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Old 03-05-2018, 09:25 PM   #1
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Happy 7th Birthday, 3DS! 27 Must-Play 3DS Games

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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.
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