Today I’m here to talk to you about 3DS games. If you’ve been listening to Simply Syndicated Gaming News, you’ll have heard me banging on about Nintendo’s current gameboy replacement for nearly two years now. I bought one because I’d never played a Pokemon game, and the 3DS was where you played them. Apart from using it to play Pokemon, this little 3DS and I have been on some amazing gaming journeys together, and I’ve barely shut up about them.

It turns out that all my talk actually had an effect on people. They’ve been out there buying 2 and 3 DSs and now they’re asking me what games they should get for it. That’s why it’s time for me to give you a run down of my top ten favourite 3DS games.

Before I start, there’s something I should mention. My entire 3DS game knowledge is based around the games that I own. If I don’t own it, I haven’t played it, and my guess is as good as yours as to whether or not it’s going to be worth playing. It’s also worth remembering that the 3DS game library is massive, and my personal 3DS library includes about thirty games. So this list is essentially my favourite games out of the ones I’ve bought. In no way should this be taken as a general top ten of all 3DS games, and also it’s in no particular order because ranking things like games, which can be so selective as to who they’re intended to appeal to, there’s really no point in saying one is two places higher in a ranking than another one.

Fire Emblem Awakening

Since becoming a 3DS owner I’ve been introduced to many new game genres that I’d never experienced before. I come from a background of PC based first person shooters and real time strategy games. A turn based strategy RPG has never been on my menu. Even as I say that genre now, I feel a little bored. A turn based strategy RPG. Dull. Luckily Fire Emblem games aren’t dull, and turn based strategy RPGs are awesome. I’ve reviewed this game in full so you should take a look at that if this game interested you at all.

Basically you’re controlling a group of character on their quest to kill whatever bad guy is doing a thing they don’t like. It’s been a while since I played it, go read the full review. Anyway, as your personal army trots around the place, they have battles with other armies. Those battles are turn based, rather than the real time play that I’m used to. This is all about positioning the right player in the right place at the right time. It feels a little arrogant to compare Fire Emblem to Chess, but in all honesty it is closer to Chess than to Age of Empires. Your characters develop skills and level up as you play. Think of it like Pokemon, but the battle take place on a game board. I don’t know why I have so much trouble explaining what Fire Emblem is, just watch the trailer.

Mario Tennis Open

I do like a good tennis game. Maybe it’s because I’m old enough to remember when there was no such thing as a good tennis game, or maybe I’m making up for a lack in sporting interest elsewhere in life. Either way, this is a pretty good tennis game. It’s about to be replaced by Mario Tennis Aces on the Switch, but that doesn’t matter really.

There’s not really much to it, it’s tennis, but with a cute Nintendo Mario style spin. The single player is enough to keep you going for hours, even if it really is just playing tennis. Have I made it clear that this is a tennis game yet?

You can play tournaments against well known Nintendo characters, as well as one on one exhibition matches, and here’s a pro shop where you can stock up on new equipment and clothing for your Mii. To buy items from the store, you need money, and that can be won by playing one of the single player special games. Four little games that are all based around hitting a tennis ball at, or through things.

How much play you get out of a game like this depends on how much you like playing tennis games. It’s the kind of game I like to have in my library just in case I fancy a quick go on it. That said, I ran the game just to take a look at it before I wrote this article, and ended up playing through a tournament. Perhaps it’s more addictive than I remember.

3D Streets of Rage

We used to have games that were classed as something called side scrolling beat ‘em ups. You would walk your character from left to right smashing in whoever crossed your path. There are some pretty famous games in this category like Double Dragon, Final Fight, and Streets of Rage.

In this example of the genre, gangs have taken over the city and you’re one of the police department’s people who are really good at beating up gang members. Those gang members come in all shapes and sizes, but they all need hitting and kicking until they make that familiar 16 bit screaming noise.

3D Streets of Rage is a port of the original Mega Drive game, on the 3DS, and in 3D. Sega have remade quite a few of their 16 but classics in this way and they’re all as much fun to play as they should be. This one in particular really made me feel good about my 3DS purchase, because I bought Streets of Rage a few years ago for my iPhone, and it was the first game that showed me just how useless on screen controls really are. The best way to play games on the move is with a proper handheld like the 3DS. I’d also recommend checking out some of the other classic Sega games that have been made in 3D.

