Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest
3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2
3D Out Run
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
Picross 3D: Round 2
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
Xenoblade Chronicles 3D
Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright
Monster Hunter Generations
Metroid: Samus Returns
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition
The 25 best Nintendo 3DS games
If you’re looking for the best Nintendo 3DS games, there’s no shortage of titles to choose from, thanks to the console’s long life cycle.
The 3DS has enjoyed several updates over the years, but each was compatible with its predecessor, and that translates to a large and diverse library. It’s getting increasingly tough to find a 3DS, especially since Nintendo has officially discontinued the console and no longer supports it to focus on releasing Switch games. Even so, the legacy of the 3DS lives on with a long list of excellent, pocket-sized adventures. Here are our favorite ones.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
In many ways, there are two types of Zelda games. There are 3D adventures, beginning with Ocarina of Time, a game type that has gone on to become the standard for subsequent home console Zelda adventures. The other type is the classic 2D adventure games like the original TheLegend of Zelda and its SNES follow-up, A Link to the Past, the latter of which is often cited as the best Zelda game in the series.
Serving as a sequel to A Link to the Past, A Link Between Worlds returns players not only to the 2D perspective but to A Link To The Past’s map of Hyrule. The kingdom has been relatively peaceful in the decades since the previous game. That peace is threatened when a dark sorcerer, Yuga, traps the young Princess Zelda — a descendant of the princess from A Link to the Past — in a magical painting.
Link, a young apprentice swordsmith with no relation to the previous game’s hero, then embarks on a quest to save the princess. Fans of A Link to the Past will enjoy the familiarity, but A Link Between Worlds also turns the Zelda formula on its ear, opening up the entire world from the outset and offering all items through a rental shop. This allows players to choose their own path through the game’s numerous dungeons and challenges.
Read our A Link Between Worlds review
Super Mario 3D Land
Synonymous with every single Nintendo console are a host of games boasting the brand’s lovable, mustachioed hero, Mario. While nearly all are bonafide hits, Super Mario 3D Land takes the cake as the 3DS’ best Mario game, providing endless amounts of platforming fun. The game was released to critical acclaim in 2011, with many citing its addictive gameplay, fantastic 3D capabilities, and impressive level design as reasons for its greatness.
Moreover, newcomers to the series — if those indeed exist — won’t have any trouble picking up the title and understanding the basics right away. There’s a reason Mario remains the popular face of Nintendo, and Super Mario 3D Land continues his reign of platform dominance.
Read our Super Mario 3D Land review
Fire Emblem: Awakening
After the relatively muted reception to both Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn and Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, Nintendo’s tactical role-playing Fire Emblem games were on the verge of being killed off for good. Fire Emblem: Awakening, the series’ 2013 3DS debut, single-handedly revitalized the series, which now stands tall among Nintendo’s pantheon of popular franchises, with 3 Houses being one of the best yet. With a straightforward story and more accessible mechanics, including multiple difficulty modes and the ability to turn off permadeath, the compelling gameplay is inviting for genre fans and newcomers alike.
Read our Fire Emblem: Awakening review
Metroid: Samus Returns
A reimagining of the 1991 Game Boy classic Metroid II: Return of Samus, Metroid: Samus Returns manages to be both an authentic nostalgia trip and a well-oiled modern platformer. The game takes place directly after the events of the game that kicked off the storied franchise. Samus Aran is sent by the Galactic Federation to the Metroid homeworld to investigate the power and threat of the titular aliens. Keeping with the identity of 2D Metroid titles, Samus collects power-ups along the way that help her traverse to previously hard-to-reach sections in the winding game world.
There is a great balance of sticking to the original in terms of world layout and exploration while also including new features like a map scanner to make the game more modernized. With the power of the 3DS, set pieces are vibrant and detailed, and combat mechanics feel more precise and free-flowing. As the first 2D Metroid in 14 years, Metroid: Samus Returns makes you wonder why Samus has been vacant in the 2D space for so long. One of the last AAA titles to grace the 3DS, Samus Returns feels like a wonderful swan song.
Read our Metroid: Samus Returns review
The 3DS has no shortage of great role-playing games. We likely could have filled this list exclusively with the highest-rated RPGs on the system and would still have to make some difficult cuts. But when it comes to the best of the best, Bravely Default is it. Bravely Default was created by many of the minds behind Final Fantasy, and it’s a classic JRPG through and through.
