Nintendo DS wasn’t a primary choice for horror games, but you can find some worthy options if you look hard enough. Here are our picks.

Nintendo DS was released in 2004 and to this day it holds the titles of the best-selling handheld game console and the second-best-selling console of all time. Such a huge success was a result of several elements that aligned perfectly.

Firstly, handheld consoles are usually much cheaper, making them more affordable for a wider audience. Secondly, Nintendo DS offered backward compatibility with Game Boy Advance, allowing the owners of GBA games to enjoy their favorite titles once more.

Thirdly, and most importantly, it was equipped with brand-new features that were a complete novelty in the handheld market at the time: two LCD screens, with one being a touchscreen, a built-in microphone, and Wi-Fi support. There was also an option to connect multiple consoles through Wi-Fi without connecting to an existing network, making local multiplayer a much more convenient experience.

The Appeal of Handheld Horror

It’s not unreasonable to think that horror games are much less effective on handheld consoles due to smaller screens that have a negative impact on immersion.

A jumpscare can’t possibly be as scary on such a small display as it would be on a proper computer monitor or TV, but horrors can still use other, more sophisticated tactics to give you a fright; psychological horrors that focus on tension and suspense come to mind naturally.

There are, however, some use cases, where having a portable console would be great for playing specifically horror games. Imagine, that you can take your friends and go for a night in the woods.

Wouldn’t it be exciting to be able to play some good horror in a secluded cabin and experience a fun scare together? It sounds like a perfect environment for a small-scale ghost night party.

Although the modern handheld console market is much more developed, with devices such as Steam Deck or Nintendo Switch that can be as powerful as your average home PC, contained within a much smaller, portable box, the demand for much more affordable classic devices such as Nintendo DS doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

If you too are looking for a healthy kick of nostalgia, here’s our list of some of the best horror games for Nintendo DS.

Dementium: The Ward

Release date:2007-10-31
Developer:Renegade Kid

The first game on the list is Dementium, a game that was praised for its lighting effects at the time of its original release.

Dementium: The Ward is a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter, where you’ll have to play as an amnesiac who just woke up in a hospital. It probably wouldn’t be that bad if the place wasn’t overrun by monsters, but that’s exactly the situation you’ll find yourself in.

Fighting for survival and trying to piece together important bits of information to get a better idea of what’s going on, you’ll have to find your way out to safety. You’re not a soldier, nor an experienced fighter though, so tread carefully and resort to using your trusty nightstick or a gun with limited ammo only if there’s no other way around.

Key features
  • A survival horror that takes place in an abandoned hospital
  • Gameplay focused on exploring the areas and finding clues and items necessary to progress
  • Dark, claustrophobic locations
  • Creepy atmosphere that is further emphasized by the sound effects and music

Nanashi no Game

Release date:2008-07-03

A surprisingly scary Japanese production you wouldn’t expect to find on Nintendo DS.

It’s a well-known fact that the Japanese are the masters of horror and it’s been proved once more with Nanashi no Game. A truly scary horror can’t rely on cheap jumpscares, but should rather build the tension and keep the player in a sense of constant fear and uncertainty – and that’s how it’s like here. In Nanashi no Game, even such a simple action as walking around a well-lit room can evoke the feeling of something not being right, making you somewhat paranoid, expecting something scary to happen any second.

Key features
  • A survival horror that incorporates the elements of malicious ghost stories
  • Gameplay that heavily revolves around exploration
  • A threat in the form of deadly zombies
  • Creepy atmosphere of constant fear and tension

Corpse Party

Release date:2011-11-22
Developer:Team GrisGris

Continuing on Japanese games, one can’t forget about Corpse Party.

Corpse Party is a survival horror game that puts emphasis on the story and narrative. As far as the dialogues go, the game resembles a Japanese visual novel with adorable drawings of the starring characters, but don’t let that and occasional humorous dialogue lines deceive you – Corpse Party can be quite terrifying at times.

Gameplay-wise it’s a 2D pixel-art game where you’ll be tasked with exploring the haunted school while trying to find your missing classmates and, most importantly, survive. The atmosphere in the game is just what you’d like to see in a horror game. Add to that professional voice acting, and you get a little masterpiece.

Key features
  • A survival horror game with a captivating story and pixel-art style
  • Gameplay that combines 2D exploration with a visual novel style of dialogue
  • Great voice acting that helps with the immersion
  • Light-hearted moments that allow you to catch a breath between much scarier parts

Last Window: The Secret of Cape West

Release date:2010-01-14

For another story-driven adventure, you could try Last Window.

