Top 10 3DS Games [Best Recommendations]

Nintendo has ruled the handheld gaming scene since the original Gameboy found its way into kids’ hands and was never put down again. When they brought glassesless 3D to a turbo charged Nintendo DS, the 3DS became the new heir to the portable throne. Over the past six years, hundreds of games have launched for the device at retail stores and on its digital store. Today, we’re going to look at our best recommendations for Top 10 3DS games.

10. Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney (Layton-kyōju VS Gyakuten Saiban)

  • System/Platform: 3DS
  • Developer: Level-5/Capcom
  • Publisher: Level-5
  • Release Date: Aug. 29th, 2014

The Professor Layton series, starring the titular archeologist turned detective and his young cohort, and the Ace Attorney franchise, featuring the most tenacious defense lawyer in gaming. From two different developers and spanning more than a dozen games between them, who would have thought they’d make such a great duo? Phoenix Wright and his assistant Maya Fey find themselves whisked away into the medieval world of Professor Layton, in the city of Labyrinthia. There they find themselves at odds with the mysterious Storyteller who is attempting to have Phoenix’s new client condemned for witchcraft.

This visual novel-style 3DS release saw these two paragons of justice getting well acquainted with each other’s deductive skills. With Layton and his apprentice Luke Triton exploring and Phoenix Wright taking to a medieval style court, the two try to exact justice in this unexpected situation. As gamers, it was a thrill piecing together clues and watching the story unravel, and it made for a fun experience all around. While it might not have been the most exciting “Versus” debut from Capcom, it was easily one of the more memorable titles in the 3DS’ vast library, and a gem in both series’ catalogs.


9. Shin Megami Tensei IV

  • System/Platform: 3DS
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: July 16th, 2013

Atlus has showered Playstation consoles with some amazing JRPGs over the years. Almost as if they sensed the jealous stares of 3DS-only owners. With the success of Persona 4 Golden on PS Vita, they seemingly answered with Shin Megami Tensei IV. The latest entry in the series marked a departure from home consoles to become a Nintendo 3DS exclusive game.

In Shin Megami Tensei IV, players take on the role of Flynn, a newly appointed demon hunting samurai who is experiencing visions of a mysterious apparition. Throughout the course of the game, players will battle, collect and fuse demons into more powerful creations, similar to how Personas work in the Persona mainline series. The game features a turn based combat system and extensive dungeon crawling for avid gamers. For fans itching for a JRPG that has gameplay at the core of its time spent, it’s a solid choice.


8. Bravely Default (Bravely Default: Flying Fairy)

  • System/Platform: 3DS
  • Developer: Silicon Studio
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: Feb. 7th, 2014

The 3DS is no stranger to story driven role-playing games, and Bravely Default is certainly among them. Although published by Nintendo in the west, this Square Enix title was treated as a spiritual successor to the world of Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light by Bravely Default’s developers. The game features a main cast of four playable characters who are each out for their own goals throughout the game, but eventually cross paths.

Praised as both a triumphant return to the roots of Final Fantasy and a new take on the stale turn-based combat systems of other games, Bravely Default has quite a few elements in its favor. The combat allows for players to pace themselves, using Brave Points to choose when they attack or defend, with each turn accumulating more for later use. The graphics have a storybook feel with hand-drawn backgrounds accenting the 3D polygonal character models, emulating a look from JRPGs generations old. All in all, it’s a game that diehard role-playing fans can enjoy only if they own a 3DS.


7. Mario Kart 7

  • System/Platform: 3DS
  • Developer: Nintendo EAD, Retro Studios
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: Dec. 4th, 2011

There is no shortage of games that bear the prefix of Mario and star the titular hero. With Mario Kart 7 being the 9th game in the overall Mario Kart series and exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS, it brought with it a lot of great changes to the franchise. Like Mario Kart Wii, online features are within this game. Time trial Ghost data can be shared online and used to compete with others, as well as multiplayer racing against friends and users all over the world.

New items including the Fire Flower, as well as unlockable gliders for karts, and the ability to drive underwater are fun additions to the long-running series. Fans of Mario Kart or just gamers looking for a fun racer in general cannot be disappointed with this game.


6. Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Tobidase Dōbutsu no Mori)

  • System/Platform: 3DS
  • Developer: Nintendo EAD
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: June 9th, 2013

So many people play games for their escapism, and the more engaging the world, the better the enjoyment. The Animal Crossing series has been a home away from home and somehow makes the most mundane of real world activities feel new and refreshing. In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the player isn’t just a new inhabitant to the town of their naming, but they are also the mayor! This brings with it a whole new suite of options from events and activities to opening new shops and storefronts.

The fun is really what you make it in New Leaf. You can either go online and explore the towns of friends as well as visit the homes of other players, or remain in town and take in the sights. Fishing, bug catching, wheeling and dealing your way to better goods and items for your home - it’s all there. You may even find yourself getting addicted to amassing a fortune in the Stalk Market, trading turnips for a profit. If being the number one head honcho in a village of cutesy animal people is your fancy (and don’t lie, it definitely is) you’ll feel right at home in Animal Crossing: New Leaf.


5. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (Monster Hunter 4G)

  • System/Platform: 3DS
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Release Date: Feb. 13th, 2015

You’re more than likely going to encounter a monster or two if you play just about any action role-playing game these days. If you pick up a Monster Hunter title, it’s absolutely guaranteed. The activity is in the title, and for the first time, players of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate are able to play together online on a handheld device outside of ad-hoc local WiFi.

