What are the Best 3DS Games?

Want to know which games you should be playing on your 3DS? Team USG has compiled a comprehensive list of the very best games available on Nintendo's excellent hand-held.

Review by USgamer Team, .

While it may be getting a little long in the tooth these days, for those looking for rock solid, traditional games, you'd be hard-pressed to top 3DS. It plays host to an amazing collection of RPGs, adventures, action games, and more - many of which are top-notch.

But which ones are the absolute best? We've looked at the complete 3DS software library and rounded up what we believe are the finest games you can play on Nintendo's hand-held system. Each member of the USgamer team has also listed their personal favorite 3DS games, along with an explanation as to why they've chosen each one.

Directly below are games we've rated 5 stars

  • If you want to see which games are rated 4.5 stars, click here.
  • If you want to see which games are rated 4 stars, click here.
  • If you want to see which games the USgamer team personally recommend, click here.

The Very Best - Rated 5 Stars

Bravely Default

Bravely Default: It's a return to Final Fantasy's roots, and it's beautiful.

3D Gunstar Heroes: Every Sega/M2 3D Classic collaboration to date has demonstrated incredible love and care, even for mediocre games like Altered Beast. That same devotion applied to a top-tier masterpiece makes for an essential addition to any 3DS. This is the 3D Classics game to get.

SteamWorld Heist: What more can I say? I loved SteamWorld Heist and I think everyone should play it. Even if you don't normally like tactics games, Heist might be able to change your mind. It might not make a lot of Game of the Year lists, but I can assure you that it is one of 2015's best.

Super Mario 3D Land: A watered-down Mario World this is not. Instead, expect a fast-paced Mario classic that delivers the kind of simple, yet highly addictive and fabulously enjoyable gameplay the series is known for. Packed full of nifty details and some delightful moments, Mario fans young or old will get their money's worth out of this – and then some.

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages: We reviewed these as a pair, since they're essentially two halves of one incredible game. These old Color Game Boy classics might look simple, their sound may be crude, they're sometimes almost unfairly hard, and can be frustrating and fiddly to play. But damn, they're just so brilliant and involving, and so incredibly rewarding. On the surface they are rudimentary, yet they create an experience that transcends the limited technology upon which they were built.

Fire Emblem Awakening

Shin Megami Tensei IV: Shin Megami Tensei IV offers all the things you'd expect from the series: Demons, moral choices, and the rock-paper-scissors balance of combat. Despite its move to a portable console, this really does feel like a game worthy to be the next step in SMT's evolution. Don't let the first few deliberately underwhelming hours of the game fool you; SMT IV deserves to be ranked among the genre's best.

Fire Emblem: Awakening: The year's finest strategy RPG also represents the most accessible Fire Emblem game ever. But even though it has an easy mode and lets you turn off permadeath, don't make the mistake of assuming its content and variety has been watered down in the least.

Etrian Odyssey

Etrian Odyssey IV: The unrepentantly hardcore Etrian Odyssey series moves into true 3D and softens its harsh edges with a more open world structure and an easy mode... well, "easy" mode. It'll still crush the unwary like a bug.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon: A much deeper, and far more varied adventure than 2001's Luigi's Mansion, Dark Moon replaces point-and-click with suck-and-blow, and in doing so improves on the original formula to create something really special.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D: This remake of the groundbreaking classic smooths over a lot of rough patches and makes the N64 adventure more palatable to contemporary gaming tastes.

Pushmo: A fiendishly addictive puzzle game that makes full use of 3D, Pushmo was the first must-have downloadable title for 3DS. You shouldn't miss its sequel Crashmo, either....

Crashmo: So just to make sure you're reminded, we've put it right here. And for Euro folks, Crashmo is known as Fallblox in your territory - and Pushmo is called Pullblox. Whatever you call them, both games offer some of the most enjoyable, addictive, and fun puzzling anywhere - and will magically make any long journey fly by.

Up next are the games we've rated 4.5 stars. Click here to go to that page.

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Comments 46

  • Avatar for Baleoce #1 Baleoce 3 years ago
    I had a brief spell with a 3DS a year or so back. I traded it in for a Vita (something that a few months later I regretted, but now considering the PS4 news, I'm actually really excited about).

