30 Best Multiplayer Nintendo DS Games Ever Made (Local + Online)

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The Nintendo DS is the classic success story from the Big N.

The dual screens were a ball out of the left field, and coupling it with touch-screen functionality was genius.

Of course, the backward compatibility with GBA titles cemented it as a true successor to the brand in the public’s eyes.

Nintendo is known for focusing on family fun and bringing people together to play on their systems, and the DS is no exception. With a wealth of fantastic multiplayer games, it remains one of the best consoles to pass the time in the company of those you love.

Let’s take a look at the best DS games to do just that.

 

30. Age of Empires: The Age of Kings

Age Of Empires: The Age Of Kings Gameplay

Multi-Card / 1-4 Players

Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings was one of the most influential titles of my teens – and this NDS homage to my favorite RTS let me take the historical action on the go.

I say “homage” because it’s a very different title.

Rather than an RTS, it’s a turn-based strategy game that reworks many of the same elements found in AoE2.

It’s not AoE2, but it’s still a fantastic game in its own right, and it’s sure to evoke a feeling of nostalgia.

 

29. Children of Mana

Children Of Mana Game Screenshot

Multi-Card / 1-4 Players

Children of Mana is one of the lesser-known entries in the Mana series, made famous internationally by Secret of Mana in 1993 for the SNES.

This action RPG looks gorgeous and plays like a charm.

It features varied fighting styles depending on what weapon your character equips, and overall, it seems like the perfect fantasy dungeon crawler – for the first hour or so.

After a while, it starts feeling a bit repetitive.

The four-player multiplayer, however, goes a long way to keep the game engaging.

 

28. Space Invaders Extreme 2

Space Invaders Extreme 2 Nds Gameplay

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-2 Players

Space Invaders is cool, but is it EXTREME?

This fantastic title brings a colorful, gorgeous version of the arcade classic to the NDS – complete with a hot new multiplayer mode where you can go head-to-head with a friend.

It also features new mini-games that come up every couple of rounds, breaking up the monotony and keeping you on the edge of your cockpit’s seat.

 

27. WarioWare: D.I.Y.

Warioware: D.i.y. Gameplay Screenshot

Multi-Card / 1-2 Players

As its name suggests, WarioWare: D.I.Y. lets you “do it yourself”.

And by “it,” I mean creating micro-games to play with your friends.

This title gives you every tool you need to create graphics, compose music, and program the short games the series is known for.

It’s like Super Mario Maker, but for quick and bizarre party games.

Even if you’re not the creative type, the game still includes over 70 pre-made micro-games, along with 20 tutorial ones to teach you the basics of micro-game design.

One of the best parts about WarioWare is that most of these games can be played by large groups with a single DS by passing the console around.

 

26. Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies

Dragon Quest Ix: Sentinels Of The Starry Skies Gameplay

Multi-Card / 1-4 Players

You wouldn’t normally expect to find a Dragon Quest game on a multiplayer ranking.

But the ninth installment in the series is quite different from the rest.

At the beginning of the game, you’ll create your own heroic member of an angelic tribe, who’s later cast down to the land of mortals by mysterious forces.

The multiplayer element lets players visit each other’s worlds with their custom characters and work together to kill monsters, explore dungeons, and find glorious loot.

 

25. Sonic Rush

Sonic Rush Nds Gameplay

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-2 Players

Sonic Rush is one of the best entries in the high-speed hedgehog’s post-Sonic Adventure career.

It takes the classic side-scrolling racing of the original games and the Advance series on the GBA and gives it a face-lift with 3D polygonal characters and highly detailed backgrounds.

It also introduces Blaze the Cat, a strong female lead with exactly zero romantic interest in Sonic, which is always a win.

The game’s multiplayer component lets two players race through most of the campaign’s levels, using items or physical attacks to slow each other down on the way to the goal.

It’s pretty fun, and you only need a single card for the whole experience (though having two games reduces loading times).

 

24. Contra 4

Contra 4 Gameplay Screenshot

Multi-Card / 1-2 Players

As one of the few titles in the Contra series not developed by Konami, people were wary of Contra 4 on the Nintendo DS.

Luckily, the folks at WayForward did a fantastic job developing a game that retains a lot of what made the seminal run-and-gun so good.

There are bullets everywhere, enemies drop like flies, and if you manage to overcome the challenge with a friend, you’ll be bound in camaraderie for life.

Plus you can actually play the original Contra and Super Contra after unlocking them in the Challenge Mode.

Talk about great value!

