Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance. As a matter of fact, the demand for puzzle games was so strong for Nintendo’s handheld consoles that they continued to develop puzzle games of their own creation.

Namely, the WarioWare franchise. Starting with WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames! in 2003, WarioWare and its subsequent sequels tapped into the sheer joy of playing puzzle games on a Nintendo handheld console. The release of the Nintendo DS in 2004 — giving players control of two displays instead of one — only opened up the puzzle possibilities even more.

While Nintendo had always been known for putting ingenious new spins on classic console mechanics, the Nintendo DS marked one of the first instances where this ingenuity actually allowed them to carve a completely new path in the process.

No other console had ever attempted two displays before, and its very concept was practically made for puzzle games. As such, the best Nintendo DS puzzle games of all time are the ones that make the best use of the DS’s dual-screen gameplay.

Best Nintendo DS Puzzle Games

The seven Nintendo DS puzzle games listed below represent the very best of the console’s library puzzle video games. Some are a part of a larger franchise, while others are unique one-offs that stand alone in their greatness. Regardless, these are the absolute best Nintendo DS puzzle games the handheld console has to offer.

7. Tetris DS (2006)

Tetris DS (Renewed)
$59.99
  • The traditional Tetriminos (falling blocks) and line-clearing strategy remain the same, but the touch screen adds new interactivity
  • 10 DS players can battle with only one Tetris DS card
  • Battle on the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
  • Push Mode, Catch Mode, Puzzle Mode, Mission Mode and more
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01/26/2023 12:42 am GMT

After setting sales records for the Nintendo Game Boy, it only made sense to bring Tetris to the Nintendo DS, too. Creatively dividing the classic Tetris game into six Nintendo-themed modes, Tetris DS is more than a simple port from one handheld console to the other.

It’s a completely new take on Tetris that even manages to bring multiplayer elements to the game. With its various new modes and over 200 different puzzles to solve, Tetris DS has all that familiar gameplay that made Tetris famous in the first place; just with a uniquely 21st-century spin.

PublisherNintendo
Available PlatformsNintendo DS
DeveloperNintendo SPD
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer
Release DateMarch 20th, 2006

6. Big Brain Academy (2005)

Big Brain Academy
$25.77
  • Face an assortment of challenges that you'll have to solve quickly
  • Special practice mode helps players get used to the game's fast-paced assault of problems
  • Continuous display of your brain weight, helping you track your progress during a match
  • 8-player Vs. Mode - all players can connect through a single game pak
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01/26/2023 08:06 pm GMT

Sometimes dismissed as simple edutainment, Big Brain Academy fanatics know that the Nintendo DS game is so much more than just some teaching tool. It’s one of the very best Nintendo DS puzzle games to boot.

Featuring three distinct game modes — Test Mode, Practice Mode, and Versus Mode — the object of Big Brain Academy is to prove that you’ve got the biggest brain of all through the solving of a series of increasingly challenging puzzles. It’s a basic setup, but one that opens itself up to endless enjoyment.

PublisherNintendo
Available PlatformsNintendo DS
DeveloperNintendo EAD
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer
Release DateJune 30th, 2005

5. Super Scribblenauts (2010)

Super Scribblenauts
$29.95
  • Create your own level layout with the tile painting tools or quickly create from easy to use templates. These can then be shared online
  • A blend of 120 puzzle and action-platforming levels with more lengthy and in-depth experiences and scenarios
  • Super Scribblenauts recognizes tens of thousands of words/objects includes hundreds of new ones
  • New Adjective System allows for object modification creating real life behaviors, personalities and characteristics of the objects applied to
  • Use the D-pad or DS/DSi stylus touch controls to move Maxwell throughout the game world
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01/26/2023 12:37 am GMT

Serving as a sequel to 2009’s Scribblenauts — also for the Nintendo DS — Super Scribblenauts takes everything great about the first game and somehow improves it to become the best possible version of itself.

Tasking players with combing through their personal vocabulary to conjure up objects to solve the game’s puzzles, Super Scribblenauts also gives players objectives to accomplish in order to improve gameplay. It’s exactly what makes the best Nintendo DS puzzle games so special — unique gameplay suited specifically for the DS alone.

PublisherWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Available PlatformsNintendo DS
Developer5th Cell
Mode(s)Single-player
Release DateOctober 12th, 2010

4. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (2011)

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Hailing from the creator of the Ace Attorney series, it’s no surprise to see Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective among the list of the absolute best Nintendo DS puzzle games of all time.

