Nintendo’s 3DS has experienced a dramatic first year, no doubt far more eventful than Satoru Iwata and his team could have imagined. Despite all of the twists and turns that the handheld has experienced, it’s nevertheless been a source of some terrific and varied games. The 3DS may have evolved into more than the sum of its initial parts, but it is, first and foremost, a games console.
To kick off a week of 3DS celebrations we’re going to list our favourite 3DS games so far. A total of ten members of the Nintendo Life team nominated 31 titles, both retail and download. 3DS-exclusive releases on the eShop were eligible, though Virtual Console games were not. It should also be taken into account that some titles, particularly certain download games, are only currently available in North America or Europe individually, so our cross-atlantic team have had varying access to some releases. One notable title – you can guess which one – was only in the shops for two days before this list was compiled, so it’s impressive that it appears at all.
One final detail is that we’ve chosen 12 games instead of the traditional ten: this is a 12 month anniversary, after all. If a new 3DS owner was looking for a game a month to play this year, we think they could do a lot worse than to follow this list.
12. Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D — Possibly the finest title from a distinguished franchise, this was the first appearance of Metal Gear Solid on a Nintendo console – outside of cameos – since the GameCube era. Taking a stone-cold classic and adding some unique 3DS touches worked exceptionally well, despite the occasional quirk or frame-rate issue.
11. Star Fox 64 3D — When the 3DS library was struggling for exciting new games, Nintendo revived a couple of classics from the N64 library. This title is perhaps the most popular in the Star Fox series, and this new version brought the same on-rails action with improved graphics, gyroscope support and impressive 3D effects. A blast from start to finish.
10. Mutant Mudds — Although it was late on the scene, the eShop has slowly accumulated a collection of top-class download titles. Mutant Mudds is a perfect example of why retro still works: tight controls and colourful pixel art brilliantly captivating its audience. A critical hit in North America, European gamers continue to wait impatiently.
9. Dead or Alive: Dimensions —There’ve been a few releases that target experienced, mature and ‘hardcore’ gamers. This is a high quality fighting game, though due to some of the characters being ‘on display’ in stereoscopic 3D, it was famously banned in Scandinavian countries.
8. Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition — Arguably the highest profile launch title, this version of the HD console fighter was an early indication of the graphical capabilities of the 3DS. Throw in a decent online multiplayer and StreetPass functionality, and this was an early standard-bearer for the system.
7. Pilotwings Resort — One of a few first-party launch titles, Pilotwings truly demonstrated just how deep the 3D visuals could go. Recreating Wuhu Island in detail, complaints about the limited amount of content were valid, and merely showed that gamers wanted more to do in their various planes and jetpacks: a perfect game for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
6. Kid Icarus: Uprising — Kid Icarus: Uprising is a surprise entry, simply because it was only released two days before our team submitted their lists. An exciting rollercoaster experience that bursts to the seams with set-piece moments, this title has set the bar for action gameplay on the 3DS, with enough fan-content to keep many busy in the weeks and months ahead.
5. Resident Evil Revelations — Also known as ‘Revelaitons’ in Capcom HQ. The announcement of an exclusive Resident Evil adventure was one of the handheld’s biggest selling points before Revelations hit stores in early 2012, and it didn’t disappoint. A lengthy adventure, alongside a well-produced and compulsive online mode, combined perfectly with terrific 3D graphics. Best played in the dead of night with a pair of headphones.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D — The idea of taking one of the greatest video games ever produced and improving it in every way didn’t draw many complaints from veteran Nintendo gamers. With two versions of the adventure and a boss rush mode, combined with superior controls and visuals, this re-mastering of the N64 classic is worthy of continuing its legacy. Still memorable for veterans, and a must-have for those yet to experience one of Link’s most iconic adventures.
3. Mario Kart 7 — If there’s one guaranteed hit to send a console’s sales through the roof, it’s a new Mario Kart game. With new tracks and online ‘communities’, this title continues the good form of the series and brings its unique combination of addictively fun racing and 3DS-throwing unfairness. Curse those blue shells.
2. Pullblox — Pullblox, or Pushmo as it’s known in North America, is the perfect example of how inexpensive download titles can capture a gamer’s imagination. Its subtle use of 3D to enhance the devious puzzles, not to mention the sheer volume of levels, make this the must-have digital download on 3DS. The level creator tool, and the ability to distribute your creations with QR codes, mean that this is one game that will always have more to offer.
1. Super Mario 3D Land — The inevitable number one, winning by a landslide in our team’s votes. The other half of the Holiday 2011 Mario blitz, this takes many of the best qualities of 3D and 2D Mario platformers and throws them into a blender. With more creative ideas in individual levels – particularly in their use of 3D effects – than some games have in their entirety, this entry is also well-suited to gamers for all abilities. If any of you didn’t find the first eight worlds challenging enough, keep going and the experience goes to a whole new level.
So those are our top 12 3DS games so far. Honourable mentions must go to Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars 3D and eShop title VVVVVV, which both narrowly missed out on 12th place. A lot of good games missed out, showing that the 3DS library is starting to shape up rather nicely.
You can vote for your favourite from the ten highest-placed games on our Facebook poll, and we’d love to hear what you think and read your own lists in the comments below.