15 Great 3DS Games for Christmas

Reading Time: 8 minutes

(image credit: flickr/hansel5569)

With Christmas approaching, video game publishers are starting to jostle for position. This is particularly true for the Nintendo 3DS, whose holiday season will be make or break.

To help you pick through the games coming out in the next few months, I got together with a fellow writer (Chris Jarvis) to bring you the low down. So whether you’ve picked up a cheap 3DS recently or are an early adopter looking for new experiences, this list should help.

Mario Kart 7

Mario Kart 7

Will see a vibrant return to the familiar kart-racing action, together with some new ideas – such as wings for gliding over the course after a successfully high jump and vehicle customization, allowing a player to adjust their vehicle to suit their own play style. However, Mario Kart also integrates many of the ideas that have been at the forefront of Nintendo’s output in recent years. The ever-popular Mii characters can be chosen, instead of the stock choice of characters. Nintendo will also be making more use of Wuhu Island (familiar to anybody who has played Wii Fit or Pilotwings Resort), which is fast becoming a signature Nintendo location with a growing level of detail and character all of its own.

Super Mario 3D Land

Super Mario 3D Land

Will bridge the gaps between classic Super Mario platforming, the once-new freedoms of Super Mario 64 and the beauty and boundless imagination of Super Mario Galaxy. Many of the levels are classic side-scrolling Mario, given new depth by the 3D display and the benefit of modern graphics, while others provide the world-leaping and free exploration of Mario’s more modern adventures. Developed for the 3DS itself, Super Mario 3D Land’s design is clearly a product of a console with no native second analogue stick. The game play guides the player through fixed-camera scenarios and it’s an interesting thought that this could be the same game that Super Mario Galaxy would have been if the player had been denied the ability to rotate the camera.

Cave Story 3D

Cave Story

Brings 8-bit platforming to the 3DS. However, an uncertain 3D visual style and the challenge of accommodating touch screen controls still leave a lot to be answered by this darling of old school gamers. Cave Story is one of those games deemed worthy of adoration by hardcore gaming fans. Originally free on the PC (and later available on Wii-ware and DSi-ware), it features classic 2D platforming in a homage to games like Metroid, Castlevania and even Jet Set Willy.

Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion

Punch Time Explosion

Will let you pit favorite characters against each other in arena brawls. Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion is a crossover fighting game inspired by Smash Bros. Brawl. It will include popular characters from 11 different Cartoon Network Shows, including Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Samurai Jack, and the Powerpuff Girls. A total of 18 playable characters are available, with 19 summoned assistants. An additional two secret characters are yet to be revealed.

Bit.Trip Saga

Bit.Trip.Saga

Will bring the full Bit.Trip family to Nintendo’s new console. Of most interest is how the games accommodate touch screen controls and whether any additional content will be included. Bit.Trip games were originally developed by Gaijin Games for WiiWare and more recently the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Each game features Commander Video’s (of Super Meat Boy fame) attempts to save the universe. But more than any narrative similarity it is the bright disco visuals and rhythm-action game play that unites these titles.

James Noir’s Hollywood Crimes

Hollywood Crimes 3d

A mystery puzzle game, a genre that has prospered on the DS. Whether it succeeds on the new handheld may provides clues to the future of 3DS games. Following the huge success of Professor Layton and Dr Kawashima, the old 2D DS saw a large number of lower profile puzzle and mystery games released, titles that have focused on straightforward brain teasers over fast action and high production values. If it’s successful, Hollywood Crimes could signal a similar gold rush of low-octane, low-budget puzzlers for the 3DS.

Nano Assault

Nano Assault

Makes great use of the 3D display of the Nintendo 3DS and provides an addictive shooter experience on the move. Nano Assault is the follow up to Nanostray 1 and 2, a pair of sleeper hits which provided some good old-fashioned bullet-hell style shooting on the Nintendo DS. Like Ikaruga these games reveled in a classic 2D scrolling style, but utilized 3D models and a dynamic camera.

Sonic Generations

Sonic Generations

Unites an array of styles, times, features from Sonic’s 20 year legacy to deliver a game which should offer something for everybody. A good Sonic game has always been about the rush of blasting through levels to collect rings and it looks like that spirit is very effectively rekindled here. I remember the forward-facing tube sections in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 being some of the first 3D graphics I saw on a home console. I can’t wait to relive the moment again in true 3D.

Pokemon Rumble Blast

Pokemon Rumble Blast

Brings immediate arcade action to the Pokemon world. Based on a game originally for Wii-Ware, are the changes enough to break or fix the formula? The original version of Pokemon Rumble Blast was released for Wii-Ware (as Pokemon Rumble). It was a pretty entertaining diversion, using a group of Pokemon in a more action setting. The choice of attacks is based on the Pokemon’s own abilities and utilises the same balance of strengths and weaknesses as the main games in the Pokemon series. To play well, it is vital to have a balanced team and target the weaknesses of the enemy, especially with the huge boss Pokemon.

Shinobi

Shinobi

Hopes to conjure its excellent beginnings with a fresh art style and new free-form ninja combat. Shinobi is one of the longest standing action platform games. Since it was first released in the arcades of the early 90′s the franchise has been shaped to a variety of formats — although none quite as successful as that first outing. Shinobi tells the story of Jiro Musashi, leader of the Oboro and father of Joe Musashi — the same hero as in the original games. It promises to provide a new combo system that switches between melee, ranged and acrobatic attacks and enable players to tackle each level as they see fit.

Zen Pinball

Zen Pinball

Brings realistically modeled silver ball action to the 3DS. The longstanding console series may not include official tables like the Williams or Gotlieb collections, but until they come to the 3D handheld this will do very nicely. Zen Pinball for the 3DS features four tables previously released via the Pinball FX series for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. This includes the previously PS3-exclusive tables Shaman and El Dorado, and Excalibur and Earth Defense, previously downloadable on both s Xbox 360 and PS3.

Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection

Williams Collection

Is set to offer the greatest hits of Williams tables from arguably the biggest designer in the world — although without their biggest hit, The Adams Family. Pinball games have always proven to be very popular as video games. Perhaps is it because the basic form of Pinball offered an early physics simulation based on basic variables. Possibly it is the purity of the challenge: an elongated game of keep-ups with a score growing ever higher.

Anglers Club

Angler's Club

Adds motions controls and 3D visuals to the action-fishing genre. What results isn’t a revolution but is another confident option for e-fishing-fans. Anglers Club: Ultimate Bass Fishing 3DS updates the fishing sim for Nintendo’s handheld. The main hook here (sorry) seems to be the authentic 3D fishing experience. But actually the 3DS has more to offer with its other features.

Reel Fishing Paradise

Reel Fishing Paradise

Brings a little Monster Hunter to the prize fishing world with a realistic rather than exuberant experience. As we said about Anglers Club: Ultimate Bass Fishing, fishing games were a big novelty when they first emerged back on the Dreamcast. Since then there has been a steady stream of similar games along with the ubiquitous Fishing Rod controllers.

The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin

The Secret of the Unicorn 3DS offers an entertaining companion piece to the movie, with a mini-game approach bringing scenes from the film to life. In comparison to The Adventures of Tintin (PS3), which eschews film content in favor of a series of platforming puzzles featuring the characters, the 3DS version takes a more literal approach to translating the film’s scenes to game format.

Although many will be drawn to the big name titles in the list, for me it’s actually the more unusual experiences like Reel Fishing and Tintin that I’m looking forward to the most.

[Head image by flicker/hansel5569]

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