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What do you have installed on your Nintendo 3DS?

by Ron Duwell | January 3, 2016January 3, 2016 8:00 am PST

Following up on our question about your PlayStation Vita from some time back, next we want to ask about its rival handheld, the Nintendo 3DS. Why? Well, yeah, not as many people own and consistently use a Vita anymore, and the Nintendo 3DS is still king of the handheld space.

At its peak, there was a time when I couldn’t be found without my Nintendo 3DS. 2013 and 2014 were pretty great with a barrage of excellent JRPGs, free games from Club Nintendo, and a healthy selection of exclusive indie titles to fill in the gaps. For a while, Nintendo had me in its pocket just as much as I had my 3DS in mine… not sure what happened to change that.

The Nintendo 3DS dominates the PS Vita in terms of memory space, allowing gamers to save data on generic SD cards rather than expensive memory cards. This allows for not only cheaper memory but also plenty of options that go beyond the maximum 64GB of space that the PS Vita allows.

I’m still using the 32GB card I picked up the day I bought my console mostly because games for the Nintendo 3DS are much smaller, and I doubt I’ll ever need more. Still, I have a similar organization system on the console’s home page. Infinitely larger folders though mean I only have to store my games in four total folders. No need to pick, choose, and be specific here:

  • Full 3DS Games
  • Digital 3DS Games
  • Virtual Console
  • The Legend of Zelda

Fairly simple. Same format. Here we go!

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Full 3DS Games

The Nintendo 3DS was the console which pushed me into switching to a purely digital platform. I picked up four physical games before deciding to make the change, and I haven’t looked back. “Full 3DS Games” naturally means the largest games available for the console, carrying a price tag of $30-$50 and most likely have a physical option.

This folder has 18 games, and as you might expect, this folder is loaded with JRPGs from back when the console was churning them out left and right. Etrian Odyssey 4: Legends of the Titan was my favorite of these, but my collection includes:

  • Bravely Default
  • Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl
  • Etrian Odyssey II Untold: The Fafnir Knight
  • Fire Emblem Awakening, my second favorite of this bunch
  • Shin Megami Tensei 4
  • Yo-kai Watch
  • The Legend of Legacy
  • Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, which I guess is my go to Pokémon game nowadays
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor
  • Rune Factory 4
  • Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, my other second favorite of this bunch

It really seemed for a while that Nintendo was going to be the ambassador of JRPGs for North America. Etrian Odyssey and Fire Emblem were out of this world, not to mention Bravely Default, which restored faith in Square Enix being a handheld supporter. That’s a sentiment that is once again dwindling. 2015 might just be an off-year and doesn’t have the strongest line-up of choices, but announcements are slowly piling up for a stronger second half of the year and a better 2016.

Oh yeah, this folder is home to more than just JRPGs. Action games, platformers, and text adventures also reside here, extending to:

  • Super Smash Bros. for the 3DS
  • Super Mario Land 3D
  • Code of Princess
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies
  • Yoshi’s New Island, I’m still the only person who likes this game
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, my Club Nintendo 2014 reward!

Like I said, I own Super Mario 3D Land, Kid Icarus: Uprising, and Virtue’s Last Reward physically, but I am waiting for a price drop or a sale to nab these up digitally.

Digital 3DS Games

This folder is dedicated to everything else designed to run natively on the system. Games that do not come in a box and do not sell at an expensive price. Smaller games, indie games, digital-only games, and even a DSi Game have found their ways into this collection of 24 titles.

I’m trying to think of how to break these up. I suppose we’ll start with the Guild games. These were developed by iconic Japanese designers as indie projects, backed financially by Level 5 and given free creative reign on the final product.

Crimson Shroud is in this folder, and it’s my actual favorite game on the Nintendo 3DS. Yasumi Matsuno, the director of Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, and Tactics Ogre, and his storytelling haven’t aged a day since his peak, and this little gem fits right in with his older masterpieces. The mechanics are also unique and solid, providing plenty of hours of entertainment for a fraction of the price of a full RPG.

I’m also a big fan of Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo Tale, a tiny adventure game from Kaz Ayabe and his team at Millennium Kitchen. Much like its bread and butter, the Japan-only Boku no Natsuyasumi games, Attack of the Friday Monsters perfectly depicts child life in the countryside of Japan. Gorgeous visuals, lovely art. One of of the most atmospheric game on the system, and for all the right reasons.

The other Guild games I own are:

  • The Starship Damrey
  • Liberation Maiden
  • Bugs vs Tanks
  • Aero Porter

From there, we will move on to smaller games published by none other than Nintendo. These are tiny side projects of the big-N, usually developed by its affiliates and tossed onto the eShop at a very fair price. Games like:

  • Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword by Grounding Inc. Excellent game
  • Crashmo by Intelligent Systems
  • Stretchmo by Intelligent Systems
  • BOXBOY! by HAL Laboratories, still need to play this one

WayForward also has a huge presence in this library with:

  • Mighty Switch Force
  • Mighty Switch Force 2
  • Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, the sole DSi Game in this folder
  • Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse

After that, we move into the true, blue indie games. These are Western developed indie titles that Nintendo has thrown its weight behind. I don’t need to tell you how much I adore Shovel Knight, but I do. It’s my favorite game on this console, right up there with Crimson Shroud. Other games include:

  • SteamWorld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt
  • SteamWorld Heist
  • Mutant Mudds
  • Gunman Clive

On the Japanese indie front, I have Studio Pixel’s masterpiece Cave Story and its companion piece, Ikachan. Inti Creates, the Japanese developer of Mighty No. 9 and the Mega Man Zero games, also take up a share in this folder with Azure Striker Gunvolt and Mighty Gunvolt.

