With the 3DS now four years old, and now that the New Nintendo 3DS has brought us another iteration with a whole load of features, we decided it was a good time to take stock of ten definitive experiences on the system. To that end we listed 50 retail games - the eShop will have its own celebrations for its June anniversary - for you, the Nintendo Life community, to vote on. You voted in big numbers, with nearly 30,000 boxes ticked in less than a day, helping us to compile the community's ten must-play games at the four year mark for the 3DS.

The results have been fascinating - every single game on the list received votes, and more besides were added in the comments section. The results have some surprising omissions, however, helping draw a bigger picture of the favourites among thousands of Nintendo Life readers.

For starters, no third-party games made it into the list of ten, with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and Bravely Default both coming reasonably close. Another surprise absentee is message board favourite Kid Icarus: Uprising, which missed out on 10th place by less than 100 votes.

So what about the ten that did make it? Below are your choices, ordered by the number of votes received.


10 - Animal Crossing: New Leaf
10 - Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Its Western release in the summer of 2013 achieved something that had seemingly been missing for some time in major Nintendo titles - it went viral online. A sales phenomenon in Japan, in the West it became a hot topic on social media, with many sharing their love for the game, and the fact some were confused by how much they adored it. You shake trees, make friends and pay your mortgage; it's an odd formula that works.

9 - Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
9 - Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

We're pleased this made the grade, not only because it gave Luigi another starring role, but also because Next Level Games did a terrific job of bringing the mini-series to the portable. Lovely music and visuals, along with gameplay suited for players of all levels, its charm is neatly characterised by Luigi singing along to his own theme.

8 - Pokémon X & Y
8 - Pokémon X & Y

The first main-series 'mon game of the 3DS era saw off last year's Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, which shows that fully original games can get the nod over enhanced remakes. This was a big step up for the franchise, introducing a new graphical engine and whole load of new features including Mega Evolutions.

7 - The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D
7 - The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D

The first Zelda entry in this list is also the most recent arrival, delivering the long demanded and most diverse of games in the legendary franchise. Originally missed by some due to its relatively late arrival on the Nintendo 64, now tens of millions of 3DS owners can experience the intriguing time travelling dynamic and tackle the abilities of multiple masks.

6 - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
6 - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Only just edging out Majora's Mask 3D, this was an important release in the early days of the 3DS and a lovely remaster of what's widely regarded as one of the greatest games of all time. Grezzo did a lovely job in polishing the visuals and introducing a handy inventory system that was a huge help in that Water Temple.

5 - Mario Kart 7
5 - Mario Kart 7

It had to be there, of course. Every Nintendo system has a Mario Kart game, and the 3DS entry is well-regarded by many. It has excellent online options - including the awesome Community feature - and introduced underwater racing and gliding, which have both continued to be mainstays in Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U.

4 - Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS
4 - Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS

It was never a question of whether this would be included, but how high it would place. Masahiro Sakurai's outstanding latest entries in the series offer surprising levels of parity between Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, and it was this portable version that arrived first. It's a bit of a technical marvel on the system - in addition to being a fantastic game - and also has amiibo support on the New Nintendo 3DS.

3 - Super Mario 3D Land
3 - Super Mario 3D Land

We're pleasantly surprised to see this so high in the list, as there are certainly plenty of vocal critics that say this 3D platformer is over-rated. This scribe disagrees, in any case, arguing that this 2D and 3D hybrid is a brilliant effort on the system - it uses the 3D effect in clever ways, but importantly is a simply brilliant platformer at its core; evidently plenty agree with that sentiment.

2 - Fire Emblem: Awakening
2 - Fire Emblem: Awakening

A well-deserved triumph for Intelligent Systems, it's easy to forget that Awakening's sales success went a long way in 'saving' the IP, with a fresh title now on the way this year. It importantly gives the option to turn off permadeath, but is still typically hardcore and tough for those that demand a challenge. Turn-based strategy at its finest.

1 - The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
1 - The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

A fairly comfortable winner, all told, and undoubtedly a genuine classic that'll stand the test of time. In fact, we know the formula will hold up in the future as this borrows very heavily from SNES title The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Despite that link (geddit?) this must go down as one of Eiji Aonuma's finest projects, finding an impeccable balance in honouring the series' legacy while forging fresh ideas. Right from the soundtrack, through to the graphics and the hugely impressive design, this is an outstanding experience on 3DS, and a worthy entrant as the number one must-have title on the system.


So there you have it, ten must-have 3DS games as voted for by the Nintendo Life community. A huge thanks to everyone that voted.

But wait, there's more! Our video man Alex conducted a snap poll of the Nintendo Life team for a separate list, and you can see the video for that below. Enjoy!

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