N-Europe's Top Ten 3DS Games
Posted 19 Aug 2019 at 22:09 by Glen O'Brien
We’re approaching the end of our N-Europe Top Tens. It’s been a journey of… numbers and games and stuff. This is the 10th opening paragraph I’ve done now, give me a break!
Anyway, the 3DS was the follow-up to the highly successful DS and as the name suggests, had glasses-free 3D support to provide some proper depth to portable gaming. It had a pretty rocky opening year when it wasn’t selling so well, forcing Nintendo to drop the price quite substantially. It paid off in the end, mind you, as the 3DS went on to enjoy quite the success. Of course, it all comes down to the games in the end, and the 3DS has some corkers to gawk at. So here are the best 10 games according to our N-Europe members.
And if you'd like to take a look at our previous Top Ten articles then you can do so by clicking any of the mini banners below...
Much like “Metroid: Zero Mission” on the GBA, this game sets out to remake the second Metroid game in such a way that it barely resembles the original title. Samus Returns follows Samus as she returns to SR388 to blow up all the Metroids so no-one else can use them for naughty things, what could go wrong?
Sporting a new melee counter attack and full 360 degree aiming, Samus feels just as fluid as she should while bringing a fresh new move-set to an often overlooked Metroid title. It’s also pretty hard as well, making this a great game for the Metroid expert to test their skills with.
"After waiting for what seemed like aeons, we finally got a remake of Metroid II in the form of AM2R which was a fan-made creation which spent a long time in development and needs to be mentioned because it's fantastic in its own right, but of course because Nintendo is the rightful IP owner, they could not allow it to be distributed and the fan behind the game fortunately understood this and many of us got to play it anyway. It then became apparent not too long after just why this happened as it turns out that Nintendo were working alongside former Castlevania developer Mercury Steam on Metroid: Samus Returns and well... it turned out to be pretty good so in a way it's a bit like waiting for a bus... you wait decades for one and then two coaches turn up at once, the main difference being that one is free and the other isn't but they both offer a ride to the same destination of SR388.
If you have yet to play Metroid II because you were perhaps put off but its limitations and you have a Nintendo 3DS (in any form) then you really, truly owe it to yourself to play Metroid: Samus Returns because what has been achieved here is nothing short of remarkable as the world of Metroid is brought to life in a way that I wouldn't have previously thought possible because although the allure of pixel graphics is strong as evidenced by the two landmark GBA titles; there is still a lot to be said for the visual style afforded by the 3DS hardware. Also, Samus is now more reactive in combat than ever (perhaps taking the right cues from Metroid: Other M) as you have a counter system which is both intuitive and rewarding with the exploration now proving to be more enjoyable than ever thanks to the fully-featured map, a soundtrack which is up there with the best in the series all coupled with the style of Metroid gameplay that many will already know and love makes this one of the easiest games to recommend for the 3DS as it's definitely one which was well worth the wait." – S.C.G
Fire Emblem may have broken into the West after its Smash Melee debut, but it wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire. It was starting to look like the Strategy RPG series may have been better off staying in Japan. That is, until this game came out. Fire Emblem Awakening still follows the same basic gameplay of the series, but there were some substantial tweaks made to the formula that made the game that much more appealing to those people who weren’t previously interested.
The big home-run this game scored was the introduction of “Casual” Mode, an option to remove the famous permadeath feature Fire Emblem was known for. While there was still a game over if either of the two main characters die, everyone else would be A-OK by the time you started the next stage. Add to that a customisable avatar and loads of room for customising your army just how you want them, and you’ve got a Fire Emblem game that anyone can enjoy.
"It took me a while to play "the game that saved Fire Emblem", but when I did, it did not disappoint. In fact, I consider it to be THE defining 3DS title (and I personally predict, perhaps boldly, that it will top the N-E list.)
Right off the bat, the cel-shaded FMVs are gorgeous. I initially found the art style a bit off-putting, but the moment I see those opening FMVs, I'm sold. I'm honestly surprised the 3DS could produce something that good-looking. The in-game portraits also grew on me, once I saw how emotive they got (though I still think the armour designs are ridiculous. Especially Sully & Stahl's toilet helmets). The battle animations also flow very nicely, a big step up from Radiant Dawn. Coupled with the amazing soundtrack, I think this game's presentation is 10/10 for sure, and a huge part of what made it memorable. Heck, Captain Falcon was reimagined in this style and he looked better than ever!
