News Article

Feature: The Biggest 3DS Games of 2013

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Mostly on their way from Japan

With a New Year comes optimism for lots of fun, exciting gaming experiences. We've already outlined what we think are ten of the biggest Wii U games of 2013 — well, those that are confirmed — so now we'll do the same for 3DS. After a rocky début year, 2012 went some way to revive the fortunes of the handheld — though there's still plenty of work to do — so Nintendo will be hoping to attract some big sales with the game releases coming this year.

Rather like Wii U, a number of confirmed releases only cover the first half of the year, so we expect Nintendo Direct broadcasts and E3 to reveal some interesting new titles. Outside of some high profile releases that are making it West soon — you already know what they are — we actually found this list harder to produce. As we only wanted to list games that give us that new-game buzz, we've even resorted to a couple of speculative entries of Japanese releases that, at the time of writing, have only had fleeting hints of localisation. Some big hitters are on the way, for sure, but it certainly seems like a focus on quality over quantity, with surely more unconfirmed goodies in the pipeline for later in the year.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf — Due Q2

This had to go at the top of the list, as it's regularly one of the most searched for and viewed game pages on Nintendo Life. It's been a sales phenomenon in Japan, and we expect it to do rather well once it arrives in North America and PAL territories. Each delay has been painful for eager fans, but it's definitely coming and will happily consume our lives and spare time when it does arrive.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon — Spring

This title was originally expected last year, and would surely have made an ideal game for Halloween, but Luigi seemingly made way for the paper adventures of his brother. A long-awaited sequel to the GameCube original, itself a bit of a cult-classic, this looks like a charming new entry for the series. We've enjoyed our time with it at events, and look forward to getting spooked by the real deal this Spring.

Fire Emblem: Awakening — 4th February (North America) / April (Europe)

The Fire Emblem series may not be up there with the biggest franchises in terms of big sales and popularity, but this strategy RPG will be high on a number of wishlists of dedicated Nintendo gamers. This 3DS entry will incorporate some new features and, perhaps most importantly, promises to keep the experience rich for months to come with free and paid-for DLC.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate — March

This title also appeared in our Wii U list, and the opportunities for cross-play multiplayer and hopping between systems to play a save game are certainly enticing — features that we hope to see more between the home console and handheld in future. It's also worth noting that it'll be the first Monster Hunter game to hit a Nintendo handheld in the West, even if Japanese gamers have been enjoying it since December 2011. It's monster slaying on the go, which sounds good to us.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate — 5th March (North America) / 8th March (Europe)

Konami, which published so many Castlevania titles on the Game Boy Advance and DS, finally brings a new entry in the franchise to 3DS. Picking up on the lore of the spin-off series recently born on HD consoles, this promises a 2.5D perspective, large areas to explore and lots of fighting. Despite somewhat floaty jump mechanics in preview builds, this one is visually attractive and certainly full of promise.

Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney — TBC

Here's the first of our speculative entries on our localisation wishlist, a mash-up of the excitable attorney and the tea drinking level-headed Professor. Promising a blend of both game styles into one adventure, if this is done right then it's undoubtedly one to watch. It's not confirmed that this will make it out of Japan — where it was released last year — but due to the popularity of both franchises in the West we expect it to arrive, hopefully late this year.

Bravely Default: Flying Fairy — TBC

It's an epic JRPG, with music and footage that's emerged doing more than enough to earn it a place on our list, joining the previous entry as a speculative hope for localisation. Following the success of titles such as Xenoblade Chronicles when offered to a Western audience on Wii, we're hopeful that Square Enix will decide to take a chance and release this one worldwide.

Nano Assault EX — Q1

Moving onto the 3DS eShop, this upcoming release from Shin'en Multimedia could potentially offer one of the best-value offerings on the service. Described by the developer as Nano Assault 1.5, this takes the original retail release — which we rated rather highly here at Nintendo Life — and will apparently improve performance as well as adding extra content to boost the package. With boxed retail becoming a less attractive option for smaller developers, we're hopeful that this title could be an early indicator of the kind of experiences we may see on the download platform in the coming year.

