Top Picks: The Best 3DS Games of All Time

The Nintendo 3DS, despite initial skepticism due to its 3D gimmick, proved to be a formidable handheld console that offered an impressive library of games. Some titles were brilliantly ported from consoles, utilizing the 3DS’s unique features like the 3D slider, gyroscopic controls, and the circle pad to enhance gameplay. In this article, we celebrate the best 3DS games of all time, highlighting those that not only made a successful leap from home consoles but also those that were born to shine on this portable platform.

Key Takeaways

  • The 3DS’s library featured exceptional ports from console games, with added features and improved gameplay.
  • Top games like ‘The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D’ and ‘Mario Kart 7’ were praised for their graphics and innovative use of the 3DS’s capabilities.
  • The Pokémon series saw multiple successful entries on the 3DS, with games like ‘Pokémon X’ and ‘Alpha Sapphire’ receiving high ratings.
  • The 3DS’s unique features like the 3D slider and gyroscopic controls were effectively utilized in many games to enhance the player’s experience.
  • Despite initial doubts, the Nintendo 3DS and New 3DS became solid handheld gaming systems, amassing a huge number of game sales and a dedicated fanbase.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is not just a mere remake; it’s a masterful reimagining of one of the most iconic titles in video game history. The enhanced graphics and 3D visuals breathe new life into the land of Hyrule, providing a fresh experience even for those who have journeyed through it before.

The game’s transition to the 3DS platform also includes an improved and intuitive interface, making the adventure more accessible and enjoyable.

With its timeless story and gameplay, Ocarina of Time 3D stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of the Zelda series. It’s a must-play for any 3DS owner, offering a blend of nostalgia and innovation that is rare to find.

2. Mario Kart 7

2. Mario Kart 7

Mario Kart 7 for the Nintendo 3DS is a testament to the enduring appeal of the Mario Kart series. With its vibrant graphics and engaging gameplay, it’s no surprise that the title has received widespread acclaim. The game is incredibly good to be a handheld game, offering a robust racing experience that’s both accessible and deep.

The absence of Waluigi as a playable character and the lack of a mission mode are minor gripes in an otherwise stellar game. Fans of the series will find familiar elements, such as the beloved battle mode and a variety of imaginative tracks that make use of the 3DS’s 3D capabilities.

Mario Kart 7 continues to be a fan favorite, with its mix of new features and classic gameplay elements. It’s a game that can be enjoyed by players of all ages, whether they’re racing against friends or aiming for the top spot in time trials.

Here’s a quick look at the game’s reception:

Rating Aspect Agreement
Good graphics 100%

With a price point that’s friendly for both new and used copies, Mario Kart 7 remains an accessible entry in the franchise.

3. Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS

3. Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS

Bringing the iconic brawler to the handheld scene, Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS offers a smashing good time wherever you go. With a roster that spans across various Nintendo franchises, players can duke it out as their favorite characters in a variety of stages inspired by classic games.

The game’s reception was overwhelmingly positive, with fans and critics alike praising its ability to capture the essence of the console experience in a portable format. The addition of amazing new characters and dazzling visuals ensures that the excitement levels remain high every time you play.

The 3DS version of Super Smash Bros sets itself apart with exclusive stages and a unique Smash Run mode, making it a must-have for fans of the series.

While the game is primarily known for its multiplayer mayhem, it also offers a substantial single-player experience. The Smash Run mode, in particular, is a standout feature, providing a fresh take on the classic Smash formula.

4. Pokemon X

4. Pokemon X

Released in 2013, Pokemon X marked a significant evolution in the Pokemon series, bringing the beloved franchise into the realm of 3D with stunning visuals and animations. The game was not only a visual treat but also introduced a slew of new features that redefined the Pokemon experience for fans and newcomers alike.

The introduction of Mega Evolutions added a new layer of strategy to battles, while the online capabilities allowed trainers to connect, battle, and trade with others around the globe with unprecedented ease. The Kalos region, inspired by France, offered a fresh and vibrant setting filled with new Pokemon to catch and challenges to conquer.

Pokemon X’s impact on the series cannot be understated. It set a new standard for what a Pokemon game could be, blending tradition with innovation.

With its release, Pokemon X received widespread acclaim for its gameplay and was a commercial success. The game’s ability to appeal to both long-time fans and attract new players is a testament to its quality and enduring charm.

5. Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire

5. Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire

Embark on a nostalgic journey through the Hoenn region with Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire for the Nintendo 3DS. This enhanced remake brings the beloved 2003 Game Boy Advance title to life with updated graphics and gameplay mechanics that have captivated a new generation of Pokemon trainers.

In Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire, players will dive into an epic adventure, where they can catch and train Pokemon, challenge Gym Leaders, and thwart the plans of the nefarious Team Aqua. The game’s soaring feature allows you to explore the skies of Hoenn, adding a whole new dimension to the exploration.

Rating New Price Used Price
420 Total Ratings $39.90 $13.99

The game’s critical acclaim is reflected in its impressive total ratings, with players universally agreeing on the good graphics and immersive experience. Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire is not just a game; it’s a world teeming with life and challenges that await all who enter.

With its rich world and engaging gameplay, Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of the Pokemon series.

6. Pokemon Omega Ruby

6. Pokemon Omega Ruby

Embarking on a journey through the Hoenn region, Pokemon Omega Ruby offers a nostalgic yet fresh experience for both newcomers and seasoned trainers. With its enhanced graphics and engaging gameplay, it’s no wonder that players agree on the game’s visual appeal.

The title has garnered positive feedback for its performance and delivery, with fans appreciating the speed of shipping and the game’s pristine condition upon arrival. It’s a testament to the game’s enduring popularity and the efficiency of its distribution.

Pokemon Omega Ruby stands out with its vast world filled with diverse Pokemon and captivating adventures.

Here’s a quick look at the game’s market presence:

Condition Price (USD)
New $37.99
Used $13.89

The game’s reception is reflected in its ratings, with a unanimous approval for its graphics, making it a must-have for any 3DS enthusiast.

7. Pokemon Ultra Moon

7. Pokemon Ultra Moon

Embarking on a new journey in the Alola region with Pokemon Ultra Moon offers a fresh take on the Pokemon series. This enhanced version introduces new Pokemon, features, and a gripping storyline that keeps players engaged from start to finish.

Condition Price (New) Price (Used)
Pokemon Ultra Moon $39.99 $11.99

Players can expect a rich and immersive experience, with the choice between versions primarily influenced by the exclusive Pokemon available in each. Whether you’re a seasoned trainer or new to the world of Pokemon, Ultra Moon is a must-play title on the 3DS.

Dive into the world of Pokemon like never before, with enhanced graphics and captivating gameplay that make Ultra Moon a standout title in the series.

8. Pokemon Y

8. Pokemon Y

Released alongside its counterpart, Pokemon X, Pokemon Y brought a new era of Pokemon games to the 3DS with its stunning 3D graphics and expansive world. The game was praised for its visuals, which were a significant leap forward for the series, offering a fresh experience for both new and veteran trainers.

Rating New Price Used Price
436 Total Ratings $38.99 $14.99

Players could explore the Kalos region, inspired by France, with its rich history and diverse ecosystems. The introduction of Mega Evolution added a new layer of strategy to battles, making it a memorable addition to the Pokemon franchise.

Pokemon Y not only delivered on fans’ expectations but also set a new standard for what a handheld Pokemon game could be.

9. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse

9. Shantae and the Pirate's Curse

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse stands out as a gem in the 3DS library with its engaging Metroidvania gameplay and charming aesthetic. The game has been praised for its sharp wit and beautiful look, making it a must-play for fans of the genre.

The title’s success is evident in its market performance, with new copies still being sought after and commanding prices that trend upwards, reflecting its lasting appeal.

Shantae’s adventure is not just about defeating enemies and navigating through cleverly designed levels; it’s an experience enriched by its humor and visual appeal.

While the game does not boast a multiplayer mode, its single-player campaign is robust and filled with content that will keep players entertained for hours. The game’s mechanics and design have received acclaim, ensuring that it holds a special place in the hearts of 3DS enthusiasts.

10. Pokemon Ultra Sun

10. Pokemon Ultra Sun

Taking its place among the stars of the 3DS library, Pokemon Ultra Sun offers an expanded universe and deeper gameplay compared to its predecessor. With new Pokemon forms and a gripping storyline, it’s a must-have for fans and newcomers alike.

The Alola region comes to life with vibrant graphics and a host of new challenges that will test even the most seasoned trainers.

The game’s reception speaks volumes, with a strong community of players who appreciate its enhancements over the original Sun version. Here’s a quick look at the game’s market presence:

Condition Price (USD)
New $39.95
Used $14.99

Pokemon Ultra Sun not only continues the series’ legacy but also enhances the overall experience with its rich content and engaging mechanics.

