Top Ten Must-Play Games for Nintendo 3DS Enthusiasts

The Nintendo 3DS stands as a testament to portable gaming, offering a diverse library of games that have captivated players around the world. From action-packed adventures to intricate puzzles, the 3DS has something for everyone. In this article, we’re excited to share the top ten must-play games for Nintendo 3DS enthusiasts. These titles not only showcase the best of what the console has to offer but also provide a rich and varied gaming experience that’s hard to put down. Whether you’re a longtime fan or new to the platform, these games are essential for any 3DS library.

Key Takeaways

  • The 3DS library includes a variety of genres, catering to gamers of all preferences, from action and adventure to RPGs and puzzles.
  • Iconic franchises like ‘The Legend of Zelda’ and ‘Pokémon’ continue to define the 3DS with groundbreaking titles.
  • Exclusives like ‘Fire Emblem: Awakening’ and ‘Animal Crossing: New Leaf’ offer deep, engaging experiences unique to the platform.
  • Indie gems such as ‘Shovel Knight’ prove that the 3DS is a haven for both blockbuster and independent developers alike.
  • The 3DS’s innovative technology, including its 3D capabilities and portable design, enhances gameplay and immerses players in their gaming adventures.

1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for the Nintendo 3DS is a must-play title that offers a fresh take on the beloved franchise. Players will find themselves in a familiar yet distinct world, where they can become a living painting to navigate between two dimensions. This mechanic adds a unique twist to the classic top-down exploration that fans adore.

The game’s dual-world feature is not just a gimmick; it’s integral to the puzzle-solving and exploration that define the Zelda series. Here’s a quick overview of what makes this game stand out:

  • Innovative dimension-switching gameplay
  • Engaging puzzles that utilize the 3D feature
  • A rich storyline that pays homage to the series’ roots

In A Link Between Worlds, players are treated to a nostalgic journey that also pushes the boundaries of the series with its inventive gameplay. The game has received widespread acclaim for its clever design and the way it honors the legacy of Zelda while charting a new course for future titles.

2. Fire Emblem: Awakening

2. Fire Emblem: Awakening

Fire Emblem: Awakening is a standout title for the Nintendo 3DS, offering a rich tactical role-playing experience. Released on February 4, 2013, by developer Intelligent Systems and publisher Nintendo, the game has captivated players worldwide, boasting an impressive 1.9 million users.

The game is praised for its strategic battles, deep character development, and an engaging storyline that keeps players invested. With the ability to lead a group of heroes to save the kingdom of Ylisse, players are treated to addictive gameplay and memorable characters.

Fire Emblem: Awakening’s success has significantly contributed to the series’ popularity, making it a pivotal game for both new players and series veterans.

The game’s accessibility to newcomers, with features like an overpowered pairing mechanic and the mighty early-game character Frederick, ensures a smooth introduction to the series. Meanwhile, long-time fans can challenge themselves by avoiding these advantages. Its strong art direction and multiple branching storylines further enhance the experience, making it a must-play title on the 3DS.

3. Animal Crossing: New Leaf

3. Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a charming addition to the Nintendo 3DS library, inviting players into a world where they become the mayor of a town filled with endearing animal residents. This social simulation game stands out with its relaxing gameplay and the freedom to customize your town to your heart’s content.

  • Engage in a variety of activities like fishing, bug catching, and fossil hunting.
  • Decorate your home and town with an extensive selection of items.
  • Experience the changing seasons and participate in holiday events.
  • Interact with a diverse cast of animal characters, each with their own personality.

Embrace the tranquil life of a town mayor, where every decision shapes your personal sanctuary.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf’s impact goes beyond entertainment; it’s a game that has been used for socializing and even remote work meetings during the pandemic, showcasing its versatility and the depth of its simulation aspects.

4. Pokémon Sun and Moon

4. Pokémon Sun and Moon

Released on November 18, 2016, Pok\u00e9mon Sun and Moon represent a transformative leap in the series, bringing a fresh take to the classic Pok\u00e9mon formula. These games are set in the vibrant Alola region, a group of islands brimming with new Pok\u00e9mon species and challenges.

