Despite some new releases after the Switch's launch, it seems that the Nintendo 3DS is reaching its end. With the company moving on to support the Nintendo Switch, the 3DS has a fantastic library of first-party and third-party games, most of which featuring stereoscopic 3D visuals. It might've been a bit gimmicky, but there's plenty to love with having 3D games that you don't need glasses to see.
Looking back on the various 3D games Nintendo released for their handheld device, we're looking at the 10 best ones that they made. For this list, we will only be considering first-party 3D games, so only those from Nintendo.
10 THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: OCARINA OF TIME 3D
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was often cited as the best Zelda game Nintendo ever made. Link's transition to a 3D environment was glorious, and Nintendo knew that it was time a new generation got to experience it. The game was rebuilt with new features and polishing for a re-release on the Nintendo 3DS. This made a classic game even better. With gyro aiming, some of the best use of 3D at the time, and the map and inventory all on the second screen, this remake became the definitive way to play Ocarina of Time for many people.
9 KIRBY PLANET ROBOBOT
While Kirby Triple Deluxe was the first 3D adventure for the pink puffball, it was Kirby Planet Robobot that improved on the formula in just about every way. It was still designed with the engine established in Kirby's Return to DreamLand, but there were so many new features and clever puzzles that it felt like something entirely new. The Robobot Armor was great for combat as well as new types of puzzles to solve. The visuals were as great as ever, and it also featured one of the most difficult True Arenas ever since Kirby Super Star Ultra on the regular DS.
8 FIRE EMBLEM: AWAKENING
Ever since Marth and Roy made it into Super Smash Bros Melee, Fire Emblem has been slowly making its way to the west to captivate a new audience. However, it wasn't until Fire Emblem: Awakening on the 3DS that the series really took off around the world. In many ways, Awakening was like a new birth for the franchise, simplifying the formula and combat so that all sorts of new players could get invested. That said, it still kept the complex systems so veterans of the series could have a lot more to do. The map designs also looked great with the 3D feature.
7 SUPER MARIO 3D LAND
It's hard to believe that there was a time when the Nintendo 3DS wasn't doing so well. This led Nintendo to create a 3D Mario game that played more like a 2D Mario game. Because they were focused on utilizing the system's 3D, the levels were also designed with a bit more verticality. The result was Super Mario 3D Land, which is just an unabashedly great platformer. It feels and plays just like it should, being the first game on the console to make a case for the built-in 3D visuals. It was a bit safe, but it was handled so well.
6 ANIMAL CROSSING: NEW LEAF
If you're into life simulation, then Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the way to go. The only Animal Crossing game released on the 3DS, this one had to be excellent. Needless to say, becoming the mayor proved so much fun to many people that New Leaf is often cited as the best in the entire series. Nintendo would go on to support the game with future updates and content years after its launch, giving more reason to go back to it. It added many new features to the series and laid the groundwork for future entries to go even further.
5 MARIO KART 7
Mario Kart 7 was the next Mario Kart game after the Wii, and it pushed the series in the right direction. It had attractive visuals, fun race tracks, and a new glider mechanic that had racers soaring through the air.
It was clean and easy to play, including a download play feature that allowed multiple people to play without a copy of the game. While it might be an inferior game now when compared to the console games that came after it, Mario Kart 7 is an excellent racing game on the 3DS and was another great move by Nintendo. It was also one of the best-looking 3DS games at the time.
4 POKÉMON SUN AND MOON
With the Pokémon formula starting to get a bit stale, Game Freak looked to the Orange Islands for inspiration with Gen VII. Pokémon Sun and Moon were based in the tropical Alola Region. Doing away with Pokémon Gyms entirely, players had to complete island trials to get to the Pokémon League instead. Sun and Moon were based in a new world where a grid-based map was no longer the case. HMs were gone and replaced by rideable Pokémon. Game Freak was willing to buck their own trends to create one of the better Pokémon experiences in quite a long time.
3 METROID: SAMUS RETURNS
The Metroid franchise had been seemingly going downhill since the release of Metroid Prime: Other M. However, Nintendo was ready to make the name of Samus Aran mean something again. They built a remake of Metroid II: The Return of Samus on the 3DS.
With so many features changed, a brand new visual style, and plenty of better mechanics brought into the fold, the original game is almost unrecognizable, but that's for the better. Metroid: Samus Returns is a phenomenal sidescroller that fans of the franchise shouldn't miss. Furthermore, supporting this game gives Nintendo more reason to continue the series.
2 KID ICARUS: UPRISING
After Masahiro Sakurai finished his work on Super Smash Bros Brawl, he wanted to work on a different series for the 3DS. Using his redesign of Pit from Kid Icarus, he breathed new life into that series for the 3DS in the form of Kid Icarus: Uprising. No longer was the franchise a sidescroller, but it was now more of an on-rails shooter. However, there was so much style, production value, and great gameplay that no one batted an eye. The controls were a bit complicated with the 3DS's limited buttons, but that was a problem fixed with later 3DS models.
1 SUPER SMASH BROS FOR NINTENDO 3DS
While many will regard Super Smash Bros for Nintendo Wii U as the superior version of the game, there were many areas where Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS outdid its big brother. Smash Run as a new mode that had a lot of potential.
The Classic Mode was more concise and engaging. Then, the stages themselves proved to be a bit more carefully designed rather than some of the cacophonous messes that were in the Wii U version. The game still surprisingly ran at a smooth 60 fps and featured that same Smash action that we all know and love. It's simply impressive that Nintendo got this game on the 3DS at all.