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The 10 best 3DS games of all time

Posted on May 25, 2024 by in 3DS, Features

Best 3DS games of all time

Today, we’re looking at 10 of the best 3DS games of all time. If there are any you’d like to add, feel free to do so in the comments below.

Though the 3DS’ online servers have been shut down for a few months now, interest in the console hasn’t decreased in the slightest. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – many players have either rekindled their appreciation for it or are just getting into it for the first time. It’s easy to see why, too. The Switch is almost certainly the superior console in terms of software library and game quality, but the 3DS has a few advantages of its own. Its library isn’t as large as the Switch’s, but the titles it does have are excellent time-sinkers and some of the best of their respective series. If you’re able to find or purchase these games second-hand, it’s a great time to get into everything the 3DS has to offer.

Best 3DS games of all time

Best 3DS games of all time

Super Mario 3D Land

Super Mario 3D Land certainly isn’t up there as one of the greatest 3D Mario games of all time, but it was released very early on in its lifespan and showed the merit a bite-sized adventure could bring. It was the first 3D Mario platformer on a handheld device since Super Mario 64 DS, and the first original one. For being on a portable console, Super Mario 3D Land was a rather high-quality experience with lots of levels and post-game content to boot. It goes a bit light in the creativity department, but it’s still a joy to play in short bursts – especially on the go, since the 3DS is generally much easier to carry with you than the Switch.

Mario Kart 7

Mario Kart 7, likewise, isn’t often at the top of people’s Mario Kart tier lists. That said, we still consider it one of the best 3DS games of all time. It added underwater racing plus gliding to the series, and though they don’t change up the gameplay loop much, they do add a layer of spectacle that was eventually capitalized on in Mario Kart 8 a few years later. It also introduced iconic courses like Wuhu Loop, Music Park, and its own version of Rainbow Road. There are some baffling decisions here, though – Waluigi Pinball is in the game, but not Waluigi, for instance. Still, this game’s online servers were decently active right until the end, which goes to show how well-loved this game was.

Kid Icarus: Uprising

Kid Icarus Uprising absolutely deserves its spot as one of the best 3DS games. After Pit’s appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, game director Masahiro Sakurai was tasked with creating a full-fledged universe and adventure for Kid Icarus. It succeeded spectacularly, featuring a generally likeable cast of characters, fully voiced levels and cutscenes, a great story (even if it takes a few chapters to really get going), fantastic music, local and online multiplayer, and even a line of obscure AR Cards you could use in the game. This title is incredibly well-liked, but the 3DS may not have been the right system for it – the controls do feel just a little bit cramped, and it’d hugely benefit from a Switch (or Switch 2) remake with dual control sticks. Nothing has been announced at the time of writing, so maybe putting this out there will summon it into existence?

Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon

Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are arguably some of the best 3DS games, at least in the Pokemon series. The other Pokemon games are great too, but we figured it’d cheapen the list a bit if two or three of the top ten were Pokemon. Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon have a large amount of content; a fairly involved main game plus several post-game quests including the new Team Rainbow Rocket arc. They’re also the last games that include every single Pokemon that had been created up until that point, and they’re also the last non-remake games to feature Mega Evolution (unless you count Pokemon Legends Z-A, which isn’t out yet).

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a game that some would even argue is still the best the series has to offer. Regardless of whether that’s true or not, it is a fantastic Animal Crossing game with tons of content, and it’s right at home on the 3DS. It’s easy to pick up and play, but it’s just as easy to get lost in island interaction and decorating for a couple of hours too. You can’t place furniture outside like in New Horizons, so this game tends to focus more heavily on things like talking to villagers, planning Public Works Projects, and the like.

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS definitely doesn’t hold a candle to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but it’s still one of the best 3DS games of all time. It was the first truly portable entry in the Smash Bros. series, and even though the screen is small and the 3DS’ controls feel the slightest bit cramped for it, this game still holds up to this day. No story mode here, but the inclusion of the exclusive Smash Run mode gives this game something that the Wii U version doesn’t. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is still fun today – especially if you can link up wirelessly with friends.

Tomodachi Life

Tomodachi Life is one of the only games here whose series doesn’t have a follow-up on Switch – let’s hope that changes sometime soon. Tomodachi Life features a heavy emphasis on Miis, and lets you populate an island with custom Mii characters you can interact with. The game actually sold quite well, so it’s surprising that we haven’t seen a sequel just yet.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is the last original top-down Zelda game at the time of writing, and with games like Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom selling tons of units, that may remain the case for years to come. Still, A Link Between Worlds is one of the best 3DS games, and it proves that 2D Zelda still works even in a world with full-fledged open world games. You can tackle the game’s dungeons in any order you want – and there’s plenty of extra content to boot, including side quests and more. The dungeons and level design are some of the best the series has to offer, and it all still holds up today.

Kirby: Planet Robobot

Kirby: Planet Robobot is a follow-up to Kirby Triple Deluxe, and it’s generally seen as not only superior to it, but one of the best Kirby games of all time. It earned second place on our ranking, just barely losing out to Kirby and the Forgotten Land. This game’s titular Robobot Armor isn’t just a gimmick – it’s a new way to play levels, and it feels like a powerful but balanced departure from traditional Kirby gameplay. Planet Robobot’s level design is among the best in the series, and the game features surprisingly creative bosses, a good story, and an excellent ending. It’s also got some of the most involved amiibo support of any Kirby game out there. This one’s definitely worth your time – it’s absolutely one of the best 3DS games.

Fire Emblem Awakening

Fire Emblem Awakening was both a resurgence and a turning point for the franchise as a whole. Despite being one of the earlier titles on 3DS, the game has aged well, and several of its characters have since become iconic thanks to their inclusion in the Super Smash Bros. series. Fire Emblem Awakening’s tactical RPG gameplay is still top-notch, and it includes a bunch of settings to help you tailor it to your liking.

There you have it – our top 10 best 3DS games. With all of that said, there are far more than ten good games on the system. One thing we didn’t include here was remakes or ports – Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World, Star Fox 64 3D, and to a slightly smaller extent Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D are all great games. They got their start on other consoles, though, so we figured we’d section these off in another category rather than taking up spots on the main list.

Pokemon also had a huge influence on the 3DS, and though we only included Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, the other titles certainly rank among the best 3DS games, too. X and Y were the first games released for the system, and they introduced 3D graphics and models to mainline Pokemon for the very first time. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were great remakes of the GBA originals and introduced many more Mega Evolutions. Sun and Moon have a more coherent story than their Ultra counterparts, but are missing a lot of content from them.

What do you think are the best 3DS games of all time? Is there one in particular that you think should have been on our list? If so, let us know in the comments down below.

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