News Article

Feature: 10 Essential Games For Your New 3DS

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Got a new handheld this Christmas? Try these must-have titles

While plenty of lucky kids and big kids alike will have received a Wii U on Christmas Day we're aware, thanks to our lovely Twitter followers, that a number of people received a shiny new 3DS on the big day. Many were XL variations, though the original model has its own charms, so we thought we'd follow up our 10 essential games for your new Wii U with an equivalent for the handheld. This is not a top ten, but like the previous article is a list of games that we strongly recommend.

We've gone for a variety of genres, as well as an even split between retail and eShop download-only games. With the vast 3DS library many terrific titles are unfortunately missing out, but we feel these games represent a good starting point for gamers at various levels who are just getting into their new handheld — we've also chosen releases available in both North America and Europe.

Simply click on the images to visit our game pages, where you'll find plenty of information and reviews.

New Super Mario Bros. 2

Fallblox / Crashmo

Mario Kart 7

Colors! 3D

Kid Icarus: Uprising


Resident Evil Revelations

Mighty Switch Force!

Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy


These are just ten suggestions, but there are lots other excellent titles available on the system, so share your thoughts below. You can also check out our most recent official Nintendo Life eShop top ten from July 2012.

From the web

User Comments (114)



Jonny said:

You forgot Mario 3D Land which trumps everything on that list



Kevin said:

3D Land is so easy a five year old can beat it! It was a terrible game. You can float over nearly every level easily without a challenge! Get rid of colors, resident evil and escape vektor and replace them with Paper Mario, Link's Awakening and Cave Story (3DSWare) for a better list.



darkgamer001 said:

Lists are opinion based ofc...and it's my opinion that this list is very incomplete, to say the least...



Shiryu said:

I know it's hard to keep the already impressive list of 3DS games to ten, but I can't push enough "Ace Combat Assault Horizon 3D", it's my favourite of the series all the way back to the original PSX releases. Can't wait for Namco to put one on the Wii U.



Ron_DelVillano said:

Did anyone here read the actual article before jumping to the list of games?

Here are a couple of very important quotes:

"This is not a top ten, but like the previous article is a list of games that we strongly recommend."

"We've gone for a variety of genres, as well as an even split between retail and eShop download-only games. With the vast 3DS library many terrific titles are unfortunately missing out, but we feel these games represent a good starting point for gamers at various levels who are just getting into their new handheld — we've also chosen releases available in both North America and Europe."

Please calm down and go enjoy playing the games that you like to play.



seronja said:

to help out people futher with an idea of what some people like, here's my top 10 must have titles:
1. The legend of Zelda: ocarina of time 3D
2. Resident evil: Revelations
3. Mario kart 7
4. Star Fox 64 3D
5. Super Mario 3D land
6. Kid Icarus: uprising
7. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward
8. Paper Mario: sticker star
9. Professor Layton 3DS
10. New Super Mario bros. 2
and for the top 5 e-shop titles:
1. Liberation Maiden
3. Mighty switch force
4. Mutand mudd's
5. Dillions rolling western
ofcourse honorable mentions go to ghost recon, rayman origins, skylanders, tales of the abyss, heroes of ruin, rhythm thief: emperor's treasure and Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy.



ThomasBW84 said:

@Ron_DelVillano What you said, beat me to it! Short of putting those quotes in bold, which wouldn't look nice, thanks for pointing that out. This is a list of ten games that give a good foundation for those new to the system, not a ranking or anything like that.



XFsWorld said:

Their listing great games that came this year, Super Mario 3D Land, and those Zelda games came out last year.

And great for Kid Icarus: Uprising being on that list, but they can replace VVVVVV with Paper Mario: Sticker Star :/



ZurrrrBlattTron said:

Kid Icarus Uprising is the best game for the 3ds right now ^_^ Metal gear solid 3 and legend of zelda are close But KIU has such a addictive quality like smash bros



moomoo said:

Nice that you guys so strongly recommend EscapeVektor. It's a really great game.