Virtual Console

I love the classics, so you can bet there are a lot of games in this folder. 31 games in this folder representing every console supported by the 3DS Virtual Console. Makes it easier to divide up doesn’t it?

First we’ll start off with the NES. I surprisingly don’t have as many games from Nintendo’s first home console as you might think because I disagree with the button layout. Still, there are a few classics I could not say “no” to and like to have with me when I travel. These include:

  • Blaster Master
  • Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
  • Mega Man 2
  • Mega Man 6, mostly just to see if it holds up as a misunderstood classic (it kind of does)
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Metroid
  • The Mysterious Murasame Castle

From there, we jump into the Game Boy Color in my lineup, represented by:

  • Wario Land 2
  • Wario Land 3
  • Shantae
  • Mario Golf

I don’t think it is very surprising that the original Game Boy makes up the largest section of this folder. They are the cheapest games on the eShop, and now that I think about it, I really spent a lot of time on my Game Boy as a kid. More so than I remember. 13 games, most of them I played and loved as a starry eyed youth.

  • Gargoyle’s Quest, a fabulous platformer way ahead of its time
  • Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters, better than the NES game
  • Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, a new classic favorite
  • Mole Mania, a “holy grail” of mine ever since I stumbled on it in Nintendo Power #93
  • Donkey Kong ‘94, the best Donkey Kong game?
  • Avenging Spirit, a strange, overlooked gem. Check this one out
  • Bionic Commando, not better than the NES game, but it still holds up
  • Super Mario Land 2 – 6 Golden Coins, really weird Mario game, but again, I played it a lot
  • Super Mario Land, Mario done by Gunpei Yokoi, fabulously weird little game
  • Mega Man V, I’ve heard for years how this one was the best Mega Man game on Game Boy, it’s okay
  • Kirby’s Dreamland 2, not as good as Kirby’ Adventure, but fun none-the-less
  • Metroid II – Return of Samusstill not a fan
  • Mario’s Picross, I’ve never understood this game, but it was free on Club Nintendo one month

Wait a minute! I claimed that my collection represents every console supported by the Virtual Console. What about the Game Gear, Ron? Certainly you don’t own a Game Gear game. WRONG! I do indeed own a Game Gear game, one I like very much.

My soul Game Gear game is Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya, my very first strategy RPG game. I played this at a friend’s house for hours during a long summer afternoon and loved every minute of it. This was long before Final Fantasy Tactics came into my life too. I had forgotten the subtitle for many years and was unable to play it because I don’t own an actual Game Gear. Thanks to the Virtual Console, I’ve been able to rekindle that nostalgic afternoon.

I’ve also included 3D classics into this folder, so I’ll get those out of the way. 3D Kirby’s Adventure is far and away the best of the 3D Classics I own, a downright masterpiece that has yet to be supplanted in the franchise as the absolute best. Let’s not forget that it isn’t burdened by the NES Virtual Console’s questionable button layout either, allowing for comfortable play with modern standards. B is jump, Y is attack these days, Nintendo!

I also own:

  • 3D Kid Icarus
  • 3D Space Harrier
  • 3D Super Hang-On
  • 3D Twin Bee
  • 3D Streets of Rage 2
  • 3D Gunstar Heroes
  • 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2

The Legend of Zelda

Just like Final Fantasy, Persona, and now Mega Man, an addition since I wrote that PS Vita editorial, my Nintendo 3DS has a folder dedicated exclusively to a single franchise. What better than The Legend of Zelda? I’ve loved the franchise since the NES days, and I’ve preferred the handheld overhead entries ever since the franchise forked with Ocarina of Time.

Strangely, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is now a full blown handheld game, a thought that never would have crossed my mind 17 years ago. I’m still not a major fan of it, but it’s there if I want to go exploring in its overly familiar world. I am more privy to The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, which I also have, but not as privy as others in the face of its re-evaluation. It’s good, but I don’t have the patience for its trial and error structure like my 15 year old self would have.

I also own The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, a nice little tread through the past but not a masterpiece on its own. Thank goodness this game is here because the 3DS does not support A Link to the Past! What a travesty!

And there is The Legend of Zelda: Tri-Force Heroes, which I still haven’t gotten around too.

Following the original games, I have a few Virtual Console entries as well, extending to:

  • The Legend of Zelda, still a masterpiece
  • Zelda II – The Adventure of Link, an under appreciated gem
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX, I prefer the black and white Game Boy release
  • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of the Seasons
  • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of the Ages

One final game lingers in this folder, Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition. This DSi version of The Link to the Past’s GBA multiplayer portion, and it is still a bit of fun to pull out and explore, especially because I didn’t have friends to play it with back in the GBA days. As a standalone game, it’s not great or anything like that. Nintendo gave it away for free for a brief time, but I doubt you can get it anymore.

That’s my 3DS Collection. Just for fun, I have the demo for Stella Glow installed, and the game residing in my cartridge slot is Chrono Trigger because why not? It’s Chrono Trigger!

I might be taking a break from my PS Vita since the battery is officially down to just an hour of play. Luckily, I have all these games to keep me busy while it’s getting fixed!


Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...

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