The 35 Best 3DS Games of All Time

Nintendo / ONE37pm

Nintendo went ahead and offered the ultimate 3D upgrade for its longstanding DS handheld once March 27, 2011, rolled around. The sleek Nintendo 3DS upped the ante for fans of portable gaming by offering itself as a stereoscopic 3D-powered machine where the use of 3D glasses is nonexistent. Being able to play Nintendo's long line of first-party IPs within 3D rereleases and entirely new series entries was and is still a mind-blowing endeavor. The 3DS software library is packed to the brim with so many great experiences that cover platformers, RPGs, puzzlers, and so much more. We're here to shine a much-deserved spotlight on 35 of those games from one of the greatest handled consoles ever conceived. Here are the best 3DS games of all time.

RELATED: The 26 Best DS Games of All Time

Best 3DS Games

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1. ‘Super Mario 3D Land’

Mario's grand debut on the 3DS came in the form of this platformer that combines the best of both 2D and 3D gameplay styles. Super Mario 3D Land retains all the amusing hopping and bopping of previous games in the series and does it while adding in a bunch of cool costumes to expand on Mario's usable items. Getting access back to the famed Tanooki Suit provides the utmost joy in this game, plus that tricky blue & white boomerang always comes in great usage to knock down a row of enemies & nab some far-off goodies. Super Mario 3D Land is one of the best 3DS games due to its amazing level design, happy-go-lucky atmosphere, and unique 3D visual effects.

Buy Now, $29.99

2. ‘Animal Crossing: New Leaf’

Animal Crossing: New Leaf brought the cutesy life simulation elements of the GameCube original to life on the 3DS with a host of new features worth praising. Getting the chance to rule as the mayor of your own miniature town is one of those integral gameplay additions - it feels so good to build up your community and create laws in order to keep things running smoothly. All the fun character and home customization elements remain intact here, plus the ability to link up with other players and visit other towns showed off just how creative Animal Crossing's fanbase truly is.

Buy Now, $33.15

3. ‘The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D’

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is already close to perfection in its N64 form. Once it transitioned over to the 3DS, it received a bunch of quality-of-life changes that made it much more accessible and enjoyable. The touchscreen makes inventory management more of a breeze, the gyroscopic technology provides extra preciseness to aiming, and the 3D visuals expectedly pop off the screen. And on the gameplay front, those "Master Quest" dungeon layouts, the "Boss Challenge" mode, and the refinements made to the once annoying "Water Temple" dungeon make this N64 classic even better.

Buy Now, $31.23

4. ‘The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D’

Since Nintendo made sure to bring Ocarina of Time to the 3DS, it's only right that it did the exact same thing with its trippier and much darker successor in Majora's Mask. This highly enhanced take on the N64 original keeps all the good stuff and makes sure to refine all the mechanics that called for them. Boss weak points became even easier to spot, "The Song of Double Time" got altered to become more beneficial towards gameplay progression, and saving at owl statues got thrown in to make players' lives so much easier here. Majora's Mask 3D is one of the best 3DS games and Legend of Zelda remasters we've ever played.

Buy Now, $33.89

5. ‘The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds’

Once we finally got an original entry in The Legend of Zelda series, we got a spiritual successor to one of the greatest SNES games of all time. A Link Between Worlds sees Link attempt to take down the evil sorcerer Yuga and keep him from reviving his mortal enemy Ganon. Exploring well-designed dungeons, collecting essential gear, and swinging your sword at countless foes is the name of the game here as usual. All that stuff is great, but messing around with the mechanic that allows you to merge into walls as a 2D painting is even greater. Venturing through the mysterious parallel world of Lorule gives this game its finest attribute.

6. ‘Picross 3D: Round 2’

Picross is one of the activities that's captivating for players of any and all ages. Picross 3D on the DS brought that style of puzzle play to plenty of players and that same audience got another serving of that goodness with this 3D sequel. Picross 3D: Round 2 features 300+ puzzles that challenge you to paint and break away blocks in order to unearth unique 3D objects and characters. The Nintendo-themed puzzles always stick out as our fave ones to solve here, plus the satisfaction that comes from blowing up a whole column/row is unmatched.