With a Metacritic score of 87 out of 100, Pok\u00e9mon Sun and Moon have captivated players with their engaging storyline and innovative features, such as the Alolan forms of classic Pok\u00e9mon and the introduction of Z-moves.

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

Metric Value
Developer Game Freak
Publisher Nintendo
Release Date Nov 18, 2016
Genre Role-playing
Modes Single-player, multiplayer
Metacritic Score 87/100
Units Sold 16 Million

The games have been praised for their ability to welcome new fans and rekindle the passion of long-time enthusiasts, making them a must-play for any Nintendo 3DS owner.

5. Super Mario 3D Land

5. Super Mario 3D Land

Released on November 13, 2011, by Nintendo EAD Tokyo, Super Mario 3D Land is a quintessential title for any Nintendo 3DS enthusiast. The game brilliantly blends the charm of 2D Mario with the depth and exploration of 3D environments, offering a unique experience that pays homage to the series’ roots while innovating in exciting ways.

The game’s critical acclaim is well-deserved, with its creative level design and smooth controls setting a high standard for handheld platformers. It’s not just about nostalgia; the game makes excellent use of the 3DS’s 3D capabilities to enhance gameplay, providing a fresh perspective on the classic Mario formula.

Super Mario 3D Land is a celebration of Mario’s legacy, combining old-revived entertainment with a modern twist.

Whether you’re dodging goombas or facing off against Bowser, each of the eight worlds offers a distinct challenge that will keep you engaged from start to finish. If you’re looking to jump into a world of adventure, Super Mario 3D Land is a must-play title on the 3DS.

6. Mario Kart 7

6. Mario Kart 7

With Mario Kart 7, the franchise takes a victorious lap on the Nintendo 3DS, offering a familiar yet fresh experience for fans and newcomers alike. The gameplay is simple, yet the use of items and the new customization options inject a new level of strategy and fun into the races. There’s plenty of replayability with various modes, including the competitive time trials that keep the competition fierce long after the initial finish line is crossed.

Mario Kart 7 continues to be a testament to the series’ ability to evolve while maintaining the core joyous racing experience that has defined it for decades.

The game’s roster includes fan-favorites and introduces new characters, ensuring that every race is as diverse as it is exhilarating. Whether you’re racing alone or with friends, Mario Kart 7 is a must-play title that captures the essence of fun that is synonymous with the series.

7. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

7. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

For those who thrive on the thrill of the hunt, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate offers an expansive world filled with formidable creatures. This entry in the Monster Hunter series elevates the experience with more vertical and lateral movement, allowing hunters to tackle monsters from a variety of angles.

  • Engage in epic battles with a rich roster of monsters.
  • Team up with friends for cooperative multiplayer action.
  • Master a wide array of weapon types and hunting tactics.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is not just a game; it’s a journey into a world where every hunt feels like a story of its own.

The game’s community aspect is particularly strong, with players often sharing tips, strategies, and organizing hunts. Whether you’re a series veteran or a newcomer, the depth and complexity of the gameplay will provide countless hours of challenge and enjoyment.

8. Kid Icarus: Uprising

8. Kid Icarus: Uprising

Reviving a classic franchise, Kid Icarus: Uprising offers a unique blend of aerial and ground-based combat, making it a standout title on the Nintendo 3DS. The game’s control scheme is innovative, allowing players to experience the thrill of guiding Pit through intense battles against mythical creatures.

The variety of weapons in the game is impressive, each with distinct characteristics that cater to different play styles. Players can enjoy the solid 3DS visuals that bring the world of Kid Icarus to life, complemented by a story enriched with great, comedic writing.

Kid Icarus: Uprising is not just a return to form for an old favorite, but a title that pushes the boundaries of what’s possible on the 3DS platform.

The game also features a multiplayer mode, where you can take your customized Pit into battle against others, adding a competitive edge to the experience.

