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Best New 3DS games 2019: All the games you have to own for your New 3DS and 3DS XL

Vaughn Highfield Will Georgiadis
15 Mar 2019
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There’s a wealth of great games on Nintendo’s New 3DS and 3DS XL. Here’s our pick of the absolute must-haves

Nintendo’s New 3DS and New 3DS XL are fantastic handheld consoles, bolstered by a stellar collection of games. In addition to a batch of exclusive titles designed for the revamped system, there are over 480 old 3DS and 3DS XL games to choose from. With such a backlog of titles on offer, the real question is: which 3DS games are worth your time?

If you’re looking to get the most from your 3DS, New 3DS, 3DS XL or New 3DS XL, we’ve put together a list of the absolute must-have games around.

Best New 3DS and 3DS XL games

1. Super Mario 3D Land

You can’t have a Nintendo console without a Super Mario title at the heart of it. It may not have been the launch title the 3DS sorely needed but Super Mario 3D Land is unequivocally the best 3DS platformer around.

Making excellent use of the 3DS’s stereoscopic tech to play with perspective, Nintendo has crafted one of the finest entries in the Super Mario series yet. Not only is it a challenge to find all three Star Coins hidden in each level, but the game keeps your toes with new gameplay mechanics throughout. In this reviewer's opinion, once you reach the end of World 8, that’s really only the start of where Super Mario 3D Land takes off.

2. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies

Been itching to try a Phoenix Wright game? Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is the place to start. It gets right into the action from the word go, succinctly introducing the characters of the Ace Attorney series without confusing newcomers to who they are. The superb and absurd storylines that made past entries so fantastic remain, and the addition of new cross-examination techniques means that trials rarely become a bore.

3. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

Looking for a meaty RPG experience for your New 3DS? Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King is for you. A lovingly revamped version of the PS2 original, Journey of the Cursed King is both an excellent introduction into the long-running Dragon Quest series of JRPGs and meaty enough to keep you busy for hours on end.

Strangely, Square Enix didn’t really bother with the 3DS’s 3D capabilities, which does diminish the experience somewhat. But almost 13 years after its initial release, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King still stands the test of time.

4. Mario Kart 7

No list of top Nintendo games is complete without at least one Mario Kart. Mario Kart 7 is the only version of the hit racing game that you'll be able to play on the New 3DS, but that's okay, because it's also one of the best; the series' most familiar features return with some ingenious twists to make portable karting more entertaining than it has ever been.

With 32 tracks to choose from - 16 new, 16 reimagined from previous entries - Mario Kart 7 introduces gliders, underwater sections, and a brand new customisation system that allows the player to combine innumerable characters, vehicle bodies, and wheels. At its core, though, this is still the same chaotic, item-grabbing experience you remember from the good old days. 

5. Monster Hunter Generations

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was the best entry in the series in terms of accessibility, fun and scope, but now Generations has come along to knock it off its perch. As with every iteration of the Monster Hunter franchise, Capcom has squeezed out even more enjoyment from what many could see as a tired formula.

Featuring new special attacks, combat styles and the ability to play as Felynes, this is the most comprehensive handheld Monster Hunter yet. If you’ve been put off by the steep learning curves of past Monster Hunter titles, worry not: Generations eases you gently into the world of monster hunting. That’s not to say this entry is easygoing, though – veterans will still find all the tough challenges the series has become famous for.

6. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Having started as a simple remake of the SNES game The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Nintendo’s efforts grew to become the gargantuan The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Unlike previous Zelda games, A Link Between Worlds gives you complete free reign over the land of Hyrule. Here you can venture into any dungeon, in any order, at any point in time, and all your weapons and tools are rented instead of found.

It may sound extreme, but it’s an incredibly liberating experience and makes this entry shine far brighter than either Majora’s Mask and Ocarina of Time on 3DS.

7. Fire Emblem Fates

With Fire Emblem Heroes now out on Android, you may already have a hankering for this fantastic and unrelenting fantasy strategy game. Fates is arguably the best entry in the Fire Emblem series yet – a tough-as-nails strategic tale of kingdoms, romances and crushing defeats. Available in three different versions – just to confuse you even more – Fates’ alternate versions aren’t just different storylines, they’re tailored to appeal to slightly different player skill levels.

Fire Emblem or strategy newbies can sink their teeth into Birthright, while Conquest is there for veterans of the genre. Those who’d like a challenge, but can’t quite hack the toughness of Conquest can enjoy Revelation instead.

8. Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon

You can’t have a Nintendo handheld without a Pokémon game. While the 3DS already had one in the form of Pokémon X and Y, last year’s Sun and Moon represent a giant leap in what players expect of a Pokémon game. Having refined the Pokémon model over the past 20 years, Sun and Moon follow the similar template of playing a young Pokémon trainer as they amass gym badges, collect pokémon and become the best trainer in the world. This time around, however, Game Freak has shaken the series up with new “Z-moves”, expanded Mega Evolutions, “Ultra Beasts” and a new pet-like “Pokémon Refresh” feature.

Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon explore the same Polynesian/Hawaiian archipelago as their predecessors but feature an alternate timeline with a load of extra end-game content. You'll be tasked with dismantling an evil supergroup by the name of Team Rainbow Rocket (sound familiar?) and with hunting down several powerful Ultra Beasts that are scattered across Alola. You'll even travel through Wormholes to the home of the Ultra Beasts. Pretty crazy stuff. 

9. Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Moving into a new home can be an overwhelming experience. And that experience can be made worse when moving into a new town on your own – especially when you unexpectedly have to take on the role of Mayor. Thankfully the whole experience is softened by the return of familiar faces from across the Animal Crossing series and the relaxed pace at which events unfold.

Unlike a typical action-packed 3DS blockbuster, New Leaf only asks you to dip your toe in for a few minutes a day, as the world ticks by while you aren’t playing. Jump in and resolve some of the town’s issues, expand your home and help your residents – and then come back and do it all again tomorrow. It’s the perfect cure to the blues of adult life.

10. Super Mario Maker 3DS


Super Mario Maker on the Wii U had two shortcomings: It didn’t really teach you how to build levels, and it wasn’t portable. Super Mario Maker 3DS solves both of those problems in a succinct package that just keeps on giving.

If you’re hungry for endless Mario action, Super Mario Maker 3DS has you covered. Not only can you play your way through a meaty 100-level Challenge Mode – which has 200 challenges to complete – but there are endless downloadable, player-created levels to play through too. There’s also a helpful level-creation tutorial to build your own fiendish courses for others to complete. It’s literally the perfect game for any Mario fan.

11. Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward

Dark, sprawling and completely deranged, Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward is an expertly crafted visual-novel, escape-the-room game that just keeps on giving. As a pseudo-sequel to Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, in Virtue’s Last Reward you take on the role of a prisoner trapped in a warehouse with eight other prisoners, playing your part in the deadly Nonary Game hosted by your captor Zero.

To survive, you’ll have to escape various locked rooms via fiendish point-and-click puzzles, uncover who’s murdering other contestants and find out the truth behind Zero and the Nonary Game. It’s no ordinary adventure game, either, with multiple endings and time-jumping mechanics so you can go back and play out different story strands to solve the mystery. It’s not a game for those wanting something fast-paced and low on dialogue, but if you’re a lover of puzzles and a good story, Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward is for you.

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