 

23. Dokapon Journey

Dokapon Journey Screenshot

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-4 Players

I’ve featured Dokapon Kingdom on the Wii in more rankings than I can remember.

It’s one of the best party games you can find on that system.

And its NDS counterpart doesn’t fall far behind.

This NDS title follows the same basic premise:

The Kingdom has come under attack by vicious monsters, and the hero who can drive them back gets to marry into royalty.

Now, you and up to three “friends” can work tirelessly against one another in this perfect mix of RPG and board game.

It’s like Mario Party had a baby with Dragon Quest, but something went terribly wrong in the child’s upbringing.

 

22. Jam with the Band

Jam With The Band Gameplay

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-8 Players

Jam with the Band comes into the ranking as the best rhythm game on the NDS from a multiplayer perspective, thanks to its simple concept and flawless execution.

You and up to seven more band members choose a different instrument and play through the same song, creating a harmonic symphony and having a lot of fun.

My favorite part about this game is that it features a full-featured composer mode with over 50 instruments that’ll allow you to make your own hit songs.

 

21. Bomberman Land Touch!

Bomberman Land Touch! Game Screenshot

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-8 Players

Who doesn’t like Bomberman?

The classic frantic gameplay remains as addictive as always. And the more players, the more exciting (and chaotic) it becomes.

Luckily, this DS title supports up to eight bombing maniacs trying to burn each other to a crisp in Battle Mode – which features over 20 fantastic maze-like stages.

Whenever your friends aren’t available for a match, you can also explore Bomber Island and discover over 30 addictive mini-games that really take advantage of the console’s touch screen.

Consider investing in a screen protector – you’ll thank me later.

 

20. Soma Bringer

Soma Bringer Gameplay Screenshot

Multi-Card / 1-3 Players

Monolith Soft’s Soma Bringer is probably the best multiplayer action RPG on the NDS.

Regrettably, it was only ever released in Japan.

Still, I thought it was too damn good to leave out.

Some of the most prominent minds in the industry were involved with its creation, including Tetsuya Takahashi, famous for his work on the Xeno series, and composer Yasunori Matsuda, of Chrono Trigger fame.

The game lets you control one of eight unique characters to raid dungeons and fight enemies in fluid real-time combat. In multiplayer, you do this together with two friends.

The game is pretty easy to figure out, even if you don’t speak the language. You can also find an English translation patch here.

 

19. Big Brain Academy

Big Brain Academy Gameplay

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-8 Players

If you’re reading this article, chances are you have a big brain.

But exactly how big is it?

Big Brain Academy tries to answer this question by giving you a brain mass rating based on your performance on a series of puzzles that’ll measure your ability to think, analyze, memorize, compute and identify.

The game’s competitive multiplayer mode lets up to eight players go head-to-head to determine who has the largest, most wrinkly brain in the room.

It’s easy to learn, but hard to master, and it’s remarkably addictive – especially if you like feeling smart.

 

18. Advance Wars: Days of Ruin

Advance Wars: Days Of Ruin Screenshot

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-4 Players

I know some people find the happy-go-lucky atmosphere of the classic Advance Wars series a bit off-putting, considering the focus on war and destruction.

If you’d rather play something with a more coherent tone, consider Days of Ruin.

The game features an entirely new, darker post-apocalyptic storyline independent from the previous entries in the franchise.

But multiplayer only supports up to four players (in comparison, Dual Strike supports eight).

 

17. Geometry Wars: Galaxies

Geometry Wars: Galaxies Gameplay

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-2 Players

Like its Wii counterpart, Geometry Wars: Galaxies brings us one of the most visually appealing shoot-em-up experiences ever made.

There are so many colorful shapes, particles, and effects, the game should probably have a seizure trigger warning.

It should also remind players to use a screen protector if they don’t want to scratch their touch screen beyond recognition while trying their hardest to survive.

The game features three fantastic multiplayer modes, including a co-op campaign, a simultaneous mode where players fight for the highest score, and my favorite – a Vs. mode where one player tries to survive while the other continuously spawns enemy ships to destroy them.

 

16. Star Fox Command

Star Fox Command Game Screenshot

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-6 Players

People rarely talk about Star Fox Command, despite being one of the most intriguing entries in the dogfighting fox’s career.

What makes it so unique is the tactical element, which lets you use the stylus to trace your trajectory through each mission strategically.

Depending on how you tackle each challenge, the game’s story can change directions dramatically, leading to multiple (often bizarre) endings.

The multiplayer element doesn’t stay behind.

