So far this year, the kids and I have played a lot of Pokkén Tournament and Mario Kart 8 on Nintendo Switch. Which is weird, because we’d previously played those titles (quite extensively) on the Wii U. After that little realization, it didn’t take long for me to notice that the same thing seems to be true of our 3DS gaming; the three of us are all currently in the process of revisiting titles from across the spectrum of Nintendo’s storied past, albeit in new and enhanced ways.
Yo-kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters (Nintendo 3DS)
The original Yo-kai Watch was well received in my household, and upon their release last year, we anxiously played through the sequels, Yo-kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls. Ok, let me rephrase that; I anxiously played through Fleshy Souls.
My son, however, deliberately, methodically made his way through Bony Spirits, acquiring, fusing, and evolving an almost ridiculously expansive collection of Yo-kai along the way. He traveled back in time to discover the origin of the Yo-kai Watch, plumbed the mysteries of the great Yo-kai civil war, and handily beat the core single-player campaign. And then he just… kept on playing.
A year later, when presented with a newer iteration, Yo-kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters, I expected him to balk at the prospect of a return to Springdale. I assumed he’d had his fill of this particular adventure. And I was so very, very wrong.
I’m not sure what really did it for him. Maybe it was the whopping 350+ available spirits to battle and befriend—including Wicked Yo-kai, Boss Yo-kai, and previous version exclusives. Perhaps it was the new quests, revealing new details about Darknyan, Dame Dedtime, and even your ghost butler Whisper. Could it be the new locations of Gera Gera Resort, now accessible via the Hexpress?
Who knows? But, honestly, I think it was the simple fact that he could easily transfer his original data from Bony Spirits directly to Psychic Specters, offering him easy access to the expanded story without forcing him to retread plot points and locations with which he is already (overly) familiar.
But whether your Yo-kai Watcher is a returning fan or a new convert, and whether he or she is here for the extensive, core roleplaying experience, the Yo-kai Watch Blasters multiplayer mode, or just to explore this unique world of quirky ghosts, Psychic Specters is the definitive version of Yo-kai Watch 2.
So says my 12-year-old. And he is the resident expert.
Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions (Nintendo 3DS)
My daughter, meanwhile, 3 years younger and only recently really getting into RPG video games, has become totally engrossed in Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions. While the original GBA title, Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga, predates her birth by nearly a decade, I really couldn’t ask for a better way to introduce a newbie to the wonderful world of the action roleplaying genre!
This reimagined 3DS version differs in a number of ways—for example, its visuals now look a lot more like 2013’s Dream Team—but at its core, it still boasts the clever, engaging writing and the simplified, delightfully accessible control scheme you remember.
For those who missed the original, Superstar Saga pits the Mario brothers against Cackletta, a calculating witch from the Beanbean Kingdom. What follows is a globetrotting adventure worthy of the Mario RPG franchise, complete with a vivid overworld, a combat system that is both turn-based and relies on timed button presses, and a plot that only gets more bizarre (and entertaining) as you progress through its robust campaign.
Its various visual and gameplay tweaks are aided by the 3DS’s second screen, and some actions, like switching between super moves and managing your inventory, are all the better for it. The biggest change, though, is the addition of that all-important secondary mode.
As the title implies, Bowser’s Minions is very much an experience unto itself. While Mario and Luigi are on their mission to aid Princess Peach, it’s up to Captain Goomba to reassemble the scattered remnants of Bowser’s army and locate their missing master.
Unlike Superstar Saga-proper, Bowser’s Minions is more of a dumbed-down tactical RPG affair where battles play out largely on their own. Like in the core game, some well-timed button presses can aid your troops, but it’s mostly about knowing which types trump which. Though it’s noticeably less inspired (and more grind-y) than the other half of the tale, having the option to go through both the A and B plots as you see fit does add a fun new dimension. In fact, my only complaint is that Bowser’s Minions isn’t available from the get-go; you’ll have to play a bit through the main game to unlock this little jewel.
Pokémon Gold and Silver Version (Nintendo 3DS)
While it’d be easy for me to cast dispersions on my brood for replaying a game already played to completion a little more than a year ago or getting so pulled into a gaming experience originally from ages before their birth, I have a confession to make; my current 3DS fave is none other than Pokémon Gold.
Yes, the second installment in the original Pokémon franchise—circa 2000—arrived in the eShop alongside the Switch’s Pokkén Tournament DX, and I’m presently battling my way through the Johto Region all over again.
From the get-go (i.e.: setting the time and choosing, obviously, your very own Totodile), it’s every bit the experience you remember. The GBC-era sprites hold up relatively well—especially in this current age of 8- and 16-bit throwback graphics—and, combined with the music and gameplay, make for a delightful retro on-the-go adventure.
There are, of course, a few notable upgrades even to this digital title. You can now battle and trade via local wireless, and it supports the Pokémon Bank application. You can also score a special Celebi unlock for Pokémon Sun/Moon (or their upcoming Ultra editions) as well as an exclusive 3DS menu theme with purchase.
Review materials provided by: Nintendo of America