Cary’s Best of DS, Part 1: Sports & Imports

With the 3DS near launch, it’s clear that the regular ol’ Nintendo DS is in its twilight years. So, whenever that happens to a game console, I like to look back and list what I feel are the best games for that system. Since the DS had SO many great games, we’ll have to break this blog series up into parts. Today we’ll look at my favorite sports games and import titles for the DS.

In Part 2, I would like to take a look at the best platformers and DSiWare games. Then in Part 3, we’ll go over puzzle and causal fare. Part 4 will have the best arcade classics and remakes, and Part 5 will feature RPGs and other quest adventures. In the final part, we’ll look at the best DS games that I couldn’t figure into any category, and also honor what I feel is the best DS game series ever!

I would have liked to do these all at once, or all right in a row. But there is just too much other stuff going on this month, so they’ll be kind of scattered in between other blogs. For instance, this weekend I’ll be attending a special Pokemon event, and I’m also planning something extra special for Okamiden. But you can expect to see more of these ‘Best of DS’ blogs all throughout March until the release of the 3DS. So let’s get started!


I’m not really into sports games, so this list will be short.

Mario Hoops 3 on 3

Before Square-Enix did Mario Sports Mix on Wii (which is also a fine sports game), they cut their teeth with this basketball title. It wasn’t the best in the world and it wasn’t super stellar or anything. Plus it was also pretty difficult. But it had a lot of good ideas, like tapping on the screen to dribble the ball. And at the time, it was also one of the best looking DS games, graphics-wise.

Mario Kart DS

I guess racing is a sport, so we’ll put this one here. Compared to my favorite Mario Kart games (like the SNES original and Super Circuit on GBA), the DS one is pretty middle of the road. But it’s certainly better than say, Double Dash (my least favorite). Mario Kart DS was also one of the first online DS games, and it worked pretty well except when clever players discovered how you could cheat. But regardless, it’s still a pretty decent game. And Toad is still the best!

One of my favorite all time sports video games is Super Dodge Ball on the NES and the GBA remake. There is one on the DS called Dodge Ball Brawlers, and I do own it. But it’s just not as good, despite the more obvious River City Ransom cues this time around (they were softened out on the GBA version), and new ideas like throwable items.


One of the great things about most handheld game systems is that they are region-free, meaning you can play import games on them without having to have a modded system or Japanese console. It makes import gaming much easier. In fact, at one point, Fry’s even sold import games, so a good portion of my handheld imports came from them. Unfortunately, they don’t do that anymore. And even worse, the 3DS is region-locked, so no more importing! But at least the DS and PSP gave me a fun and easier way to try the import scene. Let’s look at some of Only-Japan’s best.

Jump Superstars

This was a Fry’s import purchase for me. It’s like Super Smash Bros. with popular manga characters from the Jump comics. So characters in cartoons like Dragon Ball Z and Naruto can be found here. Naturally, since these licenses are owned by different people in the US, it would be very difficult for this to be released here. Luckily it is pretty import friendly and easy to figure out, despite the language barrier. There was a sequel to this game, but I never bought it because one of the other disadvantages to import games besides the language barrier is they can be a little expensive sometimes.

Taiko Drum games

Namco’s popular music game series, Taiko no Tatsujin, or Taiko Drum Master, has three games on the DS in Japan and I have them all. In these, you use the stylus to tap a drum to the beat of the music. Namco actually tried releasing the Taiko phenomenon on the PS2 in the US, but it bombed big time. I guess Americans would rather play guitar and rock out to Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Go figure. Don’t get me wrong, I think games like Rock Band are great, but I really loved the cute characters and wide variety of songs found in the Taiko games. And the DS ones are very import friendly. Heck, I even could figure out the RPG mode in the third game!

Legendary Starfy 4

For the longest time, Nintendo’s Starfy games on the GBA and DS were for Japan only. It wasn’t until the fifth game in the series that we got it in the US. There is another Starfy DS game that came out before that, though. Starfy games are meant for little kids, but they have that Nintendo polish and charm so older gamers can enjoy them, too. They’re 2-D platformers similar to Kirby, with characters that are like an anime take on undersea cartoons like Spongebob or Finding Nemo. And since they’re geared towards little kids, the language barrier is pretty light.

Namco Mini Game thing

I really can’t remember the name of this game. I think it translates to “Namco Video Game Training” or something like that. I wrote a blog about it a long time ago. It’s basically a WarioWare style game with classic Namco arcade titles like Dig Dug. As a big classic Namco fan, I had to try this one. The language barrier is a little steeper here, but it was still fun.

Game Center CX 2

This was a sequel to a game based on a TV show in Japan where a comedian played very hard classic games, with varying results. We got the first game in the US, thanks to XSEED, called Retro Game Challenge. I loved it so much, that I imported the sequel. Aside from the RPG and text adventure, the rest of the game was very import friendly. And the fake 2-D platformer, puzzler, and Pac-Man rip-off were great. It’s too bad that XSEED won’t release this in the US, but Retro Game Challenge didn’t sell too well, and it’s all your fault for not buying it.


And that’s all for now. Next time we’ll look at my favorite DS platformers and DSiWare titles. In the comments section, tell me YOUR favorite DS sports and import games! Later! –Cary

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