30. Fire Emblem Fates (3DS)

Fire Emblem Fates (3DS)Fire Emblem Fates (3DS)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Intelligent Systems
Release Date: 19th Feb 2016 (USA) / 20th May 2016 (UK/EU)

Fire Emblem may have found itself in a strange spot after the success of Awakening, but Intelligent Systems found a way forward. Actually, two ways — Fire Emblem Fates did a remarkable job delivering what newcomers and long-time players both could possibly want out of this series. Fans of Awakening will dig Birthright's continuation of that style of gameplay, and Conquest's strategic demands should go over well with series veterans and those looking for more bite from their games.

Each of these games is unique enough to stand on its own accord as an impressive achievement and a whole lot of fun. The writing is sharp and witty, and gameplay is as accessible or as hardcore as you could want it to be. While the story can feel like it's dragging at times, it's tough to hold too many grudges against padding since the core loop is so much fun. Extensive campaigns, online multiplayer, and spit-shine polish combined to make for some of the most well-rounded Fire Emblem experiences to date.

29. Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS)

Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS)Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: HAL Laboratory
Release Date: 2nd May 2014 (USA) / 16th May 2014 (UK/EU)

Kirby: Triple Deluxe is a pleasant platforming package that doesn’t push the envelope very far. The Story Mode is an elegant but conservative adventure that trades too greatly in familiarity and simplicity, the same type of neo-nostalgia that Nintendo courts so successfully with the Mario and Zelda franchises. Triple Deluxe is sure to scratch that Kirby itch — or create one for new players — but fails to move the franchise forward in any meaningful direction. However, the rest of the package holds its own quite well and went on birthed more than one standalone titles with Kirby Fighters and Dedede's Drum Dash. A fine introduction to Kirby's brand of adventuring, then.

28. Mario Kart 7 (3DS)

Mario Kart 7 (3DS)Mario Kart 7 (3DS)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 4th Dec 2011 (USA) / 2nd Dec 2011 (UK/EU)

Mario Kart has been a staple on Nintendo handhelds since the GBA’s Mario Kart Super Circuit, and although the DS version did a marvellous job of giving players the full-blooded 3D experience, 3DS’ extra horsepower made Mario Kart 7 feel more like a home console release than ever before. Bringing back coins during races and introducing vehicle customisation and underwater driving to the series, its excellent stereoscopic 3D once again proved that, in the right hands, the feature could really add some special sauce, helping flesh out the world just that little bit more. Booting it up now makes us miss having the option – roll on Nintendo 3DSwitch! (Calm down, that’s a joke… or is it?)

27. WarioWare Gold (3DS)

WarioWare Gold (3DS)WarioWare Gold (3DS)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: 3rd Aug 2018 (USA) / 27th Jul 2018 (UK/EU)

The irreverent minigame series came to 3DS late in life at a time when many might have preferred to see it land on Switch, but it’s hard to be too miffed. WarioWare Gold makes use of the console’s particular features – from its two screens to its tiny microphone – and curates many of the series’ most popular games while also adding 50ish new ones into the bargain. Similar to Rhythm Heaven Megamix, the series has many standout entries across consoles and this is an excellent ‘best of’ package.

26. Bravely Default (3DS)

Bravely Default (3DS)Bravely Default (3DS)
Publisher: Square Enix / Developer: Silicon Studio
Release Date: 7th Feb 2014 (USA) / 6th Dec 2013 (UK/EU)

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.

25. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward (3DS)

Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward (3DS)Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward (3DS)
Publisher: Aksys Games / Developer: ChunSoft
Release Date: 24th Oct 2012 (USA) / 23rd Nov 2012 (UK/EU)

Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward spins a fantastic yarn, tackling various topics with maturity, intelligence and even a little humour. Its smart puzzles can be a little fiddly, but if you have any interest in story in games whatsoever and can deal with its murderous subject matter, this is a must play that will keep you engaged for dozens of hours.

24. Shin Megami Tensei IV (3DS)

Shin Megami Tensei IV (3DS)Shin Megami Tensei IV (3DS)
Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: 16th Jul 2013 (USA) / 30th Oct 2014 (UK/EU)

A console blessed with an abundance of games, 3DS has done particularly well in the RPG department. This example offers top-shelf dungeon-crawling, a deep battle system that sees you fighting and collecting demons across the elemental spectrum and an excellently written story, not to mention the soundtrack. With so many games and so little time, there’s no shame in Easy mode, either, but Shin Megami Tensei IV is a game to savour for fans or newcomers alike.

23. Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)

Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: MercurySteam
Release Date: 15th Sep 2017 (USA) / 15th Sep 2017 (UK/EU)

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.

22. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (3DS)

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (3DS)Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (3DS)
Publisher: Square Enix / Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: 16th Sep 2014 (USA) / 19th Sep 2014 (UK/EU)

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call is far more than a simple expansion to the original release. The volume of extra content is truly impressive, but it also shakes up the formula with new modes to give the experience a fresh feel. Terrific music and tight controls are the stars, while competitive players will surely get a kick out of the online mode; whether you're a fan of music rhythm games, Final Fantasy or both, this is a must buy.

21. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse (3DS)

Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse (3DS)Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse (3DS)
Publisher: Atlus / Developer: Atlus
Release Date: 20th Sep 2016 (USA) / 1st Dec 2016 (UK/EU)

As an RPG sequel, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is just about perfect. It lets players revisit a familiar world from a new perspective, keeps what made the original so special, and adds in several small but significant mechanical improvements that make for a smoother, better game throughout. We recommend playing through SMTIV first if possible, both to get the most out of Apocalypse and to experience one of the 3DS' finest JRPGs, but however you arrive at it, this is a game that begs to be played. It's a delightfully dark adventure that's dripping with dystopian charm, and between the personable demons, deeply satisfying combat and killer aesthetic, we couldn't get enough — the end times have never been so good.