Mario Kart 7

Before there was Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch, there was Mario Kart 7 on the 3DS, because Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U didn’t happen. What was the Wii U anyway?

Speaking as a major Mario Kart fan, this is my second favourite one, the favourite being the afore mentioned Mario Kart 8. This super portable version is every bit as full featured as any that has come before it. Actually it has most of the features you’ll find in the game that follows it, apart from the massive number of tracks. Not that 7 is any slouch in that area. There’s plenty here to keep you entertained for hours.

You’ll find kart customisation, and you can race as your Mii, as well as a substantial list of Nintendo characters. All the frustration and gloating of a regular sized Mario Kart game is intact, just remember not to throw the controller if you get hit with a red shell inches from the finish line.

If the single player isn’t enough, the multiplayer is fantastic. This is one of those 3DS games where you don’t need to have multiple copies of the game to have multiple players. That’s a genius move on the part of Nintendo and I wish it had been part of the Switch. If we were living Nintendo’s dream, we’d see groups of people gathered on the streets playing Mario Kart on their 3DSs. I guess that can still happen, but those people would be playing on their Switch, and they’ve all bought a copy of the game.

Metroid: Samus Returns

This is a reimagining of Return of Samus on the original GameBoy.I got it to serve as my final attempt to get what everyone was banging on about with Metroid games. Until this one, I had never played one for long. I’d tried them, but none of them took.

Samus Returns represents yet another moment of gaming awakening brought to me by the 3DS. I absolutely loved every second of this game, playing it right through in a day or two. I ate it up. Because of that experience, I was encouraged to try others like it, armed with a better understanding of how they work. I’ve had lots of great gaming experiences I’d otherwise not have had, most recently, with Axiom Verge. If nothing else I owe Samus gratitude for opening my eyes to Metroid games.

Apart from being a life changing experience for me, it’s actually a pretty good game, and a great example of a 2D Metroid game. I’ve even heard some people say that it’s their favourite one. I’m going to hold off on making such claims until I’ve played a couple of the others.

Sonic the Hedgehog on Game Gear

Time for another “back in the day”. Back in the day, games were published for all kinds of different gaming platforms. It wasn’t like today when somebody brings out a third console system and EA start crying about how it’s not worth them making games fore it.In the 80s and 90s you put your game on as many platforms as you could, and if that meant making an entirely new version of the games, then that’s what you did. Remember that the next time you see a YouTube wondering how Wolfenstein 2 can run on the Switch.

The gap between the handhelds and the home consoles was massive, so there was no way you could ever expect Sonic the Hedgehog on the Game Gear and Master System, to be the same as Sonic on the Mega Drive. Sonic on the Game Gear is an entirely different game to the one Mega Drive owners knew so well. That’s just down to the hardware. Is it a better version? Of course not, but it is my Sonic. It’s the one I had as a child, and the one I love the most.

There is a small selection of Game Gear games available in the Virtual Console section of the eShop. I’d like to say it’s worth having a look at, but the Game Gear really didn’t have any classic games that are worth playing today. However, if you had a Game Gear when they were new and fancy, you might have the same nostalgia I have, in which case, go for it. The 3DS strikes a nice balance of having a much nicer display than the old Sega handheld, but not so big that the postage stamp sized visuals are stretched to braking point. Think the SNES looks blocky on a 4K TV? The Game Gear had a resolution of 160×144 pixels. That’s smaller than an icon on the home screen of your iPhone. There are limits to how much something can be stretched.

Sonic for the Game Gear for the 3DS has been well worth the couple of pounds I spent on it. I think I’ve played it through four times in the last year. It is to my gaming life what The ‘Burbs is to my movie life.