Also, if you just got a 3DS, I strongly recommend checking out the DS backlog. There's a ton of great games on the DS that you can play with your 3DS.



MrWalkieTalkie said:

I agree with this list except for EscapeVector because I have no idea what that is(gonna go look into it now), and Colors! 3D because its not as great as everyone says, at least to me. But I agree, Paper Mario not being here is a huge mistake!



Chobi said:

I like how everyone is getting all irate over a suggestion list. Anyways not a bad list for newcomers. I especially like how you picked resident evil revelations. That's the only title that shows off what the 3DS system can really do.



cyrus_zuo said:

I'd make some big changes to your list - ADD these 6!
Crush 3D
Super Mario 3D Land
Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Shadow Wars
Art Academy
KEEP these 4 (the other 6 titles from your list are out...though a couple of them are very good, my 6 above are simply better!)
Mario Kart 7
Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy
Kid Icarus: Uprising

...this provides more variety in gaming than the original list I think, in addition to better titles .




Solid list. I think u'd have to include SSF IV and LoZ Ocarina (which is a bit of a shocking ommission) but I understand what ur trying to do there. Own 7 each from your Wii U and 3DS lists



Chrno-x said:

I think there should be two lists: one for North America, and second for Europe, because not every title are published in the same time (vide: remake of Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D - in US if I remember it came out in November 2011, on the other side MGS in Europe was launched in January or February, so in my case it's a 2012 title).



Retro_on_theGo said:

NSMB2 absolutely should not be here and should be replaced by Code of Princess. Really appreciate Mighty Switch Force being there though.



eirikr said:

Kid Icarus shouldn't be in the list. Awful game. Don't know why too many excitement about it.



grumblegrumble said:

Guys, guys! They couldn't include every single great game there is, just a few of the greats. Please stop nitpicking. lol. If they had gone on to include all our favorites, it would be 50 games long! lol



Capt_N said:

It's just a list of a few opinions of this site's staff. Just b/c a game isn't in this list, doesn't mean the NL staff thinks it's bad. It (just) means simply (that) they either a. favor the listed games a little more, than/compared to the other games or more likely b. they are just giving a diverse list. It's in the article that there's great games missing. & no one opinion is the same.



NImH said:

@ThomasBW84 @Ron_DelVillano Don't you sometimes feel like daycare staff I loved the list! It makes me wonder if Escape Vector is one of those awesome games I usually sleep on for 6 months, then kick myself for waiting so long... I'll hafta check it out.



XCWarrior said:

These stories are proving very easily that no one reads squat on the internet.

You have a nice top 10 list. I may not agree, but I understand why the list is what it is. Suggestions, not a top 10 list. Some people really could try and learn.



Geonjaha said:

Don't agree that all of these are must haves...

Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy IF you enjoy Final Fantasy music.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 NEVER over Super Mario 3D Land.
Colors! 3D IF you actually have some interest in art.
VVVVVV IF you enjoy good games.



MagicEmperor said:

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is on this list, but NOT Super Mario 3D Land? To each their own, I guess.



Gretski said:

Uhhhh Super Mario 3D Land? Ocarina of Time 3D? Pushmo? Paper Mario Sticker Star? Personally I'd leave out New Super Mario Bros 2 and Resident Evil. Other than that it's a fairly decent list.



iBazly said:

Definitely a pretty decent list, though some of it does seem a bit... off...

Theatrhythm and Resident Evil in particular... I think a large amount of the appeal of those games is to fans of the series', and I don't know if someone new to either series would be getting much out of either game.

Also I think the "Fallblox/Crashmo" entry should really just say "Fallblox and Pullblox/Crashmo and Pushmo", because I personally can't imagine having one without the other/



NintendoCat14 said:

What this list was SUPPOSED to say:

Super Mario 3D Land
Pushmo (aka Pullblox)
Paper Mario: Sticker Star (aka Seal Star)
Crashmo (aka Fallblox)
Theatrythm: Final Fantasy
Kid Icarus Uprising
Mario Kart 7
Cave Story (possibly Mighty Switch Force)
New Super Mario Bros 2

but the site was hacked while this was being posted and the hacker changed it.