7. ‘Fire Emblem: Awakening’

Fire Emblem works so well in handheld form. And on a list of the best 3DS games, there are two mainline series entries we have to highlight here. The first one we have to show a ton of love for is Fire Emblem Awakening, which gets tons of adoration for being one of the best RPGs, one of the best Fire Emblem games, and the game responsible for boosting 3DS sales into the hemisphere. The series truly got boosted to become one of Nintendo's very best thanks to this franchise installment. The riveting plot, high production values, and captivating combat push this game to uncontested greatness (those moments of party member permadeath broke out hearts way too many times, though...). YOU THE GOAT, CHROM!

Buy Now, $45.62

8. ‘Fire Emblem Fates’

The dueling kingdoms of Hoshido and Nohr come into the spotlight here among two Fire Emblem games that fall under a central storyline. Fire Emblem Fates went for the Pokémon dual-release formula and it worked pretty well as both Birthright and Conquest are equally amazing strategy RPGs. Playing both games means fans will be treated to all the best elements of the Fire Emblem series and the debuting "My Castle" feature. Conquest provides more of a challenge, so we had a bit more fun with that Fire Emblem Fates variation. Shout out to the Revelation DLC for putting a nice bow on the epic storyline produced by both games.

Buy Now, $42.25

9. ‘Pokémon Sun and Moon’

There's a ton of fun to be had as a Pokémon trainer exploring the vast Alola region. Pokémon Sun and Moon make that locale your main source of pocket monster collecting, battling, and upgrading. The reason why love this era of Pokémon is due to its three main starters (WE LOVE YOU, LITTEN!), the newly introduced "Alolan Forms" of familiar creatures, and those devastating "Z-Moves" that helped us out in a pinch during tougher trainer battles. And when it comes to characters and storytelling, Pokémon Sun and Moon can lay claim to having one of the best in the entire series.

Buy Now, $36.95

10. ‘Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon’

And then came Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. These enhanced renditions of the aforementioned games are on our list of the best 3DS games for good reason. Delving back into the Hawaii-inspired Alola region is just as fun as it was before due to some welcome changes. Getting access to the uber-powerful new "Ultra Beasts" put us onto one of the weirdest yet endearing Pokémon of all time, Blacephalon. Plus surfing the seas to obtain "Battle Points," unlocking new Z-Moves, and being able to interact with all the legendary Pokémon that have debuted up until this game makes this the definitive version of one of our favorite eras in the series.

Buy Now, $48.57

11. ‘Pokémon X and Y’

Pokémon fans were eating real good during the height of the 3DS era! Now we have to show some adulation to the third set of mainline games centered on catching 'em all. Pokémon X and Y take place within the France-inspired Kalos region, which is home to the debuting Fairy-type creatures that we got a ton of mileage out of. What makes these dual Pokémon games such bangers is the fact that they marked the usage of fully 3D polygonal graphics, which makes all the back-and-forth turn-based combat and open-world exploration more visually appealing. That "Mega Evolution" feature (the Charizard with the blue flames goes too hard!) is pretty dope here, too.

Buy Now, $40.90

12. ‘Xenoblade Chronicles 3D’

This Wii port of one of the greatest JRPGs ever made is so demanding that Nintendo released an upgraded 3DS just to make sure it could handle it. And in the process, we got an amazing port of Xenoblade Chronicles that lived on a handheld juggernaut in 3D form. The same heroic exploits of Shulk and his fellow party members in the vast realms of the Bionis and the Mechonis will and always will be top-tier RPG material. We love a good handheld RPG and we dame sure loved everything about Xenoblade Chronicles 3D.