Players take control of a party of characters, customizing their appearance and abilities through the game’s intricate and deep job system — a feature likely familiar to fans of Final Fantasy. Like classic JRPGs, Bravely Default’s combat encounters play out in turn-based fashion, giving players control of each character’s actions.
Bravely Default offers its own twist on combat, however, with a host of unique gameplay mechanics like combo meters and auto-battle. Bravely Default released to rave reviews and surprising commercial success, prompting Square Enix to release a sequel, Bravely Second. Bravely Default 2 has also released on the Nintendo Switch and further builds on this game’s successful formula.
Read our Bravely Default review
Although several different ports of this game exist, the 3DS version of Shovel Knight consistently receives the highest scores. Indie game developer Yacht Club Games designed Shovel Knight to closely resemble the gameplay and graphics of platformers designed for the original NES. Playing as the titular Shovel Knight, you must navigate a 2D environment while collecting treasure and fighting off hordes of bad guys affiliated with the Order of No Quarter. Each stage features largely the same formula, however, requiring you to battle through various terrain, grab as much treasure as possible, and defeat a final boss in order to move on. Though it seems rather simple and straightforward, Shovel Knight’s captivating gameplay makes it a damn hard game to put down, making it one of the best indie games on Nintendo Switch to play.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Few games command the longevity and reverence that has defined The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’s legacy as one of the best N64 games. When the game originally launched on the Nintendo 64 back in 1998, it was heralded as one of the greatest — perhaps even the greatest — games ever made. The title has gone on to frequent many best-of lists, but going back to the N64 title can be, admittedly, a bit difficult given the outdated visuals and presentation.
Ocarina of Time 3D, however, addresses many of these shortcomings with updated visuals, a sleeker and simpler interface, and even subtle mechanical changes that improve some of the game’s more tedious moments, including a hint system and dedicated quick-access buttons for certain items.
Perhaps the best part about these changes, though, is how well they mold into the existing framework of the game. It’s hard to find a fair spot for Ocarina of Time on this list, as it’s both arguably the best game on the platform and a port.
Mario Golf: World Tour
Like Mario Tennis Open before it, Mario Golf: World Tour takes a particularly mundane sport and puts a zany spin on it. Playing as Mario, Luigi, or a number of other iconic characters from the franchise, players have the option to compete online against human opponents or take on bots in any of the game’s numerous tournaments.
The handheld’s 3D capabilities shine with World Tour, given the game animates each shot, chip, or putt with gorgeous visuals and an amazing amount of depth. Though the 3DS boasts a small number of sports titles, World Tour remains one of the brightest in the console’s lineup while we wait for Mario Golf Super Rush to hit the Switch.
Pokémon Sun and Moon
Pokémon X and Y brought 3D textures to the series of Pokémon games with fantastic results. The gameplay was streamlined, the online component was robust, and it felt like the kick in the pants that the Pokémon franchise needed in order to stay on top. With PokémonSun and Moon, developer Game Freak wasn’t content with simply copying and pasting their previous work onto a new area. The new Alola region ushers in new forms of classic Pokémon that sport different strengths, weaknesses, and appearances, and the game even tackles issues like the consumption of Pokémon by humans.
It isn’t all doom and gloom, however. Pokémon Sun and Moon also bring back Mega Evolutions and introduce new Z-moves, which are powerful attacks that are capable of changing the course of a battle in just a few seconds. If your Pokémon Go-obsessed sibling is looking to get another fix, Sun and Moon are the perfect companion gifts. Given that there are Pokémon exclusive to each version, as well as different day-night cycles, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to pick up both versions, either.
Read our Pokémon Sun and Moon review
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Animal Crossing games aren’t like other video games, especially since you’re not engaging in tense combat or undertaking epic quests. You won’t be scratching your head trying to complete complex puzzles either, nor sweating against stiff racing competition. Instead, Animal Crossing: New Leaf functions as a relaxing town-management sim, one where you slowly build your tiny town and engage in various upkeep activities.
With New Leaf, you might find yourself furnishing homes and visiting with neighbors, or spending some quality alone time gardening, fishing, or partaking in numerous other activities. This doesn’t mean the game is boring, however, because it’s that same leisurely pace that makes the title so deceptively addictive.
