2016 has been an interesting year for Nintendo. Their mobile title initiative was a success with Miitomo and Super Mario Run as well as the cultural phenomenon of the summer, Pokemon GO! Additionally, the NES Classic Edition was a highly requested holiday gift that Nintendo managed to understock. Meanwhile Nintendo's home console, the Wii U received a very limited line-up of (well-received) games.
Over on the 3DS, this year was impressive. 2016 had some of the best 3DS games in a year since 2013's amazing line-up of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Fire Emblem Awakening, Pokemon X & Y, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds just to name a few. From amiibo lines tied to Kirby Planet Robobot and Mario Party: Star Rush to the final DLC for Super Smash Bros for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS (yes, that was this year if you forgot), it truly was a stellar year. This will likely be the last year to have such an amazing line-up of 3DS games after the Nintendo Switch launches in 2017. So let's enjoy it!
Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam
Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam was some sort of crazy awesome crossover between the Mario & Luigi series and the Paper Mario series. Some people may debate the execution of the game, but the concept alone is pretty fun! From the humorous dialogue to the sweet Papercraft battles, this crossover is clearly a Mario & Luigi title, but with a nice piece of Paper Mario on the side.
The fun and in-depth turn-based combat system adds new gameplay tactics thanks to Paper Mario's impressive abilities. The interactions between the characters is also quite fun to see as characters like Bowser and Paper Bowser clash while Bowser Jr. and Paper Bowser Jr. get along just fine. Additionally, there are hidden Paper Toads to find throughout the game, if players want some more Paper Toads just like Paper Mario: Color Splash. (Toad is one of my favorite Mario characters, so this works for me!)
Fire Emblem Fates
Developing the next Fire Emblem game, following the series saving game Fire Emblem Awakening, was surely no easy task for Intelligent Systems, but they did it. Enter Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright, Conquest & Revelations, three alternating storylines of the same game. Birthright is aimed at beginner or casual players with a more traditionally heroic storyline, Conquest is aimed at skilled or veteran players with a more heroically ambigous storyline, and Revelations is somewhere in the middle, difficulty and story wise.
This time, players' avatar (default name: Corrin or Kamui) is the main character deciding whether to side with her or his birth family who they were stolen from or with their adopted family who raised them, as both families battle each other in a war. New features like My Castle, amiibo functionality, improved gameplay mechanics, and a variety of DLC expand the game in fantastic ways. This is definitely a standout title for Nintendo with wonderful production value and plenty of content.
Hyrule Warriors Legends
This wonderful love-letter to the Legend of Zelda series made its way from the Wii U to Nintendo 3DS with even more content. A new storyline based on The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the ability to switch between multiple characters during battle, and the introduction of new character Linkle are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of content thanks to additional DLC released for the game.
The combat is extremely satisfying, the wealth of Zelda characters on display is staggering, and the amount of content to complete is overwhelming in the best way. I am extremely glad Hyrule Warriors Legends is available for all Nintendo 3DS family owners since making the game a New Nintendo 3DS exclusive title would hinder many players, like myself, from enjoying this fantastic game. I should note, it plays perfectly fine on the original 3DS from my own experience.
Bravely Second: End Layer
The turn-based RPG Bravely Default was a big success in 2014, leaving many players eagerly anticipating the sequel. When Bravely Second: End Layer arrived, the established combat system, whismical tone, and chibi designs all returned from the previous game. While the combat system remains mostly untouched, the Brave and Default options remain as enjoyable as ever. It's up to the player to decide to risk using their Brave Points by attacking multiple times or defend themselves and raise their Brave Points with Default.
The variety of jobs available in this game are quite impressive with 30 jobs to choose from including 12 new jobs. Each job brings different effects to the battle. The world of Luxendarc is back with new towns to explore. The story, this time around, is a classic kidnapping situation that leds Agnes' bodyguard Yew, to travel with a party to rescue her from the villainous Kaiser. However the real draw of the game is the battle mechanic, beautiful artwork and awesome boss theme!
Pocket Card Jockey
Unbeknownst to many when it was announced, Pokemon developer Game Freak had another excellent game available for Nintendo 3DS players with Pocket Card Jockey. While I'm not knowledgeable in solitaire, this game focuses on a simplified version of the card game which is great for someone like me. An entertaining light story introduces players to the horse racing action of the game. While the story might be quite amusing, the game is actually quite detailed with its horse racing terminology and information.
Racing your horse around the track isn't exactly the main focus of this game. Instead, players focus on playing solitaire and clearing their cards as fast as possible to speed up their horse. Then later they can guide their horse through the track. It seems pretty simple and that's the hook! At first, players may lose matches, but that will help them improve as they continue with the game. It's great when fun can be so straightforward and amusing like Pocket Card Jockey is.
