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Sam’s Top Five 3DS Games - Cinema Shelf
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Sam’s Top Five 3DS Games

The Nintendo 3DS is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, so it seems proper to celebrate its greatest achievements. It’s dual-screen excellence has helped keep the Big N afloat during some of its most dire financial times, and as the Wii U’s quality releases have been few and far between, the 3DS has had its fair share of excellent titles over the past few years.

With so much variety and so many quality games, it seems impossible to select just five, so I’m limiting my list to include just only one game from each franchise (spin-offs count as their own series) and I’ve excluded all direct remakes or ports (sorry, Ocarina of Time 3D and Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D).

5. Pokemon Alpha Sapphire
Rating: 8.75/10

alphasapphire

The Pokemon series is seemingly endless, and while the series has been one of gaming’s most consistent since its inception twenty years ago, the experiences all seem to blend together at a certain point. While X and Y are viewed by many as the best entries in the franchise for the 3D handheld, Alpha Sapphire actually provides the most interesting experience.

This entry on the list may seem like cheating, as it is technically a remake of Pokemon Sapphire, but I felt like it was a completely different game when I played it. Game Freak added extra storylines, Mega Evolutions, more Pokemon, completely revamped graphics, and tons of extra content, including the ability to capture over a dozen legendary Pokemon from prior entries in the series. Also, you can actually fly on top of Latios/Latias and soar across the skies of Hoenn to find some nifty secrets! Alpha Sapphire certainly isn’t the best in the series, but it’s the best entry in years.

4. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS
Rating: 9/10

smash3ds

Super Smash Bros. is always a winner as a franchise, and its foray into the handheld space was as smooth as can be. It released before its Wii U counterpart and gave players the opportunity for the first time to battle as their favorite Nintendo characters on the go.

While both the Wii U and 3DS versions of the fourth installment of the franchise have the same playable characters, they don’t have all the same stages. In fact, the 3DS has some of the more enjoyable stages: Earthbound’s Magicant, 3D Land, Balloon Fight, the Kirby’s Dream Land Game Boy stage, and Animal Crossing’s Tortimer Island. The controls were excellent for a handheld, and the added Smash Run mode provided players with a collection battle experience similar to that found in the vastly underrated Kirby Air Ride.

3. Mario Kart 7
Rating: 9.25/10

mariokart7

The 3DS’s entry in the excellent Mario Kart series provided (up to that point) the best online functionality of any game in the franchise and some of the more creative stages. Mario Kart 7 added the kite/parasail mechanic later found in Mario Kart 8, which opened up the door for new and interesting ways to play through some of the trickier and windier stages. This game is a must for all 3DS owners.

2. Super Mario 3D Land
Rating: 9.25/10

mario3dland

3D Land is probably the easiest game in the entire Mario collection, so gamers looking for the gritty challenge from the older games will probably be disappointed by how quickly they can blast through this one. Still, the level design is impeccable, the music is joyous and fun, and the overall game layout is reminiscent of the older 2D Mario games in the best way possible.

Fans of the series often point to Super Mario 64 as the first true 3D entry in the series, and while Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and the Super Mario Galaxy games are all among some of the best 3D platformers of all time, 3D Land was the first Mario game to truly feel like a three-dimensional version of the original NES titles. The mechanics are simple, the secrets are hiding in plain sight, and the game manages to present challenge when it needs to. Average gamers can probably complete this entry in a few hours, but the game is so chock-full of content that completionists will find plenty to love in this one.

1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Rating: 9.75

linkbetweenworlds

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of my favorite games of all time and established the foundation for the 3D entries in the legendary series that we all know and love. A Link Between Worlds takes that same magic, gives the overworld a brand new coat of paint, and creates one of the best entries in the series since Ocarina of Time.

A Link Between Worlds takes no time throwing the player right into the action. It foregoes tons of lore and cutscenes in favor of a streamlined, straightforward experience filled with engaging combat, a ton of sidequests, and even a Hylian baseball game. The rental shop allows players to complete dungeons in any order they want, and the mechanic of turning Link into a wall painting masterfully utilizes the hardware in ways no other game on the handheld could. The game manages to achieve a perfect balance between reimagining and innovation, something that has defined Nintendo as a company and Zelda as a franchise for decades. This Zelda game is easily the best game on the 3DS and one of the best video games overall in the past five years.

Anything I’m missing? Let us know in the comments below!

Pictures Above: YouTube, Flickr

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