Buy Now, $60.28

13. ‘Mario Kart 7’

For the longest time before this kart racer came into our lives, we wanted the ability to customize our Mushroom Kingdom-legal vehicles. Mario Kart 7 finally answered our wish with a nice variety of kart bodies, wheels, and gliders that thankfully became a staple of the series thereafter. On the gameplay side of things, we enjoyed each and every aspect of this handheld racer thanks to the presence of these iconic tracks - Neo Bowser City, Bowser's Castle, and DS Waluigi Pinball. Mario Kart 7 is more of the same zany arcade kart racing we've always loved from the Mushroom Kingdom gang.

Buy Now, $29.94

14. ‘Monster Hunter Stories’

Capcom's Monster Hunter series primarily relies on nail-bitingly challenging action RPG clashes with the biggest fictional creatures ever conceived. Monster Hunter Stories switches the formula up to invite fans of turn-based RPGs to the fold and it works like a charm. The Pokémon elements are strong here and give Monster Hunter fans a fun way to align themselves with the massive creatures they fought within the mainline games. Monster Hunter Stories is a wonderful spinoff that offers a completely different visual style and battle structure worth investing your time & energy into.

Buy Now, $82.99

15. ‘Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate’

Monster Hunter 4 is already a fine series entry on its own. But sadly, the first two initial versions of it remained as Japanese exclusives...until 2015. All praises are due to Capcom for porting the best version of this multiplayer monster battler to the New Nintendo 3DS. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is one of those games that embarrass you once you find out the total play time you've put into it. Like most of you reading this right now, we spent hundreds of hours putting our Charge Blade to good use while we aided our buddies against a rampaging Diablos.

Buy Now, $57.97

17. ‘Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon’

Luigi's undying love for his brother has pushed him to go out of his way to seek out his whereabouts whenever he goes missing. Another one of the best 3DS games that cater to Mario Bros. fans everywhere is Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, which brings back all the ghost-sucking via the Poltergust 5000 action we loved from the first game. The biggest attraction here is multiplayer - linking up with four players to handle some haywire spirits and suck 'em up for good is so damn fun. Nintendo was right to trust developer Next Level Games with bringing this Luigi's Mansion sequel to life.

Buy Now, $29.99

18. ‘Super Smash Bros. for 3DS’

Before Super Smash Bros. finally made its way onto the Wii U, Nintendo opted to give 3DS owners first dibs. And in its smallest playable form to date, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS ended up turning out an amazing fighting game experience that was way way better than it had any right to be. You already know the deal here if you're familiar with the series - icons from Nintendo's vault and those of popular third-party publishers come together to throw hands for our enjoyment. Thanks to this series entry, we got to act out our childhood fantasy battles among Mega Man, Pac-Man, Little Mac, and more. This handheld multiplayer brawler is certainly one of the best 3DS games we've ever poured plenty of hours into.

Buy Now, $28.91

19. ‘New Super Mario Bros. 2’

New Super Mario Bros. 2 totally gave us Goldfinger vibes when it was revealed. And once we finally got it into our hands, we couldn't help but feel like Scrooge McDuck with all those gold coins in our midst. Rescuing Princess Peach from Bowser and the Koopalings is the usual routine here. But our main focus for this side-scrolling platformer is all about collecting an insane amount of golden coins in as many fun ways as possible. Coin Rush Mode really hit that sweet spot for us in this one and the familiar mechanics of past Super Mario Bros. games did the exact same.

Buy Now, $34.99

20. ‘Kid Icarus: Uprising’

Now did this game give us the meanest hand cramps of all time? Yes! But we still enjoyed every painful playthrough of this incredible return for Nintendo's winged savior. Kid Icarus: Uprising (which was actually directed by the father of Super Smash Bros., Masahiro Sakurai) combines traditional third-person action segments and exciting on-rail shooting segments that evoke the best parts of Star Fox. The hilarious dialogue that plays out between Pit and Palutena makes all the hyperactive gameplay all the more enjoyable. It's about damn time this game got an upgraded Switch port, right? It's one of the best 3DS games and action/adventure titles on the system after all.

