Top 10 3DS Games in my Backlog
I haven’t had my New Nintendo 2DS XL for very long. The Nintendo 3DS launched 7 years before I ever had one. In that time, the system built up a wealth of great games. Games loved by critics and fans alike. Titles from beloved Nintendo franchises like Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem, Pokémon…possibly every Nintendo series is represented on the 3DS. Of course, other developers created great games for the system too, and between them and Nintendo, there are games for every kind of gamer on this platform.
The following list contains the top 10 3DS games in my backlog, but this is just a small slice of 3DS’s excellent library, and there are far more 3DS titles that I want to play someday!
Picking just 10 games for this list was tough. Honorable mentions include the Yo-Kai Watch games, Ever Oasis, Kid Icarus: Uprising, the Mario & Luigi games, and many, many more!
10. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
The Legend of Zelda is a franchise I always enjoy, and I’ve yet to play one of the 3DS’s only original entries in the series - The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. It has strong ties to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, partly because it was originally imagined as a remake of A Link to the Past in its early stages.
There are two unique features in A Link Between Worlds. The first, wall merging, allows Link to transform into a 2D mural painted on a wall, and move horizontally along the wall. This is used to solve puzzles, reach new areas, and even travel between Hyrule and the parallel world Lorule. The second feature is the item rental system, where instead of finding new equipment in dungeons, Link can rent or buy it from a merchant’s shop. This allows you to challenge many of the dungeons in whatever order you want, making the experience more non-linear.
Interestingly, although it was developed in Japan, A Link Between Worlds actually came out last there, with the Japanese launch happening a month after the North American, European, and Australian releases.
9. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
Edit: Finished! It was a fun handheld experience, and has me looking forward to playing Luigi’s Mansion 3 on the Switch eventually! Read more of my thoughts on it here.
Known simply as Luigi’s Mansion 2 everywhere but North America, I can’t for the life of me figure out why the North American region had to rename it “Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.”
I always liked the original Luigi’s Mansion on the GameCube. This sequel was a long time coming, and though I didn’t have a 3DS when it released in 2013, I do now, and it’s only a matter of time before I partake in more ghost-hunting as the most green Mario brother!
8. Shin Megami Tensei IV
Edit: I can now say I’ve played a mainline Shin Megami Tensei game, and I really enjoyed it overall! It wasn’t perfect, and I have a number of complaints about the late game, but Shin Megami Tensei IV was great. You can read more of my thoughts on it here.
Shin Megami Tensei (SMT) is known for its turn-based combat, and later games have added some spice to this by introducing the Press Turn combat system. Essentially, by exploiting enemy weaknesses, you can gain more attacks, and thus earn a huge advantage in battle. However, the same goes for enemies, and they will ruthlessly exploit your weaknesses to gain a similar advantage. This kind of system keeps things interesting, as you need to stay on your toes to avoid getting demolished in battle! Other classic SMT staples that return in IV are Demon recruitment and fusion. You can recruit the Demons you face, and they’ll join your party to fight alongside you in future battles. You can also fuse two of your Demons together to form a new Demon who inherits some of the skills of its fusion components. In the Persona spin-off games, I’ve always enjoyed the fusion systems, so fusion in SMT should be quite enjoyable as well.
As a fan of the Persona spin-offs, I ought to try out some of the mainline games that spawned the spin-off series, right? I don’t know what the best place to start in Shin Megami Tensei is, but starting with Shin Megami Tensei IV seems very enticing because it’s on a handheld! Of course, if I wait long enough Shin Megami Tensei V will come out on the Switch, which is both portable and playable on the big screen…that sounds enticing as well!
7. Bravely Default
Edit: I finished Bravely Default. The first half of the game was fantastic, an awesome blend of traditional JRPG gameplay and some new mechanics. Unfortunately, the 2nd half of the game fell completely flat for me. I finished it, but it was a chore to do so, and I really considered dropping the game during the latter half. I’m still curious about this series, because Bravely Default was really good for a while. Hopefully future games like Bravely Default II don’t make the same mistakes!
Bravely Default seems like a nice JRPG very reminiscent of early Final Fantasy titles, but with modern graphics and niceties.
Battles in Bravely Default trigger as random encounters, but they can be adjusted or even disabled at any point outside battle. Difficulty level can also be adjusted outside of battle. This kind of freedom sounds great, because if ever combat starts to feel like a grind, or random encounters are really limiting progress in an area, these settings can be adjusted, allowing any player to enjoy the game. There’s also the Brave Points (BP) system, which allows your characters to take more than one action on their turn.
Lastly, the job system in Bravely Default sounds fun as well. Characters can freely be assigned any job once its been unlocked after defeating certain bosses. There are 24 different jobs, and in addition to the skills the current job provides, a character can also learn skills from a second job.
All of this reminds me of Final Fantasy III when I played a bit of that on the DS. The job system is like Final Fantasy Tactics Advance in some ways, which sounds great. I’m looking forward to giving Bravely Default a try someday!
6. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
Edit: Dragon Quest VIII marked my first foray into the mainline Dragon Quest series, and I really enjoyed it! You can read more of my thoughts on this classic JRPG here.
I never played the PS2 original, and though there are some drawbacks to the 3DS port mostly due to the reduced resolution, the selling point for me is this: the PS2 original has random encounters, while the 3DS port does not. The enemies in the 3DS version show up in the environment and can be avoided if you don’t feel like entering battle, and this is hugely preferable to me!
Dragon Quest is a series I want to get into just due to its incredible legacy and popularity, especially in Japan. Plus, it has so many elements I enjoy. Turn-based battles, monsters, fun characters…all the makings of a classic JRPG, which makes sense as Dragon Quest played a large part in defining what a JRPG is! As of this writing I haven’t played one yet. I have played one of the Dragon Quest Monsters spin-off titles though, Dragon Warrior Monsters 2: Tara’s Adventure on the Game Boy Color. There’s a good chance VIII will be my entry point in the main series!
5. Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology
Edit: I’ve since finished this one, and it was quite a journey! It’s a fantastic RPG on the 3DS, despite some occasional frustrations and tedious moments. You can read more of my thoughts on it in What I’m Playing No. 81 and What I’m Playing No. 82.
Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is an enhanced port of the DS original, Radiant Historia. In both, you follow the adventures of Stocke. The continent Vainqueur, home to the warring nations of Alistel and Granorg, is doomed to become a lifeless waste due to the Sand Plague. What sets Radiant Historia apart from other games is its Time Travel mechanics. Stocke wields the White Chronicle, a magical book that allows him to travel between alternate timelines. It is up to him to use this power to prevent the Sand Plague from consuming the continent.
I’ve seen waves of praise for Radiant Historia, both for its original release on the DS and the Perfect Chronology remake on the 3DS. Praise is directed both at the story, and the turn-based battle system. Battles take place on a grid as well, adding an extra level of strategy to fights. Given all the praise I’ve heard of it, I just have to try it out.
4. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D
Edit: With the announcement of Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition coming to the Switch, I’ve decided that I’ll just wait and play that version instead.
Xenoblade Chronicles originally released on the Wii in 2012. It’s an open world action RPG. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is a port of the game to the New 3DS, and it’s supposed to be a pretty good port. It’s one of the few games that requires a New Nintendo 3DS, and won’t run on an original 3DS.
The premise of Xenoblade Chronicles is pretty interesting. The entire game takes place on the frozen bodies of giant titans Bionis and Mechonis. On the bodies of the titans, entire races live. Those who live on Bionis are in constant war with the mechanical Mechon race from Mechonis. The protagonist, Shulk, is one of those from Bionis, and the game follows his quest for revenge against the Mechon for attacking his colony.
3. Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth
Edit: I’ve finished Persona Q2! Read the review here!
Persona Q2 is dungeon crawler RPG in which the casts of Persona 3, 4, and 5 all meet up. As of this writing, this is a future 3DS release! I’ve pre-ordered it, even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the gameplay in Persona Q. I love the characters though, so even if I don’t connect with the gameplay in Persona Q2, I’m excited to play it and see the characters from Persona 3, 4, and 5 interact for the first time.
Supposedly, the development team has made gameplay improvements and difficulty balances, so maybe I will enjoy Persona Q2’s gameplay as well as its characters.
2. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
Edit: I’ve finished Shadows of Valentia! Here’s my review!
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is actually a remake of the 2nd Fire Emblem game, Fire Emblem Gaiden. While Gaiden was exclusive to Japan, Shadows of Valentia received a worldwide release.
From reading the Wikipedia article on it, this game does a lot of things that other Fire Emblems games have not done. There’s some dungeon crawling, a Fatigue meter, and probably other differences and unique mechanics as well. All of that sounds like it should make for a very interesting experience! After playing Shadows of Valentia, I will be able to say that I have played every Fire Emblem game officially released in English! I’m hoping to do this before Fire Emblem: Three Houses comes out on the Switch, so that I’m ready to tackle that game as well.
1. Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest
Edit: I’ve finished not only Conquest, but all 3 versions of Fire Emblem Fates! Here’s my review!
Now that I’ve played the hugely successful Fire Emblem: Awakening, I feel like a natural next step is continuing to play the Fire Emblem series in chronological release order. Thus, Fire Emblem Fates is next!
Fates has two versions: Conquest or Birthright. Both are quite different from what I’ve read, but involve the same characters. Conquest is the path I plan to play first. I’ll probably play Birthright at some point. Depending on how much I enjoy the characters and world in Fates, maybe I’ll play the Birthright path immediately after finishing Conquest. Then of course there’s also the Revelations DLC, which is the canon path I guess. Anyway, I picked Conquest to start with as I’ve heard it offers a higher challenge, and I guess I’m looking forward to testing my Fire Emblem chops! I’ve actually started Fates already, so of course it’s at the top of my backlog!