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Three Cheers for the 3DS! Part 1: Downloadable Games

On 08/09/2019 at 05:30 PM by Cary Woodham

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Can you believe the Nintendo 3DS was released 8 years ago in 2011?  I don’t like calling a game system ‘dead,’ because I feel a game console in only dead if you don’t play it.  But the 3DS is certainly at the end of its retail life cycle, as Nintendo isn’t making any more games for it, focusing solely on the Switch now.  So when a game console or handheld reaches that point in its life, I like to write a blog or two highlighting the best games for it (or at least the ones I really liked).  So here are some blogs about the best games on the 3DS!  There were SO many that I had to split it into two parts.  The first part we’re going to go over my favorite downloadable games, along with some other features of the 3DS I really liked.

First of all, one neat thing about the 3DS was the main menu and UI.  It was even better than the Switch’s UI!  There were icons for various applications, and right off the bat you got a couple of free games.  One was a shooter where you took pictures of someone’s face and then shot at them in a game called Face Raiders.  You had a great activity log where you could see every game you played and exactly how long you played it, something the Switch doesn’t even do.  This activity log even helped me write this blog!  The game also came with cards and you could use them to play AR games in another menu icon.  For a while lots of other games would come with cards, too, and I thought that was neat.  I even ordered a giant AR card from when Club Nintendo was cool so I could take pictures of a life sized Mario!  So yeah, lots of fun stuff right off the bat just at the menu, and you didn’t even have to pay for a game!

But I think my favorite original feature of the 3DS was StreetPass.  If you left your 3DS on and walked around, you would ping other people with a 3DS and these pings could let you do things with them in a game, and they even made StreetPass games based on this!  The ones I’m sure most people played were the first free ones.  Collecting puzzle pieces to make pictures was fun, and I’m proud to say I got them all!  Find Mii was like a little RPG where your characters would take turns fighting monsters, and I beat both the first game and its sequel.  You could also buy new StreetPass mini-games, and I enjoyed the StreetPass stuff so much that I got them all!  My favorites were unexpectedly the garden game (where people would give you seeds to grow different plants) or the fishing game (where they would give you bait to fish).  Back in the day, my friends and I would even arrange meetups and announce them on Facebook for people to come together and do StreetPass stuff.  Going to conventions was also a lot of fun.  I remember going to E3 and StreetPassing Reggie from Nintendo and Yuji Naka at the SEGA booth!

So before we got started with the games, I wanted to mourn a couple of 3DS games we never got.  One was Japan only, and one was cancelled entirely, and I was excited so much for both of them!  The one that stayed in Japan was a sequel to Rocket Slime.  This was a Dragon Quest spin off where you got to play as a slime in a top down Zelda like adventure.  The highlight of this game was the giant tank battles between you and a boss or other player.  The 3DS sequel replaced the tanks with pirate ship battles, and I hate it that we never got it.  The other game was from Capcom and was cancelled entirely.  And that game was Mega Man Legends 3.  I’m a big fan of that series, and I was SO sad when it got cancelled, as it was one of the biggest games I was looking forward to on the 3DS.  Hopefully someday we’ll get it in another form or fashion.  OK now let’s talk about the downloadable only 3DS games that I really liked.

Phoenix Wright series

The Phoenix Wright games were my favorite series on the original DS, and we got a few new ones on the 3DS.  Unfortunately, you couldn’t get cartridge versions of them in the US, as they weren’t bestsellers.  But at least we got them in some form or fashion.  Dual Destinies brought back Phoenix as the main character, and Spirit of Justice continued that.  There was one game that did get a cartridge, because it was published by Nintendo.  And that was Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright, which mixed both game styles in an interesting game.

Chibi Robo! Photo Finder

This was SUCH a creative game.  You were tasked with building a museum by taking pictures with the 3DS camera of real life things with certain shapes, like an outlet plug or vending machine, and then the game would put them into a museum for Chibi-Robo to take care of!  I’m surprised this idea was never made into a mobile game.  Or maybe it was and I didn’t know it.

Gurumin 3D: A Monstrous Adventure

One of my favorite PSP games was Gurumin.  It was made by Falcom, and was like a cross between Ys and Mr. Driller and was a fun and colorful 3D action adventure game.  It’s a shame that it didn’t have a cartridge version on the 3DS (you’ll hear that here a lot), but it was still a fun game from an earlier time where DLC didn’t run rampant.

BoxBoy series

HAL, maker of games like Kirby, Smash Bros., and Adventures of Lolo, made this minimalist puzzle game series where you were a box with eyes and could create blocks to use as steps or shields.  There were so many cool ways to use these blocks, and I’m glad HAL has continued this series on the Switch.

