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15 Best 3DS Games

Since 2011, the Nintendo 3DS has allowed players to experience their games in sterescopic 3D, free from the need for 3D glasses. Though it may have seemed a little gimmicky at first, the 3DS quickly turned into another handheld hit for Nintendo as title after fantastic title was released for the clamshelled console. If you own one, are planning to own one, or maybe even recently just found your old 3DS and want to have the very best games, we've got you covered. Some of these were tough calls, but our curated list of the best games for the Nintendo 3DS will keep you gaming until your rechargeable batteries run out—or your eyes cross from the 3D, whichever comes first.


It might have a goofy title and look like a boring game, but BoxBoxBoy will surprise you. In this sequel to the original BoxBoy, you're able to create two sets of boxes instead of just one, giving you all kinds of options when it comes to solving the various puzzles across the game's levels. Stack boxes to get across spiked floors, elevate yourself, or even to give yourself more platforms to use. Once you master the game's mechanics, that feeling of success after you conquer a stage seems even greater. Among all of the games on the Nintendo eShop, BoxBoxBoy is easily one of the best.

Metascore: Critics – 80/100, Users 7.6/10

Play this if you enjoyed: BoxBoy

Kid Icarus: Uprising

The legendary Pit returns in Kid Icarus: Uprising, one of the most action-packed titles in the 3DS library. This Greek mythology-themed adventure is part on-rails shooter and part third-person shooter, with each stage offering an aerial portion and a ground-based combat section. The graphics and the voice acting are top notch, providing the icing on top of a cake made of fast-paced gameplay and controls that cater themselves to your preferences. The best part: the game can be as a easy or as difficult as you want, since you're able to bet "hearts" at the beginning of a stage to tweak the difficulty and the rewards. If you're looking for a Starfox fix without all the Starfox aesthetics, Kid Icarus: Uprising will treat you right.

Metascore: Critics – 83/100, Users 8.7/10

Play this if you enjoyed: Liberation Maiden, Starfox

Fire Emblem: Awakening

The Fire Emblem Fates games might have a lot more to offer when it comes to branching storylines, but all the tactical warfare and relationship-building you could want on the 3DS was available in Awakening first. Not only can you engage in some of the addictive, high-stakes battles that the series is known for, but you'll unravel a mystery involving alternate timelines, a mysterious person claiming to be the legendary Marth, and a quest for the power to bring down an ultimate evil. Oh, and play as if you were watching Game of Thrones and refrain from getting attached to any characters, because permadeath is a thing.

Metascore: Critics – 92/100, Users 9.1/10

Play this if you enjoyed: Massive Chalice, Final Fantasy Tactics

Bravely Default

Bravely Default gives us memorable characters like Tiz, Agnes, Edea, and the aptly named amnesiac Ringabel, who embark on an adventure that's got all the trappings of a Final Fantasy game, but with its own unique style. Not only is the voice acting superb, making you care about the characters' stories, but the gameplay is unique thanks to the battle system. The Bravely and Default options in battle let you bank your actions or spend them all to attack multiple times in a fight, making every encounter one with a lot of important decision-making. Many hours could be sunk into this game thanks to the addictive battle system; chip away at the story every now and then, just so you can explore the incredible world.

Metascore: Critics – 85/100, Users 8.4/10

Play this if you enjoyed: Persona 4 Golden, Dragon Quest IX

SteamWorld Heist

Do you like robots? Do you like pirates? If you answered "yes" to both, then SteamWorld Heist from Image & Form is for you. This quirky title, a sequel to SteamWorld Dig, puts you in the robotic shoes of Captain Piper Faraday as she recruits robots to help her loot her way through space and plunder enemy ships. This turn-based strategy game tosses aside dice rolls in favor of actual skill when it comes to battle. This means you'll manually aim your weapons and use the environment to perform trick shots that bounce around corners and hopefully ricochet into your enemies' faces. You'll feel like some kind of geometry wizard after you bounce a shot off the floors and ceilings a few times and catch an enemy robot in his metal booty. Not only is the gameplay addictive, but you'll find yourself falling in love with the rusty aesthetics and the clanky robots that populate your team. Just don't try any of that bullet-bouncing in real life, you hear?

Metascore: Critics – 86/100, Users 8.3/10

Play this if you enjoyed: Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D

One of the greatest Zelda adventures of all time is available on the 3DS, and you can relive all of the time-traveling madness in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D. The fact that you can carry around Link's journey through Termina in your pocket is insane—this port is filled with hours of dungeon-crawling, mask-collecting, and the fight to stop the moon crashing down. The visuals have been given a boost and the incredible music is back to accompany the timeless gameplay, which is even better with the 3DS and its new controls. Majora's Mask is considered one of the darkest Zelda games, but also one of the best. Do yourself a favor and pick up this classic game if you haven't already.

Metascore: Critics – 89/100, Users 9.0/10

Play this if you enjoyed: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Okami

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

This game would be notable even if it wasn't the sequel to an already amazing GameCube title, Luigi's Mansion. In Dark Moon, the tallest of the Mario Bros. dives into haunted houses to capture ghosts via the Poltergust 5000, a special vacuum that has the power to suck up spirits. It's his job to find the fragments of an artifact called the Dark Moon. The addictive ghost-catching gameplay is back, along with all of the unique spirits that make Luigi's adventure so colorful. There's something about the Luigi's Mansion games that sets them apart from the rest of the franchise, and we're willing to bet it's the uniquely spooky aesthetics that serve as a contrast to the usually sunny Mushroom Kingdom. Whatever the case, here's a quality game that should haunt your 3DS.