From the moment you assume mayorship of your town, you’ll be busy maintaining the quaint village, keeping your villagers happy, preparing for holidays, and unlocking new activities to enjoy. The franchise recently struck gold again with Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Nintendo Switch.
Mario and Luigi: Dream Team
Believe it or not, Mario and Luigi do a lot more than jump on Goombas and devour mushrooms in their free time. Though Mario and Luigi: Dream Team may not be the most recent of the fraternal plumber duo’s RPG adventures, it is one of their best and the best one available on 3DS. Dream Team takes place simultaneously on the Island of Pi’illo (pronounced “pillow”) and inside Luigi’s surreal dream world.
While playing in Pi’ill0, players explore the island and control Mario and Luigi in turn-based combat. When in Luigi’s dream world, however, Mario must team up with Luigi’s dream avatar, Dreamy Luigi, to engage in a mix of 2D side-scrolling and RPG battling. Dream Team is a great hybrid that will scratch your itch for both a platformer and an RPG while still retaining a keen sense of charm.
12. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D
Majora’s Mask is somewhat of a misfit within The Legend of Zelda series. It’s both incredibly dark for a Nintendo game and also features one of the riskiest mechanics in the series. Taking place in Termina, a parallel to Hyrule, Majora’s Mask sees Link search for his fairy Navi following the conclusion of Ocarina of Time. He quickly finds himself in a weird predicament: He has three days to save the world before the moon crashes down and destroys everything.
The three-day cycle mechanic, representing about one hour in real time, turns the exploration and progression on its head. If the moon hits, you lose all the progress you made since the last collision. You can avoid this by playing songs on the ocarina to manipulate time. But minor progression will always be lost, as well as characters’ knowledge of Link. The mask system is inventive, expanding on the feature in Ocarina of Time in surprising and fun ways. What makes Majora’s Mask stand out, besides the constant stress of beating the clock, is the world itself.
Out of all of the alternate worlds in the Zelda series, Termina still feels the most real. The N64 port plays brilliantly on the 3DS. Keep in mind, though, it plays best on New Nintendo 3DS hardware due to the C stick and increased processing power. If you missed the lesser-known N64 Zelda the first time around, do yourself a favor and play it on 3DS.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
As the long-awaited sequel to Luigi’s Mansion, Dark Moon capitalizes on what made the original so great while adding a few fun additions of its own. The game tasks players with investigating five haunted mansions in search of the shattered pieces of a ghost-quelling object called the Dark Moon.
Like so many of Nintendo’s exclusive titles, Dark Moon is an inventive adventure title, one that’s packed to the brim with amusing and entertaining gameplay. Nintendo hit another home run with this Luigi-centered franchise and followed it up with a sequel on Switch in 2019.
Super Smash Bros.
Fighting games on the 3DS are few and far between, but as luck would have it, one of the best fighting games in recent years is available on the handheld device. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS brings together a massive roster of fighters from Nintendo’s franchises and pits them in frenetic combat that spans multiple arenas taken from different games. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Nintendo character absent from the game at this point. Gaming icons like Samus and Fox McCloud share the stage with lesser-known brawlers such as Ike, Paulina, Shulk, and others. There have even been several new characters added via DLC, including Bayonetta, Street Fighter’s Ryu, and Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud Strife.
That said, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS is essentially the same as the Wii U version but with a few notable differences. The handheld version features a different graphical style and a control scheme tailored toward the 3DS hardware, as well as a handful of exclusive stages and a special gameplay mode called Smash Run. It may not be quite as full-featured as the Switch’s Smash Ultimate, but it’s still a worthy entry in the series.
Read our Super Smash Bros. for 3DS review
Kirby: Planet Robobot
After taking Kirby into “2.5D” platforming, molding him into clay, and even turning him into a piece of yarn, what was developer HAL Laboratory to do next? Give him a giant robot suit, of course! The title features platforming gameplay and combat similar to the previous 3DS installment, Triple Deluxe, along with the swappable powers that have become the series’ signature feature.