Buy Now, $151.16

21. ‘Bravely Default’

Bravely Default is one of those modern-day JRPGs that offers a great homage to the trendsetters of the genre while trying something new to present evolutionary mechanics. The combat mechanics in particular give this game its most revered feature - carefully selecting between your party's "Brave" and "Default" options leads to tide-turning moments that place things back in your favor. Playing around with the long list of characters "Jobs" also plays a massive part in this game's battle system being one of the very best in the genre. Rounding out the excellent package here are crisp visuals, an enticing story, and an illustrious soundtrack to boot.

Buy Now, $49.19

22. ‘Metroid: Samus Returns’

If you kept an OG Game Boy on you for those long car rides, we're pretty sure you had Metroid II: Return of Samus in your game rotation. One of the best 3DS games of all time is a remarkable remake of that classic - Metroid: Samus Returns. Samus Aran made her welcome return here for some traditional "Metrodvania" exploration and close encounters with unrelenting alien bugs & more. Her new counterattack and the ability to aim her Arm Cannon around in any direction greatly improved upon the Samus from the Game Boy counterpart. Nintendo and developers MercurySteam & Nintendo EPD did a bang-up job here with this highly improved take on one of Samus' oldest adventures.

Buy Now, $39.49

23. ‘Shovel Knight’

The first consoles Shovel Knight made its way onto were the Wii U, PC, and 3DS. And for some reason, we really enjoyed our time with this game the most on Nintendo's 3D handheld juggernaut. This loving ode to the pixelated classics of the 8-bit era still remains one of the best platformers of all time. What you have here are cool Mega Man stage layouts, that unforgettable downward strike/bounce maneuver from DuckTales, and an original cast of characters that we grew to love. Shovel Knight received so much post-game content and now, in its complete state, offers a fulfilling retro gaming experience for old heads that like a platforming challenge.

Buy Now, Price Varies

24. ‘Pushmo’

When it comes to the long list of super wholesome games that thrived on the 3DS, this cute and cuddly puzzler is definitely among the best. Pushmo kept our attention thanks to an amalgamation of eye-popping cartoon visuals and manageable puzzles that were never too easy or difficult to overcome. Pushing blocks in each and every direction to rescue all those cuddly little tykes is still a blast to this very day. Major props to all those devious puzzle makers that took full advantage of the game's "Pushmo Studio!"

25. ‘Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward’

Japanese publisher/developer Spike Chunsoft definitely had a hit on its hands when it pushed out three quality games within the Zero Escape franchise. The second entry in the visual novel/adventure game series, Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, certainly kept us on the edge of our seats from start to finish. This game forces players to make some monumental decisions that cause its story to go in wildly different directions. And on top of all that, you had to really put your thinking cap on during some intense escape room scenarios. Sweating profusely while trying to figure out the best way to solve each one of those puzzles kept us on our toes in this one.

Buy Now, Price Varies

26. ‘Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call’

The Final Fantasy games have blessed our ears and souls with some of the most moving orchestral arrangments we've ever heard. Filling up a rhythm game with those same songs worked pretty well in the form of the Theatrhythm Final Fantasy games. The second series entry made its stay on the 3DS and made sure to add even more fan-favorite tunes to keep us busy. Using the touchscreen to stay on beat while cutesy versions of FF's greatest party members explore & battle onscreen is such a joyous activity that we still can't get enough of. You haven't truly lived until you've tapped your heart out to the tune of "J-E-N-O-V-A."

Buy Now, $17.77

27. ‘Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology’

It was quite a surprise to see the original DS Radiant Historia get ported over to the 3DS with enough content to warrant a second purchase. Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is the definitive way to play a JRPG that deals extensively in time travel, light puzzle solving, and quality grid-based and turn-based combat. This port adds even more content to wade through with the inclusion of a new timeline worth of events peruse through, new music, and a entirely new character.

Buy Now, $79.99

28. ‘Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy’

The Professor Layton series always did right by us by scratching our puzzler itch on the regular. Once it moved into the prequel portion of its chronology, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy arrived as the final and best part of that amazing trilogy. Layton, Luke, and Emmy's journey together to find out the truth behind the Azran provides one of the better storylines within the series. The puzzles that take center stage here are the best type of challenges that are equal parts fun and deceptive - "Bibliofiling" and "A Boatload of Trouble" are just a few of our faves from that brainteaser collection.

