Cary’s Best of DS, Part 4: Puzzlers and Casual Games

With the upcoming launch of the 3DS in the US, I wanted to take a look back at my favorite games on the DS now that the handheld is in its twilight years. Last time on this blog series, we took at look at my favorite RPGs and quest adventures. This time we’ll look at my favorite DS puzzlers and casual games!

One of the great things about the DS is how it introduced a lot of causal gamers and non-gamers into the fold. Simple touch screen controls and the open creativity the DS offered helped make this happen, too. There are a lot of games on the DS that wouldn’t have worked or have been as successful on another console. Some great ideas include the Brain Age and Big Brain Academy games, as well as the Personal Trainer: Cooking virtual cookbook. They didn’t make it on my list because they didn’t hold my attention that long, but they’re still great ideas regardless. And like my ‘best DS RPGs blog,’ there are lots of other great puzzlers and causal games I just didn’t get around to trying. But anyway, here’s my list of my favorite DS puzzlers and casual games.

Art Academy

Of all the ‘educational’ games on the DS, I thought this was one of the best. It may not replace picking up an actual brush and physically stroking it on an easel, but Art Academy is a great way to get a basic look at art and drawing and painting techniques. I probably liked it so much since Mario Paint is one of my favorite SNES games. I created some pretty neat DS artworks by following the lessons, too. And it’s only 20 bucks.

Cross Words

The next couple of games are really my mom’s favorites, not mine. You see, she owns a pink DSi that I got her for birthday last year…or was it Mother’s Day? I can’t remember. Before then she had a blue DS Phat that I got her a long time ago. Anyway, I think she plays her DS more than I play mine! On the DSi, I downloaded her a lot of puzzle games that she would like on DSiWare, such as Dr. Mario, Book Worm, etc. And every now and then I buy her a cartridge game, too. There have been many crossword games on the DS, but Nintendo’s own published one is probably the best. My mom played it for a very long time and never even came close to finishing all the crossword puzzles and find-a-words on the game! You definitely get a lot for you money if you like solving crossword puzzles here!

Zoo Keeper

This is the other DS game that my mom STILL plays. It’s basically Bejeweled, but my mom likes the animal heads in Zoo Keeper better. I just can’t believe she is still playing it!

Mario vs. Donkey Kong games

The Donkey Kong game on the GBC was one of the best arcade remakes ever. Seriously. They tried to follow it up on the GBA, but the sequel, called Mario vs. Donkey Kong, wasn’t near as good. On the DS, the Mario vs. Donkey Kong games took a different approach, and were much better for it. In these games, you have to get the mini Mario wind-up toys to a goal. It’s kind of like Lemmings. In the first game, March of the Minis, you directly controlled the Mario toys with the stylus. But in the recent sequel: Mini-Land Mayhem, you didn’t have control over the minis, but could manipulate the environment around them with the stylus. I never played the downloadable DSiWare Minis March Again because it looked like more of the same, but I’m sure it’s fun, too. One thing I like about these games is they brought back Mario’s original lady to rescue: Pauline!

Picross DS & Picross 3-D

It’s hard to describe these games. They’re like a cross between a number logic puzzle and a crossword. I think I like the 3-D one a little better (plus it was done by HAL, makers of Kirby). But what really impressed me about these games is how many puzzles are on each one. And when you finish them all, you can download more! Like Nintendo’s Cross Words, you really get your money’s worth with these.


You know those puzzles you find in activity books and newspapers where you must find the differences in two pictures? Well that’s what you do in QuickSpot, but it has the quick pace of a WarioWare game, too. It’s really fun and I recommend trying it if you see it. Plus, as a classic Namco fan, I really liked it because a bunch of the pictures featured classic Namco characters and games!

Tetris DS

My favorite thing about Nintendo’s published Tetris game is the classic Nintendo themes and sprites. I didn’t like playing online, though, because before then, I THOUGHT I was really good at Tetris. I mean, I can always beat my family and friends. But after playing some of the folks online with Tetris DS, I guess I’m not as good after all.

TouchMaster series

The TouchMaster arcade games can be found in bars all over the place, and the touch screen controls work well on the DS. These games offer a bunch of simple touch screen card games, puzzles, and other oddities on one collection. And there have been four in all. I feel the most recent one is the best, and I think my mom stole my copy to play for herself!


There are a handful of other DS puzzlers that are pretty good, like Meteos, Pokemon Trozei, etc. But I think my favorite one is TrionCube. It’s got the simplicity of a Mr. Driller game (in fact, I think it was made by the same guy), and tons of unlockables, like skins and sound effects you can place on the screen. Since it’s a Namco game, you can even decorate the playfield and sounds to be like Xevious! You know what puzzle game I think would be great on DS? Yoshi’s Cookie.

And those are my all-time favorite DS puzzlers and casual games. Just like my favorite DS RPGs blog, there are a lot of other puzzlers that I missed or didn’t put on here. So now’s your chance to let your favorites shine. In the comments section, let me know YOUR favorite DS puzzlers and casual games! Next time, we’ll look at my favorite arcade collections and classic remakes on the DS!

No Responses to “Cary’s Best of DS, Part 4: Puzzlers and Casual Games”

  1. This has been a great series, Cary.

    The only problem is that Nintendo is absolutely crazy sometimes, and decides on short production runs of some games, even their biggest franchises. Like Tetris DS – for most of the DS’ life, it was impossible to get a Tetris game for less than really high collector prices. It was only with the release of Tetris Party that the average gamer could get Tetris on their handheld.

    The new copies of Tetris DS on Amazon START at $88!

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment

Tired of typing this out each time? Register as a subscriber!