Gameplay-wise, it feels familiar, being the easy-to-play strategy RPG series we all know and love, but the fact that it also brings back a ton of one-off stuff from previous games all at once (skills, reclassing, supports, children, etc.) still gives it an identity of its own.
More importantly, a World Map was finally implemented properly into the series (earlier attempts were either useless or overwhelming), which opened up an entirely new way to play: there was now a focus to make this more of a "lifestyle" game, that is to say, to focus more on team building, unit grinding, map exploring, streetpass battling, and so on. This game rewards you a lot for checking it frequently, and that's not just gameplay, as this is how you unlock support conversations, which are vital for character development, world building, and to romantically pair up your characters (always a big appeal for the series). I swear, this game took me ages to complete due to how often I deviated from the main quest. I must have put more than 100 hours into this game, and I haven't even beaten all the DLC I bought yet!
All in all, Awakening is just a stellar game on so many fronts; I'm willing to ignore its flaws in order to sing its praises." – Jonnas
The Monster Hunter series is a series that does exactly what it says on the tin. You hunt monsters. You hunt them a lot. You can hunt them by yourself, or with friends. You can wear cool looking armour, or run around in nothing but a towel. Suffice to say that the game that takes this spot is a game that has a smorgasbord of different styles to suit you just right.
Monster Hunter Generations is a game that encompasses the whole series. Taking monsters from the previous entries and adding a handful of new ones too, there are hundreds of hours to be had with this game, provided you’re willing to learn the intricate mechanics required to master the art of hunting. And hey, if you’re playing the Switch version, I’m always up for a hunt.
"When you've spent the best part of a forty-five minute time limited quest carefully whittling down a large monster with precision attacks as a group of four hunters, remembering to heal at the right moments, gather resources when you can, ensure your weapon is either sharpened or primed right before a fight, managing to dodge out of the way at the last second... going through a truly gruelling battle only at the last minute to have a huge winged, horned, fanged creature swoop, roll, bite, slash, crush, or obliterate you with that one attack you just were not expecting or had no time to react to. Quest Failed... too bad... start over... but always remember those immortal words "At least you tried!" because you'll never forget them; and that's Monster Hunter in a nutshell.
But those times when you manage to complete a quest or capture a Monster or find that one piece that you've been after for days/weeks/months/years to finally complete your set of armour or upgrade your weapon to its maximum efficiency? Magical... and not only that but I have personally had the pleasure of playing with some fantastic members of our N-E community as well as a friend who I've played online games with for decades now, the amount of good spirits, kind-hearted words, snarky insults and genuine laugh-out-loud moments... you just can't put a price on those. Also, what's more is I've actually learned a heck of a lot from our community with regards to the game even though I consider myself to be reasonably well-versed in the Monster Hunter series by this point, plus we all still play the game as well because you can transfer your save data from the 3DS to Switch version, so that little Monster Hunter game that I played on the 3DS originally for maybe a hundred hours or so? Yeah... the time on that clock has easily doubled now, I expect it may even triple in time as well." – S.C.G
After a 13 year absence from gaming, it was more than a little surprising to see Pilotwings return on the 3DS. Set in the world of Wii Sports Resort, this Pilotwings game retains the classic gameplay of the two previous games and tasks players with piloting a plane, a hang glider or a rocket belt on a number of missions around the island in order to get those illustrious stars based on how well you do.
Pilotwings Resort is a great launch title that really demonstrates just what the 3DS was capable of.
"If ever there was a game that I never thought we'd be seeing again from Nintendo's back-catalogue of underused franchises, then Pilotwings would certainly be high up on that list, not because the SNES and N64 titles are bad, far from it but purely because I don't think that they are generally well-remembered titles plus they never struck me as games which would ever sell very well at all on any Nintendo platform.
