It may have had a slow start at launch back in 2011, but Nintendo 3DS steadily went from strength to strength and amassed a huge library of quality titles — enough to rival the company's finest. Sure, glasses-free stereoscopic 3D turned out to be a bit of a non-starter, but the best games made great use of the feature and the ‘New’ hardware variant (which arrived in 2014) improved its ease of use considerably. Streetpass provided a genuine reason to keep the console on your person at all times and backwards compatibility with original DS carts opened an avenue to another whole console’s worth of fabulous games.
If your 3DS is collecting dust in some forgotten cupboard, you owe it to yourself to get reacquainted with the little portable; if you somehow skipped it completely, it's time to snap up some great hardware and software deals while you still can.
So, here we bring you our collection of the top 50 games for 3DS — or more accurately, your collection of the top 50 games for 3DS. As you've probably read in the tagline above, the order here is all down to you lovely people. The ranking of this sizeable selection is governed by the user ratings for each game on this very site. It will continually evolve to reflect your votes, and logged in users can interact and rate the titles directly on these pages by hovering over the rating.
Can't see your favourite on the list? Feel free to find it using the search tool below and give it a score out of 10. A game needs a minimum of 50 ratings to become eligible, so it's entirely possible to influence the ranking and get your favourite games onto the list.
Note. In order for games to become eligible, they need a minimum of 50 User Ratings in total.
SteamWorld Dig represents a strong coming together of concept and execution, with relatively simple mechanics impeccably layered to coax the gamer through its story. It's demanding and perhaps too punishing for some, but the mix of basic platforming, puzzling and action works well, with a beautifully balanced levelling system underpinning everything. Beyond the initial thrill of exploration it's questionable whether much else can draw you back, but this is a game that achieves its goals with some panache. If a challenge and a 'thinking-person's platformer' appeals to you, this one should be added to your 3DS collection right away.
It's clear that nothing can ever replace the sublime experience of sitting inside a hulking, moving arcade cabinet, steering wheel shaking and Passing Breeze pumping out of the speakers. But with arcades becoming increasingly rare, the Nintendo 3DS version of this classic steps up to the table and makes up for its diminutive size by packing in plenty of extra features, stunning presentation and immaculate controls. M2 has delivered a fantastic version of a timeless classic and another victory punch for Sega's 3D Classics range. 3D Out Run is a beautiful journey that everybody should take.
There's no questioning the quality of Kirby's Adventure: it was one of the NES's standout titles, and much like Kirby's Dream Land, its charm remains intact. Hidden exits, fun mini-games and fantastic stage design all came together to make this an endlessly replayable experience, now with optional 3D thanks to this addition in Nintendo's short-lived 3D Classics line on 3DS. It doesn't really bring much to the table besides that (perfect performance and portability notwithstanding), but the autostereoscopic option here gives you a genuine reason to rebuy and replay this retro classic.
Luigi’s Mansion proved that there was still life in the 3DS, even as the Switch swooped in and barged it out of the spotlight. With this version, we got to play a lost piece of Nintendo’s history; a game that was originally envisaged as a stereoscopic 3D experience on GameCube, but never came to fruition in that form. You could finally play Luigi's Mansion as the designers did before the 3D idea was scrapped, and it is as fun now as it was when the GameCube launched. If you’ve never played it before, you should definitely seek out this version. If you already have, the added functionality in the 3DS port provides more than enough reason to pick up the Poltergust one more time, although if you're one of those people who found the charming 2001 original disappointingly lightweight (yes, such people actually exist), then this update is unlikely to change your mind.
An island-hopping adventure spanning space and time originally released on PlayStation, Dragon Quest VII is a JRPG masterpiece. If you played the original, this 3DS version is as perfect a remake as you could ask for, with beautiful 3D graphics, a smartly streamlined opening, and lots of welcome quality-of-life updates. This journey through Estard showcases great writing, a fun class system, lovely animations and a stellar soundtrack which make for a fully engrossing adventure throughout. It's a massive game, but don't let that scare you off; with short story-style pacing and a huge variety of settings, speech patterns, and scenarios, it feels less like an epic tome and more like a shelf-ful of storybooks stuffed into a little 3DS cart. This game is an absolute pleasure, and a must-play for RPG fans.
Professor Layton Vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney delivers an utterly charming, enjoyable experience to satisfy fans of both franchises; it's a crossover that, when experienced, seems entirely natural. The individual parts are pleasurable and entertaining, as always, though perhaps fall a little below the exceptional standards of their main-series contemporaries, and there's a lingering sense that more gameplay innovation to blend the two brands could have been explored. These are minor complaints in the grand scheme of a lengthy adventure, but Level-5 and Capcom have done a commendable job. The end result is another 3DS title that exemplifies much of what sets Nintendo's portable hardware and supporting software apart; it provides heart-warming, accessible fun, and entertainment to last for many hours.
Monster Hunter Generations is another must-have for fans of the franchise, blending the old with the new for an excellent overall package. Hunter Styles add a little extra intensity and tempo to combat while this game also tries to welcome newcomers with optional tutorials, with Prowler mode undoubtedly designed to be quirky and alluring to players of all kinds. It does some things better than its immediate predecessor - Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate - but also a couple of things a little less impressively. The nod to nostalgia brings a lot of locations and quests to keep players busy, but loses a little of the narrative edge and focus of its predecessor. This franchise is one of the most enjoyable and immersive time-sinks to be found on Nintendo hardware. For any gamer ready for a long-term challenge, with tough battles and plenty of complexity to master, this is most certainly worth hunting down.
Billed as a stepping stone between the 2D and 3D games, Super Mario 3D Land scaled down the grand playgrounds of the mainline titles into smaller courses that worked better on a handheld screen. Beyond a handful of obvious and gimmicky perspective puzzles, this platformer showcased the console’s stereoscopic 3D by subtly signalling distance and perspective to the player – you weren’t relying on Mario’s shadow quite so much (a fact we more fully appreciated when we first played this game’s ‘big brother’, the excellent Super Mario 3D World on Wii U).
It was games like this and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds which really showed off the 3DS' namesake feature and how it could enhance the gameplay experience without poking your eye out. Comfortably contained and wonderfully tailored to the hardware, this should really be in your collection already.
Rune Factory 4 might not be for everyone, but if its unique combination of fantasy farming, dating sim, and action-RPG sounds like your cup of tea, you'll have an absolute field day with this gem of a game. It's bursting with bucolic charm, backed up by masterful writing and an irresistibly positive outlook, and plays like the pinnacle of a genre it invented itself. Whether you come for the adventure, the romance, or simply the turnips, Rune Factory 4's inviting world will draw you in and give you plenty of reasons to stick around for many, many seasons to come.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate was an excellent interpretation of a home console experience that allowed hunters to invest countless hours conquering hundreds of quests on the go, although with occasional moments where its smaller home wasn't entirely optimised; the absence of online play was a great pity, too. It was an accomplished effort, though, and a must for fans of the franchise that couldn't access the home console versions or those that simply want to always be able to slay an almighty monster on the bus.