The best touch-only DS games

A realization struck me like lightning yesterday: if you play touch-only DS games on a cellphone emulator they‘re pretty much like playing regular phone games but better because they are real games (that’s a joke). It‘s very comfortable and it’s an excellent and very practical way to experience those!

So I thought it would be cool if we could come up with a list of the very best games for the Nintendo DS that can be played with a stylus alone (no buttons! yay!). I'll start with a few that I know of:

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    Kirby Canvas Curse: the og stylus system seller (SSS)

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    The Zeldas: Phantom Hourglass was the first I tried out on my phone. It looks beautiful I love DS graphics so much

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    The Ace Attorneys: they probably have mobile ports already tho idk

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    Ghost Trick: i know some IC people don't groove so much with this one but i think it has an amazing narrative, fun puzzles and the 3D-then-animated-into-2D graphics are so cool and unique. don't think i've seen stuff like that before.

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    Rhythm Heaven: uuuh i played it like 10 years ago i think it was pretty fun

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    Elite Beat Agents (and the japanese ones i can't remember the names of): Frank loves those and so should you! (if you so desire)

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    [s]TWEWY: actually haven't tried this out yet but it has come to my attention that it supports stylus only gameplay[/s] edit: not actually true oops

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    Taiko No Tatsujin: wow remembering this one brought me back to school lunch breaks. God bless those old R4 cartridges.

  • That's all I got! Obviously I don't have that much knowledge about the DS library so I'd love to hear about some of your faves :)

    [“The best DS touch-only games”,“The best touch-only DS games”]

    Gotta have the Professor Layton games on here too! In fact, some of them have been ported to just be actual mobile games.


    @“fugazi57”#p41162 i know some IC people don’t groove so much with this one

    i could stoop to the undignified region of asking you to name names BUT I WON'T

    Is this a stealth normy “goddammit I want Nintendogs on my iPhone” thread?

    Because I can’t believe I am still not provided the basic human right to play Nintendogs on my iPhone. What the hell is Joe Biden doing!?

    Picross 3D took getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it‘s legitimately a next-gen leap for picross. It goes from being a sudoku-lite to being like a sculptor. Almost like it flexes a different part of your brain when it’s in 3D. It blows my mind that something like that has not been tried again on the switch, instead we just get the same rehashed games (not counting the new sega master system picross crossover)

    @“Syzygy”#p41172 oops! A stranger on the internet deceived me

    I'm struggling to remember but I think Cooking Mama was stylus only?

    Also, Meteos is responsible for much NDS touchscreen wear and tear

    @“captain”#p41165 lmao Tim Rogers talked shit about it multiple times. It actually might be my fave ds game

    A lot of games tended to be touch-only-except-for-that-one-button (like Ninja Gaiden) and I‘m terrible at remembering controls for games I’m not playing in real time, but I want to say you can play both Advance Wars games and all the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games entirely with touch controls.

    Ghost Trick has a native mobile port that was recently updated for modern compatibility after years of neglect, so I'd recommend that version (and the same goes for the various Ace Attorney games, most of which are on mobile nowadays).

    Something to bear in mind is that DS games weren't just designed for touch controls but specifically for stylus controls on a resistive screen, and you're not going to want to play a lot of gesture-heavy, high-frequency touch games using your finger on a capacitive screen.

    I think ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat‘s touch-screen only? I quite enjoyed that. And Sangokushi Taisen Ten’s almost touch-screen only (and with multi-touch displays now the norm a modern port would be). Oh! The English of the Dead! There!

    Irrelevant to the current topic at hand but it's been interesting for me to go back to the DS after it making such a bad first impression with me: The touch screen wasn't an adequate replacement for an analogue stick and some early games were gimmicky for the sake of using all the features, but once the dust had settled it ended up with some really clever games :D
    (I know you all know this, just splurging out some positive DS thoughts on my end)

    Is warioware touched stylus only? I can‘t remember but that’s a good one if so. I can see playing that on my phone.

    Heck I'd pay for an app that's just the unlockable toys from that game.

    @“gsk”#p41184 not entirely sure what resistive and capacitive screens are but I think I know what you mean. Was trying to play phantom hourglass but swinging that sword felt kinda off. I think this setup might be more appropriate for visual novels, puzzle games and the likes.

    Anyone know if 999 works with touch only?

    999 can be played with touch only! Some stuff like 999 or Phoenix Wright is a lil borderline because while you will be required to use the stylus a ton you can button through a ton of the dialogue as well. So in the strictest sense they’re not touch only but I think in the spirit of the general question it’s probably fine.

    @“fugazi57”#p41190 Yeah, for the purposes of the conversation it means DS games could be designed around more frenetic, scribble-y games than you tend to see on smartphones, and I can't imagine a game like EBA or Pokemon Ranger or whatever would be much fun to play with a finger (not to mention whatever lag is inherent to the emulator).


    @“fugazi57”#p41190 not entirely sure what resistive and capacitive screens are but I think I know what you mean.

    Resistive screens react to anything that applies pressure on them, be it a finger, a coin, a dog snout or a cheap plastic stylus.

    Capacitive screens react to variance on a minuscule electrostatic field generated by the device.

    Human fingers are electroconductive by nature and therefore work on capacitive screens. Plastics are (typically) non-conductive, which is why the stylus of your DS/3DS will not be recognized on a Nintendo Switch or iPhone. Capacitive screens require a special stylus with the tip coated in electroconductive material.

    The benefits of a resistive screen are that it is typically cheaper, has (had?) a quicker refresh rate and response, can obviously be used with any item, and can be mapped to a 1:1 grid of the screen’s pixels, allowing for pixel-precise drawing – provided the screen is properly calibrated – if you use a thin enough tool (hence the DS/3DS stylus).

    The biggest demerit of a resistive screen is that, with very rare exceptions, it can only understand one point of contact. Pressing multiple pixels at the same time will usually have the screen calculate a median point between the two (or more) pressure points. Which also means such a screen does not understand now widely accepted tactile actions such as pinching to zoom etc.

    Other demerits of the resistive screen include less precise / intuitive understanding of fingers (which use a rather wide surface area when they touch a screen) and higher sensitivity (anything touching the screen will be recognized, even by accident, typically leading to more errors).

    But for instance, a game like Pac-Pix, Art Academy or Flipnote will never feel as intuitive to play on a capacitive screen as it is on a resistive screen.

    @“chazumaru”#p41200 very informative! Thanks!

    I hate how it makes me feel and what its gorgeous art belies, but I‘m putting Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland out there for anyone that wants it.

    @“connrrr”#p41231 oh is that touch only? i saw it on the latest thorhighheels video, it looks amazing

    @“fugazi57”#p41242 Oh shoot! Never mind, I forgot Tingle‘s controlled with the d-pad (or face buttons—it’s ambidextrous). Sorry!