But the time was clearly right for Pilotwings to return, on a handheld gaming console, launching alongside what was then a very pricey machine despite there being nothing else like it on the market, Pilotwings was the perfect partner for Nintendo's newest machine at the time because it gave gamers something they didn't know they wanted until they played it and while I can't say that I personally put in many hours into the title when other bigger games came out; I can definitely say that I really enjoyed my time flying around Pilotwings Resort and I think that short of another shake-up in the series (how about a Pilotwings X Wave Race crossover for the Switch?) I don't think it's a series that we'll likely be seeing much of again if ever though I'd love to be proven wrong but if it turns out that this was the last title in the series then I'd say that its done a fantastic job across the series by proving what's technically possible on every machine that its been released for." - S.C.G
The sequel to “Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors” is another mind-bending visual novel that goes to show what kind of story you can get using the media of Video Games. Following another nine people who are trapped in an underground bunker and tasked to play the Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition. What follows are revelations, betrayals and a whole host of puzzles to solve. Virtue’s Last Reward is a game that will stick in your mind long after seeing the end of it.
"If 999 was good, VLR is fantastic. This game has a ton more endings, way more story, and of course, the hardest puzzles. I wish I could replay this for the first time again, it's that good." – Sofiz
"A twisty, turny, clever & dark story that builds on the narrative from the DS game “999”. Every decision is important and once the game has you hooked, you’ll be determined to discover who is behind the events that unfold and each character has such depth to their personality that you will care about their fates.
This is a brilliant example of how to make a captivating & enjoyable ‘visual novel’ and an overall fantastic game!" – WackerJr
Our 5th best 3DS game strives to merge the different styles of 3D and 2D Mario games into one amalgamation of platforming goodness that combines 3D Mario movement with the linear style of level you’d more likely see in 2D Mario to produce something quite different. Add to that the amazing 3D visuals that the 3DS supplies and you’ve got a great pick-up-and-play Mario game that is just delightful to play through.
"It's a fun Mario game, which are the "comfort food" of platformers. Easy to play and digest, pretty to look at, and definitely the game that best uses 3D. What's not to like?" – Jonnas
"It may not go into the books as the best Mario game, but Super Mario 3D Land was just a very fun Mario title. The cutesy art style felt like a 3D rendition of Super Mario Bros. 3, which was confirmed with the return of the Super Leaf. It made some great use of the 3DS's 3D function as well." – Vileplume2000
Not content with bringing Pilotwings back from the dead, the 3DS would soon bring the long forgotten Kid Icarus series back from a 21 year hiatus. Unlike Pilotwings Resort though, Kid Icarus: Uprising plays nothing like the previous games. It’s a third-person shooter that’s split between on-rails aerial shooter sections and more free-roaming linear stages to fight through.
Sporting a cool difficulty system where you bet currency to determine how hard a level is and some of the funniest dialogue you’ve ever seen in a game, along with 9 different types of weapons to play with, Kid Icarus: Uprising shows just how talented of a director Sakurai is.
"Kid Icarus: Uprising is one of those rare games which I can still remember the hype for around its time of release, not least because it was a fantastic revival of what most Nintendo fans assumed to be long-gone franchise but it also had a lengthy single-player campaign featuring some truly dynamic gameplay, a fantastic multiplayer mode which was worth dipping into and an advanced AR card-battling system which I fondly remember buying many Kid Icarus branded trading cards for in the days when you could obtain them via exchanging points for them via the Stars Catalogue... I never did get to fully complete the album either.
But it wasn't perfect, or rather it was close enough but I couldn't help but feel like it had outgrown the hardware that it was released on, due to its control scheme which isn't the most intuitive or easy to use without resorting to using the supplied stand or holding your 3DS in a weird way, I think that this is one title which would benefit immensely from a Switch port; of course you'd lose the 3D but I believe that what you'd gain from the jump in hardware would make it more than worthwhile and even if it doesn't happen, even if we never get another Kid Icarus title again at least it was proven that such an obscure franchise can be reimagined into something glorious with the right person at the helm." - S.C.G
Speaking of Sakurai… he also was brought back to direct the first ever portable Smash Bros. game. An absolute technical miracle in that it brings the fast-paced action of the Smash Bros. series while compromise none of the gameplay, and it was still capable of stereoscopic 3D. It also introduces a whole host of new characters with interesting mechanics for the series and the endlessly replayable Smash Run mode. This may be a bitesize Smash, but it can stand just as proud as the other entries.
