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15 Recommended Games for your 3DS Library (as of 2014)

Updated on February 13, 2015
Nintendo 3DS Aqua Blue
Nintendo 3DS Aqua Blue | Source

The Nintendo 3DS: a marvelous handheld video game player. Sure it’s 3D gimmick might be rather superfluous but then, that’s not what sells the system. What sells the system are the games and over the few years it’s been out, the 3DS has amassed a considerable library of titles that has certainly cemented the system as Nintendo’s current money-printer. While the 3DS is still rather young it has managed to build a library that may require a little guidance if you decide to purchase a 3DS. Therefore, here are fifteen games which I personally recommend along five honorable mentions.

Monster Hunter 4 Box Art
Monster Hunter 4 Box Art | Source
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Japanese Box Art
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Japanese Box Art | Source
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy Japanese Box Art
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy Japanese Box Art | Source
Kirby: Triple Deluxe Japanese Box Art
Kirby: Triple Deluxe Japanese Box Art | Source
Dragon Quest VII Japanese Box Art
Dragon Quest VII Japanese Box Art | Source

Honorable Mentions

As a rule, the main criteria required to be a part of the list of twelve is that it must have a western release. That is the unfortunate reason why these five games are merely getting an honorable mention—they haven’t had their western releases yet. They’re already released in Japan so if you have a Japanese 3DS you can get them. But, all five of them are scheduled to be released in the west (except one) sometime in the future so I’m essentially mentioning them now as future games to be considered for your library. And they are:

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate: Capcom’s latest in their Monster Hunter franchise is a 3DS exclusive: always there for your epic monster hunting adventures. Technically the Ultimate version of the game hasn’t been released yet in Japan, but that is the version that will be coming to the west.

Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Who would’ve ever thought that Level-5 would create a game that would be a crossover of their flagship franchise Professor Layton series with Capcom’s Ace Attorney series? This one is actually scheduled for release in mere weeks to months now so it’s almost off the honorable mentions and onto the list proper.

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy: Speaking of Professor Layton, Level-5’s latest game in the puzzle game series is going to be the last game that will feature Layton himself as the protagonist. We don’t quite know how the series will continue after that but I’m certain you wouldn’t want to miss Layton’s last adventure (as protagonist) once it comes out.

Kirby: Triple Deluxe: The latest in the Nintendo and HAL Laboratory’s Kirby series. This is another game that is only months away from being released in the west so again, it will be moved off the honorable mentions list soon. Whichever way, it is classic Kirby so you know it’s going to be really enjoyable.

Dragon Quest VII: Square Enix’s latest game in their flagship Dragon Quest series is a portable remake of the PlayStation game Dragon Quest (Warrior) VII. This is a bit of a tentative one as while Square Enix is evaluating on whether to eventually release it to the west or not they haven’t quite set any dates yet nor revealed any concrete information. Hopefully, Bravely Default’s success might convince them to release DQVII.

So, with those out of the way, let’s get onto the list proper.

Project X Zone Box Art
Project X Zone Box Art | Source

15. Project X Zone

Namco Bandai’s crossover tactical role-playing game is a follow up to their earlier game Namco x Capcom. Development was handled jointly by both Banpresto and Monolith which already means that this game has a significant pedigree attached to it. Ultimately though this game is on this list for one reason: you’ve got characters from Namco, Capcom, and Sega all appearing in a single game fighting together, or against each other in one massive story. Just the sheer novelty of franchises from three different established companies makes this game worth checking out.

Shin Megami Tensei IV Box Art
Shin Megami Tensei IV Box Art | Source

14. Shin Megami Tensei IV

I had initially planned on naming this list “12 must-have game for your 3DS” but when it came down to crunch time this is the game that changed it to “recommended” (not to mention added three more games to make it 15). Atlus’s Megami Tensei is regarded as the third of the top three signature JRPG franchises but, it is nowhere near as accessible as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest are, being notoriously difficult. Regardless the latest game in the series Shin Megami Tensei IV should definitely be something worth considering—especially if you’re already familiar with the Megami Tensei spin off series, Persona. Just a fair bit of warning: if Final Fantasy and/or Dragon Quest and games like them are your only experience with JRPGs Shin Megami Tensei IV may prove to be a rude awakening.

Kid Icarus: Uprising Box Art
Kid Icarus: Uprising Box Art | Source

13. Kid Icarus: Uprising

Back during the eighties, Nintendo introduced a multitude of new hit franchises and among those was Kid Icarus. Then, after 1991’s Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters on the Game Boy, the franchise simply disappeared. Then, protagonist Pit suddenly showed up in 2008’s Super Smash Bros. Brawl with a new, updated design. This got people thinking that a new Kid Icarus game was in development. Finally, in early 2012, after an over-twenty year hiatus, Kid Icarus: Uprising was released for the 3DS. Now, Uprising is an excellent game, but it features a wonky and taxing stylus based control scheme that makes the game rather difficult to get into to or to play in anything but short doses. It’s another game that deserves to at least be checked out.

