View Full Version : Happy 7th Birthday, 3DS! 27 Must-Play 3DS Games

03-05-2018, 09:25 PM

Happy Birthday, 3DS!

It's been over a seven years since the 3DS first launched in Japan. A lot of Nintendo fans have shifted their focus over to the Switch, but the 3DS is still kicking, with Metroid: Samus Returns and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions being some of its standout games in 2017.

Now, seven years later, we're taking a look through the 3DS's impressive library and picking out some of the best games the handheld has to offer. From Zelda and Pokemon to Picross and Rhythm Heaven, the 3DS has a great game for pretty much everyone. See our picks for some of the best games on 3DS.

1. Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Animal Crossing has long been a beloved life simulation series, and with New Leaf, the 3DS has something very special. A lot is the same as the previous games; you still move to a new town populated by cute animals, and you still have to pay off your home debt to Tom Nook. But New Leaf's twists on the formula make your town feel more unique, which makes it even easier to become completely drawn in.

In New Leaf, you move to a new town only to find out you're apparently the mayor. As such, you're given greater control over the town than in previous Animal Crossing games, including the placement of town decorations (like benches, clocks, and special buildings) and the overall vibe of the town. You're not just connected to the villagers and the laid-back atmosphere of fishing, bug collecting, and decorating; you're invested in the town on a different level than before, and it's an even more engaging game for it. Plus, the fan-favorite island from the GameCube version is back in New Leaf and ready to be farmed (how else are you going to pay off your loans?).

2. Azure Striker Gunvolt

After years working on the Mega Man Zero and ZX games, studio Inti Creates put its experience to good use for an original creation on 3DS: Azure Striker Gunvolt. It's another side-scrolling action-platformer, and the main character even controls a little like Mega Man X, with wall jumps and dashes giving him great speed and agility. But Gunvolt is defined not by his similarities to Mega Man, but by the thing that makes him fundamentally different. Instead of blasting enemies with an arm cannon, Gunvolt shoots conductive tags at enemies. Once they are attached, Gunvolt can unleash an electrical storm that channels lightning into his targets. This setup lets him gracefully dash through levels while laying waste to multiple enemies simultaneously. Taking the game's beautiful 2D presentation and catchy soundtrack into consideration, Gunvolt is one of the best side-scrolling action games on the 3DS, and a shining example of what Mega Man could have become.

3. Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan

Atlus' first-person dungeon crawler RPG series made its 3DS debut with the fourth entry, Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan. Many of the gameplay elements Etrian Odyssey has been known for remain intact with some new additions, like an engaging overworld with an airship and powerful enemies that roam the skies. You still get the unique turn-based combat system where commands for each party member are decided upon before anything happens within that turn. Once every command is set, the turn unfolds in order of character agility. It forces you to think ahead and sharpen your planning skills when facing new enemies. Don't be surprised when an enemy knocks down an ally before they get their move in.

In the fantastical labyrinths of the Yggdrasil tree are the roots of exploration; the dungeons within the tree are mazes made up of several square blocks on a map that you have to draw yourself. You have to keep track of points of interest and passageways on the bottom 3DS screen, otherwise you'll be lost.

4. Fire Emblem Awakening

Fire Emblem Awakening became the coming-out party for Intelligent Systems' niche tactical RPG series. While preserving much of the turn-based challenges the series is known for, Awakening's breadth of accessibility options appeals to newcomers, making it the perfect gateway installment. Chief among these features is the option to avoid permadeath, a key gameplay element that's long appealed to Fire Emblem purists. And its relatively short yet involving battles prove a fit for the popular and portable Nintendo handheld, easily overshadowing the lone Wii installment, Radiant Dawn, in spite of the home console's much larger user base.

Awakening's relationship-building component adds a strategic layer of gameplay but also drives players to develop attachments to their favorite characters. Ensemble cast-driven series like Mass Effect popularized the notion of "shipping" potentially amorous characters. Awakening's interpersonal cast relationships rode this social media-enabled trend with memorable warriors like Donnell and Tharja, who would be coveted characters in the mobile-exclusive Fire Emblem Heroes.

5. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

Intelligent Systems' latest 3DS Fire Emblem game is both a departure for the series and a throwback to the past. Designed as a reimagining of 1992's Fire Emblem Gaiden for the Nintendo Famicom (the Japanese equivalent of the NES), Echoes features free-roaming 3D dungeon exploration to break up the procession of tactical, 2D battles. But it's also remarkable for disregarding the recent trend of incorporating romance mechanics, as seen in Fates and Awakening. Both approaches are good, but Echoes feels especially notable for this contrasting quality.