Kirby: Planet Robobot isn’t designed to be particularly difficult, though, and with Kirby’s new mechanical enhancements, you’ll be able to live out your power fantasies via a pink puffball. Obstacles no longer pose a threat, and should you suck up one of your enemies while wearing the suit, you’ll alter its abilities. Both Fire mode and Sword mode look they could give Titanfall 2’s most powerful mechs a run for their money.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3D
Xenoblade Chronicles deserves a mention on this list. It is the biggest game on the 3DS, featuring a massive open world, giant monsters, hundreds of quests, and hours upon hours of gameplay to keep you busy. It’s a port of the Wii version, which was called one of the best modern JRPGs when it was released in 2010, and the 3DS version is one of the highest-rated games on the system. So, why is it so far down the list? Well, technically, it’s not available on all 3DS systems.
Nintendo released a new iteration of its handheld in 2015, confusingly called the New Nintendo 3DS, which included a slew of upgrades like a stronger processor, better 3D screens, better cameras, and a much-needed second thumbstick and set of shoulder buttons. These upgrades — specifically the more robust processor and second thumbstick — are what enabled a massive game like Xenoblade Chronicles to be ported to the handheld.
So, while we highly recommend the game, it comes with the aforementioned caveat of only being available on the New 3DS iteration of the software. Before you pick it up, be sure the game is compatible with your system. The game also doesn’t look great on the 3DS. The Switch port is the best looking version.
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy
Level-5’s Professor Layton games have long served as some of the best puzzle games for Nintendo’s handhelds, and 2013’s Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is arguably the best of the franchise. The game boasts an incredible story, attractive animation, and hundreds of clever puzzles that are sure to flummox even the sharpest of gamers.
Moreover, once you complete the game’s single-player campaign, you can partake in a daily puzzle mode that offers up to 365 additional puzzles to solve. Those who use the game’s Street Pass functionality have access to even more puzzles and games, giving the title some of the best replay value for any 3DS game. Period.
Kid Icarus: Uprising
Kid Icarus: Uprising, an attempt to reboot one of Nintendo’s languished NES properties, feels like a fresh take on another Nintendo franchise that doesn’t get quite enough attention, Star Fox. With brilliant flight-based shooting, hilarious and cheesy dialogue from protagonist Pit, and even a genuinely well-designed online mode, Kid Icarus: Uprising feels like Star Fox in all but name.
Drawing on classic Greek mythology but with a charming, silly Nintendo spin, the game’s boss fights are intense, white-knuckled affairs unlike anything we’ve seen from the company yet or since — hopefully, the Switch will change that. If you’re left-handed, however, be warned that the game makes heavy use of both the stylus and circle pad — you’ll need a circle pad pro if you’re playing on the original 3DS — and the title’s included 3DS stand has a tendency to turn your hand into a claw within 30 minutes or so.
Shin Megami Tensei IV
Shin Megami Tensei IVshares much of the same monster-gathering appeal of games like Pokémon, but it’s far more hardcore and demanding. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic version of Japan, which has reverted to a feudal society in the wake of several demon invasions. In this world, Samurai act as guardians who combat and control demons using remnants of technology from before the apocalypse.
The story centers on Flynn, a young Samurai who is caught in the crossfire of the war between the demons and Heaven. Shin Megami Tensei IV is part of the Megami Tensei franchise, which is an umbrella that covers several well-regarded JRPG series, including Persona and Devil Survivor.
The entire franchise is known for its hardcore dungeon crawling and capture-centric gameplay, and Shin Megami Tensei IV is no different. Players can capture enemy demons, build their skills, and even combine them to create new, stronger demons. Said demons can then be employed during combat while exploring the game’s labyrinthine dungeons.
Shin Megami Tensei IV differs from other Megami Tensei titles in that it leans heavily on moral choices, which ultimately decide the outcome of the game’s story. That said, it might require multiple playthroughs to see each ending. Bring it on, we say.
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
Yet another title ripped from Nintendo’s impressive vault, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is a title that reimagines the ’94 hit, Donkey Kong Country. As Donkey — or Diddy — Kong, players run, jump, cart, swing, and barrel their way through a host of well-crafted stages. The title was heralded for its challenging level design upon release, many of which render it a proper tribute to its predecessor and make it an absolute marvel on the 3DS.
Fans of the Wii version of the game shouldn’t write this release off as a simple re-release either, as Nintendo chose to include a new game mode and a slew of levels unique to the 3DS version. It’s safe to say that it’s never been more fun to play as Donkey Kong.