"A Super Smash Bros. game on a handheld console was a pipedream for many for years, with discussions circling around the idea during the Brawl hype phase. We eventually finally got one in this game. While a lack of a proper campaign sets this one back in the single player department they still gave you a lot to do in this game and the Classic mode is significantly better than its Wii U counterpart.
The game also introduced Mii Fighters, which has become one of my favourite features in a Smash Bros. game ever. I spent hours creating and copying Miis specifically for use in Smash Bros to the point where Darth Vader could fight against Ronald McDonald, Batman and Boris Johnson. Or have the Power Rangers fight off against Iron Man. The new fighters introduced in this game redefined what a Smash Bros. character could be although none of them really stuck with me as characters I wanted to main aside from Bowser Jr. on a few occasions. It is a significant achievement to get Smash Bros. running on the 3DS console, so much so that they forced Nintendo to create an entirely new model of the 3DS with better processing power just so that Smash Bros could run without slowdown. The 3DS just grew in scope from there." – GenericAperson
For a while now, Animal Crossing hadn’t really branched out too much from what made it so enjoyable, but that was all set to change with the 3DS entry. As well as the relaxing, casual life simulation on offer, players had the opportunity to be the mayor of their own town, using funds to dictate what landmarks and features would be in their town. It provided a way to make your town feel truly unique compared to any other town your friends might have, which you can go visit, and maybe chop down their trees because you’re a big jerk.
"Probably the best Animal Crossing to date." – Sofiz
A straight sequel to a Zelda game doesn’t happen too often, much less a sequel to a game that came out 21 years before hand. But that’s what we got with the latest top-down Zelda title. Set in a very similar world to the one from A Link to the Past, A Link Between Worlds breaks usual Zelda tradition and allows the player to tackle almost all of the dungeons in any order they like, using items rented from some weirdo in a rabbit suit.
Utilising a power to merge into walls to discover new areas and lovely 3D visuals adds a fresh new take on the familiar overworld. This Zelda game absolutely deserves the top spot on this 3DS top ten.
"A fully 3D modelled remake of the world from A Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past presented from a top-down perspective but with a clever new gameplay twist which has Link walking on the walls like a living painting? It could only be another successful concept for what would go on to be remembered as one of the most enjoyable Zelda games of recent times. For years when we were faced with the technical limitations which brought us the polarising Zelda games on the DS, finally on the 3DS we ended up with a game in the series which gave a lot of people what they wanted... a fully playable and explorable overworld. OK, so we also got remakes of Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask but this was the first time that we'd get to see something at least semi-original running on the 3DS with new character models and the like; certainly a memorable moment in the 3DS' life-span." – S.C.G
"Using one of the greatest games of all time as a template will always be a good idea when making a new overhead Zelda game. The similarities to ‘A Link to the Past’ are prevalent throughout, although ‘A Link Between Worlds’ offers greater accessibility to gamers of all abilities by offering players the chance to choose their items & dungeons in their own order.
The new abilities are cleverly implemented, and once again Nintendo’s talented developers created yet another superb entry into the Zelda series." – WackerJr
"While it heavily recycles its map and game structure from A Link to the Past, it marks a return to a more traditionally controlled Zelda game on a handheld after Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks. Modern technology makes for significantly better storyline in what acts as a sequel to the SNES classic and this could be treated as a stepping stone for Breath of the Wild after they decided to throw out the entire concept of dungeon orders and obtainable items within the dungeons and make it possible for you to beat any dungeon in any order. Also while the story takes a while to build up the final plot twists at the end of the game change the entire outlook of the game's plot and are some of the best in the series. This game is essentially the stepping stone to Breath of the Wild but many people may have forgotten this game in years to come... it is still one of the best on the 3DS though!" – GenericAperson
If you'd like to be part of N-Europe's Top Ten game lists... it's now too late as we've now all but decided on the Top Ten Games for every major Nintendo system to date (Switch withstanding) but please check out the thread on our forum as it's still a great place to discuss some of these fantastic games.
Exciting times indeed, catch you next time when the article for the best Wii U titles goes live on N-Europe soon... you won't have to wait long for what will be the final edition (for now) and it will appear within the not too distant future.