Mario is the most recognizable gaming mascot in history. Sonic never got as much recognition, only gamers know Master Chief, and who would you consider the mascot of PlayStation? Even people that don’t play video games at all still recognize Mario.
Another area that Nintendo dominated where others failed is the handheld market. Game Gear tried to compete with the GameBoy and failed. The PS Vita hasn’t been relevant for a long time and Microsoft never even bothered to try.
In November of 2004, Nintendo released its newest portable gaming console, the DS. Mario made many appearances on the NDS just like the previous GameBoy consoles. We are going to cover all of his major releases and rank them for you. So if you have a DS and are looking for a Mario fix, this is
The Best Mario Games For Nintendo DS, Ranked!
Mario Hoops: 3 on 3
It may sound like a gimmick when it comes to a sports game featuring Mario, but many things went into Hoops to make it a fun title. Two teams of three play basketball and Mario is even joined by Final Fantasy characters like Moogle and Ninja.
There are over a dozen characters to choose from and every player has their own special ability to make things different. Any move you would want to pull off in a normal basketball game you can do here by using the Touch Screen.
Different environments change up how you play. One level has a Piranha Plant as a hoop which makes dunking impossible. Every shot has to be performed from where the Plant can’t reach you. You can also replace the ball with a die or goomba along with other balls.
There are coin blocks that you can stand on during the game. If you stand on a block when you have the ball then you will get coins. If you don’t have the ball, you’ll get something like a red shell that you can use on opposing players.
Besides playing basketball, you can play other modes like the dribble race where you have to dribble the ball on a spot with a coin block 100 times as fast as possible while dodging shells. You can ever play with friends through local multiplayer as well.
While it’s the lowest-ranked Mario game for DS, it still can provide fun whether you are playing with friends or by yourself.
Metacritic Score: 69/100
Mario And Sonic At The Olympic Games
This game was a big deal when it came out on the Wii and there wasn’t much that changed when this game came to the DS. The biggest change is that there are touchscreen controls instead of motion controls.
The events that you could play in the Wii version are all here, including the ever popular fencing. Every character belongs to the same category based on their rankings. If you loved the game on the Wii then you will enjoy having this game to play when you’re on the go.
Metacritic Score: 70/100
Mario Party DS
When Mario Party came out on the Nintendo 64, it was so successful that it was responsible for two sequels on the same console and many more on future Nintendo consoles. Eventually, there was a Mario Party game released on the Nintendo DS.
The story of the game is that a bunch of crystals fall from the sky and King Koopa wants the crystals. So he traps Mario and everyone else then shrinks them down and if they want to get the crystals back, they have to play through five of Bowser’s board game levels.
Every board only lasts ten turns for each player but there are mini-games. You get coins by landing on specific spots and winning the mini-games. Some spaces will take coins away but the main goal is to buy more stars than everyone else before all ten turns expire.
There is a lot of variety in the mini-games. There are races, platforming, timing, guessing along with the occasional randomness to mix things up.
You can also play through the collection of mini-games if you don’t want to play through the story mode. Just pick mini-games from the main menu, and you can skip all to story and board game.
This is one of the great titles that include the “Download Play” option so that you can play with other people across multiple consoles with just one cartridge.
If you like any of the home console versions of Mario Party then you will like this one as well. It will keep you from experiencing boredom when you are traveling or commuting.
Metacritic Score: 72/100
Mario vs Donkey Kong 2: March Of The Minis
If you ever played the Lemmings then you’ll quickly see some familiarity in gameplay here. You have the task of leading Mini-Marios through levels from Point A to Point B with the stylus. You will have to hit switches to make blocks appear and save the Mini-Marios.
Meanwhile, Donkey Kong has kidnapped Pauline and it’s up to Mario to get her back. Mario uses the miniature versions of himself as ammo against Donkey Kong which is why you want as many of the miniature Marios to survive as possible.
The boss battles with Donkey Kong are not quite as fun as the rest of the puzzle solving. The parts where you guide the mini Marios are much better.