The series has been known for its addicting and competitive Expeditions, tasking players with hunting a variety of large beasts that come in different sizes and shapes. In Ultimate, the world is larger, the bestiary is more expansive, and the items and crafting is more advanced than previous games. Exploring the Everwood as a new hunter tasked with guarding a traveling caravan, you gain access to new quests and challenges as you grow as a monster hunter. If tackling sometimes enormous beasts is your idea of a dream job, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will satisfy you completely.


4. Pokemon Sun & Moon

  • System/Platform: 3DS
  • Developer: Game Freak
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: Nov. 18th, 2016

“Gotta catch ‘em all,” a rallying cry of a generation. Decades later, the Pokemon series is still as strong as ever. For years, fans had begged for a home console version with all the trimmings and production value that a handheld just couldn’t do. Nintendo’s answer was to instead show just what the Nintendo 3DS was truly capable of. Pokemon Sun & Moon are the most advanced titles in the franchise. Featuring a fully realized 3D world and excitingly detailed battle animations, it’s the Pokemon game that really embodies just how far the game series has evolved.

Exploring the tropical islands of the Alola region in the vast Pokemon world, Sun & Moon holds 80 new Pokemon bringing the count to 802 with Generation VII. There are several new features including Z-Moves, powerful abilities certain Pokemon can unleash in combat. The old Pokedex, the device which held detailed Pokemon information and locations across maps, is replaced by a more advanced talking Rotom Pokedex, which is powered by Generation IV Pokemon Rotom. There are even more activities and rites of passages for new trainers that separate Pokemon Sun & Moon from the previous titles. For returning fans and newcomers, this is a powerful entry and one that can’t be missed on the 3DS.


3. Super Mario 3D Land

  • System/Platform: 3DS
  • Developer: Nintendo EAD
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: Nov. 13th, 2011

The Mushroom Kingdom has no shortage of turtles to accost, and Mario has them all on his to-do list. Super Mario 3D Land is a tremendous reimagining of the classic 2D side-scroller brought to life with the 3DS’ 3D screen tech. The enthusiastic plumber is once again off to save Princess Peach from the sinister Bowser. However, that is about where the comparisons end with previous games, as what this game accomplishes is nothing short of amazing for a handheld platformer.

While the levels are more simplistic and linear than the home console series, 3D Land contains all the flair and intricate puzzles from later games like Super Mario Galaxy. At times, the screen pans to a flat, side scroller view, but you can in fact, bypass it and explore regions in 3D. Depth is important to the puzzles and levels of this game, and creates new challenges. All the previous Mario platformers were standouts in the genre, and Super Mario 3D Land is no exception.


2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Zeruda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Toraifōsu Tsū)

  • System/Platform: 3DS
  • Developer: Nintendo EAD
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: Nov. 22nd, 2013

If you need a princess rescued, logic dictates you call Mario. However, if you need someone to save the world on the way back, Link is the only one for the job. A series that deals with eternal reincarnation, A Link Between Worlds takes place sometime after A Link to the Past. The Triforce, the Master Sword, and a dark evil’s reemergence are all present in the game. As per usual, only Link can save Hyrule from impending doom.

Unlike most of the other games in the series, A Link Between Worlds allows for the completion of many dungeons in nonlinear order, much like the original Legend of Zelda. The new mechanic for this entry is traversing a 2D reality known as Lorule (High, Low anyone?). Link can adhere to surfaces in Hyrule to pass through Lorule, and it is very similar to the Dark World from A Link to the Past. Many of the Zelda series classic staples are pervasive in this title, and it is a highly enjoyable return for fans on the 3DS.


1. Fire Emblem Awakening (Fire Emblem: Kakusei)

  • System/Platform: 3DS
  • Developer: Intelligent Systems
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: Feb. 4th, 2013

An epic series spanning multiple arcs, timelines and an extensive cast of characters, Fire Emblem has been a story of war, loss and triumph on the never ending battlefield. The 13th entry, Fire Emblem Awakening centers around Prince Chrom as he tries to navigate a treacherous climate of war throughout the continent. Aside from Chrom and the other characters featured throughout Awakening, the player can also customize a unique avatar character to insert themselves in the game world.

The Fire Emblem series is renowned for its strategy role-playing game mechanics and class-specific abilities in combat. Stressed for being especially brutal for newcomers, Awakening is the most newcomer-friendly the series has been without compromising any of its depth for veterans. The Pair Up system which allows players to change the flow of combat through teaming up adjacent units is a new addition to the franchise. The Fire Emblem series has held strong on Nintendo’s handheld systems and Awakening is another solid push forward for fans and first-timers alike.


Final Thoughts

With this list we’d like to think that the Nintendo 3DS has an amazing library of games. All of these games are worth playing whether you’re at home or on the go, and all of them together are definitely worth owning a 3DS for. The library has many other games that are noteworthy as well. Did we miss any of your personal favorites? Have some favorite memories from some of these? Want to challenge this author in a MK7 race? Let us know in the comments!

Hercule SSJ

Writer

Author: Hercule SSJ

What happens when you give a Crunchyroll trial to a former Toonami kid who hasn't watched anime since Cowboy Bebop got dubbed? You get Hercule SSJ. Thanks to that, he's spent the last two years catching up on dozens of shows and manga he's neglected over the years. Has probably watched 60% of all harem ecchi in existence. Currently seeking series to fill the void left by Konosuba and One-Punch Man. Accepts NisiOisiN quotes as payment.

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