Despite all the hubbub about Microsoft’s and Sony’s new-gen consoles around this time of year, there are still plenty of reasons to pay attention to your dear old Nintendo 3DS handheld. The system had a great year in 2014 with plenty of excellent games releasing for the console, including everything from platformers to role-playing games to fighters. Sure, the 3DS isn’t as shiny and new as the home consoles flying off store shelves, but the portable system is a great thing to have in your pocket when you’re out and about. With so many games on the console this year, which 3DS games reign supreme?
We’ve rounded up the best Nintendo 3DS games that launched in 2014. Read on to find which ones make a great fit for you.
1. Bravely Default
This JRPG takes the classic turn-based combat system and gives it a much-needed tune up to make battles far more interesting. In Bravely Default, you can “Brave” (attack or use a move) or “Default” (pocket a turn and defend). Through strategic use, players can empty their pool of turns by Braving multiple times in a row or build their pool to high levels for an all-out assault by Defaulting, leading to far more strategic battles than the genre is known for. As complicated as it sounds, it’s incredibly simple and intuitive in practice, and it makes grinding against low-level enemies a quick and easy process. The unique combat system adds some spice to an otherwise staling genre. The story may not be anything special, but with Bravely Default, you’re there for the classes and combat and not much more.
Price: $33.24 (17 percent off MSRP)
- Unique combat system
- Funny dialogue
- Pretty aesthetics
- Tons of classes
- Lackluster story
- Sexual innuendos
2. Super Smash Bros.
Nintendo is a company revered for its amazing series. Sure, The Legend of Zelda and Metroid might be bright and cartoony compared to franchises like Gears of War and Halo, but the world needs video games like that! As long as the quality of games is excellent (and with Nintendo, it almost always is), who cares that the 3DS is geared toward younger, casual players, especially when Super Smash Bros., a game that borrows characters and elements from Nintendo’s (and others’) best video game series, is a thing? Smash Bros. has been my favorite fighting game since I was a wee lad, and now what’s possibly the best version yet is on a portable console in glorious cell-shaded art, which means people like me are stoked. With a huge roster, tons of unlockables, multiplayer battles and endless hours of fun, what more could you ask for?
Price: $36.42 (9 percent off MSRP)
- Dozens and dozens of hours of play
- Tons of unlockables
- Multiplayer battles
- Smash Bros. is finally portable
- Not as robust as Wii U version
- Lackluster Smash Run mode
- Removed fighters
- Four-player battles get convoluted
3. Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire
If you don’t love the Pokémon games, I question what kind of childhood you had. People like to make fun of the unconventional designs of the new Pokémon, but the truth is that weird-looking Pokémon have been around since Pokémon Red/Blue hit store shelves in the ’90s. Another thing that hasn’t changed is how fun these games are. I’ve poured close to a thousand hours into the series. There’s nothing quite like breeding, training and raising hundreds of fighting critters in a quest to be the very best. Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire bring with them new mega evolutions, the 3D graphics of Pokémon X/Y and new features to make capturing and fighting Pokémon even more fun. If you’re itching to play through the original stories of Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, there’s no better time than now to nab Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire.
- More mega evolutions
- Primal Groudon and Primal Kyogre
- Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire remade in 3D
- New features from old games
- No new Pokémon
- Needs even more mega evolutions
- Somewhat easy
- Distracting content
4. Fantasy Life
If you’ve played Animal Crossing, you might have an idea of what Fantasy Life is like: Live your life in a fantasy setting, interacting with NPCs in a cute, virtual world. Fantasy Life presents so much to see and do that it might be overwhelming. Go fight monsters, fish, cook, clean, fulfill a wish and more through a lengthy and addictive game stuffed to the brim with content. Like Animal Crossing, Fantasy Life is a component of your real life, requiring constant attention and play to succeed, and that’s what makes it great. Quests might get repetitive after a while, and the story can be a bit slow, but with so much to do, there’s no real reason to complain.
Price: $37.85 (5 percent off MSRP)
- Great class system
- Genuinely funny
- Awesome art direction
- The Animal Crossing game you’ve always wanted
- Quests can be tedious
- Slow pacing
- AI partners run into walls
- Dangerously addictive
5. Kirby: Triple Deluxe
We’ve all played a Kirby game by now, right? For those who aren’t familiar with the series, Kirby is a cute pink ball with shoes and a face who can suck up his enemies to gain their powers. In Kirby: Triple Deluxe, there’s plenty of sucking, as there are more than 20 different enemy types to swallow and gain the powers of. Triple Deluxe features charming, colorful graphics and sounds, and it uses the handheld’s 3D capabilities to great effect. To the hardcore gamers out there, be warned: The game is a breeze, so if you’re looking for a challenge, you might find yourself yawning through this one. Fortunately, the additional gameplay modes up the challenge and provide a distraction from the story.
Price: $29.45 (16 percent off MSRP)
- Great graphics
- Sound is excellent
- Fun use of 3D functionality
- Plenty of gameplay modes
- Too easy
- Lame campaign
- Combat can get boring
- Bosses provide no challenge