Shantae And The Pirate's Curse — TBC

Announced by the now closed Nintendo Power, for fans of the Game Boy Advance and DSiWare games this was very welcome news indeed. Combine gorgeous pixel graphics with a quirky setting, lots of platforming and hack 'n slash action, as well as a healthy serving of exploration, and that should be what we can expect from this title. Considering how effectively WayForward utilised the 3D screen in Mighty Switch Force!, this is high on a number of wishlists.

Rhythm Hunter: Harmoknight — Q1

From Game Freak, the team behind the Pokémon series, comes a rhythm action game likely to go down well with Nintendo gamers. Cheerful visuals and some welcome zaniness — the trailer shows the character bringing the hurt to an enormous cow head — make this an ideal eShop download.

So there you go, ten games — even if two are currently Japan-only — that should represent some of the best on 3DS in 2013. We didn't cover every upcoming game of course, so let us know what you're looking forward to in the comments below; you can also vote for you favourite on the list in the poll below.

What's your most anticipated 3DS game of 2013? (587 votes)

Animal Crossing: New Leaf


Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon


Fire Emblem: Awakening


Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate


Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate


Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney


Bravely Default: Flying Fairy


Nano Assault EX


Shantae & The Pirate's Curse


Rhythm Hunter: Harmoknight


My choice isn't on the list


Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (163)



Spoony_Tech said:

Add Etrain Odyssey 4 to that list and I might've voted for it but Fire Emblem will do nicely! The only game I don't really want on that list is Rhythm Hunter.



Dobeymaster said:

MHU is probably my favorite. I've always been a big fan of the MH series. Can't wait to play it on the go.



Freelance said:

All I care about in that list is Luigi's Mansion. Maybe Castlevania too so I can see if werewolves really do have appendages.



Peach64 said:

Unlike most on here, I thought the 3DS has a pretty poor 2012, but 2013 is already looking fantastic, and there should be new announcements to come. Animal Crossing, Luigi's Mansion and Fire Emblem are the ones I'm most excited about, although Castlevania, Monster Hunter and Layton vs Phoenix Wright isn't a bad undercard!



MetalKingShield said:

Shantae... unless Dragon Quest VII and Etrian Odyssey IV are released in Europe this year. Even then, it's up there.



NintyMan said:

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon is my most anticipated followed by Rhythm Hunter: Harmoknight. I'm tracking Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem, and Shantae.



ShadJV said:

I literally cannot vote. Almost all of those titles are so high on my wish list... Well, I'm assuming Fire Emblem will be the first we get there and I've been wanting a new FE for way too long!



DiggeryDave said:

Pretty excited for most of them. One I've been waiting for impatiently though is Harmo Knight.



Knux said:

Bravely Default IF it gets localized. Fire Emblem: Awakening and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon come real close.



Late said:

Seven games out of ten which I'm pretty likely to buy at one point or another. 2013 seems like a good year for 3DS.



bluecat said:

Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney, and Rhythm Hunter: Harmoknight for me.



Geonjaha said:

Ganna pick up Animal Crossing, Monster Hunter and Luigi's Mansion when they come out - and probably the new Shantae (speaking of which I think you meant Game Boy Color and not GBA on that section). :3

However; Square Enix I see you're still missing some games from these important lists. Let me lay down the essentials for localisation:
1) Dragon Quest 7
2) Dragon Quest Monsters: Terry's Wonderland 3D
3) Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime 2
You may see a theme here: Dragon Quest is awesome - and I need the 3DS games. >:[



JeanOfmArc said:

Ace Attorney and Professor Layton are two of my all-time favourite video game series. Can you guess what I voted for?



