Wonderfully witty as ever, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies is another excellent entry into the Ace Attorney series. Bursting with humour and new extravagant personalities, Phoenix Wright fans will find much to enjoy, thanks largely to the excellent skills of the localisation and script-writing team at Capcom. The few minor gameplay additions do somewhat polish the investigation and courtroom experience, but — as with any visual novel — it's the story, character developments and gob-smacking plot twists that you really play for, and this one will keep you screaming 'OBJECTION' until the gavel drops.
As the last Fire Emblem chapter on Nintendo’s heroic handheld, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia delivers a perfect swan song for the series’ 3DS days. This is a satisfying, deeply strategic adventure with an engaging, personal story and beautiful presentation, full of appealing art and lovely details that come alive as you play. But more than that, it’s also just delightfully different from its predecessors, in ways that only broaden its appeal: if you loved Awakening and Fates, this is close enough to be comfortable but with plenty of tweaks and additions to feel exciting and fresh; if you didn’t like those entries and yearn for a more ‘traditional’ Emblem experience, you’ll love Echoes’ throwbacks and unique touches; and if you’re a JRPG fan who’s never understood the appeal of the SRPG chessboard, explorable towns and dungeons make this a perfect point of entry to crossover. Echoes is a phenomenal Fire Emblem and a wonderful tactical title to tuck into.
The Game Boy sequel to the original Metroid on NES was remarkable back in the day, but if there was ever a perfect candidate for a remake in Nintendo’s back catalogue, that was the one. MercurySteam did a fabulous job updating Metroid II’s mechanics for the 21st century, giving a whole new audience the chance to experience an important chapter in the series’ story. Handy additions like the map were joined with a new melee attack which introduced a delicate balance of risk versus reward and the result was one of the best games on the system. It was no surprise that Nintendo partnered with the developer on Metroid Dread.
Wisely eschewing its Flying Fairy subtitle in the west, this JRPG has fine pedigree and shook up some of the dustier elements of the genre with its eponymous Brave/Default mechanic, but still retained the customary hero’s tale and beautiful presentation of Square Enix’s finest titles. It’s a hell of a ride and aside from some questionable (though relatively unobtrusive) microtransactions, it’s up there (along with its direct sequel, Bravely Second: End Layer) with the finest 3DS exclusives and well worth going back to if you missed it first time round.
Another of the home console games to migrate to the handheld, Retro’s Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D took us back to the sidescrolling antics of Rare’s classic SNES series, updating it with beautiful new graphics and mechanics. This version includes an extra world and the system’s stereoscopic 3D once again enhances the experience, turning those lush environments into mesmerising dioramas that have you playing about with the 3D slider like a kid. The game slots perfectly into the console’s collection of quality platformers, and that soundtrack is pretty great through headphones, too.
With a plethora of Picross games available on the system, you can’t go wrong with any of them (we’re particularly partial to the rewards program exclusive My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess) but the one we’ve chosen here really uses the system’s namesake feature. Chiselling away the empty blocks to reveal the sculpture within is as addictive as any of the 2D variants, and added amiibo puzzles are the icing on a particularly delicious cake. You can find this for peanuts on store shelves and we’d recommend bagging it pronto (unless you’re in North America where this was digital-only, so off to the eShop with you).
Cave Story may come from humble PC beginnings but it feels most in its element in this slick portable package. Nicalis has put together the definitive Cave Story compilation, but without any earth-shattering changes or additions it's ultimately just another way to play an all-time classic on familiar hardware. Granted, that's still a rather excellent thing, as the game is so pleasing to play that we're more than happy to delve into it yet again, and again.
A fitting swan song for imageepoch and another gem in the 3DS' legendary RPG lineup, Stella Glow is smart, stylish, and seriously satisfying. Fans of SRPGs will get a kick out of the combat, characters, and strategy, the fun, fast-paced story will keep you entertained to the end, and the musical motif works wonderfully, winding its way through the gameplay and presentation with ease. A few interface wobbles keep it from being a totally perfect show, but they're minor concerns in an otherwise spellbinding performance. Stella Glow is absolutely worth singing about.
The turn-based series’ debut on 3DS delivered a wonderful feeling of adventure on the handheld. It offers classic, grindy combat in a world of colour that belies the dreariness conjured by the term ‘dungeon-crawler’, and its focus on character classes and team-building means it’s refreshingly light on the tropey narrative arcs you might expect from a game with this subtitle. If you’re after an old-school first person explorer game with a great soundtrack and some modern concessions to convenience and accessibility, Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan fits the bill nicely.
Squeezing Smash’s frantic brawling onto a handheld seemed like an impossible feat, but Masahiro Sakurai’s team of wizards managed to get practically everything from the Wii U version onto the 3DS while also adding stereoscopic 3D, plus exclusive modes and stages. It even allowed you to use the 3DS as a controller for the Wii U version – of course, the constant tension and rapid button presses mean it’s perhaps not the most comfortable way to play, but back in 2014 3DS owners were treated to an honest-to-goodness, full-fat Super Smash Bros. on a handheld, and over a month before it came to Wii U. It’s still an impressive game to this day and worthy of a place in your collection.