Note: This feature is obsolete! Please check out our comprehensive buyer's guide to all games on Virtual Console for 3DS and New 3DS!
Today marks the final day of Mega Man May, an entire month of Nintendo actively acknowledging both classic games on Virtual Console and bringing gamers highly sought-after releases that have become very expensive due to their scarcity. It was such a nice event that I'm even willing to forgive the extra dollar that they tacked onto Mega Man V's price just because they could. What are you gonna do, buy it on eBay for $100? Sucker.
While we often complain about Virtual Console on a week-to-week basis, over time Nintendo has actually built up a pretty respectable catalog of old games for 3DS. It's a much more limited library than the Wii enjoyed, of course; given its limitations, 3DS Virtual Console only includes Game Boy, NES, and Game Gear titles. Those Game Boy Advance "ambassador" titles don't really count, because you can't buy them, and Nintendo clearly has decided to move GBA to Wii U instead. But, if you want to be generous, you can also count Arika and M2's 3D Classics remakes, too.
All told, that's about 150 classics for download — not all of which are, you know, classic. Where to start and avoid the duds, you may wonder? Enter your friends at USgamer. We've whittled that lengthy list of old games down to 15: The top 10 percent, basically. If you're looking to build a collection of Virtual Console titles, this is where you should start.
Note: Apparently I'm terrible at counting and this list is only 14 games. This is why every stops at top 10 lists! For the heck of it, let's say #15 would have been... hmmm... let's say 3D Classics: Sonic the Hedgehog. Gotta run fast, my friends.
Bonus: The best 3DS Virtual Console imports
If you ever happen across an import 3DS or 2DS from Japan, you can have access to an even wider array of games than in America. Here are five games worth checking out on the import Virtual Console... or, better yet, that you can pester Nintendo to bring over to the U.S. While you're at it, you should start a letter campaign to bring PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16) games to the U.S. — they're on 3DS in Japan, after all. Life just ain't fair.
Final Fantasy (NES)
This one is bound to show up in the U.S. sooner or later — why wouldn't it? And while it may not enjoy some of the niceties of the PlayStation remake of Final Fantasy that appeared on FF Origins (such as graphics and a non-horrible shop system), it still manages to be a seriously great RPG despite its age. Those who only know Final Fantasy from the recent games might even be surprised by just how familiar the skills, monsters, and story themes of this bygone classic prove to be....
Gargoyle's Quest II (NES)
The original Gargoyle's Quest made our list of greatest original Game Boy creations of all time, so naturally we'd love to see the sequel — which, weirdly enough, jumped from Game Boy to NES. In Japan, Gargoyle's Quest II was also reverse-ported from NES to Game Boy, but it's the NES version that's up on Japan's Virtual Console, and it's the NES version that came to the U.S. So let us all rise up in revolt and demand Capcom grace us with this 8-bit classic. We shall overcome!
Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru (Game Boy)
Sometimes, Nintendo makes games and only releases them in Japan. Sometimes those Japan-only games are kind of dumb and we don't really care, but just as often they're really interesting and good and their absence leaves a void of despair in our lives. Such is the case with Karu no... you know, let's just call it "For the Frog the Bell Tolls." A simple, lighthearted take on the RPG, completing this game requires some light Japanese reading skills, but there are guides online — and it's worth it just to see the GameBoy adventure that laid the groundwork for Link's Awakening.
Madoola no Tsubasa (NES)
The Japanese 3DS Virtual Console is packed with old B- and C-tier Famicom (NES) games that never made their way to America because they just weren't good enough to bother localizing. Madoola No Tsubasa — aka The Wings of Madoola — is one of those. But as second-rate Famicom games go, it's actually pretty decent. It's a proto-Metroidvania kind of thing, and it even has a lady protagonist. It's basically a 2014 indie game designed in 1986!
Trip World (Game Boy)
I've already made a case for this one, but seriously: Trip World sells for hundreds if not thousands of dollars; it's about three bucks on both the Japanese and European eShop; it's wonderfully fun and utterly gorgeous for a monochrome game; and it requires no language skills to master. If you ever end up in possession of an import 3DS, this should be your first purchase — you'll love it.