If you like Lemmings then you should give this game a chance. Just don’t expect the battles between Mario and Donkey Kong to be as fun as you might remember them being.
Metacritic Score: 76/100
Dr. Mario Express
If you have played any version of this game on the NES, GBA, or any other console then you have played Dr. Mario Express, it is mostly a remake. There are three different kinds of viruses and you have to drop capsules of the same color on a virus of the same color to get rid of that virus.
While the single-player is fun, I do not know why they opted not to put multiplayer in this game. You can play against the computer as you try to get rid of all the viruses in your pill bottle first.
There was nothing really new here and Nintendo knew it, which is why the game was not released at full price. The game was being sold for five hundred points on the DS shop, so it was definitely worth the price.
Metacritic Score: 76/100
Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Winter Games
If you were disappointed with the DS version of the first Olympic games then you might like the second game. Many of the events do return but they use the touchscreen more intuitively than the first Mario & Sonic Olympics did.
Some of the events have been completely changed from what they were on the Wii. There are also dream events that are fun to play. If that isn’t enough then you would want to check out the story mode.
The story mode has Bowser and Eggman ruin the winter events by capturing all the snow spirits so there is no snow. One of the spirits escapes and assists Mario & Sonic to rescue the others. This is one Olympics game that should be checked out.
Metacritic Score: 76/100
Mario vs Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem
It’s another game where you must lead Mario’s mini-clones to safety by drawing bridges with the stylus or activating switches. Once a mini starts moving, they won’t stop until they reach the exit or die from a hazard.
Getting the miniature Mario’s to safety isn’t the only objective. There are bonus tokens that you have to try and collect and once a mini-Mario makes it to safety, once you switch the door open you only have a few seconds to get the other Marios in.
You’re not just rescuing miniature versions of Mario. There are miniature versions of characters like Toad who need to be led to their doors. The miniature versions of Mario also play a bigger part in the fights with bosses.
If all that wasn’t enough, there is a construction zone where you can create your levels and upload them. Nintendo was going to be featuring contests for the best user-generated levels. While the servers are no longer up, the main game is still fun to play.
Metacritic Score: 79/100
Mario vs Donkey Kong: Minis March Again
If the previous Mario vs Donkey Kong games were too easy then you might want to search for the final game in the trilogy which is Mario vs Donkey Kong: Minis March Again.
This game expands on the original but ups the difficulty by requiring you to collect all the bonus items to complete a level. You must also rescue all of your miniature characters before the time limit expires to advance.
Like previous games, you draw bridges and place blocks to help mini Marios make it to safety.
There are cards hidden in the levels and you can collect all nine to unlock a special level. The Construction Zone has more possibilities and you unlock more things that can be used in this mode as you play the main game.
The story is that Mario and Pauline are selling the wind-up Marios but when Donkey Kong appears at the front of the line, the wind-up Marios escapes so Donkey Kong captures Pauline. When you finish the regular game, Pauline is captured again.
When Pauline is captured again, Mario has to go through the plus levels. The difference between the regular and plus levels is that the wind-up Mario’s start walking as soon as the stage starts.
Many people do not seem to like this entry, but the biggest complaint is the difficulty, so if you liked the original but wanted more of a challenge, don’t skip this one.
Metacritic Score: 82/100
Super Mario 64 DS
Everybody loved Super Mario 64 but the DS version was actually better. In addition to Mario, you could now play as Luigi (L is real!), Wario, and Yoshi based on what you need to complete the level. You start as Yoshi searching for Mario, Luigi, and Wario after they go missing.
Since you are playing as Yoshi, the first star where you have to face King Bob-omb is a different fight. Instead of picking him up and throwing him on the ground, you have to suck up the smaller bob-ombs he produces and throw them at King Bob-omb.
When you come across the caps of other characters, you unlock them to use in the different kinds of levels. The abilities of Luigi, Wario, and Yoshi make getting some stars much easier. Also, there is now a total of 150 stars instead of 120 stars.