XFsWorld said:

@Peach64 2012 wasn't that bad, we had:
Mario & Sonic 2012 Olympic Games
Resident Evil: Revelations
Tekken 3D: Prime Edition
Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D
Kid Icarus: Uprising
Mario Tennis Open
Rhythm Theif
Thearhythm Final Fantasy
Kingdom Hearts 3D
Heroes of Ruin
New Super Mario Bros 2
Skylanders Giants
Style Savvy
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask
Paper Mario: Sticker Star
Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion
Scribblenauts Unlimited

some games you may not agree with but the third party support was way worst in 2011. We had to wait on Nintendo to bring more of their own games to 3DS like:
Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Star Fox 64 3D
Pokemon Rumble Blast
Super Mario 3D Land
Mario Kart 7



DarkCoolEdge said:

My vote was for Luigi but it was a close call between him, the Fairy and the Emblem.

Dragon Quest VII would be up there too but I'm sure it is not coming to the west this year.



Kimiko said:

Etrian Odyssey IV of course. Even though I'll have to import a N-American 3DS for it.

Will you be doing this feature over on PushSquare as well?




Oops. Meant to vote for Fire Emblem but accidentally did for Monster Hunter cuz I was excite for WiiU version. not so much 3DS one.



MetalMario said:

It was difficult to choose one. I went with Fire Emblem: Awakening, but I also want Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Professor Layton VS. Ace Attorney, Shantae & the Pirate's Curse,and HarmoKnight, as well as maybe Animal Crossing: New Leaf.

Oh yes, and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity.



Peach64 said:


I know there was plenty of good games, but the big 3, Kid Icarus, NSMB2 and Paper Mario all had personal drawbacks for me (Voice acting and controls in KIU, lack of innovation in NSMB3 and the loss of levelling up in PM). They weren't bad, they were pretty good, but just fell short of being truly amazing because of those points. Unlike 2011, where the big 3 of Ocarina 3D, Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 were all pretty much perfect.

2013 should beat them both though



StephenYap3 said:

Bravely Default definitely. Of course, Animal Crossing is on my list too. Luigi's Mansion would be at the bottom of my list.

And Shantae was on the Game Boy Advance? She debuted on the Game Boy Color, and then the DSiWare.



Megumi said:

Monster Hunter!!! (...And Luigi's Mansion...and, thanks for Rhythm Heaven getting me into these type of games, Harmoknight, lol)



RevolverLink said:

If it comes this year, my most anticipated game is Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney; I'll take all the Ace Attorney goodness I can get.



Barbiegurl777 said:

The only ones I'm looking forward to are:

Rthym Hunter: Harmo Knight
Luigi's Mansion
Animal Crossing New Leaf

The rest hold 0% interest. Sorry...

I liked 2012 it was an aweosme year for games in my opinion.

Happy Gaming! (^_^)



SDDMN said:

Nice to see Luigi's Mansion DM is almost a quarter percentage of what everyone wants this year.



DerpSandwich said:

I bring this up a lot, but I can't help it. Isn't it weird that we've got nothing for the second half of the year? No major first-party titles at all, for either platform. They've GOT to be holding onto some major announcements between now and E3, right? If they're not just filled with surprises, then we've got nothing to play next Christmas, and that can't be true.

Anybody? No? I'm freaking out, here!



GamecubeMan said:

All of those look amazing! Glad to see that Luigi's Mansion 2 is in first by 2% at the moment :3



6ch6ris6 said:




scrubbyscum999 said:

Bravely Default. I guess I might try Fire Emblem too. As a hardcore Castlevania freak i am skeptical about this next one. I am waiting for the reviews.



Marakuto said:

There's a lot of good RPG games from Japan that should be localized to the West.



Marakuto said:

I pre-ordered most of these games along time ago so I'll be looking forward to getting them.



dizzy_boy said:

I'm not interested in anything on that list. Games have taken such a nose dive over the past couple of years imo.



Rapido said:

MH/Bravely Default/Fire Emblem/ And where is the remake for Dragon Quest VII?



kesley4884 said:

I think that maybe just not enough people are familiar with the greatness that is Monster Hunter. It should have more votes if people knew what they were missing, though I do plan to get every game that was mentioned here.



