The Best

Top 10 Nintendo 3DS Games

We rank the best of the best for Nintendo’s newest handheld.

by IGN Nintendo Team
August 21, 2012

After a slow launch, a dismal first summer and a drastic, course-correcting price cut, Nintendo’s newest handheld, the 3DS, began to recover and finally prove its potential. The drama of those events is now more than a year behind us, and since the system found its footing we’ve been treated to more and more quality pieces of software. Now, as the system steps into its next chapter with the release of the 3DS XL, we’ve decided it’s time for our first list of the handheld’s best titles. So read on, and see if you agree with our picks for the Top 10 Nintendo 3DS games.

Publisher: Nintendo | Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: August 19, 2012 | Read the Review

The release of this latest New Super Mario Bros. sequel may have kicked off a wave of complaints about how Nintendo’s not innovating enough with 2D Mario any more, but when you set all the talk aside and actually play the game you can’t help but have fun. The mustached man’s running and jumping adventures are still home to the best, most precisely designed levels in the platformer genre – and the search for deviously hidden secret levels and new emphasis on collecting thousands upon thousands of golden coins make New Super Mario Bros. 2 an essential play on 3DS.

~ Lucas M. Thomas

Publisher: Nintendo | Developer: Project Sora
Release Date: March 23, 2012 | Read the Review

Taking a break from his usual Super Smash Bros. development, Masahiro Sakurai resurrected one of Nintendo’s oldest icons for a starring role on the 3DS. Part on-rails shooter, part third-person action game, Kid Icarus: Uprising might very well pack some of the best replay value on Nintendo’s young portable, from its fully-featured multiplayer component to its insane weapons customization and unique, puzzle-based achievement system. The controls are tough to handle for any length of time, and its humor might not appeal to everyone, but the action is hard to beat. Definitely worth an investment if you’re looking for something a little different.

~ Richard George

Publisher: Square Enix | Developer: Indies Zero
Release Date: July 3, 2012 | Read the Review

Nintendo’s original DS system hosted an incredible variety of great first-party music and rhythm games over its life span, from Elite Beat Agents to Rhythm Heaven to Electroplankton. On the 3DS, though, it’s third-party Square Enix that has carried that momentum forward with the brilliant Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy, a game that pays homage to both those DS predecessors and the entire history of the Final Fantasy franchise while also presenting new, innovative ways to translate songs into engaging gameplay. We never thought we’d be slashing with swords and casting spells while paying attention to tempo, but now that we have, we can’t get enough.

~ Lucas M. Thomas

Publisher: Square Enix | Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: July 31, 2012 | Read the Review

Kingdom Hearts 3D is probably the best portable game in the franchise – and considering it’s a series that has largely only appeared on portable devices, that’s no small feat. KH3D uses the system to its fullest, with gorgeous graphics that do a fine job of capturing the various Disney-themed worlds. Excellent cameos from The World Ends With You characters only further sweeten the experience. With fun combat, amazing music, and that certain, unmistakable Kingdom Hearts charm, this game is a fine addition to any 3DS library, and easily earns a place on our list.

~ Audrey Drake

Publisher: Capcom | Developer: Capcom
Release Date: March 27, 2011 | Read the Review

The fact that Nintendo dropped the ball with the 3DS launch has been well documented. The company just didn’t provide a killer app – Pilotwings Resort wasn’t it, Steel Diver wasn’t it, and the latest version of Nintendogs wasn’t it either. Luckily, Day 1 adopters weren’t left entirely without winning options thanks to Capcom and the unexpected best game to ship alongside the new system, Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition. This deep, focused and totally polished version of Capcom’s legendary fighting series saved the 3DS launch for many, and has continued to prove its worth by even now still ranking as the best fighter available on the handheld.

~ Lucas M. Thomas

Publisher: Capcom | Developer: Capcom
Release Date: February 7, 2012 | Read the Review

The 3DS library finally started to find its legs towards the second half of 2011, and games like Resident Evil: Revelations kept that trend going once 2012 arrived. Though very much isolated from other Resident Evil games, Revelations is a perfectly portable version of Capcom’s horror franchise, while losing none of the series’ sense of epic adventure. Though still retaining its B-movie sensibilities, Revelations packs some incredible graphics and memorable set pieces in its cruise ship of terror. All 3DS owners would do well to check this one out.

~ Richard George

Publisher: Nintendo | Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: September 9, 2011 | Read the Review

Nintendo’s Star Fox franchise has faltered a few times over the years, as the series’ GameCube installments didn’t live up to fans’ expectations and McCloud and crew missed out on the Wii entirely. The brand has been reborn, though, and given a second chance to shine thanks to this incredible remake of the series’ best past game, Star Fox 64. The addition of stereoscopic 3D, newly polished graphics and an expanded multiplayer mode have gamers happy to be doing barrel rolls once again, and we’re hopeful that this game’s success will mean more missions in the future for the Star Fox team.

~ Lucas M. Thomas

Publisher: Nintendo | Developer: Nintendo / Retro Studios
Release Date: December 4, 2011 | Read the Review

Following up on Mario Kart DS is no easy feat, as that game was one of the highlights of the DS library. But Mario Kart 7 does a fine job of doing just that, with a few new additions that kick the familiar experience into overdrive. In addition to the introduction of kart customization, Mario Kart 7 brought the franchise to a whole new level by offering Nintendo’s most sophisticated implementation of online multiplayer. Racing with friends and strangers alike is easier than ever in MK7, and the VR rating system keeps the fun rolling by pairing racers with others of a similar skill level. The ability to create custom communities – or join those already in place – also make this game the premiere 3DS multiplayer experience. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also a really fun karting game.

~ Audrey Drake

Publisher: Nintendo | Developer: Nintendo EAD / Grezzo
Release Date: June 19, 2011 | Read the Review

A game that many hail as the greatest of all time certainly ought to stand the test of time, and that proves to be the case with Nintendo’s Zelda classic. Visually upgraded and benefiting from a few control modifications thanks to the 3DS’s touch screen, Ocarina of Time not only plays as good as it ever did – it plays better. If you’ve never played the game, this is the version to get. And if you have, this is the perfect time to relive a remarkable accomplishment in gaming.

~ Richard George

Publisher: Nintendo | Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: November 13, 2011 | Read the Review

Super Mario 3D Land isn’t just a great Mario game – it’s the realization of everything the Nintendo 3DS is capable of. It’s the single greatest example of how to make 3D visuals a meaningful part of the gameplay experience, and a fresh, fully engaging take on the Mushroom Kingdom. Watching Mario soar through your screen, jumping on a tottering tower of Goombas with perfect precision, unlocking the eight special worlds after the credits roll – all these things and more make 3D Land a unique and unforgettable experience. The beautiful, colorful world of 3D Land is positively popping with personality, and each level is as memorable as the last. With creative level design and plenty of secrets and surprises, 3D Land is truly the epitome of Mario magic. It’s not just the greatest portable Mario game ever made – it ranks among the best of the best the Mushroom Kingdom has to offer. If you haven’t played it, do yourself a favor and amend this grievous misstep now.

~ Audrey Drake

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