Harvest Moon: A New Beginning Box Art
Harvest Moon: A New Beginning Box Art | Source

12. Harvest Moon: A New Beginning

This one is more of a personal preference because to be frank, Harvest Moon games aren’t for everybody. But, for anybody who has ever been curious about Natsume and Marvelous AQL’s popular farm simulator series, A New Beginning is a good place to jump in. Aside from farming you can build a town, befriend villagers, visit different countries, take part in competitions, get married, raise a family, etc. Pretty much all of the Harvest Moon staples. At the very least, it’s massively superior to Farmville so keep that in mind.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies Box Art
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies Box Art | Source

11. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies

The fifth main game in Capcom’s Ace Attorney series has the series go back to its roots by having Phoenix Wright return as the main protagonist. For those of you not in the know, the Ace Attorney is a visual novel/adventure game series where the player assumes the role of a defense lawyer (usually Phoenix Wright) in a fictional courtroom setting to strive to show that their clients are “not guilty”. Some people consider it to be a satire of the Japanese legal system. Either way, the fifth game has Phoenix Wright retake the bar exam and become a defense lawyer once more (after having lost the right sometime before the previous game). Although it was a proper retail release in Japan, in the west it’s unfortunately only an eShop download title. But hey, at least it’s available.

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Box Art
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Box Art | Source

10. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is the fourth installment in the Mario & Luigi role-playing game series. As such, anybody who is familiar with this series will instantly get the mechanics of feel of this game and even those who aren’t shouldn’t have much of a problem getting into it. As Nintendo declared 2013 to be the “Year of Luigi”, Luigi gets a large part of the focus of the game with Mario being able to enter his dreams and utilize a number of mechanics within Luigi’s subconscious mind. It is definitely a game to pick up for anybody who is a fan of the series or even just a fan of Luigi.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon Box Art
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon Box Art | Source

9. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon

Speaking of the year of Luigi, this past year also brought us the sequel to the Game Cube launch title Luigi’s Mansion. This time Luigi is exploring multiple mansions in the Evershade Valley looking for the pieces of the shattered Dark Moon for Professor E. Gadd while also seeking to rescue Mario from King Boo. Luigi captures ghosts first by stunning them with his flash light and then sucking them up in his Poltergust 5000. At the very least Dark Moon seems to have far better received then the first Luigi’s Mansion was so I believe it is definitely worth adding to your 3DS library.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf Box Art
Animal Crossing: New Leaf Box Art | Source

8. Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the fourth game in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing series and is the first one where the player can take on the role of the mayor. Animal Crossing is a community simulation game where your player character lives in a village populated by anthropomorphic animals. The series is also noted for the way it uses the real time clock and calendar to simulate the passage of time. Animal Crossing: New Leaf also adds new features such as a residence that can be upgraded and further enhanced customization. You can also use the 3DS’s features to visit the villages of other players. All in all it is a solid entry in the series.

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance Box Art
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance Box Art | Source

7. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

The Square Enix/Disney crossover series continues with its latest installment on the 3DS. In practice, Dream Drop Distance essentially serves to tie the series to the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3, scheduled to be released on the PlayStation4 and Xbox One sometime in the near future. The game sees series protagonists Sora and Riku taking the formal exam to become keyblade masters to counter the imminent return of series antagonist Xehanort. In terms of gameplay, in addition to the familiar action RPG elements the series is known for, Dream Drop Distance utilizes a new “Drop” system to switch between Sora and Riku. Meanwhile, combat uses the same “Combat Deck” system that was used in Birth by Sleep. Ultimately, this game is best when viewed as a sort of prelude for the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3.

Mario Kart 7 Box Art
Mario Kart 7 Box Art | Source

6. Mario Kart 7

You cannot go wrong with Mario Kart. No matter which iteration of the game you have (and undeniably some installments are better or worse than others), Mario Kart has always been a favorite with Nintendo systems. Mario Kart 7 for the 3DS adds a new element to the series: gliding and underwater segments. The go-karts are given the ability to change into hang gliders and submersibles which greatly expands the field of the courses. Also, for the first time ever, players are able to customize their karts. Mario Kart 7 has gone on to become the second best-selling game on the 3DS handheld, which given how incredibly popular the 3DS has become is no simple feat.

Super Mario 3D Land Box Art
Super Mario 3D Land Box Art | Source

5. Super Mario 3D Land

Speaking of Mario Kart 7 being the second best-selling game of the 3DS, right below that at third is Super Mario 3D Land. It feels like a distant memory now given how successful the 3DS has become but how many of you remember that back in 2011 when the 3DS first hit the market it was essentially a flop that was barely selling? The game that changed the 3DS’s fate was Super Mario 3D Land, the true blockbuster hit of the system. When you look at it objectively, Super Mario 3D Land is actually one of the lesser of the 3D Mario games, but it was a solid game that did its job of getting 3DSs sold. Plus, it gets further bonus points for being the predecessor to the absolutely spectacular Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U.