Buy Now, $189.97

29. ‘Mario & Luigi: Dream Team'

Another one of the best 3DS games that hail from its plentiful RPG library is the fourth entry in the Mario & Luigi franchise. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team takes place in Luigi's dream realm, which is fully explorable by Mario and "Dreamy Luigi." The side-scrolling platforming stayed great here, but the cool gimmicky gameplay portions really stuck out as the best parts of this trippy caper. Rolling around a bunch of Luigi's into a wrecking ball and balancing Mario atop a tower of Luigi's to topple over some baddies is so damn fun. The active turn-based battles are just the cherry on top of this hilarious Mario & Luigi dream world trek.

Buy Now, $27.22

30. ‘Shin Megami Tensei IV’

The Shin Megami Tensei games have always kicked our ass, but we're self-admitted gluttons for punishment. So we're always fully prepared to tackle the punishing difficulty spikes each game in the series throws our way. Shin Megami Tensei IV took us to the demon-filled Kingdom of Mikado for a power struggle between angelic and demonic forces. Exploiting demon weaknesses to gain the upper hand and an extra turn in battle makes each skirmish in this tough JRPG so captivating. Tackling this game's dark plot while amassing new demons to fight alongside provides a hefty amount of gameplay time we're glad we indulged in.

Buy Now, $62.35

31. 'Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse'

We weren't expecting a follow-up to the last game on our list of the best 3DS games, but we're glad it's actually a thing we can go back to for some gripping JRPG action. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse goes the full alternate timeline route with its storyline for a new adventure within a post-apocalyptic world. Most of the elements present in this game's predecessor have been afforded quality-of-life improvements, which makes the rest of the game's familiar combat mechanics and strong storytelling even more rewarding this time around.

Buy Now, $77.68

32. 'Bye-Bye BoxBoy!'

Nintendo development studio HAL Laboratory isn't just "the devs that make all those Kirby games." Once they took a quick detour from the world's most recognize pink ball of fun and chaos, the studio moved into the puzzle realm with the BoxBoy! series. The final installment, Bye-Bye BoxBoy!, is a rousing goodbye that mashes up all the best parts of the series and then some. Helping Qbby save Qbabies never gets stale as the game's cool suite of powerups, different conditions for multiple stages, and addictive box creation puzzle solving keep things interesting.

33. 'Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS'

We always wanted to map out our own Super Mario Bros. course. Nintendo must have heard us and millions of platforming fans around the world, which is why it dropped one of the best game creation titles ever - Super Mario Maker. The 3DS version allows us to become master course makers in the palm of our hands - we've spent every waking day with our heads down trying to finish the most devious Super Mario Bros. 3 stages ever created. Playing through pre-built levels and the seemingly unlimited array of courses built by the game's online community will always keep us entertained.

Buy Now, $24.98

34. 'Kirby Triple Deluxe'

Now let's get back to HAL Laboratory's bread and butter! Kirby: Triple Deluxe provides the ultimate triple serving of top-notch gameplay styles for Nintendo's pink crusader. Firstly, you get the traditional side-scrolling gameplay with all the power-stealing mechanics we've always enjoyed. Secondly, you're treated to a pretty wild fighting game called Kirby Fighters that's way more fun than expected. And finally, you get a cute little rhythm game called Dedede's Drum Dash that gives Kirby's arch nemesis/best buddy the time to bang out some classic series tunes on his trusty drums.

Buy Now, $32.08

35. 'Rhythm Heaven Megamix'

And for the final pick on our list of the best 3DS games, we have to acknowledge one of the handheld console's greatest rhythm minigame collections in Rhythm Heaven Megamix. Just imagine WarioWare having a baby with Elite Beat Agents and this is what you get - an amazing gathering of awesome rhythm challenges that not only sound great but look great as well. Playing table tennis, cutting through dark foes as a samurai, and punching flying objects as a dojo master while staying on the beat are just a sample size offering of the random activities you can nod your head to while playing this gem.

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