Read our Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D review
New Super Mario Bros. 2
Considered by Nintendo of Europe as the “rightful successor” to Super Mario Bros. 3, New Super Mario Bros. 2 took the franchise back to its 2D roots. With nine worlds to play through, Nintendo treated gamers to a title that felt familiar but featured its own set of unique upgrades. Understandably, the visuals received a massive uptick in quality, each of which further capitalized on a wealth of vivid colors and gorgeous 3D backgrounds.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 also featured co-op gameplay, which players unlocked after successfully completing the game’s Solo mode. With its addictive gameplay, beautiful visuals, and high level of replay value, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is no doubt one of the finest titles available on the 3DS.
Read our New Super Mario Bros. 2 review
Picross 3D: Round 2
Puzzle games have always had a home on Nintendo’s handheld systems, and with the Nintendo 3DS’s technology and dual-screen display, Picross 3D: Round 2 is a perfect fit. The game’s 3D interface offers a unique take on the number and geometry-based puzzles that make up the genre, and the rewards for completing them — which range from a virtual cat to a diorama of Mario jumping into a block — offer enough Nintendo-themed charm to keep you coming back.
Mario Kart 7
Few gaming franchises remain as consistently fun to play as the Mario Kart franchise, and the 3DS’ Mario Kart 7 continues this impressive trend for Nintendo. With 16 playable characters and 32 total tracks — 16 unique tracks and 16 classic tracks — gamers have access to a massive amount of content directly at their fingertips.
With new additions, such as the ability to use hang gliders and special underwater sections of popular tracks, Mario Kart 7 is more than just a watered-down version of its big console brethren. Like so many of those other titles in the series, however, Mario Kart 7‘s crown jewel rests with its multiplayer modes, which allow players to participate in battles or races with up to seven different challengers through the Nintendo Network. Mario Kart 8 might overshadow this previous entry in sales and popularity, but there’s still a lot to love in this portable racer.
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
When the worlds of the studious Professor Hershel Layton and the fiery attorney Phoenix Wright collide, the two must work together to investigate the mysterious city of Labyrinthia, which they have been transported into after discovering a magical book. You must use Layton’s clever puzzle-solving abilities and Wright’s legal expertise to discover the mysteries of the city and to defend an ally against charges of witchcraft.
Layton’s gameplay involves exploring the city of Labyrinthia, gathering clues, and solving puzzles. While playing as Wright, on the other hand, you’ll be responsible for interrogating witnesses, reviewing your findings, and, of course, yelling “Objection!” as loud as possible. Certain critics question the game’s choice of segment formatting, disapproving of the splitting up of Layton and Wright stories. However, most players ignore these critiques, overlooking any shortcomings and acclaiming the game’s graphics, length, and plot.
Monster Hunter Generations
The instant success of Monster Hunter Generations for the 3DS is proof that the Monster Hunter franchise is popular on just about every platform. This game upholds the standard set by the series for its capacity for collaborative gameplay and endless opportunities for monster combat. The game’s Hunting Styles allow for customized gameplay based on user preferences, such as using more ground-based or aerial attacks. Hunter Arts expand over time and help you land particularly devastating attacks on your prey.
One additional perk is Prowler mode, in which you can play as a cat. When you take on the character of a cat, you will obtain special equipment and questlines that are exclusively kitty-specific. Taking the role of your favorite four-legged pet, you’ll get unique gear and quest lines only available to felines. 3DS users can take advantage of the built-in C-stick and extra shoulder buttons, controlling the action even more efficiently. The 3DS’ touchscreen can also work to lock onto new enemies quickly. Up until the recent Monster Hunter Rise, this was the latest game in the series to hit a Nintendo console and is still a great introduction to the formula before upgrading to the latest edition.
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The 25 best 3DS games that helped make the mini machine great
The best 3DS games show just what a little powerhouse the Nintendo handheld was, and why it is still the gaming machine of choice for many, despite being officially discontinued in 2020. Whether you like to lose yourself in complex RPGs, bash your brain in with puzzles or want to kick back with an old Nintendo classic, the 3DS has a game for you.
While the Nintendo 3DS might have been replaced by the Nintendo Switch, there's still a booming trade in refurbished machines and pre-owned games, so it's not too late to grab yourself a slice of Nintendo history with any of the games below. Or just scroll through and bask in the nostalgia.
If you're a true Nintendo fanatic, you'll want to check out the contenders on our best Wii U games list as well, and if you're all about Nintendo Switch these days check out all the upcoming Nintendo Switch games.