Kirby: Planet Robobot
Originally created as a sequel to Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Kirby: Planet Robobot shares a lot of similarities with the previous Kirby game for 3DS. However, the newest feature of this game is the Robobot Armor. When Kirby suits up, he can take on all sorts of threats the invading robots throw at him. New abilities also spice up the game like Doctor and Poison or returning classic abilities like Jet and Smash Bros. The music really adds to the experience since it is a joy to listen to as expected.
Two new mini-games, Kirby 3D Rumble and Team Kirby Clash, add replay value to the game, even if both titles are brief distractions. If HAL Laboratory develops expanded versions to purchase separately on the Nintendo eShop similar to Kirby Fighters Deluxe and Dedede's Drum Dash Deluxe, I would be happy to say the least. The amount of love and care put into this title is astonishing. From the menu layout to the final boss, Kirby: Planet Robobot is a vibrant delight.
Rhythm Heaven Megamix
After what seemed like years of waiting, Rhythm Tengoku: The Best Plus has finally released outside of Japan as Rhythm Heaven Megamix (or Rhythm Paradise Megamix). A plethora of mini-games from the previous games, a solid amount of new mini-games and new features permeate the game. A story mode with the cute Tibby, challenges, Download Play and StreetPass add more ways to play. Of course, if you just want to play to the beat of some fantastic music, you can do that too.
The gameplay is as fun, frantic and amusing as returning players remember while new players will be introduced to one of the wackiest, silliest and addicting Nintendo series available. The humorous activities players partake in are quite enjoyable to watch. It's hard not to laugh at a sweaty wrestler interview or bendy cats in the forest. I'm very happy that this game actually released outside of Japan after it seemed like it would never happen.
Monster Hunter Generations
The increasingly popular Monster Hunter series released another new title in the form of Monster Hunter Generations. As usual, players will embark on quests to hunt dangerous monsters populating the lands. Going to battle alone in single player or with others in multiplayer gives you options on how to tackle monsters alongside a variety of weapons. This game also presents players with four primary monsters, four villages, and Prowler mode which lets players battle as a Felyne!
Monster Hunter Generations was quite popular in the summer as many players headed into battle. Over the months, a variety of DLC has released with costumes, gears and armor based on a variety of popular series such as Fire Emblem, Street Fighter, The Legend of Zelda, Ghosts n Goblins, Star Fox and Mega Man! And of course, the production value and music are off the charts.
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past
With an absolute profusion of content, the Dragon Quest VII remake for Nintendo 3DS will likely take players over 100 hours to beat! Just like the classic game, players embark on a journey to travel back in time with a party of characters to restore lost continents and battle a great evil. Over 30 vocations are available in the game which lets players learn a variety of new abilities and spells.
Fans outside of Japan had to wait three years for the remake to reach them. New features include improved graphics, a well-defined script, StreetPass with traveler's tablets, online distribution via the Download Bar, visible encounters, etc. The music alone is a worthwhile reason to check out this title thanks to the remastered soundtrack. This game is a lengthy adventure that many players will get lost in.
Pokemon Sun & Moon
Following the huge success of Pokemon GO, casual fans as well as hardcore fans could hardly wait for the next mainline Pokemon game to release. Fortunately, the newest Pokemon games, Sun & Moon, delighted players to no end. Many new features revamped the series such as Z-moves, Island Trials, Poke Finder, Ultra Beasts, Battle Royal and so much more! The Alola region, inspired by Hawaii, gives players a beautiful environment to explore as they discover new Pokemon like Rockruff and Mimikyu. Classic Pokemon even return with special Alolan forms.
The new starter Pokemon received an interesting response from lukewarm when they were revealed to absolutely beloved by the game's release. The most popular starter is easily Rowlet, though Litten and Popplio certain have quite a few fans as well. (Popplio rules!) Legendary Pokemon Solgaleo and Lunala also impressed players. One of the best aspects of the game are the new villain team, Team Skull, a gang of wannabe hoodlums who cause trouble across Alola. The team's encounter music fits them so well. With tons of content, post-game features, and other surprises, Pokemon Sun & Moon is a brilliant title for seasoned players, returning players and new players alike.
There was a variety of great games I didn't manage to include above such as Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, Mega Man: Legacy Collection, BoxBoxBoy!, Gotta Protectors, and Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma. I wanted to recognize some underrated games as well like Final Fantasy Explorers, Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice, Phoenix Wright - Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice and Project X Zone 2. I hope fans of any unmentioned games understand why they weren't included.
If you played just a handful of these titles or intend to later, you likely did (or will) lose hours of your life. These games aren't only that good, but most of them are quite lengthy. 2016's line-up of 3DS games will surely keep fans busy well into 2017.