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The Greatest Nintendo 3DS Games Of All Time, Ranked

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The Greatest Nintendo 3DS Games Of All Time, Ranked

That's a wrap: the Nintendo 3DS family has officially been discontinued by Nintendo, nine-and-a-half years after the original model of the autostereoscopic dual-screen handheld rolled off the production line and into stores.

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We already ranked the 3DS family as the number one handheld of all time in our recent list of, obvs, the greatest handheld consoles of all time. It's been a great system, offering amazing original games, a fantastic Virtual Console selection covering Nintendo and SEGA platforms, and backwards compatibility with what feels like an endless array of DS classics.

We'll miss the 3DS - but there's no doubt that the success of Nintendo's home/handheld hybrid successor, the Switch, has put it in the shade for a few years now. Nevertheless, it's racked up sales of over 75 million, so it's not like the 3DS hasn't been a hit - and to see the console off, here's our list of the ten best games you can play on it, right now.

Pullblox / Credit: Nintendo, Intelligent Systems
Pullblox / Credit: Nintendo, Intelligent Systems
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10. Pullblox

Known as Pushmo in parts of the world that aren't the UK, Pullblox is an addictive puzzler where you have to move stacked blocks around in order to reach stranded, um, smaller versions of you. I hesitate to say children, cos that sounds way creepier than this game is. Its cute visuals might have you thinking you're in for an easy ride here, but Pullblox can be quite the brain-tester, as you only have so many moves available to you per level. As a digital-only game, be sure to grab this for your 3DS before Nintendo closes the console's eShop.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies / Credit: Capcom
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies / Credit: Capcom
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9. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies

The fifth main game in Capcom's Ace Attorney series, you could definitely summarise Dual Destinies as more of the same, since much of this one plays out in a similar fashion to prior entries: you investigate, you go to court, you win. The twist comes via the game's trio of protagonists: Phoenix Wright, Apollo Justice and Anthea Cykes. Each has their own unique way of examining a witness, with Cykes' 'Mood Matrix' able to see how underlying emotions do or don't align with what's being said.

Mario Kart 7 / Credit: Nintendo
Mario Kart 7 / Credit: Nintendo
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8. Mario Kart 7

The best Mario Kart game before 8 came along and raced into first place? Probably. Mario Kart 7 - the 3DS's best-selling game with over 18 million copies sold - introduced hang-gliders, which today feel like they never weren't a thing in races; and diving underwater in this one doesn't represent going off-course, but potentially a viable shortcut. These additions aside, you could argue that Mario Kart 7 was pretty formulaic and brought no real progression to the series; to which I would reply, you're no fun whatsoever, and get out of my house.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf / Credit: Nintendo
Animal Crossing: New Leaf / Credit: Nintendo
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7. Animal Crossing: New Leaf

I'm not sure that being the mayor of a town is ever this chill IRL, but I'll take it. And the objective is sweetly simple: ensure that your town is a lovely place to live. That's it. I mean, there's stuff that needs doing to get to the point where your townsfolk are all existing in harmony, but this is Animal Crossing - none of it's there to stress you out. This is the game that gave the world Isabelle, too, for which we should be eternally thankful. Club LOL 4 Ever.

Picross 3D: Round 2 / Credit: HAL Laboratory, Nintendo
Picross 3D: Round 2 / Credit: HAL Laboratory, Nintendo

6. Picross 3D: Round 2

I love Picross, okay? And Picross 3D: Round 2 is probably my favourite Picross game. It's just a great way to fill two minutes, 20, or two hours, tapping away at its blocky puzzles, carving out all manner of objects and creatures, from simple shapes to famous Nintendo characters via cats and dogs and so much more. There's no need to rush - but if you want to set your skills against the clock, or go for a zero-mistakes run, you can. It's one of those games that doesn't look like much before you start playing it, but once it clicks will be a friend forevermore.

Pokémon X / Credit: Game Freak, The Pokémon Company, Nintendo
Pokémon X / Credit: Game Freak, The Pokémon Company, Nintendo

5. Pokémon X and Y

The second-best selling 3DS game(s) after Mario Kart 7, Pokémon X and Y delivered all the traditional gameplay fans of the franchise had come to expect, with just enough freshness to make the leap to three-dimensional, polygon-built graphics feel special. Mega Evolutions were stirred into the mix, and a greater level of character customisation was warmly received. The game's France-inspired setting of Kalos attracted praise, too, with locations like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre represented in-game by Pokémon universe equivalents.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds / Credit: Nintendo
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds / Credit: Nintendo

4. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

A direct sequel to the Super Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, A Link Between Worlds is one of few games that really made the best of the 3DS's stereoscopic display, which gave its dungeons a visible depth that really helped the player find their way through them. Its unique mechanic is that Link can merge with walls, becoming a painting-like version of himself to overcome obstacles and reach new areas. The popping in and out of the masonry never feels gimmicky, and is often at the very heart of this game's puzzle solving. Being able to rent items to open up new parts of the game world was great, too, giving A Link Between Worlds an openness, a freedom, that its SNES predecessor lacked. An essential - but then, everything in this list is, right?

Super Mario 3D Land / Credit: Nintendo
Super Mario 3D Land / Credit: Nintendo

3. Super Mario 3D Land

Bowser kidnaps Peach, Mario goes after: you know how the story goes. But in the tradition of the best Super Mario games, 3D Land is all about the journey rather than the destination. Made by the same Nintendo EAD team that'd guided Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel to classic status, this entry respects the past with its return of the Tanooki Suit, and also points to the future with its somewhat relaxed attitude to difficulty - it is truly a Mario game for all players, regardless of their experience with precision platforming.

Fire Emblem: Awakening / Credit: Intelligent Systems, Nintendo
Fire Emblem: Awakening / Credit: Intelligent Systems, Nintendo

2. Fire Emblem: Awakening

The first Fire Emblem on 3DS, Awakening might just be the best the series has ever been - although, Three Houses stans, please, dispute away in the comments. Intelligent Systems' and Nintendo SPD's tactical role-player merged winning gameplay with a compelling story and meticulously planned characters worth giving a damn about, and was suitably rewarded with a raft of near-perfect scores from critics. Did you dare to play on permadeath mode? Not this guy, no way. My heart couldn't take it.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D / Credit: Grezzo, Nintendo
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D / Credit: Grezzo, Nintendo

1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Whoa. What's this? A Nintendo 64 game as the best that the 3DS had to offer. I mean, kinda - but Ocarina of Time 3D is a remaster of the N64 title, spearheaded by Grezzo (who more recently were behind the Switch remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening). And it's rather more than your average remaster, too, with dungeons remixed and touch-screen compatibility for Link's tootling on the Ocarina of the title. Newly added cutscene clues hidden away inside lil statues help players find their way through a game that can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, and the 3D is fantastically implemented - if there's a little tear in your eye when taking those first steps onto Hyrule Field, it's okay.

As an improvement on one of the greatest video games of all time, there's no way this isn't the best game on 3DS, for me. But hey, other opinions are good. We don't have to agree - and there were a lot of other titles that just got squeezed out of this top ten (sorry, BoxBoy, so sorry). Whatever your favourite is, or was, on Nintendo's dearly departing handheld, I hope it brought you all the joy you wanted from it. The 3DS was a special console - and all that's left to say is, see ya.

Featured Image Credit: Capcom, Nintendo

Topics: Feature, Pokemon, Animal Crossing, list, Nintendo, The Legend of Zelda, Mario Kart

Mike Diver
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