Drawdler said:

Shame on you, Nintendo Life, you forgot about MUTANT MUDDS 2 despite including Shantae!
Animal Crossing: New Leaf > filler > Mutant Mudds 2 > Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney > Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon > Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, for me, though I'm still not certain of wether I want the last one for 3DS or Wii U because I love the handheld and 3D factors but it just looks more comfortable on a TV.
The next Skylanders game on 3DS might be fun for me as well, though if it reduces fun factor as much as Giants did from Spyro's Adventure, it will probably end up being really, really painful for me. I'm still baffled over why n-Space dumbed the game down so much and I wish that Activision had paid money to a better developer instead but I guess that's them.
Really though, nothing can beat Animal Crossing: New Leaf's steam for me this year and unless a Galaxy-esque Mario or something really unexpected happens I expect it to be my GOTY rather solidly as well.



slidecage said:

i though Fire Emblem: Awakening sounded neat with the DLC until you looked at the japan market.. they wanted 1 to 3 bucks for EACH MAP... that is freaking nuts ... i could see spending say 3 bucks on 10 or 15 maps but 3 bucks per map is way over priced. i think there are 25 downloads around 2 each
that would put this game at Almost 100 bucks with all downloads .... too bad they did not do a 2 set ... normal game for 40 or with all of the japan add ons for say 59.99



Will-75 said:

I'm so hopeful of a Metroid - (Hopeful)., Yet I can't wait to play Nano Assault EX, Castlevania, Luigi's Mansion and maybe Animal Crossing, yet best of all they could announce a new ZELDA AT E3 that would make 2013 an AWESOME year !



siavm said:

Luigi's Mansion for me. Followed by fire emblem. I really hope more is announced this year than last year.



CanisWolfred said:

No mention of SMT or Etrian Odessy, but you bring up an unnannounced game? Go to hell, you freakin' idiots. Never reading one of these kind of articles again.



RoyalLad said:

Animal Crossing: New Leaf but I will be downloading Nano Assault EX when it gets released.



ParSnake said:

I'm really glad I got a 3DS; I'm excited for all of these games (except for HarmoKnight), even though I haven't played any of the games of their respective series. I'm sure there will be a lot of new experiences for me this year!
Currently, I'm most excited about Bravely Default and Fire Emblem. I will definitely get them if they are rated E-E10+... I don't usually play T-rated games. I make some exceptions, like for Metroid Prime and Super Smash Bros.
How 'Bad' are BDFF and Fire Emblem? I know Flying Fairy is original, but I haven't seen a lot of footage, so thanks if you can help!




About 5 of those I'll most likely get at launch. Luigi's Mansion is my most anticipated closely followed by Prof Layton v Pheonix Wright. The next Prof Layton game will prob come out Q4 2013. Concentration training?



Boo_Buster said:

Holy tons of comments! Having said that; I want a lot of those games. I voted for Bravely Default: Flying Fairy but it has yet to be announced for NA. Luigi's Mansion, followed by Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing are my most wanted announced games. I'll probably get Rhythm Hunter and Shantae as well haha

Edit: Hopefully we get Dragon Quest VII here in NA as well!!!



Emaan said:

Animal Crossing: New Leaf + Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon are the games I'm most looking forward to this year by far. Can't wait.



Icefreak45 said:

Bravely Default: Flying Fairy (Square Enix localize it and take my money. Please.), Animal Crossing and Luigi are my big 3 so far this year. I'll most likely pick up Fire Emblem too ^^.



TheDreamingHawk said:

@CanisWolfred Also agreed 100 percent. As much as I think BD would be a cool game, putting that up (And LVSPW) isn't suitable for this... They may never come out of Japan? Seriously, WHY ISN'T POKEMON MYSTERY DUNGEON OR EO4 ON THERE?!?



