2013 was a terrific year for the 3DS, when the recovery of 2012 was consolidated into a year of substantial sales and critical acclaim from gamers. The line-up of games throughout the year probably wasn't as substantial as popular perception would suggest, but it was a case of a small quantity delivering excellent quality, and big-name franchises and ideas that attracted millions of new 3DS owners into the fold.
In that respect 2014 has a lot to live up to, with the big names of 2013 setting high standards. What's striking is that the confirmed line-up of 3DS titles for the coming year is relatively thin at this moment in time, suggesting that more is in the works that's yet to be revealed. We're also dealing (mostly) in confirmed, announced titles, so on those grounds titles such as Fantasy Life are left out as we await localisation details. We've also included one game that's a major upcoming release in North America, even if Europeans jumped in during December.
What we can say for sure is that more titles are sure to be confirmed in the coming months, in particular to cover the second half of the year.
Kirby: Triple Deluxe — 2014
If one game character represents the irreverent, playful whimsy of which Nintendo is so proud it may well be Kirby. The pink ball and his world have their own crazy logic, as you go around absorbing power-ups and generally being charmed silly by the visuals and music. This is due imminently in Japan, so we're simply awaiting localisation; footage to date has shown fun mini-games and multi-layered levels to take advantage of the portable's stereoscopic 3D effect.
Yoshi's New Island — Spring 2014
We'll be honest, we were unimpressed with this in our first impressions, as it was lacking in both polish and creative spark. Yet still, we've learnt from experience that impressions of early builds certainly don't tell anything like the full story, so we'll take heart from the most recent footage and hope that this delivers a strong new entry in the Yoshi spin-off series. Expect an attractive yet probably divisive hand-drawn style and lots of egg throwing; here's hoping for an enjoyable end result.
Super Smash Bros. — 2014
This unsurprisingly appeared on our Wii U list, with the 3DS version representing the first portable entry in the franchise. We're yet to learn what, if any, interaction will be possible between the two iterations — cross-play seems unlikely due to alternate stages, but we can dream — yet we know for sure that the portable's version will be unique from its HD brethren. It'll have a rather different art-style, for one thing, which some of the Nintendo Life community often say is preferable with its bold colours and black outlines, and will possibly cause nostalgia overload with some of its unique stage settings. It'll be Smash Bros. on the go, which is a hugely exciting prospect.
Mario Golf: World Tour — 2014
Originally pegged for late 2013, this was pushed back potentially for extended development, or perhaps to flesh out 2014's lineup. Whatever the case, and despite a little bit of an absence of recent footage, this may be on some wishlists for those that remember the RPG-lite Mario sports games of years gone by. This is being developed by Camelot and will include online play and communities, so is full of promise.
Monster Hunter 4 — TBC
We've allowed ourselves one speculative localisation simply because it's Monster Hunter. It's in doubt solely due to the franchise struggling to have the same impact in the West as it does in Japan, where the latest entry has easily surpassed Capcom's initial projections. We'd like to think that Capcom will see some gaps in 2014's 3DS line-up and seize an opportunity to give the series another whirl in the West, and we imagine the online play would be particularly popular with enthusiasts.
Professor Layton Vs. Ace Attorney — 28th March (Europe) & 2014 (North America)
This mash-up of the iconic Level-5 and Capcom franchises arrived in Japan in late 2012, and is now finally making its way to eager fans in the West. It has a fantastical tale that involves time-travel, while combining the puzzle-solving professor's gameplay with courtroom drama. We have no objections.
Bravely Default — 7th February 2014 (North America)
A December arrival in Europe, such was its impact that despite regional limitations it still (just) seized the prize of "3DS Retail Third-Party Game of the Year" in the Readers' awards. It hits North America soon, including a gorgeous limited edition boxed set, and is a polished, beautifully constructed RPG; a sequel is already well on its way to Japan, too.
Treasurenauts — Q1 2014
Originally due in late 2013, this eShop title was pushed back by Renegade Kid in order to allow for finishing touches to be applied. The developer's greatest recent success has been Mutant Mudds, so taking the extra time to ensure that this retro-style action platformer hits the mark may indeed be a wise decision. Footage to date looks colourful and plenty of fun, and we hopefully don't have long to wait before we see more.
Shantae and the Pirate's Curse — Q1 2014
Another eShop download that slid into the new year from 2014, this is the continuation of WayForward's flagship franchise, also maintaining the tradition of first-releases being on Nintendo's portable — for the last time, too, ahead of HD title Shantae: Half-Genie Hero which is confirmed for the Wii U eShop. Our time with the game has shown it to be full of potential, with gorgeous pixel-based visuals and familiar mechanics. With its two predecessors being such excellent titles, we're keen to play this one.
Shovel Knight — Q1 2014
This crowdfunded début from Yacht Club Games almost made it onto our Wii U list, and while HD visuals are attractive we do think this retro-styled action platformer could be a great fit for Nintendo's portable system. Like its fellow eShop titles in this list it was originally due in late 2013 but slipped to Q1 this year, so it hopefully won't be long before we head out on an adventure with the heroic knight; pogo-like moves with the shovel are sure to prompt serious nostalgia, along with the pixel-based visuals — that's surely exactly as the developer intends.
Those are ten games — that we know about — which are full of potential for the 3DS. Nintendo likely has various other tricks up its sleeve, but let us know your favourites from this list in the comments and poll below.
What's your most anticipated 3DS game of 2014? (840 votes)
Kirby: Triple Deluxe
Yoshi's New Island
Super Smash Bros.
Mario Golf: World Tour
Monster Hunter 4
Professor Layton Vs. Ace Attorney
Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
My choice isn't on the list
Please login to vote in this poll.