Greetings and salivations to you, friends! So it’s almost Christmas, and whether you like it or not, some of us are expected to supply gifts to punctuate the simplicity of having dinner at your parents with prizes that we trade amongst each other. Did you get your shopping done? Maybe you’re looking for a few ideas for the gamer in your family. Well wander in wonder no longer, because we’ve compiled a list of last minute gifts for Nintendo 3ds that might help you fill gaps in your gift-giving coverage.
Before we start, however, a little explanation is in order. We chose to share with you our favorite 3DS titles because compared to the big systems, this is a little lower cost option. We also chose the 3DS because the original model alone had sold incredibly well (about 53 million units worldwide) and it would not be a stretch to think you might have one (or perhaps even the XL model) stashed somewhere. The 3DS system is very accessible and offers a really wide range of games for hardcore pros and casual players alike. These games are not listed in any sort of ranking. Not best of, nor our favorites. There’s no accounting for taste; you may not like 2D platformers, but love solving puzzles. That’s the way it’s supposed to be so we tried to include a little bit of everything. So let’s get to it.
If you don’t remember Luigi’s Mansion on the Gamecube, you’ll be just fine. This game is technically a sequel, but you won’t be missing anything. As Luigi, you strap a Ghostbusters-inspired vacuum cleaner onto your back and hunt ghosts. Unlike the last game, there are multiple mansions you will get to explore. Many of them have hidden gems and items stashed within them. The missions are diced up in a way to make it possible to play this as one portable, bite sized play session at a time. There are a few upgrades to be had. There is also a puzzle element to the game, as the route to certain locations is not always clear. You’ll move from room to room, many of which are inhabited by a number of ghosts that need busted. There’s a decent amount of replayability as the game is presented really well and fun to come back to. Luigi is the lovable coward and the 3DS manages to allow control of his gadgets to feel quite natural. You won’t want to miss out on this title.
Here’s a 2D platformer with a slightly slower pace. Kirby Triple Deluxe is meant to take advantage of the 3D features of the console, having stage obstacles take place on backgrounds and foregrounds while still playing like a traditional 2D platformer. It’s fun, it’s cute, and it hides a few items around for you to scavenge for along the way. The game never really gets terribly difficult, but does manage to be a lot of fun. Collecting every item and beating the game does unlock a time attack mode where you play as the series villain, King Dedede, while trying to race to the end of the game faster and faster than before. Triple Deluxe also has some fun mini games worth playing with friends, but the core experience is running, jumping, and eating enemies to absorb their powers, all presented at a leisurely pace.
Good ol’ fashion Mario, now in 3D! This title solves a lot of the problems previous three dimensional platformers have suffered from. Depth perception will always be an obstacle for 3D platformers; SM3DL, however, has managed to program a camera that knows how to follow it’s player intuitively, smartly addressing that long standing shortcoming. Every level has three hidden Star Coins, making the objective more than simply reaching the end. Everything about this Mario game feels great; our titular hero controls just the way you’d expect, and there is no heavy reliance on new features or gimmicks, just some new tweaks and adjustments to better fit the 3DS and LOTS of exploring to do to keep you busy.
Kid Icarus: Uprising
This title marks the first Kid Icarus game release since 1991. Uprising is a real gem and one of a kind at that. A mostly single player experience, the story is told to you through character dialogue while the events of the stage unfold before you. The controls are odd but work pretty well after you get used to them. They utilize a lot of touch pad actions with button commands. The story, while not the most compelling, is never too serious and manages to face every bit of danger with a fistful of levity. While the writing is campy and silly, the voice acting is all done very well by some voices you might recognize, like Hynden Walch (Teen Titans), Cree Summer (Drawn Together), and Troy Baker (The Last of Us), to name a few. This game is something like a rail-style shoot em’ up that gives you back the reins half way through the level, right before you fight the boss. You collect and upgrade scores of different weapons that have both ranged and melee features for you to take on uncountable numbers of enemies.
This game is for the RPG fan in the house. Bravely Default takes a lot of the old Final Fantasy job/class systems and adds some new flair to it. You get to master a variety of skills of your choice in order to mold you and your party just the way you’d like. Bravely also manages to implement some experimental features such as turning off random encounters entirely or cranking their frequency up when you’re in the mood to grind. Even the turn based battle system gets some new features like holding your action in order to save up extra attacks, programming your moves in advanced for serious grind time, or even sacrificing your next turn to get an extra scratch in there here and now.
