The Best Overlooked Nintendo 3DS Games of 2016

Check out these forgotten gems.

For a handheld console that was released in 2011, the Nintendo 3DS is still going surprisingly strong. The just-released Pokémon Sun and Moon is in all likelihood going to be one of the year’s best-selling games across any system, while the likes of Fire Emblem Fates and Kirby Planet Robobot have been scattered throughout the year to keep fans playing. And there are still a lot of good games coming out for the system, including some that were overlooked by its more marquee releases. With that in mind, here are some overlooked 3DS titles you might’ve missed in 2016.

Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past

Originally released in Japan in 2013 (itself a remake of the game’s initial PlayStation release in 2000), a chance for a Dragon Quest VII localization looked extremely slim until a very vocal fanbase made their wishes known to Square Enix over the ensuing years. That’s because DQVII is absolutely massive, with one of the most text-heavy narratives of any game ever — we’re talking thousands of lines to translate, which represents a journey that can last upwards of 100 hours. And while the game’s launch received absolutely no fanfare, if you’re a fan of JRPGs, you owe it to play this one.

Like most traditional games in the genre — and Dragon Quest is undoubtedly traditional — the plot’s not as important as the characterizations on display here (it deals with time travel and fairly standard RPG tropes), and luckily for players, the series has never been lacking in that department, thanks to its sheer overwhelming charm. Visually DQVII pops with Akira Toriyama’s fun and silly character and monster designs, particularly the trademark slimes; add in a comedic tone that counterbalances the serious aspects of the premise and you have the recipe for a highly entertaining game that suddenly is more than the sum of its conservative parts. No wonder DQ’s appeal soars over Final Fantasy in Japan.

Picross 3D: Round 2

Picross fans really love the game, which dates back to 1995 in Nintendo’s history (and even earlier if you count print versions of the concept). Though Picross — a portmanteau for “picture crossword” — has been in two dimensions, Nintendo released Picross 3D for the DS back in 2009, and it proved even more fun than the traditional flat style. How this puzzler works is easy: Each challenge presents you with a plain, boring shape, put together in a grid marked with numbers; it may not look like much, but each of these geometric figures hides a 3D object inside.

In any case, the displayed numbers represent cubes in any given row or column of the cube, including depth of the shape, that will make up the final shape. (So, if a column is marked “0,” you can safely get rid of its blocks, as none are part of the hidden object.) As with any logic puzzle, you use process of elimination and cross-referencing the corresponding numbers to work out which blocks need to be kept, and Round 2 adds another wrinkle by letting you mark blocks as orange deformable cubes or regular blue ones, giving the final object the sophistication of domes, triangles and other geometric shapes. If you like puzzle games, you won’t be able to put this one down.


Like any good puzzle platformer, BoxBoxboy! is so simple you can get the gist of it in under a minute. This is a stage-based platformer (from Kirby developer HAL Laboratory, hence how adorable your character is) where you must create boxes in order to solves puzzles and reach the end of the stage.

Each stage has a set number of boxes you can use, so it’s up to you to figure out how to hit the goal within any given stage’s limitations. BoxBoxBoy! is, as may not be surprising, a sequel to last year’s BoxBoy!, only this time around you can create up to two sets of boxes rather than simply being limited to one. As you might imagine, that little wrinkle invites complications quickly. The game proved such an unexpected success this year that HAL recently announced a third entry — which one can only hope will be called BoxBoxBoxBoy!!, along with probably the cutest amiibo ever devised. This is one the eShop’s best.

Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse

Do you need to have played Shin Megami Tensei IV properly to enjoy Apocalypse? Not entirely, but it helps. Like most of Atlus’ wide-ranging SMT games, you could say that this spin-off of 2013’s SMTIV deals with two things: demon charming and religious allegory. Set in a devastated post-apocalyptic Tokyo caught in a war between the forces of Heaven and Hell – SMT has never been one for normalcy Apocalypse acts as a kind of side story and quasi-sequel to IV’s original plot. However, even if you haven’t played its predecessor, there’s still a deeply weird, thought-provoking and intensely strategic RPG waiting here.

As is standard operating procedure for a mainline SMT title, the bulk of the game’s dozens of hours involves befriending and capturing demon familiars to fight alongside you (which you can eventually fuse together to create stronger monsters) by simply talking to them. Each demon is different, and won’t respond favorably to the same method; for instance, a pissed off demon is probably not going to be convinced to join you if you’re nice to them. Of course, none of this would be possible without Atlus’s superb localizations, which add personality and humor to demon and NPC alike. The game’s mix of 2D and 3D environments make a great case for the 3DS’s continued viability, too. Try it if you’re looking for something different.

Hyrule Warriors Legends

Koei Tecmo has really been on a winning streak lately with their licensed titles, whether of the Musou variety, like Dragon Quest Warriors or the Wii U’s original Hyrule Warriors, or the company’s brilliant if snacky Attack on Titan adaptation. Hyrule Warriors Legends is, as you probably could guess, a port of the game’s Wii U version, with the added bonus of new playable characters from Wind Waker as well as Nintendos new made up female Link counterpart, Linkle.

A word of advice though if youre interested in picking this one up, it reportedly has been made for the New 3DS or New 3DS XL (the model with the added analog nub Nintendo has been selling since last year), and has some pretty glaring framerate problems on the original 3DS hardware.

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