The Nintendo 3DS is one of the best-selling systems from the Japanese publisher yet. Released back in 2011, it faced off against Sony's ill-fated PlayStation Vita, whose tech ran circles around the 3DS. However, it was the dual-screened, hands-free 3D device that emerged victorious, boasting a robust game library to boot.
Sure, the 3DS lacked the technical grunt that Vita had more than enough of. It fundamentally was a PS2.5 with graphics capabilities comparable to the then-modern (i.e., PS3 era) platforms. The large gap between home consoles and portables still kept a vast majority of TV-focused games off the handhelds.
However, there are a handful of renditions even on 3DS that impress despite being pitted against more powerful systems.
These 3DS titles impress as both gaming and technical experiences
5) Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
Released first for the Wii in 2010, Donkey Kong Country Returns was a return to form for the long-dormant 2D platformer series. Since Microsoft brought the developers of the original Donkey Kong Country (DKC) trilogy, the Wii game was made under Nintendo's in-house Retro Studios.
They proved themselves more than capable as the game garnered universal acclaim. Three years later, DKCR3D made its way to the 3DS.
With the mysterious Tikis awakened by a volcanic eruption, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong must stop them from hypnotizing all the island animals. The gameplay is retained from the SNES trilogy, with the banana-collecting, barrel jumping, and even the tough challenge. However, the frame rate is lowered to 30 from 60.
The 3DS version features new levels and a new mode, with items that offer newcomers an easier experience.
4) Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World
Yoshi's debut on a modern platform was on the Wii U in 2015, mimicking the soft, woolen look of Kirby's Epic Yarn on Wii. However, that makes sense since the same developer, Good Feel, made both titles.
It's a familiar tale of (Yarn) Yoshis saving the island from the wizard Kamek acting under Baby Bowser's command. The gameplay sees users traverse colorful platforming clothscapes, collecting beads and other items.
The 3DS got an enhanced version called Poochy and Yoshi's Woolly World. Most of the Wii U game's content made it over except for co-op. However, there are new features, too. New levels aside, there's Poochy amiibo support, auto-runner Poochy Dash mode, and even 30 cute video shorts featuring the yarny characters of the game.
It's a visual step-down from the Wii U and in the 30 FPS performance, but it's the same fun and adorable game at heart.
3) Minecraft: New Nintendo 3DS Edition
The iconic worldwide phenomenon arrived on the 3D portable in 2017. Minecraft is playable in 3D for the first time and utilizes the second screen of the portable very well.
Gamers can keep track of the world with a map as well as manage their equipment and items on the fly without having to open up another screen. It is a novel experience for sure.
With that said, this edition is the worst way to enjoy the popular open-world survival/crafting title, especially running at the console's native 240p resolution. However, it's still an impressive feat given that the core experience is retained at a target of 60 FPS, despite reducing three chunks during normal gameplay.
Also to note is that, as the subtitle suggests, Minecraft is only available for the New 3DS model thanks to the improved specs.
2) Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Announced for both Nintendo Switch and 3DS, 2014's underrated Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker got another chance at popularity. It features the titular Toad on a journey to save Toadette and defeat Wingo.
This sees players explore a variety of levels solving puzzles and defeating enemies. While the Switch version is enhanced over Wii U as expected, it's the other handheld version that surprises.
The 3DS port maintains its core makeup from Wii U despite cutbacks to textures, lighting, geometry, etc. The frame rate has also been cut to 30 FPS, but the game's slow pace ensures it isn't a problem, especially when it is a stable experience.
The benefit here is the addition of stereoscopic 3D and being able to manipulate the environment using the touchscreen. It's a feature missing on Switch, one area where the 3D portable has the upper hand.
1) Xenoblade Chronicles 3D
Released near the end of the Wii's lifespan in 2010, Xenoblade Chronicles is widely regarded as one of the best JRPGs ever made. With a massive, seamless open world to explore, users step into the shoes of Shulk, who wields the Monado, a sword that can predict the future. It was and still is a technical showcase for the dated Wii hardware.
So when the title finally made its way to handheld in 2015, fans were amazed at how well the experience translated over despite some cutbacks. The performance does dip in cutscenes, but it's largely very stable in gameplay. All facets of the game are accounted for, and to see the vast Gaur Plains in the palm of your hand is nothing short of amazing.
Akin to Minecraft, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is also a New 3DS exclusive game.
Note: This article is purely subjective and solely reflects the author's views.