The Nintendo DS needs no introduction, everyone knows and loves it, we all went through that stage where we longed for one. And no wonder, since it’s the best-selling handheld system in history, and the second best-selling video game console only behind the legendary Sony PS2.

Fun, accessibility, and comfort, all in a single device that you can take everywhere. 

Almost 20 years after its release, the DS is still a console that many people use, thanks to the multiple versions that were launched on the market, highlighting the DSi and DSi XL. Later, they launched the Nintendo 3DS, which we said goodbye to in 2020. 

Despite the massive success it had, there is something quite striking, and that is the exorbitant price at which DS games are currently.

At first glance, it doesn’t make sense, there should be millions of DS games left over if it was so successful… Well, it’s more complex than it seems.

Why Are Nintendo DS Games So Expensive?

In general Nintendo DS games are expensive because they are still in very high demand and Nintendo is no longer producing new games for the handheld.

An obvious reason for certain. Simple supply and demand, but there are a few other factors that come into play so let’s look at what is affecting the current rise in prices of Nintendo DS games.

Expensive Nintendo DS cartridges

Discontinuation of DS games

Just like any other successful product, DS games fulfilled a cycle in the market until the arrival of the next generation of consoles. This meant that publishers stopped releasing games for the DS, something completely natural, that’s how the market works.

And so, it is that the rare products of the past are revalued, because those that remain are the only ones available.

However, this does not explain the high price that some DS cartridges can cost online, especially if they include their original case since they are not as old as the GameBoy or even more, as the NES, which makes more sense to be expensive.

We are talking about less than 10 years ago, popular games were still being produced as normal. But one thing that hasn’t changed since that time is Nintendo, a company that has always sold its games for a higher dollar value than the competition.

Why Are Nintendo Games More Expensive?

As you well know, the Japanese company has been in the gaming industry for more than 40 years now, getting a big advantage (at least in time) over Microsoft and Sony, the other gaming giants.

Nintendo has shaped the childhoods of entire generations, and it is no exaggeration to say this. Of course, this gives them a verification of quality, that their catalog of games is excellent for the most part, and that they don’t fail to entertain.

Another factor is that, unlike its competitors, Nintendo does not release its games on multiple platforms. Because they sell their own consoles and the buyer knows that they have to buy exclusive Nintendo games to enjoy their device.

We also have the fact that Nintendo’s consoles have been characterized by supporting only cartridges, not discs, except for the GameCube and Wii. This format sounds a bit obsolete by today’s standards, but it has worked for Nintendo, it’s part of the retro charm of their products.

Cartridges have always been more expensive to manufacture than discs. To record GBs of space on a cartridge, requires higher quality components, and a more artisanal process, so to speak, unlike a disc, on which it is much easier to record a game. For this reason, Nintendo has always released more limited cartridges to the market, and unfortunately, they do not always satisfy all customers.

This is quite curious because it doesn’t seem like a conventional business model. The logic is that if a product sells, you manufacture more to generate more profit, but Nintendo often does not apply to this, their sales are controlled, and it is something they do on purpose.

Nintendo DS Lite is still worth the money

The Unique Charm Of The DS

The original and intuitive design of this console ends up having a direct impact on the price of its game catalog. Of course, you can play them on emulators, either on your PC or on your smartphone, it’s a very popular option nowadays… except for the DS games. 

All the titles released for this console are adapted to it, made to be played on dual screen, which wouldn’t be such a problem to emulate if it weren’t for the fact that one of them is touchscreen.

This ends up affecting the gaming experience, making it not very dynamic and somewhat annoying. Some people get used to it, but some prefer to enjoy their games on the console for which they were intended. 

The solution is not in other Nintendo consoles either, since the last one that allows backward compatibility with classic DS games is the Nintendo 3DS, which as we said before, was discontinued in 2020.

This is where it differs from its competition, as Xbox and PlayStation include backward compatibility in their latest models (for the most part). It is a feature that is never missing and keeps the older titles from previous consoles at a normal price. 

Thanks to this, the Nintendo DS remains the best choice for playing DS games, as obvious as it sounds, you know what I mean.

Being well aware of this preference, DS game owners will not let go of their possessions so easily, at least not for a low price.

The Rarity Of DS Games

Today, certain game cartridges have become very valuable. Not that they are all hard to find and expensive, like Mario Kart DS and Super Mario 64 DS which can be found for less than $30 on auction sites like eBay, a cheap price.

Then some cost over $100, surpassing the price of current console titles. To name a few examples, Pokemon HeartGold can be worth over $150 for the cartridge alone. With its original cover in good condition, it can reach $500.

This is another factor well known to collectors, looking at the quality of the product and how complete it is.

There are many DS cartridges, but there are few that have not been punished by the passage of time along with their cases and manuals. Being a console of almost 20 years old and with great popularity among children, it is quite common to find deteriorated cartridges whose cases no longer exist. 

The Most Expensive DS Games

Surely, you were already asking this question, but we warn you, these are not the typical Mario games and other classic Nintendo characters, that sold very well, except those Pokemon ones, those games will be expensive for eternity.

Below is a list of the 10 most expensive DS games, each of them with a price range, being the cheapest the cartridges by themselves and the most expensive the ones that include their original case in good condition:

10. Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation (2011): $60 – $195

9. Power Bike (2009): $50 – $220

8. Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier (2008): $75 – $230

7. Dokapon Journey (2009): $90 – $300

6. Commando: Steel Disaster (2008): $50 – $300

5. Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ (2007): $65 – $315

4. Pokemon Distribution Cartridge (Special Events): $70 – $380

3. Shepherd’s Crossing 2 (2010): $150 – $400

2. Solatorobo: Red The Hunter (2010): $120 – $450

1. Pokemon HeartGold with PokeWalker (2010): $150 – $1,528 

Boy, is it expensive to enrich your DS game catalog. And as the years go by, they’ll become even more valuable.

But you have to admit, some things are worth paying for. Having a cartridge of this classic console in your hands will always be a pleasure. But it is quickly becoming a luxury, so if you are a retro game lover with a DS and want to relive old times, hurry up and buy games while you can.