Kid_A said:

Super Mario 3D Land is the best Mario game of all time, but NSMB2 has great multiplayer and tons of content so I can see why it made it on the list.



iBazly said:

@NintendoCat14: One main point you made in your post that I must agree with: why is Cave Story not on this list? Not only is it an amazing game, the 3DS eShop version is by far the best version of the game available anywhere, in my opinion. And it's definitely better than VVVVVV and Mighty Switch Force, which are both games I love - so that's saying a lot!



Ispheria said:

i don't believe Colors 3D and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy should be on the list. I've them both, and while i do like them, i believe it is only because i am an artist who likes final fantasy. the first requires a lot of patience to make anything good, in 3D, unless you're a pro with using stuff like this, and the 2nd requires some nostalgic feelings for final fantasy. Kid Icarus DEFINITELY belongs on the list though, i've put a lot of gameplay hours into that game. lots of replay value



Sun said:

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is the worst Mario game ever, you only recommend it because it has the word Mario on the title but actually is a shame that you do...



theblackdragon said:

@Sun: Come on now, plenty of us enjoy NSMB2, staff or not. Remember that these are just suggestions; please do feel free to suggest what you feel should replace NSMB2 on our list :3



2Sang said:

@Jonny Except Kid Icarus, no doubt that's the best game out right now, but colors and escapevektor are both just okay, nothing special. Paper mario and Mario land should both replace those two.



2Sang said:

@Shworange lol
Johnny Kung Fu was a pretty good game, though. Not a top 10, of course.

Going a little off-topic, don't you have to sell a minimum amount of software to get paid from the eshop/dsiware? I'm wondering if those chuckecheese games have sold enough yet...



Sun said:


Resident Evil Revelations
Metal Gear Solid 3D Snake Eater
Mario Kart 7
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Professor Layton
Fallblox/Crushmo or Pullblox/Pushmo
Virtue's Last Reward
Colors 3D
Kid Icarus Uprising

You are not doing us a favour telling Nintendo a game like NSMB2 is good...



theblackdragon said:

@Sun: Personally, I think you're not doing anyone a favor telling them Kid Icarus: Uprising is good, and I wouldn't touch Virtue's Last Reward with a ten-foot pole, but hey, different strokes for different folks :3



rayword45 said:

Replace VVVVVV (overpriced port), Colors 3D (Very niche, most people I know suck at art), and Theatrhythm (Unless you (unlike me) play a lot of Final Fantasy, this is a very average rhythm game) with Crush3D (okay, not exactly a starter, but great title), Super Mario 3D Land and Miracle Mask. Hell, IMO NSMB2 should not be here due to laziness but it's got mass appeal.

Glad to see Kid Icarus and Revelations here.



Peach64 said:

I got a White 3DS XL as a surprise for Christmas. It came with Mario Kart 7 pre-installed, and I intend to claim Super Mario 3D Land as the free downloadable game as part of the current offer, but I've got to be honest, I've been looking into what games I should be buying next, and it seems to be a rather poor library considering it's been out almost 2 years.

I had a DS from the start, and that took a while to get going, but after 2 years there was many must have games. Personally, the only AAA titles on 3DS for me are Ocarina of Time, Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D land. I'll get the Layton game too, but it's a bit worrying that I can't see much on the release schedule that interests me either.

I'm really hoping that by E3 they'll have announced an original Zelda game, a new Mario and Luigi game (and not completely change the genre as they did with Paper Mario 3DS), a 2D Metroid (I know it's unlikely), and something new, like they were doing with the DS and Nintendogs/Ouendan/Electroplankton.



rayword45 said:

@Peach64 Out of curiousity, did you look at Kid Icarus; Uprising, Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance or Resident Evil: Revelations.