    I'll definitely be repurchasing an XL near Christmas. The lineup is just too good to ignore. Great call including Theatrhythm FF. I had that for a while and I just couldn't put it down.
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  • Avatar for Fyrinn #2 Fyrinn 3 years ago
    It's been a slow two years, but the 3DS has finally accrued a decent number of great games after my semi-regretful early adoption. 3D Land and Kid Icarus helped stem the buyer's remorse early on, but Etrian Odyssey has done away with it completely. Every RPG fan needs this game.
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  • Avatar for Shadowfire #3 Shadowfire 3 years ago
    When you get done with Fire Emblem, Ghost Recon is also amazing. Top down RPG/turn based strategy hybrid complete with crazy-Clancy story. It's good stuff, and more people should play it.
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  • Avatar for Jaz_Rignall #4 Jaz_Rignall 3 years ago
    @Shadowfire Yes! I remember playing that when I was still at Gamepro. Awesome strategy game - I remember it surprising the crap out of me! Really good fun.
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #5 MHWilliams 3 years ago
    @Shadowfire Ghost Recon was one of the two games I purchased for my launch 3DS. It's good, but Fire Emblem outclasses it and I only had three choices!
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  • Avatar for Shadowfire #6 Shadowfire 3 years ago
    Yea, Fire Emblem does outclass it. I'd call it a turn-based strategy lite, but it's still pretty great. :)
    And hey, I never meant to be like "ugh, you didn't pick this game you guys suck." Just wanted to throw another one out there that doesn't get a lot of love. :)
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  • Avatar for Terpiscorei #7 Terpiscorei 3 years ago
    Not surprised to see Pushmo make an appearance, but I'm glad to see Dillon mentioned as well. It's actually one of the best tower defense games out there.

    I'd also toss out Kokuga, a kind of tactical-feeling top-down shooter, and Harmoknight, which I enjoyed in spite of its art style.
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  • Avatar for TPaulBuzan #8 TPaulBuzan 3 years ago
    Just picked up a Vita last week and I'm loving it. (Dat screen!) But just a glance at the list above explains why I have more than enough love in my heart for two handhelds. Do I have enough time in my life to enjoy them? Well, no. But, still, all those great 3DS games!
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  • Avatar for Rory-Taylor #9 Rory-Taylor 3 years ago
    Would you say 999 is required playing to get enjoyment out of Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward?
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  • Avatar for pjedavison #10 pjedavison 3 years ago
    @Rory Taylor Having just started VLR immediately after devouring 999... I'd say yes. They each have plots that stand by themselves, but you'll get more out of them if you play both.

    (I don't know exactly how or if they link together as yet, since I'm quite early into VLR so far, but people who have been bugging me to play them for ages urged me to play 999 thoroughly first. And I'd recommend playing it anyway:
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  • Avatar for pjedavison #11 pjedavison 3 years ago
    @Jaz_Rignall@Shadowfire When you realize the Ghost Recon game was made by Julian "Chaos/X-COM" Gollop its quality is less surprising. That's one hell of a strategy game pedigree.
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  • Avatar for Stealth20k #12 Stealth20k 3 years ago
    great list by this site.

    Devil Survivor needs a nod from me. Pokemon is suprisingly absent but still goodEdited December 2013 by Stealth20k
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  • Avatar for bullet656 #13 bullet656 3 years ago
    @Rory Taylor As Pete says, it's probably best to play 999 first. However, I can speak as someone who just recently beat VLR and has not yet played 999 and I don't think it is at all essential. I never felt like I was missing much. When they do make connections to the first game, they explain enough that I didn't feel like I was missing anything.

    Having said that, I liked VLR so much that I now really want to play 999. I couldn't previously play it due to not having a DS. But it will probably be one of the first games I get after my newly ordered 3DS XL (with zelda!) arrives in the mail in a couple days.
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  • Avatar for shaynxb #14 shaynxb 3 years ago
    Deleted December 2013 by Jaz_Rignall
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #15 MHWilliams 3 years ago
    @Stealth20k I've been meaning to try Devil Survivor Overclocked, I just haven't had the time.
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #16 brionfoulke91 3 years ago
    @Rory Taylor Here's the thing. Virtue's Last Reward is an incredibly good game, and you shouldn't miss it. If you can't play 999 for whatever reason, you shouldn't let that stop you. VLR explains explains all the details from the first game that you need to know, so you won't be lost.