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25. Pocket Card Jockey
Release date: May 5, 2016
Let’s not lie: Pocket Card Jockey is a hard sell. It’s a game about horse racing and solitaire, which sounds more like two gambling machines mated to create a mule child than a conscious design decision. Resist that urge to click onto the next slide, though: this is one of the best titles Game Freak has made that isn’t about locking monsters in balls.
It’s the sort of game that belongs on a Nintendo system: initially odd, but with the sway to engage you for two minutes or ten hours. It’s also wonderfully, endearingly weird, featuring a canonical explanation for why solitaire prowess translates into skilled horse racing. Best of all, it provides you the opportunity to engage with the most important aspect of equestrian sports: giving your pony a truly ridiculous name. Simply put, Pocket Card Jockey is the best game about horse racing and cards for people who care about neither.
24. Shin Megami Tensei 4
Release date: July 16, 2013
Shin Megami Tensei arrives at its fourth numbered entry after numerous spin-offs, and developer Atlus makes the new release count by adapting the series to feel current without abandoning its roots. Once more you guide precocious teens tasked with saving the inhabitants of a post-apocalyptic world, but key areas like exploration, combat, and item management have been smartly streamlined.
The standard gameplay satisfies without ignoring its past, and the twisting story of the blurring lines between good and evil is surprisingly deep. For all the changes, Shin Megami Tensei 4's storied monster collection and fusion is as addicting as ever. Building the perfect team of beasts is as engrossing as Pokmon, only with satanic imagery sprinkled on top.
Release date: January 14, 2015
Is it painful for Qbby to extrude series of interconnected boxes from his very being? Who knows. But man oh man, does it make for some really clever puzzle-solving. Everything about BoxBoy! is cute, minimal, and focused on making you feel as dumb-then-brilliant as possible. The game's central premise is simple: you squeeze out cubes in a series of formations, then either toss, drop, or retract yourself into them to get past hazardous obstacles.
Then, like a four-cornered Mario, you move from one themed "world" full of levels to another, and everything you thought you knew about extrusion changes. Suddenly you're using your cubes like armor to defend against deadly lasers, or carefully timing when to drop them onto conveyor belts. BoxBoy's sequels BoxBoxBoy and Bye-Bye BoxBoy are little miracles too, but nothing can replicate that initial charm of the original.
22. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies
Release date: October 24, 2013
After sitting on the sidelines for a few iterations of this courtroom drama, Phoenix Wright is finally back in the limelight, doling out legal justice like it's his job (which it is). And it isn't just the defense attorney protagonist that's pleasantly familiar - Dual Destinies recaptures the cheerful, humorous tone that made us fall in love with the Ace Attorney series in the first place.
Of course, there's still plenty of drama to the proceedings, with tense cross-examinations of witnesses and bitter rivalries against opposing prosecutors. The mysterious circumstances of each crime will keep you guessing till the end, and when you finally trip up a liar with your OBJECTION! you'll be smiling from ear to ear. It's all presented in gorgeous 3D, with some awesome anime cutscenes to boot.
21. Shovel Knight
Release date: June 26, 2014
Nintendo's library is home to platforming titans like Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong Country - who would've guessed we'd be bringing up the fantastic Shovel Knight in the same breath? Shovel Knight is a Megazord of old-school platformers - a beast made of great parts.
Like Mega Man, it's packed with totally unique stages based on elements like water, air, and darkness, and each stage ends with a duel against a knight from the Order of No Quarter - a team just as varied and intriguing as the stages they rule. You can slash your shovel at quirky enemies and explore villages populated with all manner of bards, wizards, and frog-squires. There's a lot to see here, and it can all be covered in a cool "stacked" look thanks to the handheld's fancy 3D tech.
20. Bravely Default
Release date: February 7, 2014
There's a reason Square-Enix specifically cited Bravely Default as its motivation for moving away from globalized titles and back towards specialized, core games - it's an excellent RPG, and that appeal translates everywhere. Traditional and Japan-centric though it is, its expert design and terrific story make it a welcome and necessary 3DS game - and, oddly enough, the best Final Fantasy game in some time.