Metascore: Critics – 86/100, Users 8.4/10

Play this if you enjoyed: Luigi's Mansion

Mario Kart 7

Mario Kart is the franchise that threatens to tear apart friendships by letting you know that maybe you've actually never really liked most of your buddies. With that said, the best way to test your bonds with others is to play against them in Mario Kart 7, the 3DS installment that introduced gliders, underwater racing, and so much more. It's funny how a little cartridge can cause so much joy and grief among a group of friends, and that's exactly why we love Mario Kart 7. It's not just because of the time-honored racing gameplay or the many stages inspired by our favorite Nintendo games, but because of the palpable drama and tension it can produce. If it can test the mettle of a friendship, then you know it's a quality competitive game.

Metascore: Critics – 85/100, Users 8.2/10

Play this if you enjoyed: any of Mario Kart games

Super Mario 3D Land

No list about a Nintendo console is complete without the world's most famous mustachioed plumber, and we're picking Super Mario 3D Land as the best he has to offer on the 3DS. This action platformer puts you in Mario's overalls as he goes on an adventure to save Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser once more, this time traveling through worlds that give us a mix of 2D and 3D mechanics. Armed with fan favorite power-ups like the Tanooki Suit and new ones like the Propeller Box, Mario maneuvers around the 3D worlds with more style than ever. The fact that the game combines the elements of 2D and 3D Mario games makes it almost feel like a compilation of Mario's greatest hits when it comes to game mechanics. This is one pipe you'll dive into over and over again.

Metascore: Critics – 90/100, Users 8.4/10

Play this if you enjoyed: Super Mario 64

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

A Zelda game that's a sequel to A Link to the Past? In glorious 3D? Count us in. We could have put the masterpieces known as Ocarina of Time 3D or Majora's Mask 3D on this list, but we found it fitting to include a Zelda title that was created specifically for the 3DS instead of a fantastic remake or port. In A Link Between Worlds, you go on a classic Hyrulean adventure that takes you to alternate dimensions and gives you new powers like the ability to become a 2D painting on walls. (Given that this game is played on a 3DS with stereoscopic 3D, that's kind of a funny power to have.) If you're a fan of Zelda at all, then this deserves a slot on your "Must Play" list, even if just for the nostalgia factor tied to A Link to the Past.

Metascore: Critics – 91/100, Users 8.9/10

Play this if you enjoyed: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies

Who would have thought that courtroom battles could be as exciting and heart-pounding as any fight with swords and spells? In Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies, we see the return of the legendary defense attorney Phoenix Wright and the introduction of newcomer Athena Cykes, a junior partner who has the ability to tap into the emotions of witnesses to see whether or not they're lying. In the first truly 3D Ace Attorney title, we're presented with a familiar world of investigating, only this time we're able to truly look around every corner and object to see things from different angles. The fact that this game also has a downloadable content episode—that has you defending an orca—is just pure awesomeness.

Metascore: Critics – 81/100, Users 8.3/10

Play this if you enjoyed: Professor Layton, any of the previous Ace Attorney games

Super Smash Bros.

Just the fact that we can play Super Smash Bros. on the 3DS is amazing, but add the fact that it's one of the best fighting games on the system and you have an argument for a must-own title. You can brawl on the go and fight your friends wherever they may be thanks to this game being on the 3DS with online functionality. The 3DS version even has console-specific stages, so you can really feel like your fighting experience is unique. Add the myriad of unlockable and downloadable characters, and you have one of the most fleshed-out fighting games on a handheld device. If you're an amiibo fan, then you've got even more value out of the game because it supports the little figures, giving you another excuse to grab more.

Metascore: Critics – 85/100, Users 8.5/10

Play this if you enjoyed: Jump SuperStars

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

Who'd have thought you could fit so much monster-hunting goodness in such a small package? Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate allows hunters to use the 3DS to stalk some of the scariest beasts ever imagined. No matter which weapons you try to master, you're always going to have an incredible time exploring different locales and trying to memorize the behaviors of certain monsters so you can get the jump on them. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate also boasts a pretty complete multiplayer suite that gets you hunting big bad creatures with your friends, so you can at least have strength in numbers. The fact that you can take all of this gargantuan action on the go is awesome, so grab a weapon and a BBQ spit and get hunting.

Metascore: Critics – 86/100, Users 8.7/10

Play this if you enjoyed: Dark Souls, Bloodborne

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King is a port of a PlayStation 2 game that was released in 2004, which brings all the British-accented goodness to the portability of a 3DS. In this upgraded version of the game, you'll face off against new dungeons and bosses, with the chance to get a brand new ending. The classic Dragon Quest formula is in full swing, allowing you to fight monsters in a first-person perspective and then capture them. Jump into the adventure and relive the journey!

Metascore: Critics – 86/100, Users 9.2/10

Play this if you enjoyed: Persona 4 Golden, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Pokemon Sun and Moon

Take a vacation on the islands in Pokémon Sun & Moon, the latest titles in the Pokémon series. Discover brand new Pokémon and the Alolan variations of existing pocket monsters as you travel from island to island, taking on various challenges. There are a ton of features for you to explore and a deeper plot to dive into, especially with mysterious organizations like Team Skull and the Aether Foundation thrown into the mix. See what the Alolan islands have to offer you!

Metascore: Critics – 87/100, Users 8.1/10

Play this if you enjoyed: literally any Pokémon game

Changes from last month

2/2/2017: PushMo and Pokémon X and Y have been removed and Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King and Pokémon Sun and Moon have joined the list.

3/5/2017: No changes have been made during the last month.

4/4/2017: Despite releases like Bye-Bye BoxyBoy! and Mario Sports Superstars in March, there are no new additions to the list.

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