The addition of Mila's Turnwheel, a mechanic that allows you to rewind time, distinguishes Echoes even further. Where you might feel compelled to restart an entire battle after a mistake in other Fire Emblem games, Echoes gives you limited use of the Turnwheel, which is fueled by the very limited Cog items earned at key points in the game. Because you have to earn the items that allow you to change your party's fate, it feels more like an intelligent...system, rather than a cheap concession for iffy tacticians. Differences aside, the Fire Emblem games on 3DS are all great, and Echoes follows suit despite being a bit of a black sheep.

6. Fire Emblem Fates

Fire Emblem Fates is the first title in the franchise to release as a multi-version affair: It offers players the option of three storylines based around its central protagonist. While the game treads familiar ground in continuing to craft narratives around war, Fates shows players all sides of the story, offering different entry points to the series depending on the difficulty level.

7. Kid Icarus: Uprising

Diving into Kid Icarus: Uprising for the first time can be a bit of headache. With some rather obtuse and unwieldy controls--even coming packed with a kickstand to prop up your 3DS for extra comfort--this reboot of Nintendo's once-forgotten IP didn't exactly make a good first impression. But in truth, Kid Icarus: Uprising does many surprising and interesting things to revitalize the series and offers some of the most satisfying action gameplay on the 3DS. Developed by Project Sora and led by Masahiro Sakurai (the creator of Super Smash Bros.), this action-brawler brings Pitt back from the proverbial grave to take on the forces of darkness in Ancient Greece.

8. Kirby Planet Robobot

Kirby games are often so easy that you could confuse them as products made solely for children, but the series maintains its popularity due to the sheer amount of creativity packed into every moment. Planet Robobot is no different. Its stages are easy to finish and you may reach the end before you realize it. But what Planet Robobot lacks in difficulty it makes up with relentless charm--from its expressive cartoon characters to its catchy soundtrack, there are multiple reasons to fall in love with Kirby all over again.

9. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

As a sequel to a game released 21 years prior, A Link Between Worlds needed to please two very different crowds: those who played A Link to the Past, and those who have become Zelda fans since. Luckily, it's brilliant, simultaneously harnessing the nostalgia many have for the early games in the series while also accomplishing some completely new things.

10. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D

When Majora's Mask released on the N64 in 2000, it was praised for its originality. Even in the shadow of Ocarina of Time before it, Majora's Mask stood out for its inventive three-day cycle, markedly darker tone, and mature narrative. Majora's Mask was built using Ocarina of Time's assets and is an impressive reimagining of the first 3D Zelda game, but it's truly special for how it weaves a very Zelda-like story through the ins-and-outs of a town and its inhabitants.


03-05-2018, 09:30 PM
11. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Even nearly two decades after it was first released, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time remains one of the most beloved video games ever created, but its 3DS remake is the definitive way to experience it. Developer Grezzo took great pains to recreate the adventure as fans remember it, going so far as to include some of the glitches that appeared in the original N64 release. But while the game's foundation remains largely untouched, its presentation has received a dramatic overhaul. Characters and environments have been completely remade and sport more detail than Nintendo could have ever achieved on N64, breathing new life into the familiar world of Hyrule.

12. Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions

Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga was a phenomenal RPG on the GBA, and it's every bit as good on 3DS. Not that it needed it, but the upgraded visuals make its personality-packed world stand out more than ever, with Mario and Luigi's expressions lending Superstar Saga a lighthearted atmosphere that's easy to love.

13. Mario Kart 7

Mario Kart 7 is an essential purchase for any 3DS owner. It left behind the somewhat sluggish racing of Mario Kart Wii and propelled the long-running series forward into the air and the water. Hang gliders and propellers might seem like standard fare for Mario Kart since the Wii U and Switch editions, but 7 introduced them and uses them to full effect.

14. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater 3D

Words cannot even begin to describe how amazing Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is. It's one of the best entries in the long-running franchise by prolific developer Hideo Kojima. As a prequel to the entire Metal Gear series, it's a great place for newcomers to dive in--despite Metal Gear purists probably disagreeing with this notion. Furthermore, its 3DS port is also one of the best versions of the game.

15. Metroid: Samus Returns

In an unexpected turn of events, Nintendo partnered with Spanish developer Mercury Steam (Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Raiders of the Broken Planet) to recreate Game Boy's Metroid: The Return of Samus for 3DS. Perhaps more surprising: The game is excellent. Mercury Steam has talent, but the last time a third-party studio developed a Metroid game (Team Ninja on Metroid: Other M), the results were rather inconsistent. But here, we see a Metroid game that feels familiar; the classic Metroid formula is intact, albeit with a 2.5D presentation.

16. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

At the time of its release, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was the largest leap forward in the series--not just in terms of sheer content, but also in being one of the first portable Monster Hunter games you could play online with your pals.

If bringing the total amount of weapons up to 14 wasn't enough to sink your teeth into, one of the most interesting parts of MH4U are the fundamental changes to how the game is played. Unlike previous games, it allows players to climb vertical surfaces and attack monsters from above. This goes hand-in-hand with one of the greatest additions: mounting monsters. A clutch mount can possibly turn the tide of a fight that may not be going well and can lead to massive damage if executed correctly.

17. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth

In 2014, fans of both Persona 3 and 4 were treated to an endearing collaboration between the casts of both games with Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth. A wacky series of time-bending events bring SEES and Inaba's Investigation Team together, and they join forces to get back home from an alternate dimension. All characters have an adorable chibi redesign which drives home the fun, lighthearted interactions between the two squads. The Twilight Zone-version of Yasogami High School (your base of operations) is stuck in its culture festival event, so outside of battle, it's a non-stop party with your best friends!

18. Picross 3D Round 2

A cute little door chime tinkles as you enter the bright cafe. Quaint cups of French coffee fill the room with a strong aroma, presumably, which you mentally breathe in. The romantic accordion music of unknown origin tickles your ears and you sigh contently. Okay. This is good. Now, time to solve some fiendishly hardcore logic puzzles.

19. Pokemon Sun/Moon and Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon

Sun and Moon, as well as their updated versions, refine Pokemon's formula for both beginners and veterans. Despite some story hiccups and hand-holding in places, the seventh generation is for everyone, from complete newcomers to serious competitive players, and that's all thanks to small but noticeable upgrades throughout.

20. Pokemon X/Y

As the first Pokemon games on 3DS, X and Y carried with them a lot of excitement--and expectation. They catapulted the mainline Pokemon games into the third dimension, and they did so with aplomb.

X and Y's Kalos--a pastiche of France--is a diverse and beautiful locale, filled with some of the series' best music and most imaginative towns. The Paris-esque Lumiose City is a grand, sprawling region in itself that highlights one of the best things about X and Y. The move into 3D allows developer Game Freak to use the camera in interesting ways, and the over-the shoulder view seen in Lumiose feels like a leap for a series that, until X and Y, had been restricted to a top-down view only.

03-05-2018, 09:32 PM
21. Pushmo

Intelligent Systems' colorful and clever puzzle game, Pushmo, may be downloadable only, but it's a memorable and often tricky game that's easy to become absorbed in. You progress through a series of Pushmo, structures of blocks you can move, and your goal is to reach and rescue children caught in the structures by shifting the blocks to create platforms.

22. Rhythm Heaven Megamix

If you like bopping your head to catchy tunes and seeing cute characters in bizarre situations, then the Rhythm Heaven series is right up your alley. Nintendo's take on rhythm-action is a WarioWare-style collection of mini-games that focuses solely on dead-simple mechanical inputs while dialing up the aesthetic charm. In a genre that is characterised by screen-cluttering colors and input prompts, Rhythm Heaven crafts its player cues solely around audio and the use of no more than two buttons, meaning it's easier to both wholly appreciate the great music and fantastic presentation without worrying about messing up your performance.

23. Shin Megami Tensei IV

In 2013, it seemed an unusual choice to receive the latest sequel to Atlus' mainline Shin Megami Tensei series on 3DS. After all, past games had only appeared on consoles--with the last entry, Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, releasing on PS2 in 2004. However, when Shin Megami Tensei IV arrived, it was ultimately a worthy successor that lived up to series standards, offering an intriguing story and a multi-layered combat system that is as satisfying as it is punishing.

The game puts you in control of Flynn, a samurai who protects the medieval Kingdom of Mikado from attacks by hostile demons. When a mysterious Black Samurai begins transforming the population into demons, Flynn gets caught in a struggle between angelic and demonic forces within a post-apocalyptic Tokyo. While SMT IV's story is nowhere near as bleak as its predecessor, it still pulls you in with otherworldly thrills and conspiracies.

24. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse

Atlus' Shin Megami Tensei IV is already on this list, but it's also worth considering its parallel, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse. Focusing on a new set of characters and introducing numerous enhancements that make your trek through a twisted version of Tokyo, Apocalypse is far from a simple reskinned cash grab.

Previously inaccessible demons can be recruited to your team now, and a new element is introduced that adds a layer of complexity to the game's crucial buff and debuff system. Your reward for successfully exploiting an enemy's weakness is the chance to take another turn--as usual--but Apocalypse bolsters this opportunity by letting you imbue a standard attack with an ability of your choice. You can also use partners in battle now--secondary party members that are AI-controlled, invulnerable to certain abilities, and capable of teaming up for a powerful combo attack.

25. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked and Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker

The Devil Survivor games, both of which originated on the DS and received enhanced re-releases on the 3DS, are great spinoffs of the Shin Megami Tensei RPG series developed specifically for Nintendo handhelds. The series' demon recruitment and combat mechanics remain, as does its typically dark narrative tones. But here, they're married to a satisfying turn-based grid tactics system and an engaging branching story with grey moral choices.

When dark forces threaten to destroy Tokyo and greater Japan, it's up to a group of plucky teenagers to tame some demons and stop them, but how they ultimately get to that point is based on your decision making. Devil Survivor incorporates a suspenseful time mechanic, meaning you'll have to make choices in regards to which areas to investigate, who to help, which battles to fight, and where the plot takes you before the overall events draw to a close.

26. Super Mario 3D Land

Super Mario 3D Land is the only 3D Mario platformer to grace the 3DS, but it remains one of the handheld's best titles. Arriving a little over a year after Mario's Wii swansong, Super Mario Galaxy 2, 3D Land continued the series' trend toward linearity, playing like a hybrid between Mario's 2D and 3D adventures. Mario himself can still move around in all directions, but the stages he explores in 3D Land place a much stronger emphasis on side-scrolling and tricky platforming, making them better suited to portable play.

For longtime fans, however, what makes 3D Land especially enjoyable are its many callbacks to Mario's roots. The game resurrects a number of the classical elements that haven't been seen since Mario's 2D days. Each level ends with a flagpole, and touching an enemy will cause Mario to revert to his diminutive “normal” state, just as in his 2D games. Best of all, 3D Land marks the return of the classic power-ups like the Tanooki Suit from Super Mario Bros. 3, which are just as fun to use in a 3D setting.

27. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

Monolith Soft's Xenoblade Chronicles was one of the last great Wii games, but the first 3DS game built exclusively for 2015's New 3DS handhelds. The advanced hardware requirement isn't surprising given the massive scale of Xenoblade's world and the detail that Nintendo sought to maintain during the game's transition to a portable format. And barring a few clumsy UI designs, Xenoblade Chronicles on 3DS is basically on par with the original game, with the small screen masking the effects of the minimal graphical compromises.

And what a game it is. Chronicles' story is captivating, punctuated with high drama against a (at the time) unique backdrop that's still impressive to behold. It features a complex real-time combat system that demands your attention, especially given that the world is populated with monsters big and small from the start. The ecosystem feels convincing as a result, which heightens the sense of adventure as you push your party to their limit while crossing dangerous terrain. There's no shortage of great RPGs on 3DS, and Xenoblade Chronicles' ambitious foundation makes it the most technically impressive and epic of them all.

03-06-2018, 12:44 PM
For the love of God, don't play Fire emblem fates. You can thank me later.

That is honestly a bad game.

03-06-2018, 02:16 PM
Why? I played it and I think it's a better game than FE Awakening.

03-06-2018, 05:52 PM
How much did you play? It's so slow paced and grindy. The story is non-existant and the characters generic.

It's the down point of the FE series imo.

03-06-2018, 07:16 PM
I remeber I didn't like Metal Gear Solid 3 SE 3d, the awful control scheme and the shrunk view of field made it difficult to spot enemies until is almost too late.

How much did you play? It's so slow paced and grindy. The story is non-existant and the characters generic.

It's the down point of the FE series imo.

Actually I think it depends on wich version you play it. Birthright and Revelation you could grind all you want and in Conquest you'll be depending in strategy because you won't go around doing side missions all the time except for those were you recruit additional character just like the old Fire Emblems.

Of the 3 versions I found Conquest as the best one in characters, storyline and challenge and Fates better than Echoes.

03-06-2018, 11:21 PM
How much did you play? It's so slow paced and grindy. The story is non-existant and the characters generic.

It's the down point of the FE series imo.

I finished both FE Fates: Birthright and Conquest, I like Fates more than Awakening. I think Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is the worst, the story is too old school and boring.

I agree with Hagane, Conquest has better characters than Birthright.

03-07-2018, 09:28 AM
Ok, you guys have great patience levels. :p Hats off to you.

03-07-2018, 01:20 PM
Or perhaps you really lack any.

03-07-2018, 01:24 PM
Not even close.

Seriously, the thing is a bad anime how it drags. Clichés like: "im about to make a revelation" oh we got interrupted by random bandits. Maybe next time. Next 10 chapters rinse and repeat.

Sorry, i don't think i can have a problem. You guys just have a big tolerance for mediocre storytelling and lack of pacing. The game is outright boring.