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. This 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 - logged in users can interact and rate the titles directly on these pages by hovering over the rating, or alternatively you can do it from each game's individual page.
Can't see your favourite on the list? Head to our library of 3DS games (click the games tab at the top of the page) and input your own ratings. A game needs a minimum of fifty ratings to become eligible, so it's entirely possible to influence the ranking and get your favourite games onto the list.
Regardless of the order, though, it's an extremely impressive collection. Feel free to check out our 50 best Nintendo Switch games, too, if you're after something a bit more contemporary, but as the last ray of 3Ds' setting sunlight slips over the horizon, let's sit back and enjoy some of the console's highlights...
An island-hopping adventure spanning space and time, Dragon Quest VII is a JRPG masterpiece. If you played the PlayStation version back in the day, this 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. And if this is your first time in Estard, you're in for a wonderful surprise — great writing, a fun class system, lovely animations and a stellar soundtrack 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 shelfful of storybooks stuffed into a 3DS cart. This is an absolute pleasure, and a must-play for RPG fans.
3D Streets of Rage 2 is wonderful version of a game which is a masterclass in its genre. In its day it was one of the most accomplished and fully featured beat-'em-ups available, with great game balance and spot-on pacing. All these years later it's still a joy to pick up and play; even more so with M2's excellent additions. If you're reliving your youth, you'll find this is one game where rose-tinted spectacles haven't pulled the wool over your eyes. It is as good as you remember. If you're coming at this fresh, we envy you; enjoy every second. Streets of Rage 2 is thoroughly deserving of your time. A true classic.
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.
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.
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.
Resident Evil Revelations is a truly impressive achievement, and the definitive ‘mature’ title on the 3DS. With production values worthy of a home console release (which actually arrived later), a significant volume of content, a blend of the series’ different game styles and a subtly evolved control system, this title feels like a tribute to and progression of the franchise. There are some downsides though, including spikes in difficulty and drops in frame rate that are occasionally jarring in contrast to the rest of the title. All the same, Revelations has something to offer Resi fans old and new – there are few experiences on the 3DS more engrossing or exciting.
The final game of the prequel trilogy which began with Professor Layton and the Last Specter on DS, Hershel Layton’s daughter took the limelight in the follow up. This capped the story of the professor and apprentice Luke’s first meeting and exploits, taking them on a globe-trotting adventure and showcasing the best elements of the series. Of course, thanks to backwards compatibility, we’d recommend starting from the beginning if its gentle form of adventure puzzling sounds appealing, but if you’ve only got time for one, you can’t go wrong with Azran Legacy.
Given the game’s relative age, Fantasy Life isn’t the shiniest toy on the 3DS’ shelf, but it just may be the happiest. Providing quality gameplay in both its life sim and action RPG aspects, served up with more colourful wit and charm than anyone could ask for, it serves as a jewel in the crown of a games studio that helped create some of the most memorable role-playing video games ever. It may now be 1-UP Studios, but Brownie Brown hit its marks with Level 5 in this game. As a farewell for the company in its old guise, this was an excellent game for the occasion.
By the time this sequel arrived, people had come around to Luigi’s Mansion. The GameCube original rubbed those expecting a Mario game at launch the wrong way, but with suitably adjusted expectations most players came to appreciate the beauty and comedy of Luigi’s haunted house exploits. Next Level’s sequel brought to fruition the planned stereoscopic 3D of the original to fantastic effect, making the mansion in Dark Moon really feel like a diorama as the green plumber tip-toes around sucking up ghosts and coins. A port of the original also came to 3DS, and they’re both excellent ways to prepare for the upcoming Luigi’s Mansion 3 on Switch.
Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire seem very similar to Pokémon X & Y, as you might expect, but the story and the environments you encounter feel – despite the fact that they are remakes – very fresh and unique. They’re not an extensive upgrade from their other 3DS counterparts, but any Poké-fan who’s played one of the series remakes in the past knows that expecting an enormous upgrade is a fool’s errand. These titles should be considered as games that belong alongside X & Y, rather than successors. — they've successfully surpassed X & Y, however, by building on the tremendous features available on the 3DS and pushing new ideas such as the Soar ability.