All are hailed by fans as great titles for the hardcore crowd, and I can speak for all but ZE: VLR. I'd argue those are AAA titles far more then Ocarina of Time (old, old game with one new mode and one less gratingly bad area) and Mario Kart 7 (often hailed as a rush job, with rubberbanding and a lack of features from previous games)



demonroach said:

3DS Explosion. It's really becoming the biggest system in the world. Nintendo really lucked out (esp after their last two poor quarters). Plus the game selection is godly..... DRAGON QUEST 7 OMFG.



Wonder_Ideal said:

I can personally recommend Kid Icarus: Uprising. It has become one of my favorites.
@Sun - I liked NSMB2. I've got 1,000,000 coins to prove it.



Prof_Clayton said:

Um... what's wrong with everyone? These games aren't a top 10 list. Just a wide diverse selection of good games for new owners to choose from to help enjoy their new system.
If you didn't like something, that's fine. But I'd bet that a lot of other people did. And everyone has very different tastes in gaming, so don't put these games down. Rather, reccomend different games to add to the list so people have a wealth of options to choose from.



rayword45 said:

If you ask the average person about drawing, they'll likely say "I suck at drawing".

Thus, I don't think Colors 3D is a safe recommendation. Contrast to that, I didn't get the hype with Pullblox which led me away from Toolbox, and I thought MK7 was generic as hell (not saying I didn't enjoy it), but I can understand those choices being here because they have much more mass appeal.



GreenDream said:

I thought Steel Diver was one of the only games since Star Fox 64 and Ocarina of Time that made good, atmospheric use of rumble use. In almost every game, rumble in controllers is completely useless. Even though Steel Diver is very short, it has some interesting ideas from Miyamoto that are seldom used elsewhere.



Gridatttack said:

Where is the cake ninja trilogy? This is unacceptable.

Anyway, im still deciding whenever get crashmo or Mighty Switch Force...



MarioKenny1992 said:

Super Mario 3D Land > New Super Mario Bros. 2

NSMB2 is good, but it's just not as creative as the other recent Mario games and Nintendo trolls you with the 1 million coin mission XD I love the coin rush mode though

Oh yeah, and I wasn't fond of NSMBW's music being recycled and very slightly remixed for most of the game. I know it's normally not a big deal but can't they make new music for the game too?



MarioKenny1992 said:

@Sun believe me, I've played much worse games than NSMB2 - Mario is Missing, Sonic 06, Mega Man X7, Shadow the Hedgehog, and Star Fox Assault to name a few! sure NSMB2 isn't innovative or anything, but at least it was fun and actually playable



Azaris said:

Here's my list.
Tale of the abyss
Zelda oot 3d
Nsmb 2
The denpa men,They came by wave
Cave story(the eshop one,not cave story 3d)

I really wish people would stop recommending pmss,it's not a bad game persay but imo it's overated.



Lobster said:

I like how you snuck in both Pushmo AND Crashmo, making this actually eleven games, but then, Colors! 3D isn't actually a game, so I guess it evens out.



Araknie said:

I personally remove Vektor and VVVVVV to add Samurai Warriors Chronicles and Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance.



idork99 said:

@rayword45 MK7 was rushed which was the reason Nintendo asked Retro Studios to assist with the project. Still, Mario Kart is Mario Kart and you can't go wrong with that. It's a fun game/series. Easily, my most played game on the 3DS.



Sun said:

@theblackdragon LOL so why did you choose Kid Icarus then? The only problem with that game is the control though, while the problem with New Super Mario Bros. 2 is the game itself.

Why do you deal so bad with appropriate criticism?



Sun said:

@MarioKenny1992 I agree with you, Super Mario 3D Land is better than New Super Mario Bros. 2. And yes, I realize NSMB2 is not the worst game, it's just the biggest disappointment.



