Long time no see everyone! 2013 is already nearly over, and what it year it was! There was a lot of fanfare behind the releases of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 back in November. However, 2013 really belongs to the 3DS, Nintendo’s latest handheld system.
It’s hard to believe that 3DS was once nearly regarded as a flop near its launch. Now, the 3DS is, by far, the system to deliver the most bang for your buck. This year, tons of great games came out for this handheld system.
It was a challenge to determine what was the cream of the crop, but here are my top five 3DS games of 2013:
5. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
In an interesting marketing twist, Nintendo celebrated 2013 as the Year of Luigi. Which is now confirmed to spread in 2014…so it’s more like the Fiscal Year of Luigi? Anyways, out of this emerged two noteworthy 3DS titles: Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon and Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. While I was a big fan of Mario & Luigi games in the past, Dream Team is having a hard time gaining some momentum with me. Therefore, the honor of fifth place goes to Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.
Dark Moon is a follow-up to the GameCube classic, and I’ll admit I have a soft spot in my heart for some spooky Mario…er…Luigi goodness and Boos. While the ghosts are a bit more generic in design than they were in the original game, they are used in a multitude of clever ways.
The common Greenies will be wearing cooking pots on their heads one moment, donning sunglasses the next moment, and then haunting suites of armor another moment. All of these different scenarios require a different approach for Luigi to use in order to capture the mischievous ghosts in his Ghostbusters-like contraption, the Poltergust 5000. However, it should noted that the bosses are far from generic, especially since one of them is a staircase. Yes, you did read that correctly.
There is a nice variety of worlds too, since Luigi is no longer confined to one haunted house. This is a game with surprises up its sleeve, and it’s certainly not one to leave you bored anytime soon.
Still, forget “Year of Luigi”, 2013 is the Year of the 3DS, which you’ll discover why as you read on.
4. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Animal Crossing: New Leaf delivers everything Animal Crossing players wanted in the past (like pants) and more. This latest entry is the best Animal Crossing has ever been. The potential for endless creativity has always been a staple in the Animal Crossing games, but with New Leaf, that potential has been even further extended.
Along with wearing pants, the new additions of swimming, hanging things on the walls of your house, saving patterns as QR codes, and customizing your town with public works projects are also welcomed additions. I only wish my villagers would recommend some new public works projects more often, because you can’t build them until they’re requested.
In part thanks to the introduction of public works projects, there’s a bigger dependence on bells (the game’s currency). Conveniently, there is a tropical island full of lucrative beetles not far offshore. Although, I would be careful with the beetle-farming as it can get old fast.
New Leaf even added the convenience of town ordinances (like the Night Owl or Early Bird ordinances), which helps assist with how a player wishes to play the game. I currently have the Beautiful Town ordinance set up so my flowers won’t die from neglect…yes, it’s been awhile since I’ve visited my town, Foxtail. However, due to the nature of Animal Crossing, which is a game based on real time, there is often always something to do.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is like a digital zen garden complete with little animal residents. Players take care to arrange their towns and their houses into what they please. The Animal Crossing experience is even more complete with friends, whom you can share your arrangements with. The 3DS is a platform that makes this very easy to do which makes Animal Crossing feel right at home on the system.
3. Pokémon X and Y
There must be someone out there listening, because Pokémon X and Y are truly designed to cater to its players. Training Pokémon has never been easier thanks to things like the Friend Safari and newly added tweaks to breeding such as Destiny Knot. Not only does the series introduce some new (and very cool looking) monsters, it also embraces the old Pokémon that fans have loved throughout the years.
The introduction of Mega evolution helps to spread the spotlight to some of these old Pokémon like Mawile and Kangaskhan. Although, fair few were already in the spotlight without this new evolution (like Garchomp, Tyranitar, Scizor, etc.). Despite this, Mega Pokémon have proven not to overpower the game as feared and adds an interesting strategic element to battles. Also, the newly introduced Fairy type does a great job of putting once rampant Dragon (and Fighting) types in their place while not taking over itself.
From a non-competitive perspective, the Pokémon X and Y are truly the most gorgeous games out of the series. X and Y gracefully took the series into the third-dimension. I really fancy the shaders the developers took care of creating to mimic Ken Sugimori’s style. Shaders which are really at their best during battles (and while viewing the PokéDex).
While I didn’t find X and Y’s story as engaging as Black and White’s, there is no doubt that Pokémon X and Y delivers a solid and exciting Pokémon experience. Of course, the Pokémon games were never really noted for their deep stories in the first place.
For Pokémon fans or even beginner trainers, X and Y will guarantee to delight.
2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Admittedly, I was hesitant to play another handheld Zelda, which started having a trend of being lackluster in comparison with their console counterparts. I also didn’t grow up with the nostalgic appreciation that many gamers have for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which this game’s world and story is based on. My introduction to the Zelda series was Ocarina of Time…which is hard to top, despite how A Link to the Past is the foundation for much of Zelda lore.
Nevertheless, A Link Between Worlds, with its redirected focus on exploration, found itself placed among my top favorite Zelda games. I can easily say this is the most enjoyable handheld Zelda experience I’ve had since Link’s Awakening for the Game Boy/Game Boy Color. The newly introduce item rental system gives this game some very much welcomed flexibility, something I’ll admit Skyward Sword lacked.
I also can’t help but wonder if Nintendo took notes from the Zelda Symphony tour, because the music in A Link Between Worlds is top-notch. Most of the soundtrack consists of themes found in previous Zelda games (mostly notably A Link to the Past), but the overall quality of the music is great. I highly recommend having your volume up while playing this game, because the music itself really helps to add to the experience.
A Link Between Worlds has worked its way into the hearts of many fans and has even been crowned Game of the Year by some. The hype does not disappoint as this game successfully merges a nostalgia for the old with fun and new mechanics.
1. Fire Emblem Awakening
Choosing which game would claim first in my list was definitely challenge. Despite this, there was a game that stood out from the rest. The 3DS game that surprised me the most and impressed me the most was, by far, Fire Emblem Awakening.
It might have helped that I did not have high expectations for Fire Emblem Awakening initially. The only Fire Emblem game I’ve played in the past was Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. That was a game I eventually lost interest in and never did return to play. Therefore, I dubbed the Fire Emblem series as games that were not fun for me. I would only pick up Fire Emblem Awakening as part of a coupon deal along with Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Of course, Fire Emblem took a back seat, while I was running around with Isabelle doing mayor-like duties for a spell.
Once I did play Fire Emblem Awakening, I was hooked. Fire Emblem Awakening’s strength lies within its writing, which helps bring its world and, most importantly, its characters to life. Awakening does a great job of taking what I can best describe as “dating sim” elements and incorporating it into a strategy RPG. In the process, I became really attached to the development of my characters, and I would even grind willingly just to see their stories unfold.
The pacing in Fire Emblem Awakening is simply fantastic. Very few video games achieve this, but Awakening is one of them. Through both its lows and highs, the game sweeps you along on a seamless adventure. Nothing can really compare to how the game builds up its finale, which in a brilliant combination of narration, music, and gameplay make you feel as if you finished a epic quest.
Fire Emblem Awakening will make you love its characters and long for more. While the competition was tough, Fire Emblem Awakening, in my book, is clearly the top 3DS game for 2013. I can’t recommend it enough.
Now you know what I think, but what do you think are the top 3DS games to come out this year? Let me know in the comments below!