Make no mistake; in design and execution, Bravely Default is proudly a JRPG. But don't let that hardcore pedigree scare you away - the story is absolutely worth seeing, and the design is as tightly tuned as any game in the genre. The sequel, Bravely Second: End Layer, made welcome tweaks to the combat, but in terms of narrative scale, Bravely Default is still the one to go for.
19. Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy
Release date: February 28, 2014
It has all been leading up to this. After five core games and a number of spin-offs, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is the finale to Prof. Hershel Layton's globetrotting adventures (for now), and developer Level-5 goes all out with the fan service. The plot ties together the stories from many of the previous games and is packed with references to earlier adventures. But the title's best tribute to the franchise is its consistently rewarding puzzles.
As before, most of the gameplay involves solving increasingly difficult brain teasers as the story unspools, and the conundrums meet Layton's high standard of quality. Even better, the visuals support the puzzles brilliantly. While Layton tries to find the connection between a lost civilization and an amnesiac young lady, the stereoscopic 3D visuals continue to impress until the last puzzle is solved. If this is Layton's legacy, then he handled it like a true gentleman.
18. Kid Icarus: Uprising
Release date: March 23, 2012
Pit and the rest of the Kid Icarus crew were a big deal on the NES, but Nintendo ignored the characters for almost two decades before Uprising. Made by many of the developers behind the Smash Bros. games, Kid Icarus: Uprising reimagines Pit, Palutena, and the rest of the angelic cast for an intriguing hybrid on the 3DS. Part on-rails shooter and part action-adventure, Uprising feels particularly fresh for a 20-year-old series.
Made to show off the 3DS' stereoscopic 3D, Uprising is at its best in the visually brilliant shooter stages, which use a novel approach to shooting that combines the touch screen and shoulder buttons. That interface isn't as great on foot, but there's a surprising amount of subtlety to the controls if you're looking for them. Yes, it can be a little painful after playing for long stretches, but this 3DS original is worth the hand cramps.
17. New Super Mario Bros. 2
Release date: August 19, 2012
2D Mario games stepped into the present with the blockbuster New Super Mario Bros., so it's expected that the series would continue on the 3DS. Some may have feared that the gameplay would've gotten a little rote by the time this entry rolled around, but it found new life by pushing you to collect as much cold, hard cash as you could get your grubby fingers on.
Gold is the theme (and the most prevalent color) in New Super Mario Bros. 2, and the game pushes you to collect as many coins as possible in its many platforming stages. NSMB2 transforms the game into a high-score challenge against friends and strangers over Wi-Fi, making this one of the most wonderfully taxing Mario games in a long time.
16. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS
Release date: October 3, 2014
We shouldn't have to pitch you on Super Smash Bros. by now. Where else can you find all of Nintendo's biggest mascots brought together for one big sloppy kiss for fans everywhere? Link fighting Luigi, Bowser flung across the screen by Olimar, and King Dedede, sovereign ruler of all that is Dreamland, chasing down a little boy with psychic powers and a baseball bat - it's all here, and by golly is it beautiful.
While Super Smash Bros. for 3DS may not have all the bells and whistles you would find in the Wii U equivalent, there's still something to be said about having one of the best multiplayer games around in your pocket. It may be the smaller package, but it's easy to see that it's got just as much love in its code as any game could.
Click 'Next Page' to see titles 15-6 in our countdown of the best 3DS games.
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List of Nintendo 3DS games
Wikipedia list article
This is a list of video games for the Nintendo 3DS games released physically on Nintendo 3DS game cards and/or digitally on the Nintendo eShop.
The Nintendo 3DS portable system has a great library of games, which are released in game card and/or digital form. Numerous titles of games here are subject to change. This list does not include downloadable games available via the Virtual Console service. The Nintendo 3DS family is backward compatible with its predecessor, the Nintendo DS line, and its software, including most DSi software. The list is initially organized alphabetically by their English titles or their alphabet conversions, but it is also possible to sort each column individually by clicking the square icon at the top of each column. The Nintendo 3DS system is region locked, meaning that in reality each system has a restricted library of games to select from, depending on the region of the device; the list below displays the availability of games within each of the four regions.
For a chronological list, click the sort button in any of the available regions' column. Games dated February 26, 2011, (Japan), March 25, 2011, (Europe), March 27, 2011, (North America), and March 31, 2011, (Australia) are the launch titles of each respective region.
There are 1373[a] games on this list.
3ds games nintendo
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