Picross 3-D Round 2

Speaking of HAL, they also made Picross 3D on the DS.  The sequel had a cartridge in Japan, but not in the US.  This puzzle game was so addicting that it was one of the few times I let my 3DS battery run out while playing it!

Pocket Card Jockey

This was such a weird game that combined solitaire with…horse racing?  Even more surprising was that it was done by GameFreak, makers of Pokémon.  Because of this, sometimes the horses in the game would have funny names like Bulba Soarer or Volt Tackle.  This was such an addicting game, though, and I’m surprised it never made it to mobile, as it seems perfect for that format.

Gotta Protectors

On the Xbox 360’s indie game section, there was a really fun game called Protect Me Knight.  It was made by Ancient, headed by Yuzo Koshiro who also did the music.  It was an 8 bit styled action game with tower defense elements, and Gotta Protectors is the sequel to that.  Both games are so much fun!

Rhythm Heaven Megamix

The Rhythm Heaven games are made by the same folks who did WarioWare, and it shows.  They’re like a cross between WarioWare and a music game.  This is like a ‘best of’ collection, and I do wish it got a cartridge version in the US.  But it was still good.

Pushmo Series

There were three games in this puzzle platformer series on the 3DS: Pushmo, Crashmo, and Stretchmo.  You played as a little marshmallow sumo guy named Mallow and you could pull blocks to make platforms to climb on to make it to the top of the structures.  Crashmo added gravity and blocks would fall if there was nothing under them.  In Stretchmo you could move blocks all around and even stretch them out.  I hope they can continue this series on the Switch.  It had some catchy music, NES levels, and you could design your own stages, too!

Attack of the Friday Monsters

Level 5 made some really creative downloadable games on the 3DS.  In this one, you play as a boy who lives in a suburb of Tokyo in the 1970’s.  Nearby is a TV station that films a popular Kaiju show.  Crazy events lead the boy to believe that there is a real Kaiju, and it just goes on from there.  Most of the game you just walk around your town talking to people, but you can also collect cards and play a game with your friends with them, too.  It’s just such an interesting and quirky title.

Weapon Shop de Omasse

Here’s another Level 5 oddity.  It’s a music game where you pound steel to make weapons at a blacksmith, and then sell those weapons to RPG heroes.  You can view Twitter-like text that tell you how well they did with your weapon, and how far they got.  It’s not perfect, but I thought it was interesting.

Yumi’s Odd Odyssey

There is a series of games called Umihari Kawase that’s been around since the SNES days, but has never come to the US until Natsume put the 3DS version on the eShop under the name Yumi’s Odd Odyssey.  You play as a cute lady who uses a fishing rod to swing around like Bionic Commando.  It’s really hard, but also pretty intriguing.

Pokémon Shuffle

It’s just a free-to-play match 3 puzzle game with Pokémon characters, but I enjoyed it for quite a while.

Nintendo Badge Arcade

Later on in one of the updates, Nintendo let you put virtual stickers on the 3DS main menu, and you got those stickers by playing this free-to-play crane game.  I didn’t really use the stickers much, but I still had fun seeing what Nintendo characters I could get in my daily free chances.  I wish there was a REAL Nintendo Badge Arcade!

And those are all the downloadable games I liked on the 3DS.  Next time we’ll look at the physical cartridge games I enjoyed.  One last thing, though.  Nintendo made a lot of different 3DS versions, like the 3DS XL, 2DS, and New 3DS.  Well I never got any of those, I still used my regular one.  I would’ve liked to have the bigger screen, but I didn’t want to pay more money for it.  But my regular 3DS lasted a very long time.  Only recently did the battery go out, but I just ordered a new one from Nintendo rather than buy a whole new system.  But that’s not bad for a handheld lasting eight years!  --Cary



Super Step Contributing Writer

08/09/2019 at 11:52 PM

Phoenix Wright is definitely getting referenced a lot in Judgment, and it makes me want to at least play the DS game I own. 

Rhythm Heaven sounds fun. 

Cary Woodham

08/11/2019 at 01:19 PM


Rhythm Heaven is fun, but hard.  I like it, but prefer WarioWare.

Super Step Contributing Writer

08/11/2019 at 10:53 PM

Judgment is basically a new Yakuza game, but heavily influenced by Ace Attorney/Miles Edgeworth games. 

Cary Woodham

08/12/2019 at 09:03 PM

Is there an arcade in it?  The one Yakuza game I played I just visited the arcade and played games and talked to the arcade lady.


08/10/2019 at 04:00 AM

The only one of these I played was Phoenix Wright. Pity it doesn't get physical releases, but I guess it's something that Capcom is localizing the games to begin with. It's too bad Atlus and Sega don't bring back its medical counterpart, Trauma Center.

I never did do Street Pass much. But I would still get Street Pass content even at home for some of the games I had on 3DS like ALBW and Bravely Default.

