20. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (3DS)

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (3DS)Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (3DS)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Intelligent Systems
Release Date: 19th May 2017 (USA) / 19th May 2017 (UK/EU)

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.

19. Rune Factory 4 (3DS)

Rune Factory 4 (3DS)Rune Factory 4 (3DS)
Publisher: XSEED Games
Release Date: 1st Oct 2013 (USA) / 11th Dec 2014 (UK/EU)

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.

18. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions (3DS)

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions (3DS)Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions (3DS)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: AlphaDream
Release Date: 6th Oct 2017 (USA) / 6th Oct 2017 (UK/EU)

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is a classic, and this new version is arguably the definitive version. Yes, Bowser's Minions is a harmless but shallow add-on, but the Superstars are the real attraction. This is a series that has a distinct and special place within Nintendo gaming, and after experimentation and not-always-popular approaches in the 3DS era of games, this takes us back to the IP's roots. What a treat it is, too - funny, smartly designed and pure unpretentious joy, this is a great start point for those that missed the original in the Game Boy Advance era, and should also be tempting to those with fond memories of the adventure.

17. Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D (3DS)

Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D (3DS)Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D (3DS)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Monster Games
Release Date: 24th May 2013 (USA) / 24th May 2013 (UK/EU)

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.

16. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS (3DS)

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS (3DS)Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS (3DS)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: 3rd Oct 2014 (USA) / 3rd Oct 2014 (UK/EU)

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.

15. Bravely Second: End Layer (3DS)

Bravely Second: End Layer (3DS)Bravely Second: End Layer (3DS)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: 15th Apr 2016 (USA) / 26th Feb 2016 (UK/EU)

As a sequel, Bravely Second: End Layer does everything right. It improves on its predecessor in nearly every way, shakes things up enough to still be exciting for players who may have recently poured sixty hours into the first game, and offers a meaningful chance to reconnect with beloved characters. Even better, it's a nearly-perfect JRPG in its own right. Beautiful, well-written, and endlessly engaging in gameplay and story, this is a wonderful example of why people fall in love with the genre. Simply put, Bravely Second is a must-play for JRPG fans, and one of the 3DS' finest games.

14. Star Fox 64 3D (3DS)

Star Fox 64 3D (3DS)Star Fox 64 3D (3DS)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: 9th Sep 2011 (USA) / 9th Sep 2011 (UK/EU)

Post-Star Fox 64, subsequent entries in the series have had interesting elements and plenty of great moments, but none have quite captured — certainly not consistently — the formula we fell in love with back in 1997. Fortunately, this 3DS remaster reminded everyone just how good it can be, with sumptuous stereoscopic 3D added for good measure. Of course, we miss the chunky Rumble Pak and the N64’s peculiar pad, but Star Fox 64 3D is arguably the best way to find out why we still get a tiny buzz every time someone cracks out a tired ‘barrel roll’ reference.

13. SteamWorld Heist (3DS eShop)

SteamWorld Heist (3DS eShop)SteamWorld Heist (3DS eShop)
Publisher: Image & Form / Developer: Image & Form
Release Date: 10th Dec 2015 (USA) / 10th Dec 2015 (UK/EU)

SteamWorld Heist is an entirely different proposition to its predecessor SteamWorld Dig, and that's no bad thing. Its quirky blend of a 2D perspective, allied with turn-based strategy and skill-based attacks, is a surprisingly addictive combination. There's impressive depth to the overall mechanics, and it's all topped off with a level of presentation that's both charming and accomplished. Whether seeking challenging strategy or an entertaining story, this title delivers both in its own unique way and has certainly stolen plenty of our time; we haven't even got all the hats yet. Wherever you choose to play it, you won't regret it.

12. Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)

Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Project Sora
Release Date: 23rd Mar 2012 (USA) / 23rd Mar 2012 (UK/EU)

Kid Icarus: Uprising is one of the most attractive, exhilarating, entertaining and outrageously fun titles on 3DS. Uprising provides a substantial amount of content, its own brand of adrenaline pumping set pieces and wonderful humour. Arguably awkward controls aside, it sweeps you along at breakneck speed, and is a must-have title for that very reason.

11. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS)

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS)Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS)
Publisher: Capcom / Developer: Capcom
Release Date: 13th Feb 2015 (USA) / 13th Feb 2015 (UK/EU)

Monster Hunter: World did the business on other platforms and attracted a far broader audience than ever before to a series that already enthused a sizeable playerbase, especially in the East. The Monster Hunter games have always required a big investment and many fans insist the 'traditional' grind and other franchise foibles are necessary to the 'authentic' Monster Hunter experience. Crafting items from the enormous beasts you’ve taken down can be hugely rewarding, and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is possibly the best of the 'classic style' — the best way to find out if you’ve got the bug for the series. Although Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate works on an original model 3DS, we’d recommend playing on a New 3DS for camera control and a better frame rate. Lovely.