Everyone’s talking about the Nintendo Switch. But Nintendo hasn’t exactly forgotten its premiere handheld device, the Nintendo 3DS. This year saw new a Pokémon, Fire Emblem, and even a new Metroid release. Nintendo launched a New Nintendo 2DS XL earlier this year, providing all the functionality but without the almost always ancillary 3D feature, providing the perfect starter set for kids.
Oh, and all the games below are good for all ages, though RPGs like Pokémon require strong reading skills.
The Dragon Quest series is renowned for its classic, cartoony art style and traditional JRPG mechanics – many of which we owe to this venerable series. Dragon Quest 8 is considered one of the best, if not the best, of the series, originally launching on PlayStation 2. The open world design isn’t as amazing these days but the story-telling and gameplay are still rock-solid, and remain some of the best in any RPG.
Not very many people actually owned a Wii U, so I’ll forgive you if you missed out on 2015’s Yoshi’s Woolly World. But rectify that this year with this 3DS version. Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World lacks the cooperative multiplayer but retains the whimsical art style and puzzle-filled level designs.
As it says in the title, the next installment to Story of Seasons features three different towns to visit, socialize, and barter in while growing your own farm. Story of Seasons is by the makers of the beloved Harvest Moon series, which largely inspired last year’s big indie hit, Stardew Valley.
The once niche strategy-RPG Fire Emblem series has surged in popularity on the Nintendo 3DS thanks to 2013’s Awakening and 2016’s Fates. This year we actually got a remake of the second ever Fire Emblem game, 1991’s Fire Emblem Gaiden. It featured the same great chess-like combat while also adding unique 3D dungeon crawls.
With several Zelda 3DS titles under their belt, developers Grezzo branched out with their own original game this year. Ever Oasis combines Zelda-like exploration and dungeon crawling with cultivating your own little town of shops and products. The two halves are well-integrated, as attracting and pleasing customers results in a bigger roster of potential party members to aid you in your quest to bring life to the desert.
The Monster Hunter series is known for being hardcore, challenging, demanding, and nearly inscrutable to newcomers. But this spin-off is nothing like that, instead utilizing a Pokémon formula in letting you tame the beasts to fight with you. The large 3D zones often bring the 3DS to its knees, but Monster Hunter Stories offers a content-rich adventure that expertly combines the best parts of both franchises.
Metroid fans have been clamoring for a new 2D Metroid for well over a decade. For now we’ll settle with this remake of 1991’s Metroid 2. The old black and white Game Boy title has been completely rebuilt to take advantage of the 3DS’ hardware and controls, while still retaining the classic 2D gameplay.
It’s Minecraft. If you have kids and you own (or will own) a 3DS, there’s a good chance they’re asking for it. Minecraft was previously available on every gaming device on the planet, with Nintendo 3DS as the last holdout. Note that it does require either the New Nintendo 3DS or New Nintendo 2DS.
It’s been awhile since the last Professor Layton game. Turns out the poor Professor has been kidnapped, and it’s up to his equally adept daughter Katrielle to solve a series of puzzles and quests to find him in her own adventure.
Pokémon X and Y never did get the formerly common third edition, which served to enhance and remix that generation of Pokémon. We’re returning to form with Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, offering lots of new content and a good excuse to return to Alola for Pokémon fans. You won’t find any new Pokémon, but old ones will make new appearances, not to mention the ability to catch every single Legendary Pokémon.