The Nintendo 3DS hasn't been around for long, but it has managing to accrue quite the impressive gallery of games. Just a few months into 2013, we saw several great titles arrive for the handheld — everything from brawlers to tactical RPGs to ghost-hunting simulators. If you're thinking of buying one of the new, larger 3DS XLs, or would like a reason to get back into the swing of things with the 3DS you already own, check out our list of the Best 3DS Games of 2013.
This digital title would have fit right at home in the NES library. The story's as simple (and cliche), as they come — rescue the girl from the badguys. Once you get past that tired trope, however, you'll find that Gunman Clive is a fantastic side-scrolling, platforming shoot-em-up that was a big hit on iOS. There's a great rhythm to the action, deftly balancing gunplay and exploration. The bosses are memorable and fun to fight, and the game's self-described, "weird, artsy-looking 3D graphics" give it a unique visual style that's instantly recognizable.
For the first time in franchise history, Phoenix Wright ventured onto the 3DS. It's about time. The latest batch of capers boasted some of the most interesting and dramatic courtroom battles we've seen in the series, and the new cast of characters helped flesh out another perfectly charming storyline. Phoenix is only as good as the team behind him, and Dual Destinies had us feeling like a more crucial part of Wright's success than ever before.
Many gamers raised on old-school games complain about the modern game's tendency to hold your hand. Well, if Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan ever takes hold of your hand, it's so it can throw you into a volcano. This game is tough with a capitol T. You'll create your party of adventuring hopefuls and traverse a deadly dungeon. Careful planning is the key to success here. Assemble the wrong party, or equip them incorrectly, and you're going to be in trouble. Likewise, the game requires you to manually map out the dungeon's layout using the stylus. While this might sound tiresome, it's an oddly compelling aspect to the series. Filling in the map yourself makes you feel like a true adventurer as you mark down traps and hazards, praying to find that next exit or bountiful pile of treasure.
Over a decade ago we saw the green-clad plumber brother get his own title, Luigi's Mansion for the Gamecube. Nintendo went all-out crafting the sequel, taking everything great about the original and refining it while adding a slew of new elements to create an entirely superior experience. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon is a big game. The main storyline is quite lengthy, and you'll spend a lot of time busting ghosts and exploring dusty attics and forgotten rumpus rooms. There's always secrets to be found around every corner, making every moment feel exciting and new, and the game is generous about adding new gameplay elements as you progress. Plus, the added multiplayer is surprisingly good, offering tons of different game types for you and your pals to play by LAN, Wifi, or download play, which means that only one of you has to actually have the game for everyone to get to play it. It's a generous feature to add, and between the generous multiplayer and the lengthy main story, any 3DS owner thinking of not purchasing this game would be wrong ... dead wrong.
Another RPG willing to rough you up a bit, Fire Emblem: Awakening is the newest in the long line of Fire Emblem games. The tactical RPG series is known for its depth and harshness. Character death is permanent in most entries, and Awakening is no exception. For those gamers who are faint of heart or short of free time, Fire Emblem: Awakening provides a new gameplay mode that does away with permanent deaths, but most of the series fans will probably select the traditional difficulty, permadeath and all. Classes, skills, party roster, even weapon selection — there's a lot of nitpicky choices to be made, and the more thought you put into the game, the more you'll get out of it.
When it comes to gigantic, enjoyable time-suck games, few can compare the Animal Crossing. This year's New Leaf brought with it a range of new ways to play, including being the mayor of a town for the very first time. You could also interact with other players on the Mayor's Island, too, in addition to visiting friend's towns whenever you had something cool to share. Hours and hours could go by before you even noticed you gave up on the real world to live in this fictional one, and that's why it's one of 2013's Best 3DS Games.
It's been years since there's been a proper Shin Megami Tensei title, but this year Atlus finally brought Shin Megami Tensei 4 to life, and on the 3DS to boot. As RPGs go, the SMT series has always been incredibly solid, even if the off-shoots haven't been as consistently good. Full of plot twists and that same in-depth demon fusing battle system you've come to love, SMT 4 shows the series has plenty of life and legs left outside the Persona series. Hopefully we won't have to wait another ten years for a sequel.
In the year of Luigi, we'd seen more games featuring Mario's brother than we had in quite some time. With Mario and Luigi: Dream Team, both brothers were part of the action, but Luigi's role was that of the dreamer. Mario could interact with Luigi while he was dozing off somewhere, and use some special abilities in this dreamscape to overcome the odds and save Pi'illo Island. It's enjoyable, hilarious, and the perfect example of why Luigi is obviously the better Mario brother.
In a year packed full of stellar 3DS exclusives, perhaps none was more anticipated than Pokemon X and Y. Even after all these years, fans still keep coming back for more and more Pokemon action, and that's a testament to the quality and playability the franchise provides. Pokemon X and Y improved on an already (nearly) impeccable gameplay system, and easily gave us the best Pokemon adventure we've had in years.
It should come as no surprise The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds has made the cut for Best 3DS Games of 2013. A spiritual successor to A Link to the Past, this top-down adventure brought the core Zelda experience to life once more, but with a few new touches to make the challenge more palatable for newcomers. The magic is still there for this franchise, even after many, many iterations, and like Pokemon, that fans keep returning for more of Link's adventures only proves just how spectacular each and every journey has been.