9. Shovel Knight

9. Shovel Knight

Embark on a nostalgic journey with Shovel Knight, a title that has carved its place in the hearts of 3DS enthusiasts. Developed and published by Yacht Club Games, this 2D side-scrolling platformer offers a modern twist on classic gaming. Since its release on June 26, 2014, Shovel Knight has not only become a beloved addition to the platform but also a commercial success, selling over 2 million copies.

Critics and players alike have lauded the game for its excellent platforming fun, enjoyable storytelling, and impressive art and sound. The game’s protagonist, a valiant knight armed with a shovel, embarks on a quest to rescue his beloved Shield Knight, challenging the Enchantress and her Order of No Quarter.

Shovel Knight’s ability to blend retro charm with contemporary gameplay mechanics makes it a must-play title on the Nintendo 3DS.

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

Game Name Genre Release Date No. of Users Ratings
Shovel Knight 2D Action Platformer Jun 26, 2014 2 Million 90 out of 100

10. Bravely Default

10. Bravely Default

Bravely Default for the Nintendo 3DS stands as a testament to the classic JRPG genre, bringing together a blend of traditional gameplay and innovative mechanics. The game’s Bravery and Default system adds a strategic layer to battles, allowing players to balance risk and reward by choosing when to attack or defend.

Despite some criticism for its story and character development, the game has been praised for its gameplay. Critics have noted that while the story and characters may not break new ground, the overall experience is engaging for fans of the genre.

Bravely Default’s art style and soundtrack contribute to a compelling fantasy world that players can immerse themselves in for hours.

The game has garnered a dedicated following, with many players agreeing on the high quality of its graphics and the depth of its gameplay. Here’s a quick look at user ratings:

  • Total Ratings: 175
  • Agreement on Good Graphics: 100%
  • Price Range: $15.00 (Used) – $43.88 (New)


As we wrap up our journey through the top ten must-play games for Nintendo 3DS enthusiasts, it’s clear that this handheld console boasts an impressive library that caters to a diverse range of gaming tastes. From the action-packed skies of ‘Kid Icarus: Uprising’ to the puzzle-filled world of ‘Pushmo’, and the iconic adventures found in ‘The Legend of Zelda’ series, the 3DS offers something for everyone. Whether you’re revisiting these classics or experiencing them for the first time, each game promises to deliver hours of entertainment and solidify the 3DS’s legacy as a revolutionary force in portable gaming. So charge up your consoles and dive into these unforgettable experiences that continue to define the 3DS as a beloved gaming companion.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top ten must-play games for Nintendo 3DS enthusiasts?

The top ten must-play games for Nintendo 3DS enthusiasts are: 1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, 2. Fire Emblem: Awakening, 3. Animal Crossing: New Leaf, 4. Pokmon Sun and Moon, 5. Super Mario 3D Land, 6. Mario Kart 7, 7. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, 8. Kid Icarus: Uprising, 9. Shovel Knight, and 10. Bravely Default.

Why is the Nintendo 3DS considered a revolutionary portable gaming console?

The Nintendo 3DS is considered revolutionary due to its cutting-edge technology, immersive gameplay, and the ability to provide a wide range of experiences and gameplay options that cater to all skill levels and interests.

What genres of games does the Nintendo 3DS offer?

The Nintendo 3DS offers a variety of games across different genres, including action, adventure, RPG, puzzle, and more, ensuring that there is something for every type of gamer.

Are there any notable 3DS games that are ports from console versions?

Yes, some games have made successful transitions from home consoles to the 3DS, offering great portable versions of console originals.

Can you provide some examples of related games to those listed in the top ten for the 3DS?

Related games to those in the top ten list for the 3DS include Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl for the Switch, Super Mario 64 DS for the DS, and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX for the Switch.

Where can I find more information about upcoming Nintendo games and related articles?

For more information about upcoming Nintendo games and related articles, you can visit gaming websites like, which frequently publishes content on Nintendo Switch games, upcoming releases, and best game lists for various Nintendo consoles.