Oregano said:

Bravely Default is all I want but I have my doubts as to whether SE will bother.



Garo said:

A very promising line-up. The only ones that don't interest me in the slightest are Monster Hunter and Animal Crossing. Shantae's the one I'm expecting the most.



KryptoKrunch said:

I'm looking forward to most of the titles listed, however Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon is my first pick. 2013 already looks good for the 3DS.



idork99 said:

Castlevania is on top of my list. Followed by Luigi's Mansion, Animal Crossing, Shantae, and Nano Assault. HarmoKnight looks intersting but I'll need to know more about the game before deciding. I'll be fine with waiting another year for a well made Zelda and/or Metroid.



GreenDream said:

Fire Emblem: Awakening, Bravely Default, Shin Megami Tensei 4, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Soul Hackers, Dragon Quest 7 remake, Etrian Oddysey 4, Layton VS. Ace Attorney, Monster Hunter 3, and of course... Shantae 3!

2012 was a good year for the 3DS- "2013DS" will be even better!



Prof_Clayton said:

AC:NL > Layton #6 > Weege's Mansion > Everything else > The obvious choice, "Call of Duty: Rabbids".



Doma said:

Fire Emblem of course. I can already feel the rage burning inside me for having to wait an extra 3 months for this. Damn NoE.

SMT4 would be next, but i won't count on a 2013 EU release.



Shirma_Akayaku said:

@X-Factor Those games are good, but as far as drama goes for 2012, BORING
I think it was really a boring year based on my experience. But I really think that most if not some 3DS games felt too short. It's because of the friends list. Some would expect to play for long hours over wifi but the thing is that there really isn't anything to earn after the games are finished since they're short. I would talk more on why but maybe later.



taffy said:

Luigi's mansion and Shantae's new game are day one purchases for me. Will get around to Castlevania sometime but also need to buy Scibblenauts when they release that in Europe as well!



RR529 said:

I voted for Bravely Default, but I'm also looking forward to Fire Emblem Awakening, Shantae: the Pirate's Curse, Yatagaratsu, and Ikachan.



Pixelrobin said:

all trademarks are rights of their RESPECTIVE owners



Wanderhope said:

Been waiting for Fire Emblem, Luigi's Mansion, and Animal Crossing for what seems like forever, so all of those three. And I know I want a Monster Hunter game but I am not sure which one to get first to see if I like it, 3DS or Wii U. I think I'm leaning to 3DS just because it's cheaper and portable. TOO MANY GAMES.



clairelise said:

I am so excited for animal crossing and the new luigi mansion. I will be sharing friend codes for animal crossing so we can visit each other's towns, anyone. Yayyy:)



PuzzleMaster7 said:

My top two picks out of this list are Professor Layton vs. Ace Attoney and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. My reasons behind this are because, to me, PLvs.AA will be one of the greatest crossovers I'll own, and LM 2 because Luigi is finally getting his much deserved sequel and another spot in the light.



Gamer83 said:

Luigi's Mansion and Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney are the only ones I'm really looking forward to. I was at one time a huge fan of Castlevania but haven't been impressed by recent releases. I'm hoping the Mirror of Fate may change my mind.



Vehemont said:

Wish I could vote for both Animal Crossing and Bravely Default, but I can't so I had to settle for voting on AC, because it is not certain Bravely Default is coming out of Japan.... I also have to say 2013 looks alot better on 3DS than the Wii U does.....



Bassman_Q said:

Been waiting for a (good) Fire Emblem game since Sacred Stones and Path of Radiance. At last, the wait will be over. :3 My second vote goes to Animal Crossing, though. My body is ready for the neglect it will receive once I get that game.



CaPPa said:

My top 3 are Luigi's Mansion, Fire Emblem and Monster Hunter. Considering that the list is only for half of the year it looks like 2013 could be another good one for 3DS owners.



cyrus_zuo said:


Actually the list doesn't excite me much, I hope it improves as the year progresses. Last year I liked Art Academy, Layton, NightSky, Heroes of Ruin, and incomparable Crush 3D!