You can engage in frantic six-player dogfights or just go head-to-head with a rival pilot in an intense duel of cybernetics-enhanced animals.

 

15. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes Of Time Game Screenshot

Multi-Card / 1-4 Players

I’ve loved the FF Crystal Chronicles series since its inception on the GameCube.

And Echoes of Time is the best installment since that pioneering title.

Much like the GameCube original, this DS game’s main appeal is the co-op element.

And there’s a lot to do with up to three friends in this gorgeous-looking action RPG.

There are tons of cool outfits to customize your character, and casting combined spells with your friends/party members makes teamwork feel more meaningful.

You could also try FFCC Ring of Fates, but Echoes of Time has more costumes, more levels, more bosses, a better soundtrack, and even a PvP element!

 

14. Puyo Pop Fever

Puyo Pop Fever Gameplay Screenshot

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-8 Players

If you’ve never tried Japan’s answer to Tetris, you’re sorely missing out.

Instead of Tetriminos, you’ll have to match Puyos – adorable colorful blobs with evocative facial expressions.

Puyo Pop Fever introduces new kinds of Puyos and exciting new gameplay elements.

The newest addition to multiplayer is Fever Mode, which activates after clearing enough of the trash your enemy will send your way and will let you pay them back in full.

 

13. Worms: Open Warfare 2

Worms: Open Warfare 2 Gameplay

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-4 Players

Worms is one of those games that just never gets old.

No matter how much you and your friends have played it, there’s always a lot of fun waiting in this small cartridge.

That’s partly thanks to the inherently chaotic gameplay of this tactical shooter.

It really takes the phrase “shooting yourself in the foot” to the next level.

It happens to everyone!

The amount of match customization allowed by Worms is also remarkable.

Whenever you’re getting bored, you just need to think of some wacky rules that’ll spice up your next few matches.

 

12. Tetris DS

Tetris Ds Gameplay Screenshot

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-10 Players

Tetris DS is one of the best Tetris games ever made, period.

Not only does it maintain the core gameplay that has kept Tetris alive for so many years, but it introduces a fair amount of new elements – such as items – that keep the game fresh.

On top of that, you can have up to ten players compete against each other with a single card.

This incredible puzzle game will remind you why Tetris keeps getting new releases after over 30 years.

 

11. Advance Wars: Dual Strike

Advance Wars: Dual Strike Gameplay

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-8 Players

Advance Wars: Dual Strike is the gold standard for strategy games on the DS.

The third entry in the Advance Wars series jumped to the dual-screen by doubling the number of Commanding Officers you take into battle, which opens the door to some compelling strategies.

The multiplayer mode is just as good, if not better than the single-player campaign.

You’ll have to produce units, move around tactically, and capture cities as bullets fly both above the clouds and on the ground.

The game also features a fantastic map editor that lets you share your creations with other players.

 

10. Big Bang Mini

Big Bang Mini Nds Gameplay

Single-Card / 1-2 Players

Not all shoot-em-ups have to feature spaceships or armored robots.

Sometimes, all you need are some fireworks.

Big Bang Mini is a gorgeous, psychedelic experience where you’ll aim and shoot fireworks with your stylus at enemies descending from the top screen.

The enemies include clowns, birds, serpentine dragons, and laser-shooting sea creatures, among others.

Along with over 100 levels of single-player fun, the multiplayer aspect is very well-implemented.

Rather than holding the NDS vertically, you’ll turn it on its side for a head-to-head.

 

9. Animal Crossing: Wild World

Animal Crossing: Wild World Screenshot

Multi-Card / 1-4 Players

The sequel to the widely successful Animal Crossing on the GameCube offers the same life-simulation on-the-go, but makes use of the NDS’ unique features to expand upon the gameplay.

Wild World encourages players to create their own furniture and clothing patterns, and share them with others online.

At the same time, this was the first title in the series where you could visit other player’s villages and receive visitors in yours all through the Internet via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

Some of these features no longer work due to the discontinuation of this service.

But you can still have a lot of fun with up to four friends locally.

 

8. Pokémon Platinum

Pokémon Platinum Nds Gameplay

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-8 Players

If there’s one series that couldn’t be missing from a multiplayer ranking on a Nintendo handheld, it’s Pokémon.

Pokémon Platinum is the perfected version of Pokémon Diamond & Pearl, which introduced the fourth generation of Pokémon and the Sinnoh region.

These were the first mainline Pokémon games with a robust online component, which changed the way we play Pokémon forever.

The online features don’t work anymore (sadly).