You can unlock minigames that use the touch screen very well. If you completed Mario 64 on Nintendo 64 and wish there was more, pick up Super Mario 64 DS.
Metacritic Score: 85/100
Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time
Aliens attack the Mushroom Kingdom and when Mario and Luigi need help to rescue Princess Peach, they travel back in time to team up with the baby versions of themselves.
There are times where all four characters travel together or where the babies have to go on their own to help Mario & Luigi as adults.
This title still features the turn-based roleplaying system that was made famous by the Paper Mario series on GCN. There was some criticism because the bottom screen of the DS should have been used more instead of just during battles and while in the overworld.
You got into battles by jumping on the enemies when you see them on the overworlds and you have attacks like kicking a shell back and forth. There are lots of other cool power attacks that you wouldn’t see in other Mario games.
Metacritic Score: 86/100
New Super Mario Bros
Mario and Peach are spending the day together when lightning strikes Peach’s castle. Mario goes to investigate and Bowser Jr. kidnaps Peach. Now Mario has to rescue Peach (surprise!).
The two newest power-ups are both mushrooms. There is a huge mushroom that makes you invincible and you can run through the levels. Even things like pipes go flying when you are running through the level with the effects of this mushroom.
There is a smaller mushroom that will make Mario shrink. If you want to get to world four and seven, you have to be very small Mario at the end of the second and fifth world. Besides that, the gameplay is the same gameplay we love from Mario games.
There are mini-games you can play like a card game where Luigi is the dealer and Toad is walking around the casino serving drinks. The mini-games are just as fun to play as the normal game.
Metacritic Score: 89/100
Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
A new mushroom that is in the Mushroom Kingdom is causing the Toads to fatten up to the point they can only move by rolling around. When Bowser tries to kidnap Peach, Mario saves her, and Bowser gets ejected from the castle.
Bowser takes one of the new mushrooms and sucks up everyone meeting in the castle with Mario & Peach. The person behind these mushrooms is trying to take over the Mushroom Kingdom.
Mario and Luigi wake up inside Bowser and they have to look for everyone else from the Mushroom Kingdom. A unique diversion from the regular “save the princess“ theme.
The battle system with enemies inside Bowser is the same as the battle system seen in Mario & Luigi’s Superstar Saga & Partners In Time.
What is unique here is not only do you control Mario & Luigi but you also control Bowser. If a ledge is too high for the brothers to reach, Bowser can drink water and they can swim up to that ledge that was previously unreachable.
The battle system is familiar to anyone who played the other two games in this series, but of the three in this trilogy, this is the best. It added something new with Bowser having to work together with Mario & Luigi who are trapped inside him.
Metacritic Score: 90/100
Mario Kart DS
This was the fifth Mario Kart game to come out but there were a lot of new things introduced. This was the first game to have eight circuits. There were four new circuits and four circuits made up of retro tracks. Every retro circuit consisted of a track from every previous game.
The classic retro tracks brought back for this game were great. They still looked simple compared to the new tracks but they did get a new coat of paint to make the colors vibrant.
There were several new weapons in this game as well. The squid that sprayed black ink making it hard to see where you were going on the top screen, the blue shell that would go after the person in the lead, and the bullet bill that would help someone jump up from last place.
Besides Balloon Battle, you could play Shine Runners against the computer where you and your opponents tried to collect star-shaped coins, making it the first time you could play battle modes against the computer.
You could also play Vs. Races where you pick a certain amount of tracks and try to get first in every race. You could have the racers randomly divided into teams so there would be a team score that combined the individual scores.
If that was not enough, there were also missions where you would be on specially designed tracks and you had to do something specific before the time limit ran out. When the servers were up, you could race with others online but only race mode and there would be no computer-controlled racers.
Mario Kart is the best Mario game for DS.
Metacritic Score: 91/100
This is the complete list of every Nintendo DS game featuring Mario in a staring role alongside characters from the Mushroom Kingdom. While this list is ranked from worst to best, all these games deserve a try.