Pokemon Sun and Moon

My first ever Pokemon game. I absolutely hated it at first. There are still some aspects of it that I’m not happy with. Is it like dog fighting? Capturing little creatures and making them fight has always seemed a little off, but hey, the rest of the world was on board with it so I thought I’d give it a go. After all, it’s just an RPG. How many characters have I sent to their deaths in Fire Emblem? At least Pokemon just faint.

I believe that Sun and Moon were a welcome refresh to the long running series, but as it’s my first rodeo, I have no clue how refreshing it is. The story is about you wanting to become a Pokemon trainer, or King of the Pokemon or something, I haven’t been paying too much attention. There are a series of islands and you walk around those islands collecting and fighting Pokemon, until you’re ready to fight the big boss of the island. Regardless of the plot, you’ll have lots of opportunities to collect Pokemon and fight them.

I get the feeling that there’s a great deal I’m missing in the game. There are certainly lots of menu options I never click on. If anything my biggest problem is that the game doesn’t do enough to teach you what’s going on. Maybe I’m just too old to get it, but I always got the sense that there was a lot of stuff I was expected to just know.

Whatever problems I had with Pokemon have now gone. Yeah there’s some odd aspects to it, but I’m enjoying playing. It’s fun, and that’s why I play games. There are several Pokemon games available, even this one has been followed up by Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. If this is your first Pocket Monster adventure I’d recommend getting the latest one.

Super Mario 3D Land

What’s the point of getting a Nintendo if you aren’t going to get a Mario game? I think it’s the law that you have to have at least one. While there are several available on the 3DS, you can’t go far wrong with Super Mario 3D Land.

It’s a great example of a 3D Mario game, and it’s crammed full of content. The levels are a joy to play through, and it does a good job of helping you out when things get too tough. The soundtrack and look of the game will probably give you a case of Nintendo joy face.

I have a tricky time recommending and reviewing Mario platform games. As you might have heard me say on Simply Syndicated Gaming News, I understand that they’re great games, and I understand why. It’s just that I don’t enjoy them as much as most people seem to. I don’t dislike them, I just don’t love them. In all honesty, I spend the entire Mario play time afraid of falling off something to the point where it’s just a stressful experience.

If you like Mario games, this is well worth it. If you don’t, it’s still a good game, you just don’t like it.

Street Fighter 4

It was on offer in the eShop so I just went for it. I haven’t played a Street Fighter game since Street Fighter 2 was released on the Amiga. Try playing that game with a single fire button! It’s what we did.

It didn’t take me long to get into. It’s everything you need from a Street Fighter game, with great graphics, sound, and speed.

Street Fighter style games lend themselves to being on a small portable platform. It’s wonderful to have such a choice of big games on the 3DS, but what it also needs is games like Street Fighter 4 that can have you fighting away in the blink of an eye. It was years before I found out there was any form of plot to any Street Fighter game, and I think that works to their advantage. I couldn’t care less who likes who, or who doesn’t. I just want to do a special move and totally nail someone. Now I can do it on the go, and in 3D. Incidentally, this game is one of the best examples of high quality 3D graphics on the 3DS. I would never have expected that, but here we are.

Zelda Games

I was going to pick one, but there’s no point. They’re all good. Of all the Legend of Zelda games that exist, eleven of them are playable on the Nintendo 3DS. The first one I played was Ocarina of Time, and that experienced caused me to discover what has become my most beloved series of games.

You can get the definitive versions of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, remastered from the N64 days. There are all the old classics like Link to the Past, and even the old NES games. You can also play the two that were released on the DS, and GameBoy and GameBoy Colour games can be found in the Virtual Console. If you’re a Zelda fan, you just can’t go wrong here.

If you’ve never played a Zelda game before, there no need to wait any longer. I recommend starting either with Ocarina of Time, or Link Between Worlds. Ooh or Link to the Past. Or maybe on of the old GameBoy ones! Isn’t it a shame the world requires us to do things that aren’t playing Zelda games.

So that’s my ten favourite 3DS games. There’s a huge library of games out there and this is just a tiny snapshot of some of it. We might be approaching the end of the line for the 3DS, but there’s enough to keep us entertained for years. Whatever kind of game scratches your gaming itch, there’s an example of it to be found on the 3DS.