But local multiplayer is always an option.

So you can still have a lot of fun catching ’em all and battling any friends with fourth-gen games.

Platinum has a great assortment of critters, and Giratina is a badass Legendary.

 

7. New Super Mario Bros.

New Super Mario Bros. Screenshot

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-4 Players

New Super Mario Bros. is famous for bringing together classic SMB gameplay with a fresh, colorful coat of 3D paint – but it also had one of the best multiplayer experiences on the DS.

Along with 18 exciting four-player mini-games available through Download Play, there’s an addictive one-on-one competitive mode requiring two cards.

In it, you’ll race through a looping side-scrolling level as Mario and Luigi, trying to collect a certain number of stars before your opponent.

There are countless hilarious ways to hinder your opponent, ranging from offensive power-ups to ground-pounding them like a Goomba.

 

6. Mario Party DS

Mario Party Ds Game Screenshot

Single-Card / 1-4 Players

Mario Party DS follows the Mario gang after Bowser shrinks them down to hamster size.

As such, most of the boards and mini-games revolve around their minuscule appearance.

The game features a whopping 74 mini-games, most of which make excellent use of the handheld’s touch screen.

Otherwise, it’s the same classic coin-collecting, star-purchasing, friend-sabotaging fun of previous installments.

My favorite part about Mario Party DS is how consumer-friendly it is.

Not only does it support Download Play, but it doesn’t even feature Multi-Card gameplay.

A single copy is enough for up to four players to enjoy the whole package.

 

5. Kirby Super Star Ultra

Kirby Super Star Ultra Gameplay

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-4 Players

Kirby Super Star was one of the most amazing games on the SNES.

And this remake on the Nintendo DS takes it to the next level.

KSSU is a compilation of several mini-campaigns.

It includes everything from the original 1996 classic, remixed versions with greater difficulty, and some exclusive to the DS version.

This gorgeous platformer also features plenty of mini-games to play with friends with a single card.

The Spring Breeze mini-campaign supports co-op through Download Play, though the rest require your P2 to have the game.

 

4. Elite Beat Agents

Elite Beat Agents Screenshot

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-4 Players

I challenge you to find a game on the DS with more of a “cool factor” than Elite Beat Agents.

These men in black may not have high-tech weapons or outer-space friends, but their dance moves are all they need to keep the peace – and the beat.

The gameplay is pretty similar to the online rhythm game Osu!

You’ll have to trace rhythmic patterns and tap the touch screen to the beat of groovy tunes as the suits pull off unique choreographies.

The single-player campaign is great fun, with lots of humor and groovy dance moves – but the game’s multiplayer element blows it out of the water.

It’s like a handheld dance-off!

 

3. Clubhouse Games

Clubhouse Games Gameplay Screenshot

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-8 Players

At first glance, you’d be forgiven to think Clubhouse Games is basic.

But that’s actually one of the appeals.

This game features a whopping 42 classic card, board, and party games anyone can enjoy with no prior gaming experience.

Options include poker, billiards, chess, backgammon, bowling, and many more.

These games have stood the test of time as some of humanity’s favorite pastimes, and they’re just as engaging on the DS.

And Clubhouse Games is accessible to everyone, even people who’ve never touched a console in their lives.

 

2. Metroid Prime Hunters

Metroid Prime Hunters Gameplay

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-4 Players

Metroid Prime Hunters was the first game I ever played on a Nintendo DS, and boy was I surprised.

Having just upgraded from the GBA, I couldn’t believe the incredible graphics and smoothness of the FPS gameplay.

Thanks to Download Play, I was able to share the joy with my brother.

And we spent the rest of the holidays glued to our screens, shooting the lights out of each other.

The single-player is fine. But this game was clearly designed around the multiplayer.

The fantastic bounty hunters, the maps, and the fast-paced gameplay made it irresistible.

 

1. Mario Kart DS

Mario Kart Ds Game Screenshot

Single-Card & Multi-Card / 1-8 Players

It may seem like the obvious choice for the first place, but that’s because we all know there’s nothing like the triple-distilled fun of Mario Kart.

The fifth entry in the series takes everything that made previous installments so good, and doubles down on it all – this time on the dual-screen.

This includes bringing back several fan-favorite racing tracks from the series’ history, along with a couple new ones, for over 30 courses of high-octane action.

The best part is how you only need a single card to keep up to eight players entertained – though everyone but the host has to play as Shy Guy, and you’re limited to the Mushroom and Shell cups.

Small price to pay for so much fun.

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