Bored of the blue shell in Mario Kart? Finally tired of grinding for gear in Monster Hunter? Maybe it’s time to look at some under appreciated games on the 3DS and drag yourself up from apathy.
The 3DS gets a lot of love as well it should. It went from a failed experiment with 3D in its first year to one of the most successful handheld consoles ever made. How did it make that leap? The games, of course. Games like Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 allowed the 3DS to rise to its feet, and developers flooded the system with great software when they knew it had the user base to carry them. So, with so many games coming to the system, it’s not surprising that a lot of them go past the majority of gamers, unnoticed. Today, I want to have a look at 5 games on the 3DS you might not have heard of and explain why they are absolutely worth your time.
5 – Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan
Etrian Odyssey games have been around since the DS era. They are hardcore dungeon crawlers with an emphasis on hard. This reputation has led to many gamers in search of a challenge to seek them out. Unfortunately, it also alienated the brand from many would-be adventurers. Like the venerated Fire Emblem series, Etrian Odyssey had always prided itself on not compromising its difficulty levels to cater to a wider audience. For its first three games, it revelled in the reputation. This difficulty, juxtaposed with the overly cutesy anime graphics was enough to turn off the majority of games by the time the fourth game came along.
But then Etrian Odyssey IV pulled the exact same left turn as Fire Emblem: Awakening. The core dungeon crawler experience remains, but so much of the game has been turned into making it a good experience for everybody. Draconian dungeons were broken up into more manageable chunks, classes were powered up, and more exciting variety was added to keep new players interested. And this is now a trend in Etrian Odyssey games. Etrian Odyssey Untold: the Millennium Girl was even more accommodating to new players, allowing warps between floors. Of course, accessibility is one thing. The real reason to jump on board with Etrian Odyssey IV is because of how addicting and fun the gameplay is. From being able to customize every part of your team as you develop, to the huge world you explore via airship to get to beautiful dungeons, this is definitely a game worth playing.
4 – Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
To some, including any game with the words Final Fantasy in the title would be cheating. However, most Final Fantasy spinoffs with few exceptions tend to fly under the radar. This is especially true with Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a rhythm and action game by Square-Enix. You get to play as chibi versions of famous Final Fantasy characters from across the series as you try to hit buttons in such a way as to match their actions with the beat of famous Final Fantasy music. Needless to say, this is a type of game that doesn’t appeal to everyone.
But if there’s one thing Square-Enix has, it’s a vast history both in quality games and quality music. The Final Fantasy series is home to some of the best music in the entire industry, and this game showcases it off, beautifully. Many people may wonder what kind of game can revolve around this and how much actual gameplay you can suss out of such a concept. Well, to put it in perspective, I’ve played Theatrhythm Final Fantasy for more hours than any other 3DS game I own. There’s always a new character to unlock, or party to level up. As you play through the songs, you’ll unlock new ones, and there’s something invigorating about getting that one track that was special to you. That being said, this is the one game on the list I don’t think anyone should buy. Instead, wait for its sequel/update Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call and enjoy the absolutely mammoth amount of content that showcases the history of Final Fantasy better than Dissidia ever could.
3 – Mighty Switch Force
Let’s switch gears (pun!) from games in established series to an indie game that started on the 3DS before being ported onto the Wii U. There are plenty of indie games on the 3DS and sorry to say, but most of them aren’t worth touching. Because of this, it can be hard to determine which ones to play and which ones to avoid. Mighty Switch Force and its sequel and definitely games worth playing.
The basic gist of the game is your character, a policewoman, is tasked with catching several escaped convicts. These convicts are scattered around each level and you have to use your wits to find them. The core mechanic is that, with a press of a button, you can phase blocks in and out of existence, thus switching them on or off. The puzzles are tight and the gameplay is solid, but it is the tone and style of the game that really sets it apart. The voice overs and colourful, playful design of the characters oozes charm. Also, in its sequel where you play as a firefighter, you can save babies by kicking them to safety, so what’s not to love.
2 – Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D
The Resident Evil series is one of the most popular action horror series on the market. So, once again, it seems strange to put a game from such a venerable series on the list. The reason this game makes it is twofold. Firstly, it was released soon after launch, meaning before the 3DS became popular. Secondly, it was ripped to shreds by gamers because of enforced DRM. Basically, the game prevented you from ever deleting a save to discourage people from buying it used. Add those reasons to the fact that this game in its entirety is the mini game unlocked after beating Resident Evil 4/5, and you’ve got a game many people skipped out on.
But there’s so much to love in this game. The Mercenaries is a frantic race against the clock, tasking you to pick one of Resident Evil’s protagonists and shoot your way though hordes of enemies in search of the highest scores possible. The mode may be limited, but you can sink days, weeks of time playing it because, as an arcade-style experience, the quest for the high score is what makes it worth playing. There are achievements to earn, and skills to unlock and level for each character. Those looking for a Resident Evil adventure may be shortchanged, but someone who wants an arcade action game that’s a blast to play through will not be disappointed.
1 – Shin Megami Tensei IV
The Shin Megami Tensei series started on the SNES and there have only been two games in the main series to come over to the west – the instant classic Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne and Shin Megami Tensei IV. There have been many spinoffs, principally the hugely popular Persona series, but only two in the main series. Right off the bat, the name of the game seems like it was crafted to keep new players out. The Japanese words with no readily noticeable meaning can confuse, and the marker IV means that if you didn’t play the first three, you may be potentially out of the loop. On top of this, the game didn’t get anywhere near the attention that other major RPGs like Pokemon X and Y, or Bravely Default got, which is a shame because this game is significantly better than the latter.
Shin Megami Tensei IV takes place in a post-apocalyptic Japan where demons roam the streets. Your character is from an idyllic land that mimics feudal Japan and is tasked with exploring the ruins of Tokyo to catch a villain. On your way, you can befriend demons into your party, fuse them to make new demons, and just simply enjoy the engrossing and wonderful press-turn combat system patented by Nocturne. And Atlus doesn’t skimp on the grandeur of the game. Environments are fully 3D even if the battles aren’t, meaning it soars past the graphically limited Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey or Soul Hackers. For being one of the best JRPGs on the entire system, you’d think more people would have jumped in.
That’s my list of underrated gems. In the circles I run in, many of these aren’t underrated by widely celebrated. However, there is a difference between what is popular among niche gamers and what is popular among the majority of gamers who might be too timid to veer away from Pokemon or Mario. Are there any other gems that I missed? Let me know in the comments.