11. Kirby’s Epic Yarn

11. Kirby's Epic Yarn

Kirby’s Epic Yarn is a unique entry in the Kirby series, where our beloved pink hero ventures into a world crafted from yarn and fabric. The game’s aesthetic is charming and imaginative, offering a distinct visual style that sets it apart from other platformers. Originally released for the Wii, the game was later ported to the 3DS with the title Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn, bringing new features and enhancements.

The 3DS version, while lacking the original’s co-op feature, compensates with additional power-ups, modes, and characters. It’s a game that’s very beginner-friendly, with a forgiving difficulty curve that ensures players are not overly penalized for mistakes. This approachability makes it a perfect fit for players of all skill levels.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn provides a delightful experience that captures the series’ signature charm and injects it into a new, creatively textured world.

Despite the changes, the core of what made Kirby’s Epic Yarn great remains intact, making it a must-play for fans of the series and newcomers alike.

12. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

12. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is a testament to the capabilities of the New Nintendo 3DS, showcasing an expansive JRPG world that rivals its console counterparts. With a METASCORE of 86, it’s clear that the game has left a significant mark on both critics and players alike.

The game’s transition from a home console to a handheld device is nothing short of remarkable. Monolith Soft, along with Monster Games, managed to compress a 50-hour story into the portable format without compromising the depth and scale that the series is known for.

Exclusive to the New 3DS, the game leverages the system’s enhanced controls, including the extra buttons and C-stick, to deliver the full Xenoblade experience. Additionally, the Jukebox feature is a delightful touch, allowing players to immerse themselves in the game’s sweeping soundtrack whenever they wish.

Feature Details
Platform New Nintendo 3DS
Developer Monolith
Publisher Nintendo
Genre JRPG
Metascore 86

13. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater 3D

13. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater 3D

When Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater made its way to the 3DS, it brought with it the full depth of its stealth gameplay, along with unique features that utilized the handheld’s capabilities. The game’s Metascore of 78 reflects its quality and the successful transition from home consoles to the portable 3DS system.

One of the most innovative aspects of the 3DS version is the use of the device’s camera to create custom camouflage patterns, enhancing the espionage experience. This, along with the intense boss battles that test both skill and strategy, makes it a standout title in the 3DS library.

The journey of Naked Snake through Soviet territories is as engaging as ever, with the 3DS adding a fresh layer to the classic gameplay.

While the game is a port of an older title, it loses none of its charm or challenge, making it a must-play for fans of the series and newcomers alike.

14. Fire Emblem Awakening

14. Fire Emblem Awakening

Fire Emblem Awakening is a testament to the enduring appeal of strategic turn-based RPGs. The game is praised for its deep tactical gameplay and the rich storytelling that has become a hallmark of the series. Players are drawn into a world where every decision can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

The character development system allows for a personalized army, with each unit growing in skills and abilities. This, coupled with the game’s challenging difficulty levels, ensures that no two playthroughs are the same.

Fire Emblem Awakening’s impact on the 3DS platform cannot be understated. It not only revitalized the series but also set a new standard for strategy games on handheld consoles.

With a Metacritic score that places it among the greats, Fire Emblem Awakening surpasses not only its predecessors but also the beloved Advance Wars series. It’s a must-play for any fan of the genre.

15. Animal Crossing: New Leaf

15. Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Animal Crossing: New Leaf stands out as a pinnacle of the series, offering players an idyllic escape into a world where they become the mayor of their own town. The power to shape and personalize your town is a feature that resonates with fans, allowing for a level of creativity and ownership that is both engaging and deeply satisfying.

In New Leaf, the community aspect is enhanced with the ability to visit other players’ towns and share experiences. This social element has been a cornerstone of the franchise, fostering a sense of connection and community among players.

The game’s charm lies in its simplicity and the ability to reflect one’s personality in the game world. Whether it’s through the meticulous design of your town, the collection of rare items, or the interactions with quirky villagers, New Leaf offers a unique experience that keeps players coming back.

Despite the success of its successor, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, fans still fondly remember New Leaf for its distinctive features. One such feature, which has been highlighted as New Leaf’s most charming feature, should make a return in future iterations of the game to recapture the hearts of players.

16. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

16. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate elevates the series to new heights with more expansive environments, intuitive combat, and a multitude of fearsome monsters. This title is not just about hunting; it’s about embarking on an adventure that’s both challenging and rewarding.