Super Smash Brothers 4
Like all the sequels on this list, Smash Brothers is a title that does not require you to have played the previous games to understand what’s going on. In this case we aren’t getting any kind of story, just playing a what-if scenario of who-would-win-a-fight between notable videogame characters. The 3DS takes to this series very well, and the cast of characters to choose from in this title is immense and fantastic. This was the first game to offer Amiibo support (If you bought a ‘New’ 3DS XL), so you can buy a tiny Bowser figure, program stats into him, and train him to be the fearsome murder-beast he really is. This title also features a great deal of downloadable content for acceptable pricing that brings new characters and stages to the game. Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy 7 was recently added to the lineup, and is a well implemented character that is just blast to play as (no alternate Cloud in drag costume, sadly. Missed opportunity).
Pokemon is the RPG for people who aren’t the biggest RPG fans. We’ve decided to give both major releases on the 3DS the spot because they were both equally good, and Pokemon games tend to follow a bit of a formula. They never change too much, they just try to bring in new features or update the look. The new stuff you liked in the last entry most likely made it to the current entry. We like these ones because Nintendo finally isn’t irrationally afraid of of your internet connection anymore. The Global Trade System is craigslist for pokemon, allowing you to post trades and want-ads for that specific pocket monster you just have to have. Now you can battle and trade with your friends over the internet, and the new Wonder Trades are arguably the best new feature in ages. Essentially, you pick a pokemon and trade him to a random stranger and they send you a pokemon in return. The best part is, the community seems to be refraining from abusing it. Very few people are trading cannon fodder to you that no one wanted anyways. Additionally, if you have a Pokemon fanatic in the house, make sure they are enrolled with the Pokebank. This is a neat feature that costs about five dollars a year to store your Pocket Monsters on a server and transfer them around to your different games. It’s a great feature that helps you carry over things from the previous titles to the your new cartridge.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
MH4U gains a spot on our list, but with a mighty big asterisk. This is by far the best installment to the Monster Hunter franchise in terms of accessibility and is the entry that can get people interested in the series in the first place. That being said, this game has a pretty large degree of difficulty by design. Nearly every single mission in the game is a boss fight with a giant dragon/dinosaur/bug. You win by learning the best times to attack, learning how your weapon is best used compared to the other choices, setting traps, and using the terrain to your advantage. These gigantic beasts are bigger and stronger than you are and defeating them earns you pieces of their body that you carve off of them. Gathering these materials, you craft new armor and weapons (or upgrade what you already have) to ready yourself for the next larger, more deadly monster. You will get the absolute best out of this game if you have a group of 2-4 players hunting together. The best part is you can play online over wifi and will not be required to be in the same room.
Mario Kart 7
This was the Mario Kart that introduced kart customization, and it was a smash hit. Parts were basically just a slot machine selection of three categories which were different wheels, different body, and your glider. Each part gave you little stat bonuses or cuts, helping you cobble together a vehicle that fits your play style. This also means you get to collect cool new race cars to show off to your friends. This Mario Kart also introduced the transforming car feature. When parts of the track were under water, you engage a little propeller. If you take to the skies, instead you would “go-go-gadget hang glider” your way to the other side. Additionally, if you have pals who want to play with you, this game features download play. You only need one copy to support up to four local 3DS consoles for multiplayer.
Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
One of the best Zelda titles released to date, A Link Between Worlds is very familiar to old fans, while introducing some new elements to the series. Every choice made in production of this game was well thought out and implemented perfectly. After you’ve reached a specific point in the game, nearly every dungeon can be accessed at any time, so you may do them in any order. This game essentially gives you all of the tools to beat the game right away, and then turns all of the secrets and special items hidden throughout into extra credit. Didn’t collect the optional treasures in every dungeon? One of those was a tunic that made you take half damage. Better get digging for that one. There is also an upgraded form of every single item in the game to taunt the completionist in you. Essentially the goal is to get to the dungeon, solve puzzles in order to get to the boss, and then find a way to damage the hideous creature enough to slay him. This entry to the Zelda franchise is a great place to start for anyone new, and a great place to pick it back up if you’re a veteran of the franchise. There is plenty to do without being too overwhelming. It’s a must have for your 3DS library.