The 8 Best Nintendo 3DS Games

The nintendo 3DS launched with a bit of a stumble. Nintendo’s last true handheld originally cost $249.99 at launch, causing such an outcry from fans that the company later lowered it to $169.99 and offered a free download. NES and Game Boy Advance titles to consumers who had paid the original price. Many also saw the platform as nothing more than a slightly bloated DS with added 3D, which many gamers didn’t use anyway.

That doesn’t mean the 3DS hasn’t welcomed another generation of excellent nintendo titles, however. The little handheld has had an extremely long life: Nintendo is only closing the eShop after more than 10 years of service. To celebrate all the joy he’s brought us, we’re looking back at his best tracks. (Note that this list focuses on physical releases rather than download-only titles.)

In no particular order, here are the eight best Nintendo 3DS games.

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS

Picture via Nintendo

Despite its awkward title, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS was a historic game. It was the first time Nintendo’s first fighting game series was released for a handheld, and it brought all the fun of the console series to the small screens of the 3DS. Rather than being a watered down version of a larger game, as portable ports sometimes are, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS was a complete combat experience that held up well on its own. Nintendo held 3DS-specific tournaments and provided support for the game until the eventual release of Ultimate Smash.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Link straddles Epona on the cover of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Picture via Nintendo

This wouldn’t be a better list of Nintendo games without at least one Zelda Title. I combine Majora’s Mask 3D and 3D Ocarina of Time into a single entry because neither of them are technically new: both are remakes of legendary N64 titles. Majora’s Mask 3D brings the unique creepiness of the original and the goofy cast of glorious 3D characters, while 3D Ocarina of Time continues to prove that the original truly is one of the best games of all time. Both titles resist perfectly and play very well. If you were too young to play them when they came out on the N64 or missed them the first time around, this is one of the best ways to play them today. (You can also get the original Majora’s Mask via Switch Online + expansion pack.)

Mario Kart 7

Mario races Bowser and Luigi in the Mario Kart 7 cover art.
Picture via Nintendo

Is it really a Nintendo handheld if it doesn’t have a Mario Kart Title? Mario Kart 7 introduces hang gliding as its new gimmick, a mechanism that can still be found in its successor, Mario Kart 8. Gliding through the skies of the Mushroom Kingdom wouldn’t be interesting if there was nothing to watch, but luckily Nintendo stuffed Mario Kart 7 full of new courses, karts and customization options. Enterprising players could compete with others online thanks to a much simpler system than in Mario Kart Wii. As Smash Bros for 3DS made for this series, Mario Kart 7 brought all the fun and excitement of karting to Nintendo’s 3D handheld.

Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest

Fire Emblem Fates Conquest heroes stand behind the main character.
Picture via Nintendo

It’s a controversial choice, I know. Before you pick me up, listen to me: While Fire Emblem: Awakening might have revitalized the series and told a much better story, Fire Emblem: Conquer Destiny an absolutely flawless map and objective design put it head and shoulders above its predecessor. The fire emblem The series was originally known for its tough strategic battles and careful management of resources alongside the ever-present threat of permadeath. Don’t bother with Fates: birthright and Revelations. Instead, watch Conquest for the best modern example of that original ethos: challenging but never unfair, engaging but fragmentary enough to fight one battle at a time.

Pokemon Sun and Moon

Screenshot via Nintendo

Here’s another controversial pick for our best 3DS games list. Pokemon Sun and Moon shook up the franchise in a major way by removing gymnasiums, one of the series’ most recognizable staples. In its place were trials, organized puzzles followed by an uphill battle. They essentially served the same purpose as Gyms, but their inclusion was still enough to excite a fanbase that remained fairly conservative throughout the series’ lifespan. Beyond the lack of gyms and a slightly too long tutorial, Sun and Moon are the most captivating Pokémon titles on the 3DS thanks to their memorable characters, interesting new Alola forms, and a unique Hawaii-based region to explore.

Kid Icarus: Insurrection

Pit flies above the clouds in the Kid Icarus: Uprising box set.
Picture via Nintendo

Child Icarus isn’t one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises. Apart from two series of games on NES and Game Boy and a few appearances in Smash Bros, Pit hadn’t done much until the release of Kid Icarus: Insurrection. You’ve probably noticed that series revitalizations are a common theme on this best-of list, and you’re right: Uprising brought Pit’s unique brand of high-flying platforming and combat to a whole new generation of gamers. It’s definitely worth playing while simultaneously begging Nintendo for a remake.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Picture via Nintendo

Speaking of revitalized series, Animal Crossing: New Leaf lands a spot on our best 3DS games list for this reason. animal crossing exists in stellar form since the GameCube, but new sheet really put the series on the map with its portability, massive to-do list, and introduction of iconic characters like Isabelle. Gamers loved hacking their towns to decorate them so much that Nintendo ended up making outdoor decorating a big part of it. New Horizons. It is difficult to overstate the effect that new sheet had on the show – small town life has never been so appealing.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Link looks at Hyrule and Princess Zelda in key art of A Link Between Worlds.
Picture via Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is the closest thing to this list of a perfect game. It spans A link to the past another of the best titles in the series, combining everything the series is famous for and putting it into one incredibly polished package. a link between worlds features limitless exploration, a sharp and engaging cast of characters, and supremely satisfying combat. If you only play one handheld Zelda title, make it this one.

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