The Nintendo 3DS is perhaps one of the most underrated handhelds on the market, considering more and more people are turning to mobile games on their smartphones and tablets. If you like portable gaming, and just amazing games in general, you do not want to miss out on these games!
There were dozens of games I could have chosen for this list, but it ultimately came down to what I think would reach the largest audience and be enjoyable to almost anyone, casual and hardcore gamers alike.
Kirby: Planet Robobot
Of every Kirby game I’ve ever played, Planet Robobot is my absolute favorite. With new exciting powers, such as ESP and Poison, robot armor that completely changes Kirby’s skillset, memorable boss fights, unique level designs, and that classic Kirby cuteness we all know and love, Planet Robobot is just constant fun. It’s a perfect Kirby game and a perfect 3DS game.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
The Animal Crossing series has always been known for its laid back, casual, atmosphere. There’s never too much action going on, yet you’ll always feel compelled to earn as many bells as possible, redecorate your house, and interact with your various animal neighbors. New Leaf introduces enhanced customization options, and even the opportunity to become the town mayor!
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
This is by far the best Legend of Zelda game created solely for handhelds. Previous entries, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks were marred by poor controls, whereas the controls in A Link Between Worlds are smooth and easy to use. ‘A Link Between Worlds’ is a love letter to ‘A Link to the Past‘, with its art design, plot, and music all creating a very nostalgic tone. This game is brilliant, with some of the best puzzles of the entire Zelda series, beautiful music, and great dungeons and boss fights.
Kirby Triple Deluxe
This Kirby game is not quite as amazing as the other Kirby game I included, but it’s still a solid game. Triple Deluxe introduces a unique power, called Hypernova, enabling Kirby to inhale much larger objects than ever before. It’s a lot of fun to use, and breathes a bit of uniqueness in this already great platformer.
Super Smash Bros 3DS
Super Smash Bros has constantly been one of the biggest Nintendo franchises, with games like Melee and Brawl still selling for full price in stores. The 3DS version of the Wii U’s Super Smash Bros is an all-around great game, not too different from other games in the series, but unique enough to be worthwhile. The robust list of characters is a plus, as well as cool new stages and game modes.
Mario Kart 7
The Mario Kart Series is a Nintendo staple. We’ve all probably nearly lost a friendship or two due to this game, yet, we keep coming back for more. Mario Kart 7 introduces hang-gliders, the ability to drive underwater, and the ability to drive in first-person view. It’s just as fun as previous games in the series, and just as much of a challenge if you’re playing against your friends.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D
You might wonder how I could include a game that wasn’t even originally made for the 3DS, but that’s exactly why I’m including it. Majora’s Mask is a classic Nintendo 64 game, and it’s also one of the more underrated games in the Zelda series. The time cycle was a cumbersome and sometimes frustrating element for players of the original, perhaps the reason why it has never appeared on as many best-of lists as other Zelda games, but Majora’s Mask is definitely worthy of playing. It’s by far the darkest Zelda game, with some things looking like they came straight out of a horror game. The 3DS port has improved graphics compared to the N64, so if you’ve never played this game before, the 3DS port is a good option.
Yo-Kai Watch 2
I love the Yo-Kai Watch series. It’s quickly become one of my favorite game series, and Yo-Kai Watch 2 is one of my favorite 3DS games. There are two versions, Bony Spirits or Fleshy Souls, the only difference being that some characters are only found in one specific version. This game has everything from funny dialogue and witty writing, to interesting characters, and a charming world. To say it oozes charm, would be an understatement.
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
I’ve never beaten this game. I’ve tried to many times, but it’s not easy at all. Don’t let the cartoonish graphics and humor fool you. Donkey Kong Country Returns may as well be the Dark Souls of Nintendo. That’s not a bad thing though, in fact it’s great. The challenging difficulty compared to many other games on the market is refreshing. It’s reminiscent of games made back in the days of NES and SNES, brutal and unforgiving, but so much fun.
As you saw a little bit farther up the list, I’m a huge fan of Yo-Kai Watch. Like its sequel, this original entry in the series is charming and funny. It doesn’t have quite as many features as Yo-Kai Watch 2, but its worth playing as the first introduction to the town of Springdale and its quirky inhabitants.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Another port of a classic Nintendo 64 game that I felt was necessary to include, because Ocarina of Time is widely regarded as one of the best games ever made. Many people weren’t around when the original game came out, or were too young. An entire generation of gamers missed out, and though I’d recommend playing the N64 version first, if the 3DS is all you have access to, please play this game. It’s still a masterpiece, and the 3DS’s graphics make it all the more beautiful. Also, if you happened to play the original, rejoice, because the 3DS version makes the water temple a lot less annoying!
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
Like Donkey Kong Country Returns, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is a difficult game. Its enemies are tough, but defeating them feels rewarding. It’s also nice to have Luigi as a protagonist, as he’s often been overshadowed by his more popular, famous brother. Dark Moon is the sequel to Luigi’s Mansion, released on GameCube.