The Best on DS: Action Games

Yes, a handheld system can drive adrenaline as much as any blockbuster home console.

By James Stank. Posted 02/28/2011 13:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

The Best on DS: Action Games

Sometimes it can be tough to choose your favorite games on a particular system, especially when that particular piece of hardware has so many great games for it. Then again, it can still be tough even when you narrow your favorite games for a system down to respective categories. It wasn’t easy, but we have come together and chosen our top three DS action games. Trying to decide on just one would’ve probably been impossible, so without further ado, here are our three favorite DS action games.

Mario Kart DS

Mario Kart DS Artwork

If you’re reading this, odds are that you’re a fan of Mario Kart. Do you enjoy beating your friends into the ground? I do. Do you like destroying people you’ve never met in online races? I do too! Mario Kart DS was the first game in the series that introduced online play. While it wasn’t perfect, it worked, and took the game to a new competitive level. The graphics were bright and colorful, and almost made you forget you were playing a portable game. The title introduced new characters, new power-ups and new tracks while introducing new players to some classics. The controls were tight, and frankly, Mario Kart never played better.

Thanks to the addition of online play, you could no longer be satisfied of being the best player among your friends. You wanted to take your skill to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and prove you were one of the best players, period. To this end, Nintendo included a ranking system with the single player races. If you were skilled enough to get a “Star” rating on every cup on every difficulty, it would show. For next to your name when you raced would be a giant yellow star. If you were skilled enough, you could even achieve the coveted “Three Star” rating, proving you got the best ranking on every cup possible.

Another thing Mario Kart DS added to the series was the ability to create a custom avatar. This picture would appear next to your name, and above your kart in races. It would appear to the left of your ranking so you could show off not only your skill at Mario Kart, but your skill at art too. You could design your picture however you wanted. For instance, I made an 8-bit Mario as my picture. Even cooler was the fact that these pictures would be placed somewhere on your kart as you raced, so you could race in style. Arguably the best game in the Mario Kart franchise, Mario Kart DS is one of the best action games on DS.

New Super Mario Bros.

New Super Mario Bros. Artwork

Mario. We all know him as the bright, happy plumber in red, but you really could just as easily call him Nintendo’s secret weapon. Mario has been a powerful force in the gaming industry for 25 years, and he went back to his 2D side-scrolling roots in New Super Mario Bros. It was the first time since Super Mario World on Super Nintendo that Nintendo had made a 2D platforming Mario game. All of those original Mario games were big hits, right? Which means that this game wouldn’t be any different. NSMB is the best selling game on DS and for a good reason; people love 2D Mario games.

This time around all of the characters feature a 2.5D design as opposed to the flat 2D designs of past Mario side-scrollers. Nintendo also hid three golden coins in every stage, giving completionists something to look for. Some of the coins weren’t really hidden at all, while some seemed to take forever to find. Once you collected enough coins, you could buy new backgrounds for the bottom screen of your DS that you would see as you played NSMB.

As with every Mario game, new power-ups were introduced, including the blue koopa shell, the mini mushroom, and the destructive mega mushroom. The mega mushroom would make Mario a giant, which would let him crush everything in his path from goombas to warp pipes. NSMB also brought back the ability to hold an item in reserve, which you could use by tapping its picture on the touch-screen. NSMB is easily one of the best action games on DS, and you can be sure that there will be more “New” Super Mario games in the future.

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

What is a Nintendo console without Zelda? Every Nintendo handheld console (except Virtual Boy) has had a stellar Zelda title released for it at some point in its lifespan, in some cases more than one. Nintendo had already made a sequel to Wind Waker on DS with Phantom Hourglass, but some things weren’t quite right with that game. The controls weren’t perfect, and the Temple of the Ocean King was so frustrating that many Zelda fans put down what otherwise was another great adventure for Link. I was one of them. I went back to it later and finished it, but I know many who didn’t.

Obviously Nintendo thought that they could do better, and they did. Spirit Tracks was superior to Phantom Hourglass in every way, and was just as memorable as every Zelda game before it. In Spirit Tracks, Link drives a train as opposed to sailing on the seas, and it falls to him to get Princess Zelda’s body back from the evil Cole. You could adjust the train’s speed, and even blow its horn, all while enjoying yet another fantastic Zelda song.

As with every Zelda game, new items were created for Link, and one stands out in particular. The Spirit Flute was to Spirit Tracks what the Ocarina was to Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. In order to play this instrument, you actually had to blow through the DS microphone, and move the flute with the touch-screen. While it wasn’t perfect, it was another welcome addition to another great Zelda experience. While some may have been groaning when they saw Link conducting a train for the first time, those who played it would once again understand not to doubt Nintendo.

Had we waited a couple more weeks, Okamiden probably could have it…But what do you think of our list? Are there any other DS action games that should have been added? Let us know what your favorite DS action game is in the comments.

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