  • Expansive Environments: Traverse through a variety of terrains, from scorching deserts to frozen tundras.
  • Intuitive Combat: Engage in battles with a refined combat system that rewards skill and strategy.
  • Fearsome Monsters: Face off against a diverse range of creatures, each with unique behaviors and attack patterns.

With its deep gameplay mechanics and cooperative multiplayer, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate offers an experience that is both social and exhilarating.

The game’s ability to blend traditional Monster Hunter elements with new features and monsters creates a fresh yet familiar experience for veterans and newcomers alike. The fourth epic Monster Hunter quest stalks the world, offering a variety of returning monsters as well as a great selection of new challenges.

17. Bravely Default

17. Bravely Default

Bravely Default for the Nintendo 3DS is a modern classic that harkens back to the golden age of JRPGs. Its innovative ‘Brave’ and ‘Default’ battle mechanics not only redefine turn-based combat but also add a layer of strategy that is both challenging and rewarding.

The game’s deep customization system allows players to tailor their party to their play style, making each playthrough unique.

With a compelling narrative and a beautiful, hand-drawn art style, Bravely Default offers an experience that is both nostalgic and fresh. The soundtrack, composed by Revo, is a masterpiece that perfectly complements the game’s atmosphere.

  • Innovative battle system
  • Deep character customization
  • Engaging story
  • Beautiful art and music

Bravely Default is a testament to the potential of the 3DS platform, showcasing how it can deliver experiences that are rich in detail and scope.

18. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon

18. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

In Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, players join Luigi, the reluctant and clumsy hero, as he navigates through multiple haunted mansions. With the Poltergust 5000 in hand, Luigi must capture a variety of ghastly ghosts and solve mind-melting puzzles to restore peace to Evershade Valley.

This adventure is not just about busting ghosts; it’s a test of wits and courage, with Luigi’s own clumsiness adding a humorous twist to the spooky escapades.

The game is praised for its charming graphics, clever level design, and the engaging multiplayer mode that adds to the replayability. Whether you’re playing solo or with friends, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon offers a ghostly good time that’s hard to put down.

19. Kid Icarus: Uprising

19. Kid Icarus: Uprising

Kid Icarus: Uprising revitalized a classic Nintendo franchise with a fresh take on its mythological world. The game is renowned for its engaging gameplay that combines on-rails shooting with third-person ground action. Players have praised the variety of weapons and the freedom to control the protagonist, Pit, which feels particularly satisfying on the 3DS platform.

The game’s visual presentation is another high point, with the 3DS’s capabilities being used to full effect to create a vibrant and detailed world. The solid 3DS visuals help bring the game’s characters and environments to life, making each level a joy to explore.

The story of Kid Icarus: Uprising is complemented by its great, comedic writing, which adds a layer of charm to the overall experience. The dialogue is witty and often breaks the fourth wall, providing plenty of laughs alongside the action.

With a blend of action, humor, and a well-executed control scheme, Kid Icarus: Uprising stands out as a must-play title on the Nintendo 3DS.

20. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

20. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of the Zelda series on the 3DS platform. Players are invited to become a living painting, traversing between two dimensions in a conflict that spans the classic, top-down world of Zelda. This innovative mechanic not only pays homage to the series’ roots but also introduces a fresh twist that has captivated gamers.

The game’s ability to blend the old with the new, while delivering a seamless and engaging experience, is a hallmark of Nintendo’s design philosophy.

With its critical acclaim and fan adoration, A Link Between Worlds is a must-play title that showcases the 3DS’s capabilities in delivering a rich, immersive experience. It’s a shining example of how a beloved franchise can continue to evolve and enchant new generations of players.

21. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

21. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

Originally gracing the PS2, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King found a new home on the Nintendo 3DS, allowing fans to experience its classic JRPG charm anywhere. The transition to handheld included new features that enhanced the already beloved title.

With a Metascore of 85, the game’s quality is undeniable, offering a rich narrative and engaging gameplay that has stood the test of time.

The game’s release on the 3DS was not just a simple port; it was a revival that introduced the epic adventure to a new generation of gamers. The fight against the nefarious Dhoulmagus could now be taken on the go, making it a perfect fit for the portable console.

22. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

22. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

Dive into a world of puzzles and mystery with Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask. This installment in the beloved series offers a captivating story that unfolds through both animated sequences and challenging brain teasers.

Engage with a rich narrative that takes you through the vibrant city of Monte d’Or, where you’ll solve puzzles to uncover the secrets behind the Masked Gentleman’s terrifying miracles.

