At first, I wanted to title this one “Why My 3DS Is Just As Cool As My Xbox One and PS4,” but I decided against that. There is an strong undercurrent of console discrimination, and my little pink handheld is often thrown to the waves — especially when compared to the bigger boxes. But you know what? I’m not cool with that! I can’t argue that developing something like Gears of War 4 doesn’t require over triple the bodies, time, and funds to produce compared to something like Animal Crossing, but do you understand how many hours I’ve spent planting trees and running errands for Bob the cat? A lot, more time than I’ve spent playing Skyrim a lot.
Just because the graphics don’t blur the line between reality and the virtual world doesn’t mean that the 3DS has games that aren’t as worthy. For a more or less casual piece, I wanted to take time to lay out some of my own favorites this week:
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Did you see that coming? New Leaf is the definition of casual gaming, and has been with me through thick and thin. Sure, shooting through hoards of zombies or hunting down other players in a death match can be therapeutic, but I’ve also spent many-a-night landscaping my little town when I just need to chill. During my college thesis, I left my 3DS conveniently plugged in next to my workstation so that I could flip it open and do usual my rounds if I needed a breather from academia.
While I chose not to include it on this list, Happy Home Design was also a dorky sort of fun. I put it down after a short while due to the repetitive nature of the game, but the time I did spend with it was entertaining. It’s a good choice for those looking to play something quick.
Pokemon X & Y
I’m a committed Pokemon fan, so committed in fact, I convinced my entire second grade class that I was the namesake of the Indigo Plateau. Pokemon X (my choice of the two) is a great venture from the typical Pokemon title, and the small child in me that refuses to deplete with age was in absolute awe over the added customization and option to hand-feed my inevitable Eevee army. What can I say? Pokemon is classic, and it’s difficult to not enjoy each game.
Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors
I had never heard of 999 when my college roommate recommended it to me, and let me tell you, I have never seen a more brutal title on a Nintendo console. It was a refreshing reminder that Nintendo is aware of the not-so-young audience that gravitates toward their consoles.
I personally believe, similarly to how I approached Until Dawn, 999 is best played fairly oblivious to the story. Thematically, even the characters are clueless to their environment when the game begins, so you’ll fit right in. It’s very Lovecraft meets the Saw movies, but for giggles, sprinkle in a couple Titanic references. It’s odd and violent, but I was taken aback by how challenging the puzzles were. 999 is very clever, if you’re looking for and something a little more mature.
Fire Emblem: Awakening
Fire Emblem is a really great strategy series, especially for fantasy buffs that want to break from the history-themed nature of the genre. I am a long time fan, but somehow missed the memo that Awakening was coming out until about a week beforehand. I couldn’t find a single store that was still accepting preorders (and wasn’t keen on getting the digital copy), so after a flight of mine was delayed for 24 hours, I spent a whole day tooling around the Iowa City area checking every Best Buy, GameStop, and Target until I found it. Thankfully, one Target within the 100 mile radius had a single display copy left, and thanks to the airport trauma earlier that morning, it took one puffy-eyes stare to convince them to sell it to me.
As of right now, I’ve played beaten it 4 or 5 times (and I’m only counting 100% completions). Awakening is addictive. Converting the series to the 3DS makes the game that much more accessible, especially since a battle could take as little as ten minutes to blast through. With the added bonus of matchmaking, the ability to create your own character makes the game that much more immersive.
Fire Emblem: Fates (Conquest, Birthright, and Revelation)
It may have been because Nintendo released FE: Fates in Japan long before we got it stateside, but waiting for Fates to be released was by far one of the most painful periods I have spent waiting for a game to come out in recent years. The web was littered with spoilers and content, which only peaked my interest. I adored Awakening, so I had extremely high hopes for Fates.
I must admit, though, that my love for Fates is not nearly as strong as my love for Awakening — but I have yet to put it down. To date, I’ve played through all three paths, and am currently working my way through Revelation a second time for fun (because pretending to be a matchmaking goddess is great). Conquest is definitely the better designed out of the three, especially for long-time fans and those looking for a legitimate challenge. There were some definite loopholes in the story, but overall a great deal of fun.
I bought Bravely Default because I thought the art was pretty, but I continued to play it obsessively because it’s good. Although I’ve heard people complain about it, this academic lit-nerd was enamored with the detailed dialogue. It was almost Shakespearean in nature, with formal and casual undertones, clever use of vocabulary, and well researched linguistics. However small the physical world, it was incredibly immersive. There was plenty to do besides the main story, from side quests to personal quests (such as unlocking hidden costumes) — but my favorite mechanics rest in the game’s turn-based battle sequences.
Think classic Final Fantasy, at the beginning of each turn you carefully select each member of your team’s attacks or boons. However, they’ve added a couple more tricks to the scheme: there are Battle Points (BP), and the ability to Default. BP gives the player the ability to have a unit attack more than once, and you have about 1 or 2 at the beginning of each battle. However, if your BP drops to 0 or into the negatives, that character will not be able to move until enough is recovered (1 BP is resorted per turn). For example, Anges has 1 BP, but I want her to heal Edea AND attack the boss. I can preform both of these tasks using 2 BP, but she will have -1 BP at the end of the turn. Therefore, she will not be able to make a move during the next turn so that her BP will return to 1. Make sense? Probably not, but it’s STELLAR.
Similarly, having your character Default makes them take a defensive stance and omit attacking, but they gain an extra BP for doing this. It took my a while to master these mechanics, but they’re all absolutely necessary in order to complete the game — and very intuitive once you better familiarize yourself with the style.
Bravely Default is packed with rich detail. There are tons of different classes for each of your characters to master (and therefore lots of pretty costumes to hold your interest), and the battle mechanics are wildly unique. If you’re looking for something that’s intelligent, I’d highly recommend you play it.
I have yet to play the second installment, but I look forward to revisiting the Bravely series soon.
Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and Ocarina of Time
Need I say anymore? These two classic remasters transition seamlessly from the Nintendo 64 to the handheld. Old and new fans alike will be enamored with the nostalgic soundtrack, practical puzzles, and vivid world.
While a bulk of 3DS titles are aimed at a younger audience, and many of those titles are small, niche games that even I have yet to touch, there’s a bountiful selection for all audiences. I’ve had every version of the Gameboy (besides the 2DS), and even with age the appeal has never been lost on me.
All images via CreativeUncut.com