2013 may have been a strong year for Nintendo 3DS games, but that doesn’t mean that 2014 didn’t have anything left in the tank.
All genres were covered, meaning that we were regularly seen on our morning commute teeing off, cracking puzzles, or trying to best the competition in Nintendo’s mascot brawler. But, which was best experience that we had on the trusty handheld this year?
10. Inazuma Eleven GO: Light / Shadow
Neatly timed to arrive in Europe ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, June saw Raimon Junior High’s intrepid football squad take to pitch once more. And Inazuma Eleven GO marked a drastic shift for the series. This darker tale followed midfielder Arion Sherwind as he faced Fifth Sector, a regulatory body that had seized control of the sport. Resoundingly improved graphics, positive gameplay tweaks and those unique stylus-based matches amounted to LEVEL-5 once again slamming Inazuma Eleven into the back of the net.
9. Tomodachi Life
Tomodachi Life delivers quirks like no other. We were delighted when Nintendo surprised us with news of their life sim’s localisation, breathing life into our Mii characters like we’ve never seen before. Marooning them on an island, they clearly had no choice but to interact with one another leading to love, tantrums and adventure. It’s a shame that it inevitably meandered, but its ludicrous ideas will remain in our memory for a long time.
8. Mario Golf: World Tour
Mario Golf: World Tour teed off in May, and we became entranced as our newfound golfing addiction dug in. Castle Club not only allowed us to wander Peach’s Castle and the Royal Garden, but expertly took us through increasingly difficult courses scattered around the Mushroom Kingdom. Miis were once again in the spotlight with plenty of customisation to delve into, with online integration letting you take on the world.
7. Fantasy Life
LEVEL-5’s Fantasy Life took us by surprise. Nintendo Treehouse Live @ E3’s exhaustive coverage left us curious but unconvinced, but the hours that we poured into the action RPG told an entirely different story. Colourful, expansive and diversified by a wonderful Job system, we’re certain that Fantasy Life’s found many fans. And we’re certainly one of them.
6. Kirby Triple Deluxe
The Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule and Donkey Kong’s tropical isle have all enjoyed a resplendent return in 3D, but we were left waiting for Dream Land’s transformation. Kirby Triple Deluxe at long last delivered that, making sublime use of the handheld’s stereoscopic 3D as the pink hero raced to rescue King Dedede in the land of Floralia. HAL Laboratory’s latest was an enjoyable adventure, and one of Kirby’s greatest in recent years.
5. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call
indieszero returned for a second bow with Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call, delivering a definitive take on their rhythm-action vision. Packed with more content than we believed a 3DS game cart could possibly hold, it promised to keep you occupied for months on end with downloadable content only fuelling your addiction. Now being spun out with Theatrhythm Dragon Quest, we can be sure that this is one performance that isn’t quite over yet.
4. Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
LEVEL-5’s deductive archaeology professor donned his top hat once more, partnering with Capcom’s formidable defence attorney for a particularly memorable tale. It was a collaborative dream, muddling Professor Layton’s puzzle-solving antics with Ace Attorney’s courtroom flair. Labyrinthia was wondrous to wander, mystery awaiting you at every turn as Shu Takumi’s masterful script had you second-guessing every secret.
3. Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
Seeping with nostalgia, Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire whisked us back to the Hoenn region to relive Game Freak’s past glories. Now reworked for an audience both old and new, the adventure now presented new Mega Evolutions, Primal Reversion and bolstered by substantial post-game content with the Delta Episode. There was a wondrous sense of discovery throughout, which is a remarkable achievement considering how long the Pokémon series has been occupying our free time.
2. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
Persona struck Nintendo systems for the first time last year, after ATLUS intertwined their Dark Hour mysteries with Etrian Odyssey’s dungeon-crawling antics. With two campaigns that saw you trace the journey of either the Persona 3 or Persona 4 cast, with combat scenarios presenting all the tricks and strategies that the series has presented us with over the years. And it was glorious, with Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth seeing us lose sleep over the amount of hours that we sunk into it.
1. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS
I was amazed by Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, but even more so when it became apparent just how closely it matched the Wii U iteration that arrived later in the year. Masahiro Sakurai defied the handheld’s constraints, and our own doubt, to deliver a satisfying brawler perfect for portable play. With a fighter roster fit to burst, and fantastic stages unique to the handheld version – whether that be Magicant, Spirit Train or 3D Land – this strong contender easily beat out the competition in 2014.