Pete_Stooge said:

This wouldn't be my list. Unless you have a whole load of money i suggest starting with these titles:
Zelda: OoT
Mario 3D land



theblackdragon said:

@Sun: Your original statement was that NSMB2 was only chosen for the article list because it has 'Mario' in the title. That's not 'appropriate criticism' at all, it's you making an assumption which is not true.

That said, I picked up KI:U because it looked very interesting and I was intrigued by the wifi multiplayer — all my friends were getting it too. I felt the control system was horribad, though, and the dialogue absolutely killed the experience for me. I know other people like it, and I can respect that, but I'm not the one going around saying people would only recommend it because it's a first-party IP. :/



BulbasaurusRex said:

@theblackdragon Some people may not like the controls in KI:U (I personally think they're fine as long as I have a flat space for the stand), but how can you not like the dialogue?! It's one of the funniest games around because of it!

Anyway, I have two of the games on the list (KI:U and MK7), but I have no interest in any of the others. In my opinion, the biggest snubs are "Dead or Alive: Dimensions" and "Code of Princess."

EDIT: Whoops, "Code of Princess" isn't out in Europe yet and therefore not eligible.



rayword45 said:

@theblackdragon Did you play (and dislike) Moon, Dementium or MPH?

Then I'll understand those complaints. Stupid hypocrites like GameSpot saying how great MPH is then saying Kid Icarus is broken.

As for the dialogue... "Did you take it seriously?" is all I can guess, but that's more opinionated. I personally loved the dialogue and appreciated the awkward humor, far more then KH:DDD's terrible voice acting and Revelations ATROCIOUS story.



theblackdragon said:

@rayword45: I did indeed play Moon, I remember i liked the way it controlled actually. I didn't like that game-breaking glitch early on, though (god that pissed me off when i realized i was stuck and couldn't go down that stupid elevator or whatever and had to restart my game!), and I felt it was a bit short. I would've liked to have seen more of it tbqh. It reminded me of playing the original Doom back in the day.

As for KI:U's dialogue, I couldn't take it seriously at all; that was my problem with it. It's not that it needed to be zomgsuperseriousallthetime!!! or anything, I just wanted the game to draw me in and make me feel like more was at stake, y'know? from the few levels I played through, the chatter reminded me of one of those narrated theme-park rides almost, too light-hearted and fourth-wall-breaking for me to really get into the story. I'm sorry, i know other people enjoy it very much, but it's just not for me.



rayword45 said:

Well, Moon controlled pretty much the same as Kid Icarus IIRC, only you're given analog movement in Kid Icarus. There needs to be a sequel to Moon IMO.

And the tone was meant to be light-hearted. There were ocassionally brief moments of serious/sad dialogue such as Gaol and Magnus's backstory, but I can't see the game working out full time serious-mode at all. The colorful backgrounds and light-hearted themes wouldn't work out for the majority of the time (compared to the dark and gritty areas in Metroid games) plus Metroid: Other M proved Nintendo makes serious dialogue painfully awkward despite the more silent games like Zelda working out just fine (exception is Super Mario Galaxy).



theblackdragon said:

@rayword45: Moon didn't cramp my hands the way KI:U does, stand or no — i remember i played it for a couple days straight until i beat it with no issues. If I still owned Moon i'd try it again right quick to compare, but I traded it in long ago, i'm afraid.



rayword45 said:

Hmm... Do you have a 3DS XL or something? I mean, unless there's a subtle difference in placement of the circle pad on the 3DS vs. D-Pad for DS or the thing weighs a surprising amount more, I don't think there's much of a difference in controls.

I compared it recently to Metroid Prime Hunters, and they play pretty much the same for me, minus the fact that Metroid is more like a PC FPS while KI controls more like a console since you have no analog movement in Metroid.



rayword45 said:

And again, on the topic of placement, the only games that don't belong IMO are Theatrhythm and Colors 3D, because both are somewhat niche. Colors 3D is obvious, but I assume T:FF is much more fun for FF fans, because otherwise it's incredibly bland as a pure rhythm game (whereas Revelations was my first RE game and I loved it).



theblackdragon said:

@rayword45: nope, just a plain ol' shiny red 3DS. I've been thinking about trading it for an XL, but i've got bills to pay and stuff. :3

i do agree with you re: theatrhythm and colors 3D being a bit too niche to qualify as 'essential', though. not everyone is artistically-minded enough for colors 3D to really be a hit, and theatrhythm kinda bored me after a while; there's too much basic stuff they require you to slog through in order to get to the exciting bits. If it were more like EBA/Ouendan, all exciting all the time, it probably would've held my attention for a lot longer than it did, lol.