Following a ghost named Sissel as he works to investigate who he was prior to death and how he ended up as a ghost, Ghost Detective gives players the ability to use “Ghost Tricks” to solve puzzles and navigate through the game’s world. It’s a unique blend of adventure and puzzles, making for a truly spectacular DS gaming experience.

PublisherCapcom
Available PlatformsNintendo DS, iOS
DeveloperCapcom
Mode(s)Single-player
Release DateJanuary 11th, 2011

3. Professor Layton And The Curious Village (2008)

Professor Layton and the Curious Village - Nintendo DS (Renewed)
$34.99
  • This renewed game will not come with the original case or manual; cartridge only. It has been cleaned, tested, and is in nice condition.
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01/26/2023 12:03 am GMT

Can you really talk about the best Nintendo DS puzzle games of all time without mentioning the name Professor Layton? A long-running Nintendo franchise that began with 2008’s The Curious Village, Professor Layton incorporates investigative gameplay with clever puzzles as it tells its story of a deceased Baron and his hidden fortune located somewhere in the town of St. Mystere.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village effectively set the bar for Professor Layton, and one could easily argue this first game is also the best one.

PublisherNintendo
Available PlatformsNintendo DS, mobile
DeveloperLevel 5
Mode(s)Single-player
Release DateFebruary 10th, 2008

2. WarioWare: Touched! (2005)

Warioware: Touched! - Nintendo DS
$21.58
  • Nearly two hundred 5-second mini-games, on after another, for frantic non-stop action
  • Use the stylus for even sillier gaming, like when you have guide a piece of tissue into a nostril
  • You'll also carve a statue with the stylus and much more
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01/26/2023 12:56 am GMT

If you’ve read our list of the weirdest Game Boy Advance games of all time, then you already know our love for WarioWare games. As such, WarioWare: Touched! — the Nintendo DS’s first (and best) of three WarioWare games — has more than earned its runner-up spot here.

Making perfect use of both the Nintendo DS’s touchscreen and its microphone, Touched! is not just a near-perfect puzzle game… it’s a near-perfect Nintendo DS game, period. Even with its subsequent sequels, WarioWare: Touched! remains the best WarioWare entry for the DS.

PublisherNintendo
Available PlatformsNintendo DS
DeveloperNintendo SPD
Mode(s)Single-player
Release DateFebruary 14th, 2005

1. Meteos (2005)

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01/27/2023 04:56 am GMT

Those well-versed in the best Nintendo DS puzzle games of all time might’ve seen this one coming; Meteos has to take the top prize here. Drawing inspiration from a wide and eclectic bunch of sources — including the 1980 Atari game Missile Command, the ’90s staple The Matrix, and FOX’s hit series 24Meteos is a puzzle game that looks and feels unlike any other for the DS or otherwise.

Tasking users with moving and matching three-of-a-kind falling blocks with the DS’s stylus, Meteos is simple but more fun and addicting than any other Nintendo DS puzzle game ever.

PublisherNintendo
Available PlatformsNintendo DS, mobile
DeveloperQ Entertainment
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer
Release DateJune 27th, 2005

The Absolute Best Nintendo DS Puzzle Games of All Time FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

When did the Nintendo DS come out?

The Nintendo DS was released in North America on November 21st, 2004.

How many units of the Nintendo DS were sold?

The Nintendo DS sold over 154 million units, making it the second-best-selling video game console and the best-selling handheld console of all time.

How many games did they make for the Nintendo DS?

Nearly 3,500 Nintendo DS games were released in the console’s decade-plus history.

What is the best Nintendo DS puzzle game?

Across the board, Nintendo DS puzzle enthusiasts agree that Meteos is the best Nintendo DS puzzle game of all time.

What did Nintendo release after the Nintendo DS?

After the Nintendo DS came the Nintendo 3DS on March 27th, 2011.

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More from History-Computer

  • Metacritic Available here: https://www.metacritic.com/browse/games/genre/metascore/puzzle/ds?view=detailed
  • Ranker Available here: https://www.ranker.com/list/best-nintendo-ds-puzzle-games/ranker-games
  • Nintendo Available here: https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Hardware/Nintendo-History/Nintendo-History-625945.html
  • Digital Trends Available here: https://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/best-puzzle-games/
  • Nintendo Life Available here: https://www.nintendolife.com/ds/games/browse?genre=puzzle