    But at the same time... VLR just doesn't have the same impact as it would if you had played 999 first. This is one of those great sequels that really makes fans of the original game happy, and it is SO rewarding to play if you've already played the first game.

    And there's another good reason to play 999 first, probably a more important reason: VLR spoils 999's ending. After playing VLR, you WILL want to play through 999, and it will not have quite the same impact. And 999 has one of the most impactful, amazing endings in video game history, so you really owe it to yourself not to spoil it. Trust me.

    In any case, don't let yourself miss out on 999 and VLR. They are some of the very best told stories in any video game, and I don't think that's hyperbole.
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  • Avatar for sethmacy91 #17 sethmacy91 3 years ago
    Mike, Double Dash is a treasure of gaming, you take those unkind words back!
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  • Avatar for Stealth20k #18 Stealth20k 2 years ago
    Some games I did not see mentioned

    - Kingdom Hearts
    - Pokemon Mystery Dungeon 4
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  • Avatar for tsamba #19 tsamba 2 years ago
    Shinobi III 3D feels left out of the 4 star category. And Streets of Rage 3D would fit in 3.5 or 4 star category on atmosphere alone. Also, The G.G. Shinobi is at least as worthy as Vampire, Masters of Darkness.
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  • Avatar for secularsage #20 secularsage 2 years ago
    One suggestion for the US Gamer team: Could you identify whether these games are retail, eShop, or both? That would be helpful for those of us who want to track these titles down.

    (Likewise if you compile a Vita list - PSN, Retail, both).
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  • Avatar for mganai #21 mganai 2 years ago
    Love Bravely Default, but a 5 seems like a bit much. Great as it is, there's definitely room for improvement.
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  • Avatar for Alexeri #22 Alexeri 2 years ago
    @mganai That it has room for improvement doesn't mean it doesn't deserve a 5/5.
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  • Avatar for SpoonyBardOL #23 SpoonyBardOL 2 years ago
    Looks like the new addition of Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is using a screenshot from the unreleased GBA game.
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  • Avatar for daysofstatic65 #24 daysofstatic65 2 years ago
    I've been teetering between starting Soul Hacker and not. This updated post seems timely. Anyone here willing to tip me one way or the other on the matter?
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  • Avatar for daysofstatic65 #25 daysofstatic65 2 years ago
    @mganai I want to enjoy Bravely Default but can't. It's tremendously rote in my eyes. The graphics are beautiful, sure, but that story.
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  • Avatar for yacinegrimmjow08 #26 yacinegrimmjow08 2 years ago

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  • Avatar for yacinegrimmjow08 #27 yacinegrimmjow08 2 years ago
  • Avatar for Arvis-Jaggamar #28 Arvis-Jaggamar 2 years ago
    Strange: why no love for Etrian Odyssey Untold? Easily as good as EOIV, which is all over this article. I feel like it should be mentioned that there are TWO EO games on the 3DS that people can choose from.

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  • Avatar for Whinybabyclub #29 Whinybabyclub 2 years ago
    Paper mario is incredibly easy and not worth the price. And ruby/sapphire on the list while x/y nowhere to be found? That's pretty messed up.
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  • Avatar for SEGASHIRO #30 SEGASHIRO 2 years ago
    Those SEGA 3D Classics are awesome.
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  • Avatar for pjft #31 pjft 2 years ago
    Is this an update of last year's document, or did this change since it was first published?

    I recall seeing some mentions of Dual Destinies at least, and I can't seem to find them.

    If it's an update, I'd suggest keeping last year's choices in either a separate section, or creating a separate article.

    Cheers, happy holidays, and keep up the great work!
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  • Avatar for loricraig59 #32 loricraig59 A year ago
    I bought my grandson and alot of stuff with it and many games. he isn't even playing with it cause he grabs anybody's phone or tab just to play mine craft. is it coming and/or who do i contact to give my opinion. in our area all the boys r playing it.
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  • Avatar for Gamer-Law #33 Gamer-Law 10 months ago
    Glad to see both Bravely Default and Fire Emblem Awakening included among the system's very best games.
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