Mega Man Legends 3 was one I was looking forward to. Mega Man Legends was the only Mega Man game I ever really got into. It'd be cool if Nintendo and Capcom revived it for the Switch now that Capcom is treating Mega Man a little more seriously. 

Cary Woodham

08/11/2019 at 01:29 PM

Yeah I wish the Phoenix Wright games got physical copies in the US.  I also wish we got the Phoenix Wright vs. Sherlock Holmes games, too.  

I remember Trauma Center.  Never got into it but I do remember it at E3.  One year they had a booth lady dressed as a nurse who was unusually flirty towards me.  Wasn't expecting that!

I loved the Mega Man Legends games, even though I'm not sure they've aged well.  Tron Bonne and the Servebots are some of the best characters Capcom has ever created and I'm glad they got their own game (I'd rather have a Tron Bonne sequel).  If they repurposed MML 3 for Switch, I'd squeal with joy so loud you'd be able to hear me!

I don't know if Capcom is taking Mega Man THAT much more seriously, though.  I liked Mega Man 11 and all, but it was a budget title and kind of felt like it.  I just think that Mega Man 8 was a better modern Mega Man game, bad voice acting and all.


08/10/2019 at 07:08 PM

I loved my 3DS and will get another one someday. I needed the money. I've played a bunch of those downloadable games and liked them all. Street Pass was fun too when there were people to street pass with. I used to go to places that had the hot spots too and get special Miis from Nintendo people. I loved the 3D camera in it too. I only wished I could upload my pics to the internet somehow. 

At some point I'm going to get my 3DS XL again and a bunch of games for the permanent library. I'm catching up on DS games instead at the moment. 

Cary Woodham

08/11/2019 at 01:30 PM

Yeah I loved StreetPass but we sure did have to do more work to enjoy it than in Japan, where the population is more concentrated.

For some reason, I ike the DS a little better than the 3DS.  It's hard to explain.


08/11/2019 at 08:42 PM

I'm enjoying my DS. Nice and simple. 

Cary Woodham

08/11/2019 at 09:05 PM

Yup.  I did upgrade to the DSi later, though.  Mainly so I can review downloadable DSiWare games.


08/11/2019 at 09:53 PM

Oh, I just looked. Mine is a DSi XL.

Cary Woodham

08/12/2019 at 09:04 PM

I only upgraded my original DS to a DSi.  My 3DS is still the original one.  I would've liked to get an XL with a bigger screen, but I didn't see the need to spend all that money on something I pretty much already had.


08/12/2019 at 11:16 PM

I got a fat DS and then upgraded to the DSi. The 3DS I got late and so the XL was the first one I owned. I wanted to get the New 3DS with the better processor but there were only a few games that seemed to benefit from it. 

Cary Woodham

08/13/2019 at 06:21 PM

I did want the 3DS XL, as I was jealous of the pink one I got my mom so she could play Animal Crossing.  Love that bigger screen.  But again, I'm not made of money!  :)

Matt Snee Staff Writer

08/11/2019 at 08:27 AM

my lord, has it really been 8 years? I remember when I first got my 3DS (and it had NO games) like it was yesterday. 

I haven't played any of these, but I'm looking forward to the rest of your retrospective. 

Cary Woodham

08/11/2019 at 01:31 PM

Yeah I'll probably have my part 2 up by the end of this coming week.


08/12/2019 at 12:50 PM

I found a second series DS at the thrift on Thursday for $5.00 and thought about getting it just to play the weird Guitar Hero game that has fret board attachment.

I got my DS when the XL line was introduced and damn the Street Pass was easily my favorite thing about it. It was fun getting items from other people but what I liked was just collecting Mii's from different countries. When I was in Hawaii I got quite a few folks from Japan, heck even trips to the mall I would bring it just for collecting. Shame the Switch didn't continue this. 

Cary Woodham

08/12/2019 at 09:05 PM

When I was at E3 and Disney World, I got a lot of international Miis via StreetPass.


08/16/2019 at 05:39 PM

MML3 was a hard cancelation for everybody. It's been 8 years already since it was canceled. I really hope they start up the project again for the Switch. I really enjoyed those games. 

Cary Woodham

08/16/2019 at 09:17 PM

Yes I would be super happy if they would release Mega Man Legends 3 on some platform.  Heck, I'd buy an Xbox One if it was going to be on that console only.


08/18/2019 at 12:49 PM

Ive only played a few of these. I buy mostly physical at times so sometimes digital only gets looked over. Thats changing with the Switch of course. 

I started Phoenix on 3DS but I might just finish it on Switch.  Pokemon shuffle was fun but I think I got burnt out on it after awhile.

Cary Woodham

08/18/2019 at 09:55 PM

I got burnt out on Pokemon Shuffle eventually, too, but I played it way longer than I usually do those kinds of games.

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