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.
M2 delivers once again and its usual flourishes and extra features open up the game to newcomers while still catering to the fans. The icing on this already gorgeous retro cake is the utterly awesome and timeless soundtrack, so grab some decent headphones before you jump in. Simply put, 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is Sonic at his very best and a platforming masterclass.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A fitting swan song for imageepoch and another gem in the 3DS' legendary RPG lineup, Stella Glow is smart, stylish, and seriously satisfying. Fans of SRPGs will get a kick out of the combat, characters, and strategy, the fun, fast-paced story will keep you entertained to the end, and the musical motif works wonderfully, winding its way through the gameplay and presentation with ease. A few interface wobbles keep it from being a totally perfect show, but they're minor concerns in an otherwise spellbinding performance. Stella Glow is absolutely worth singing about.
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.
The turn-based series’ debut on 3DS delivered a wonderful feeling of adventure on the handheld. It offers classic, grindy combat in a world of colour that belies the dreariness conjured by the term ‘dungeon-crawler’, and its focus on character classes and team-building means it’s refreshingly light on the tropey narrative arcs you might expect from a game with this subtitle. If you’re after an old-school first person explorer game with a great soundtrack and some modern concessions to convenience and accessibility, Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan fits the bill nicely.