The game’s hallmark lies in its intricate puzzles that range from logic and sliding puzzles to riddles and brainteasers. Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect:

  • Over 150 new puzzles
  • Downloadable daily puzzles for a year post-launch
  • A blend of 3D exploration and classic 2D storytelling

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is a must-play for fans of the series and newcomers alike, offering hours of intellectually stimulating entertainment.

23. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies

23. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies

Step into the courtroom once more with Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, where players take on the role of the iconic defense attorney. This installment of the series introduces new gameplay elements and a gripping narrative that will test your deductive skills and legal prowess.

Engage in the battle of wits as you unravel the truth behind each case, using evidence and logic to defend your clients.

The game features a cast of memorable characters, each with their own backstory and motives, which are revealed as the story progresses. Here’s a quick list of what to expect:

  • A deep and engaging storyline
  • The return of fan-favorite characters
  • Newcomer Athena Cykes with her unique ability
  • Enhanced investigation phases
  • The Mood Matrix: a new tool for detecting emotions

Dual Destinies is a must-play for fans of the series and newcomers alike, offering a blend of classic Ace Attorney gameplay and fresh innovations.

24. Fantasy Life

24. Fantasy Life

Level-5’s Fantasy Life offers a unique blend of life simulation and RPG elements that has captivated players. With the ability to choose from a variety of professions, each offering a distinct gameplay experience, Fantasy Life provides a rich and customizable adventure.

Fantasy Life scratches that unique itch between dungeon crawling, cozy gaming, and adventuring.

The game’s charm lies in its freedom and depth, allowing players to switch between roles and explore the vibrant world at their own pace. Whether you’re crafting, fighting, or building relationships with NPCs, there’s always something to do in the world of Fantasy Life.

Here are some key features:

  • Multiple life paths to choose from
  • Engaging combat system
  • Deep crafting mechanics
  • Expansive world with various quests
  • Ability to play and interact with friends

25. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call

25. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call

Rounding out our top picks is Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call, a title that combines the beloved Final Fantasy universe with engaging rhythm gameplay. Developed by indieszero and published by Square Enix, this game is a celebration of the franchise’s rich musical history.

Players can dive into a comprehensive catalog of tracks, ranging from classic tunes to more recent compositions, all while tapping and swiping to the beat. The game’s charm lies in its ability to evoke nostalgia while providing a fresh and entertaining experience.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of the series’ music and its ability to connect with fans across different gaming platforms.

With a variety of game modes and difficulty levels, it caters to both newcomers and seasoned rhythm game enthusiasts. The game’s success on the Nintendo 3DS showcases the versatility of the handheld console and its capacity to deliver unique gaming experiences.


As we wrap up our journey through the best 3DS games of all time, it’s clear that the Nintendo 3DS’s legacy is one of innovation and enduring fun. Despite initial skepticism, the 3DS proved to be a versatile and powerful handheld console, offering a unique 3D experience and a library of games that pushed the boundaries of mobile gaming. From the immersive worlds of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D to the competitive arenas of Super Smash Bros, and the charming adventures in Kirby’s Epic Yarn, these titles not only stood the test of time but also showcased the 3DS’s capabilities to the fullest. Whether you’re revisiting these classics or experiencing them for the first time, the top picks we’ve highlighted are sure to provide countless hours of entertainment and a reminder of the 3DS’s significant impact on the gaming industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best Nintendo 3DS games of all time?

Some of the best 3DS games include The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Mario Kart 7, Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS, Pokemon X/Y, and Animal Crossing: New Leaf, among others.

Can I still purchase Nintendo 3DS games?

Yes, Nintendo 3DS games can still be purchased new or used from various retailers, including online marketplaces.

Are there any good ported games on the Nintendo 3DS?

Absolutely! The 3DS has great ports of console games such as Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Xenoblade Chronicles, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which often include new features and gameplay tailored for the 3DS.

Does the 3D feature of the Nintendo 3DS enhance gameplay?

Many players find that the 3D feature of the Nintendo 3DS, when used with games that have clever mechanics and camera angles, can significantly enhance the gaming experience.

What makes the Nintendo 3DS stand out from other handheld consoles?

The Nintendo 3DS stands out due to its unique 3D feature, gyroscopic controls, circle pad for improved gameplay, and a strong library of games that appeal to a wide range of players.

Are there any special editions of Nintendo 3DS games?

Yes, there are special and collector’s editions of some 3DS games, which may include additional content, unique packaging, or other collectible items.