Last Window continues the story of former detective Kyle Hyde from Hotel Dusk: Room 215 and presents players with a new mystery to solve. The game is heavily focused on the storyline and offers players meaningful choices that can influence the outcomes. A big part of the game lies in questioning the people and learning useful information that can be of use to help the detective solve the case.

The game is played vertically and makes smart use of both displays. During dialogues, participants are shown on opposite screens, and during the exploration, one display shows the 2D map, while the other shows the 3D view of the environment.

Key features
  • A story-driven adventure that follows an ex-detective’s investigation
  • The gameplay focused on dialogue with extra importance being put on player choices
  • Memorable comic book-like visual style
  • A game meant to be played in vertical mode

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow

Release date:2005-08-25
Genre:Hack and slash

From a less scary side of the spectrum of games to recommend, there’s Castlevania.

Dawn of Sorrow is not exactly a horror game, as there’s nothing to be scared of when you’re a powerful vampire hunter who can easily face any possible challenge head-on. With that being said, the game features all kinds of demonic creatures that will try to tear you apart if you’re not careful.

It turns out that defeating Dracula wasn’t enough to stop the catastrophe; the disastrous fate needs a new master, and you’re the obstacle that prevents it from happening. As such, you’re the primary target of all evil – eliminating you means a new beginning for the demonic forces. The dark lord will return once you’re dead.

Key features
  • An addictive platform adventure with vampire-related themes
  • Maze-like levels that encourage exploration and incorporate backtracking
  • A wide choice of medieval-inspired weaponry and magic spells
  • Memorable soundtrack that fits the theme

Theresia: Dear Emile

Release date:2008-09-11

Here’s one of the very few games that managed to get an M for Mature score for ESRB on Nintendo DS.

Theresia is mainly a visual novel game with exploration presented in a way that reminds retro turn-based 3D RPG games, where players had to navigate through labyrinths and tight corridors and were only able to either move forward or make a turn, one step at a time.

The game is heavily driven by the two stories that meet and intertwine, allowing the player to get a better understanding of what’s going on and why they’re trapped in an unfamiliar place that reeks of danger and evil influence.

Key features
  • An addictive old-school adventure
  • Two overarching, captivating stories
  • Gameplay that puts emphasis on exploration and solving riddles
  • Unsettling sounds that help to build a proper horror atmosphere

Touch the Dead

Release date:2007-06-15
Developer:Dream on Studio

Rail shooters were quite popular back in the day, and so here’s an example of an exclusive one for Nintendo DS.

Touch the Dead is a rail shooter with a self-explanatory title, where you’ll have to, you guessed it, touch the dead. The protagonist moves on their own in a 3D environment, exploring the rooms and corridors, and your job is to tap the zombie creatures as they appear on the screen to shoot them down.

The game offers an easy-to-learn, fast-paced experience that serves as a great test for one’s reflex and reaction time. You’ll have to learn how to cleverly time your actions to quickly dispose of waves of incoming enemies; switching weapons and reloading are done manually, and mastering both of these things will be crucial to your success.

Key features
  • A zombie-themed rail shooter game
  • Constant fast-paced action
  • Classic arcade-like experience
  • Several weapons to switch between, including the basic pistol with infinite ammo

Resident Evil: Deadly Silence

Release date:2006-01-19
Developer:Capcom Production Studio 4

Finally, a Resident Evil game – a part of the quite challenging survival horror series.

Deadly Silence is a Nintendo DS port of the original Resident Evil game with numerous enhancements. It was released as a part of the tenth anniversary of the franchise, allowing Nintendo DS owners to immerse and experience the genius behind the classic horror.

Old-school Resident Evil games were known for their static camera system, which made it look like you’re watching the action through CCTV cameras. In combination with the so-called tank controls, navigating in the world was quite a challenge itself, especially when you were facing an enemy – there was no aim assistance and the monsters were often off the screen, forcing you to shoot blindly and praying for a hit.

Key features
  • A remastered version of the original Resident Evil from 1996
  • Gameplay that combines exploration with demanding gunplay
  • New puzzles that utilize the touchscreen
  • A special mode for those seeking extra challenge


Nintendo DS was a true novelty at the time of its release due to the features that were yet to be found on competition devices, and it’s still an incredibly popular handheld console among players across the world.

While one could argue that the effectiveness of horror games on such small screens is rather limited, the portability itself brings a lot of value to the table, allowing you to enjoy your favorite games anywhere you want, including darker and scarier places that could further enhance your horror experience. Combined with the naturally lower price of second-hand devices from the old gaming era, with Nintendo DS you’re guaranteed to have lots of fun without the need to spend a fortune.