Tinky said:

Yes, it may be only the opinion of the review staff, but it still says "must have title" in the tagline, which is a bit... hm, inappropriate. Not that it bothers me much, really, but still, I wanted to point it out... I guess... it´s irritating and bothersome whenever to see some recommendations. What´s the use of those, I mean people who are able to search for sites like Nlife are able to figure out their preferred games on their own. If anything, such lists only confuse the audience, or worse, lure them into buying some game(s), which they think must be great (it was recommended, after all) and then be deeply disappointed.
Instead of throwing all kinds of genres together and then listing a "essential games list" one should rather sort the games by their genres and make a comparison within the genres. Of course, for now there aren´t really that many games for the 3DS out there to make such a reliable within genre listing, but then no lists would be better, for now



Onion said:

The discussion here reminds me of why I dislike people on the Internet so much. Nothing but a bunch of people whining about a game not being on a list, whining about about games that ARE on the list, whining about games being overrated, etc..One of the biggest offenders here being Sun. I love how Sun holds his own opinion with such high esteem, that we must all abide by it. Clearly, if he says NSMB2 is bad, it must be bad. Sales, reviews, differing opnions, all crumble beneath his mighty opinion. If he doesn't like it, it must be bad! Most importantly however, he has no right to attack Blackdragon and those who write for NIntendoLife on a poorly thought out assumption. I don't always agree with their articles either, but to flat out attack them in such a childish manner says a lot about you Sun.

Anyway, It was obviously not intended as a top ten list. They're just giving new 3DS owners a head-start by suggesting some games with a wide appeal. I mean, I like games like Code of Princess as much as anyone but those types of games appeal to a much smaller market of people than games like New Super Mario Bros 2. It's unnecessary to say what "should" be on the list. It's fine as it is for the most part.



theonlystephens said:

well, this is only matter of someones opinion, so mine is like this:
-kid icarus
-rayman origins
-scribblenauts unlimited
-resident evil
-adventure time(a lot like zelda 2)
-sonic generations is short, but worthwhile
-i feel like nsmb2 was a weak game and was very uncreative with power ups, and -there re better 2d platformers on 3ds
-lozoot3d...its good...but i prefer majoras mask and nintendo needs to remake it
-mario kart 7 is good and much more customizable than any other mario kart
and most 3ds games r good



Mahe said:

Pretty good list. The 3DS has really come to its own in the second half of 2012, after all.

@Jonny No it wouldn't. Super Mario 3D Land sucks.



LittleIrves said:

Just kidding. Y'all crack me up. What OnionOverlord said.
But you gotta respect the passion.



Harley said:

Hey, just going along with the onslaught of suggestions here (yeah, I actually read articles on the internet), I'd recommend Angry Birds Trilogy for those who have somehow managed to elude the franchise since its debut. Frankly, I never got around to playing it until this port (Ipod Touch's are so easy to break -_-) and I've had a great deal of fun with it. As long as you don't apps, I think it's a good choice. (Come on, everyone needs a diversion from Mario and Zelda and not all of us own Apple's overpriced handhelds)



Edlicious said:

lol i looked through ALL THE COMMENTS! not a single damn person said anything about Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, im ashamed of you people.



RiuSakurazaki said:

I have two of those. Final Fantasy Rhythm game and Colors 3D!
Colors 3D is amazing.

And I agree with Edlicious.
Kingdom Hearts has any right as the other games to be on the list.
Or mentioned.

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