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Top 10 DS Games for the holidays (Update)

1:15 PM on 12.05.2006 // Savant

As the holiday shopping season soon begins to kick into high gear, we here at Destructoid would like to give some ideas on great gaming gifts. Today we will be focusing on the most popular handheld; the Nintendo DS.

Most of you out there are probably hellbent on getting the Wii or PS3 this holiday, but the DS is also a great gift that is widely available and at a reasonable pricetag, too.

Within this simple shopping guide, I will outline my personal picks for the best games to give (or to receive) based on overall quality and fun.

Hit the jump to begin your tech-toygasm.

(UPDATE: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin drops tomorrow, and being the biggest Castlevania nut on the site [as shown by my editor avatar] I suggest each and everyone out there snags a copy as soon as possible. But, if you're like me, you've already got it reserved and will be expecting a stocking-full of goodies coming with it. Best regards.)

First off, if you are still rollin' with the DS Fat, please upgrade to the Lite as soon as possible to prevent further embarassment. The DS Lite comes in three sleek colors; Polar White, Onyx (Black), and Coral Pink. I personally recommend Onyx, because it gives the illusion that the screens are even more blindingly bright than they already are.

But enough about the hardware, let's get down to the games that you'll be playing until your thumbs bleed and your stylus breaks.  Without further delay, I present the top 10 DS games for the holidays in alphabetical order.

Big Brain Academy

At a value price of $19.99, this is a hard game to pass up. Big Brain Academy is a series of mental challenges that test your thinking skills in a variety of ways. This game is an excellent option for anyone in the family as it uses solely the stylus and is an easy pick-up-and-play title. For the more hardcore out there, Big Brain also offers different difficulties and rates your performance on a medal system. Try getting gold on everything on the hardest setting, it will give your mind a workout!

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin

Ah, Castlevania, how we've missed you. If you've been living under a rock for the past two decades, Castlevania has become one of the most loved action-adventure games out there. Portrait of Ruin is the latest installment in the series and the second outting on the Nintendo DS. The usual RPG-esque elements will be in place here with a few twists including a series-first of online and local co-operative play. Check your local game shop for this on Dec. 12th.

Clubhouse Games

The main claim to fame in this game (oh SNAP, can you feel the flow?) is that it offers 42 all-time classics. They aren't kidding, either. There's Chess, Checkers, Darts, Bowling, Billards, Texas Hold'Em, Old Maid, Blackjack, and many more. But the big rub here is the outstanding online play and wireless game sharing off of a single copy of the game. If you've got a few buddies, this is a must-have.

Elite Beat Agents

Quirky, addictive, and fun are three words that describe this unique rhythm game. If you have someone on your list who is into music of any kind or who really enjoys strange, almost drug-induced storylines, then this is their game. Who knew that three secret agents that dance could possibly right all that is wrong in the world? Don't understand what I mean? Then you're just gonna have to pick up this one to find out. Needless to say, the initial charm and challenging gameplay will keep you hooked.

Final Fantasy III

This long-awaited complete remake of the Japanese FF3 for the DS just hit store shelves yesterday. There's really not that much to say since I'm sure a lot of you out there have been following this since its announcement at E3. But for those of you who didn't know what Castlevania was (all 3 of you), I'll elaborate on Final Fantasy briefly. Final Fantasy is the visionary RPG franchise that has shaped gaming from its inception on the Famicom (NES) two decades ago. Since then, it has become one of the most recognized and beloved series of games worldwide. If you are buying for someone who likes Final Fantasy, they will love this fresh remake.

Mario Kart DS

Probably the best Mario Kart in the series as well as one of the best games for the DS, period. The multiplayer is one of the best handheld experiences you can have outside of anything sexual. It is highly recommended by pretty much anyone that owns a DS. Don't have it? Get it. MKDS features the best and largest assortment of racers, karts, items, and tracks.


A very frantic and insanely addictive puzzler from the makers of Lumines. Meteos is played completely with the stylus and also features literally tons of unlockable goodies. Every stage in this puzzle game features a unique challenge by way of variable gravity. If you are a fan of Tetris, and you've already got Tetris DS, be sure to snag this one, too.

Metroid Prime Hunters

A first-person shooter with a great single player and multiplayer component. If there's someone on your list who owns a GameCube and has played either of the Metroid Prime games, they will greatly enjoy this new adventure with new characters to play as in the online deathmatch arenas.

New Super Mario Bros.

I was born in 1985 and I grew up playing the original Super Mario Bros. with a great passion. I guess you could call that my "gateway drug" into the world of video games. But, for those of us who didn't grow up in that great time of console gaming, Nintendo has come out with New Super Mario Bros. for the current generation of gamers. It features classic side-scrolling 2D platforming that will make the old-school gamer smile and the new-school gamer squeal with unbridled glee.

Yoshi's Island 2 DS 

Yoshi and Baby Mario are back in this anticipated release on the DS. Yoshi's Island DS is a colorful and challenging romp through tons of well-designed levels and castles that will keep many gamers glued to their handheld over the winter break and beyond. It is another truly classic platformer with plenty of variety and fun.

So that does it folks, grab your shopping list and get out to the local mall and grab these games by the handful. Happy Holidays! 

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