Zeldalover said:

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon and Animal Crossing: New Leaf for me! I have never played any of the Fire Emblem games, so I wonder if that would be worth it's money.
Bring in Majora's Mask 3D!!!



AutumnShantel said:

The first three listed are the ones that I've been looking forward to... Fire Emblem the most, though.



alLabouTandroiD said:

Really hope PL vs AA and Bravely Default will really make it to Australica.
As well as i hope that Code of Princess and Adventure Time will make it to Europe at least.
Ace Attorney 5, Beyond the Labyrinth, Project X Zone, E.X. Troopers and Dragon Quest VII would be amazing as well. Though i know that chances are really low for most of 'em.

Anyway, really looking forward to LM, FE, Nano Assault EX, Shantae and HarmoKnight.
Still have my doubts 'bout Castlevania and will only get MH after quite a hefty price cut since i'm a lot more interested in the Wii U version.
Also looking forward to a lot of eShop releases.

PS: It's looking to be a good year when the new Kawashima can easily be left out of such a list. Still looking forward to it but will most likely only get it if i can get it cheap one day.



grumblegrumble said:

It's funny to me that you title this article "The biggest games of 2013" I guess youre not talking about sales, since 2013 just started, but anticipation. I personally anticipate another Zelda, Kid Icarus or Mario game, but I won't hold my breath!



KiwiPanda said:

Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney. Something just seems attracting to anything Layton involved since I've played Miracle Mask.
The only saddening thing about 2013 video game lists is that Smash Bros is never featured, and I know it's true that it won't come out. But at least we'll get a few announcements!



NocturnalYoshi said:

Animal Crossing, Luigi's Mansion, and Monster Hunter! Love AC, but never played Luigi's Mansion, or Monster Hunter, so this should be interesting!



grumblebuzzz said:

Animal Crossing followed by Luigi for me. I hope that NoA is using all this delay time for AC to really make the villagers' personalities shine in New Leaf, as opposed to City Folk, where each personality only repeated the same 12 phrases or so over and over.



Ichiban said:

A great, varied line up for the 3DS in 2013. Im very impressed! Most of those titles listed look great, and the best part? Not a single Mario game in sight!!!!!



Nuisance said:

This is random but i wish gta was on the 3ds Chinatown was fun on the ds but so many great games from the ds won't come to the 3ds :/



rayword45 said:

Nano Assault was freaking awesome as a cart, so I'm double-dipping.

Luigi's Mansion is also an insta-buy, and I'm in for Layton vs Ace Attorney and Shantae.



tassakos said:

Decisions decisions. Castlevania, Fire Emblem and Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney, all seem awesome. My vote went for the latter as it is seems as the most original. Plus, we should uphold the fact that it is coming to the West.



liz91 said:

Wow I'm kind of surprised Castlevania and
Flying Fairy aren't high up on the votes.

Those are the ones I'm waiting for GNNNHHH

also Brain Age comes out in February :]



MrAndrewJ said:

Megami Tensei IV here, plus I'd love to just be surprised by something outside of my comfort zone. It happens often enough, but I want the 3DS to be the place where it happens.



rezyac said:

my 3ds is banished to the corner until castlevania,
i play my GBA more bring out some good games stop all this easy crap complete a game in a day



ProdigyP00P said:

I'm mainly looking forward to Castlevania and MHU. I've never played ANY of these games on any console. The 3DS versions will be my first.



Kenchi said:

Luigi's mansion, Castlevania and Monster Hunter are all on my list. Very excited!



NintendoFlow said:

Animal Crossing and Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon are my top 2. Its one of the 4 games that made me want a nIntendo 3DS. Also paper Mario and Pokemon X



Noboty said:

Since the newest Advance Wars (which IS is taking their sweet time with, if they're even working on it at all) isn't here, I'll just vote for Fire Emblem.

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