Simply put, Sun and Moon are some of the best Pokémon games that Game Freak has ever produced. Poké Pelago, the side quests, the absolutely stunning nature of the presentation, it's all a sheer joy from start to finish. Game Freak managed to carefully balance the inclusion of new mechanics without totally ruining things for the most hardcore fans. It's got content coming out of its ears, a much more interesting story than some previous efforts, and it rewards exploration in a way no other title in the series had to that point. Whether you're a Pokémon fan new or old, this is an absolutely essential purchase.
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.
Once again, Game Freak hits the nail squarely on the head, making Pokémon X and Y an excellent new addition to the series' expansive library. A wonderful blend of excitement and nostalgia, it evolves the core series with its impressive polygonal 3D environments and magical camera angle mastery, adding a few technical adjustments along with a brand new Pokémon type to the original formula that we all know and love. It's not quite a revolution — and is hindered slightly by the meagre use of its host platform's glasses-free 3D capabilities — but Pokémon X and Y will almost certainly steal the hearts of Pokémon fans old and new alike.
SteamWorld Dig represents a strong coming together of concept and execution, with relatively simple mechanics impeccably layered to coax the gamer through its story. It's demanding and perhaps too punishing for some, but the mix of basic platforming, puzzling and action works well, with a beautifully balanced levelling system underpinning everything. Beyond the initial thrill of exploration it's questionable whether much else can draw you back, but this is a game that achieves its goals with some panache. If a challenge and a 'thinking-person's platformer' appeals to you, this one should be added to your 3DS collection right away.
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth has something for everyone. If you’re a Persona fan, you’ll get a huge kick out of seeing your old Gekkoukan and Yasogami classmates in an all-new adventure, and Etrian Odyssey fans open to a change will love it — this is the story-driven experiment of Etrian Odyssey Untold taken to the next level, with a stylistic overhaul to match. And if you haven’t played either of its inspirations, you’re still in luck — this isn’t just a great crossover, it’s a fantastically fun RPG in its own right, with colourful characters, engaging gameplay, and a whole heap of style. Persona fans will undoubtedly get the most out of the fan-service, but even if you can’t tell Junpei from Junes, you’ll still have a blast exploring Persona Q.
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?)
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.
Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D may not be the definitive version of Snake’s Cold War escapades but that doesn’t stop it from being a clever, well thought-out and simply great game — frame rate hiccups aside, the impressive and intelligent use of stereoscopic 3D makes the game an absolute joy to look at as well. It's not often that games as dense and exciting as Snake Eater see the light of day on any platform, which makes the 3DS version all the more worthwhile whether it's your first romp through the jungle or just to see an old friend from a new perspective.
If you already own or played the DS version, this may not be the reboot you were hoping for. For those coming to the title fresh, however, prepare to be impressed. Even though the game doesn't offer up much of an overhaul, it still remains a stellar, stylish RPG that handily melds strategy and turn-based battle. It's definitely one of the heftier 3DS games out there too, with multiple endings and tons of content to explore.
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.