Pokémon X and Y Box Art
Pokémon X and Y Box Art | Source

4. Pokémon X and Y

And this one is the number one best-selling game for the 3DS, selling 4 million during its first weekend alone. The latest of Nintendo and Game Freak’s Pocket Monsters franchise continues the series’ winning formula of colleting Pokémon and training them to fight other trainers. X and Y changes things up by adding “Mega Evolutions” that actually allow familiar Pokémon evolve beyond the standard evolutions. Which version of the game you want to get is up to you but you’ve still got to trade between each version to get 100% all Pokémon. Also, if you haven’t downloaded the patch, be careful of saving in Lumiose City: there was a game breaking glitch that needed to be corrected via the patch.

Bravely Default Box Art
Bravely Default Box Art | Source

3. Bravely Default

Square Enix returns to its JRPG roots with Bravely Default, an awesome game that is reminiscent of the Final Fantasy games of old. I even wrote an entire review on the game here on Hubpages. An innovative turn-based combat system using “Brave” and “Default” as new mechanics, interesting characters, and a seemingly standard story that completely turns on its heels with an unexpected twist, what’s not to love? OK, maybe I should’ve mentioned that ridiculous micro-transaction system of stopping time during battles in my review, but it’s completely optional anyway so I say just ignore it. Regardless, like I said in my review, if you’re a fan of old-school JRPGs, Bravely Default is a must have for your 3DS library.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Box Art
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Box Art | Source

2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is the spiritual sequel to the SFC/SNES classic The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and is the first truly original Zelda game for the 3DS. And boy-howdy does it live up to its pedigree. While the story is set several centuries after A Link to the Past, the mechanics, the layout of Hyrule, the enemies, the music, the characters, everything is reminiscent of the classic game. A new item rental system gives players the option of tackling the dungeons in any order they want and the new mechanic of merging into walls adds a new layer to the puzzle-solving aspects that the game is well known for. The 3DS is still barely three years old and yet already it has a spectacular and eventual classic Zelda game added to its library, and fans couldn’t be any happier.

Fire Emblem Awakening Box Art
Fire Emblem Awakening Box Art | Source

1. Fire Emblem Awakening

I… love… this… game! I cannot emphasize that enough. And it was very well possibly the last game in the series. The Fire Emblem series had gone through a rather bleak time during the Wii era and Nintendo had decided that if Awakening flopped, the series was going to be shelved. Thankfully Awakening proved to be a massive hit so the series probably most likely won’t be retired any time soon. Most important is the fact that Awakening made the perma-death system the series is known for an optional element which made the game that much more accessible to more casual players; which is what most likely translated to the game’s success. Add in likable and compelling characters who you can match make and then have their kids join, a new “pair up” system that makes the battles all the more exciting, a customizable player Avatar where s/he him/herself is a major character in the game’s plot, and you’ve got yourself a winning formula.

So, that’s my list of 3DS games that I recommend for your library. Or at the very least, I recommend that you give these games a try. Nintendo’s 3DS is currently very much on a roll and you can bet that over the next few years, the library is only going to expand further. So everyone, keep on gaming and remember to have fun.

Overview

Game
Developer(s)
Publisher(s)
Available at Retail
Available on eShop
15. Project X Zone
Banpresto & Monolith Soft
Namco Bandai Games
Yes
Yes
14. Shin Megami Tensei IV
Atlus
Atlus
Yes
Yes
13. Kid Icarus: Uprising
Project Sora
Nintendo
Yes
Yes
12. Harvest Moon: A New Beginning
Marvelous Entertainment
Natsume
Yes
Yes
11. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies
Capcom
Capcom
No
Yes
10. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
AlphaDream
Nintendo
Yes
Yes
9. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
Next Level Games
Nintendo
Yes
Yes
8. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Nintendo EAD
Nintendo
Yes
Yes
7. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Square Enix Osaka Dev Team
Square Enix
Yes
Demo only
6. Mario Kart 7
Nintendo EAD & Retro Studios
Nintendo
Yes
Yes
5. Super Mario 3D Land
Nintendo EAD
Nintendo
Yes
Yes
4. Pokémon X and Y
Game Freak
Nintendo
Yes
Yes
3. Bravely Default
Square Enix
Square Enix & Nintendo
Yes
Yes
2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Nintendo EAD
Nintendo
Yes
Yes
1. Fire Emblem Awakening
Intelligent Systems
Nintendo
Yes
Yes
A general overview of all of the games.

Your opinion

Which one of these games is your favorite?

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    • ilikegames profile image

      Sarah Forester 3 years ago from Australia

      Great Hub! So many great games here and all the memories are flooding back into my mind as I read this.

      The only thing I'd change personally would be to have Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney up a few spots higher, it's one of my favourites for sure.

    • tommylop profile image

      Tommy 3 years ago from Colorado.

      Great list and it shows that the 3ds is a great system

    • Lord Geiru profile image

      Geir Haugland 22 months ago from Trondheim

      Kind of surprised to see Zelda has so few votes. I like the list though, think I'll just copy it to my "neet to buy" list of games.

      Have you considered updating the list to include 2015 releases?

    • ECRiley profile image
      Author

      Eric Riley 12 months ago from California, USA

      Super Smash Bros for 3DS., Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, Fire Emblem Fates, Pokemon ORAS and Sun & Moon, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, Monster Hunter 4: I probably will when we're closer to the end of the 3DS's life span.

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