The 14 best games for the Nintendo 3DS — ‘Pokémon,’ ‘Super Mario,’ and beyond

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Kiyoshi Ota

Thanks in no small part to Nintendo’s excellent (and backordered) $99 holiday deal, there are going to be a lot of shiny new 3DS handheld systems underneath a lot of Christmas trees this weekend.

But whether you’re giving or getting the 3DS, you’re going to need to pick up some games to go with it. And games, the Nintendo 3DS has got, with lots of titles you can’t play anywhere else – more than enough to hold you over until the Nintendo Switch releases next March.

From “Super Mario” to the new “Pokémon Sun and Moon,” to “The Legend of Zelda” and beyond, here’s a selection of the best games the 3DS has to offer, for all age ranges. And hey, while a lot of these are going in and out of stock at Amazon, there’s still time to nab some of these before Christmas.


Nintendo’s flagship game for the 3DS this holiday season is “Pokémon Sun and Moon” — the latest in the creature-capturing series, bringing some very welcome changes to the 20-year-old formula.

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The Pokemon Company

Read Business Insider’s full review here. You can buy “Pokémon Sun” and “Pokémon Moon” here – the two versions have some minor differences, including the variety of monsters you can capture.


“Pokémon X and Y,” the previous games in the series, aren’t too shabby, either.

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Nintendo

You can get “Pokémon X” here and “Pokémon Y” here.


For Mario fans, there’s a bunch of great options, from the classic-style sidescroller “New Super Mario Bros 2,” which lets two players adventure at once…

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Nintendo

Buy it here.


…to the more three-dimensional (and super-fun) “Super Mario 3D Land…”

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Amazon

Buy it here.


…to “Mario Kart 7,” an excellent and worthy entry in the long-running racing franchise.

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Nintendo

Buy it here.


The 3DS also gets its own version of games like Super Smash Bros., Nintendo’s famed cross-franchise fighting game.

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Nintendo

Buy it here.


Luigi fans can also get their fix with “Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon,” an action-puzzle game starring Mario’s younger brother.

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Nintendo

Buy it here.


“The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds” is an all-time great entry in the beloved series.

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Nintendo via YouTube

Buy it here.


There’s also “Animal Crossing: New Leaf,” a very chill game that casts you as the mayor of a town full of friendly animals. It just got a big update that adds support for Nintendo’s “Amiibo” figurines, among other features, too.

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Nintendo

Buy it here.


For the more hardcore player, there’s “Monster Hunter Generations.” This game, the latest in a long-running series famed for its unrelenting difficulty curve, casts you as a titular monster hunter, going after ever-larger game with a wide variety of weaponry.

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Nintendo

Buy it here.


There’s also “Fire Emblem Fates,” the latest in Nintendo’s long-running role-playing game series. In this game, you lead your small squadron of knights, archers, and wizards in tactical battles. This series is famous for a key feature: If one of your soldiers falls in battle, they’re gone for the rest of the story. No takebacks, short of resetting the game.

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Nintendo

Buy “Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright,” which lets you play as the good guys, “Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest,” where you play the villains. You can buy the other story as a download from within each game later.


And if you’re more nostalgia-minded, or you’re just into the idea of playing a pair of timeless classics, 1998’s “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” and 2000’s “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask” both got excellent remasters for the 3DS.

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Amazon

Buy “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D” or “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D.”


And then there’s Capcom’s “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Spirit of Justice,” the latest in the long-running series about crime-solving psychic defense attorneys.

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Nintendo/YouTube

“Spirit of Justice” is only available as a download from the 3DS’ Nintendo eShop. Buy a download code here.


This is just the tip of the iceberg: There are lots of other great games for the 3DS, including indie sensations like “Pushmo,” available digitally through the Nintendo eShop. But these are some of the best of the best to get you started.

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Nintendo/YouTube

Buy it here.