The indisputed title holder of "King Handheld Platform" is the Nintendo 3DS. This two-screened beauty is a delight to carry around and has the robust game library to prove it. While two screens may seem a bit unwieldy, and it certainly causes problems for developers who'd love to straight port their retro titles, many have fallen in love with the uniqueness of it. Plus there's all those dang Nintendo first-party games.
Beyond the Marios and Donkey Kongs, however, there's a robust selection of oddities. The 3DS has become the home of games that just don't fit in well on big-screen TVs and living rooms. Puzzle games, quirky RPGs, simulation titles and non-realistic action/adventure games are plentiful. Heck, it's not just genre, it's aesthetic too. Many creative looking games with anime art-styles or generally cartoony looks find their way to the 3DS as well. It's a haven for games that otherwise have no home.
Best of all, however, is that the 3DS comes in a variety of hardware forms to meet every budget. There's the 3DS XL at the high range, the standard 3DS mid-range and the newly released and non-folding Nintendo 2DS often found below $100. While the 2DS drops the handheld's 3D scale feature, it's a great option for kids or families who play a lot at home. Plus, storage for all three platforms is found in your everday SD cards!
Also, Pokemon. If you haven't picked up a Nintendo 3DS yet, this year's selection of games is the best yet. Pokemon.
Here's the game every gift-give should buy for their 3DS owning friend or family member. It's Pokemon X and Pokemon Y, though you only really need one of them. Great for both kids and adults, the latest generation of Pokemon has tons of great new Pokemon to capture, updated 3D graphics that are outstanding, plus the all new feature -- Mega Evolution. I challenge every game player not to squee when their Charizard first evolves into Mega Charizard. Pokemon X/Y is the 3DS game of the year.
- Who It's For: Everyone, collectors, kids of all ages, lovers of adorable animals, everyone else
- Why You Want It: Makes the jump to 3D graphics, all new Mega Evolution feature, tons of all new Pokemon and more
Stepping up the maturity a bit, Fire Emblem is back and better than ever with its latest sequel, Awakening. The world's on the brink of war and that's only the start of the problems in Awakening as it seems like there's issues with time and space itself. It's probably that darn dragon again, isn't it? Featuring robust grid-based strategy combat, this game's for folk who love to plot and toil over the perfect move before moving in for the kill.
- Who It's For: Plotters, thinkers and strategy nuts, but also anime fans, fantasy fans and retro gaming fans
- Why You Want It: Deep, rewarding strategy combat, dozens of characters to recruit, tons of throwback references to the older Fire Emblem Games, tons of content
Yup, Mario and Luigi aren't just platformers, they've got that RPG thing going for them too. While Dream Team may not have as funny of a story as say the Paper Mario franchise, Dream Team is a care-free, light-hearted and enjoyable game with plenty of unique mechanics. Hopping on goombas is just as fun in turn-based combat as it is in real-time.
- Who It's For: Mario fans, folk who find most RPGs too intimidating, all-ages audiences, chucklers
- Why You Want It: See Mario & Luigi's relationship in a different light, turn-based combat that keeps the player's attention, tons of secrets and power-ups to discover
More Great RPGs:
- Shin Megami Tensei IV
- Rune Factory 4
- Etrian Odyssey Untold: Millenium Girl
- Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity
2D Legend of Zelda is back and as good as ever. A Link Between Worlds, as some may have guessed, is a sequel to the Super Nintendo classic A Link to the Past. Pick up a sword and shield and dive back into the dungeons of Hyrule. Again, however, portals have opened to another world, the Kingdom of Lorule. Odds are things aren't as light in Lorule as they are in Hyrule. That's why Link is back to save the day.
- Who It's For: Heroes, nostalgic adults, adventurous kids, and everyone in-between
- Why You Want It: Classic hack and slash gameplay, a ton of dozens that can be played in any order, tons of secret to discover, plus... it's The Legend of Zelda!
This sequel to the console game Castlevania: Lords of Shadow reevaluates the direction of 2D side-scrolling Castlevania titles, stripping away a lof of the more modern RPG mechanics, but retaining the faster pace and crisper action. The result is a highly cinematic, fast-paced and clever games with a great story that sets the page for the final game in the trilogy, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, which launches early next year.
- Who It's For: Castlevania fans, vampire hunters, young adults and up, fans of a straight-forward 2D side-scrolling action
- Why You Want It: Highly cinematic, simplified Castlevania action without RPG mechanics, bridges the story of Lords of Shadow
More Great Action/Adventure:
- Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
- Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
- Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW
Here's one of the best games of the year that may have passed many gamers by. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies offers some of the best written, hilarious and also emotional stories in years. Murder mystery solving has never been so fan as it is in Dual Destinies, which admittedly takes a more jovial and less challenging route than previous games in the series, but is still smart, funny and most of all great fun to play.
- Who It's For: Young adults and up, clever folk, patient folk, readers, and those not afraid to shed a tear
- Why You Want It: Some of the funniest, continuously high-quality dialogue in gaming, smart and clever murder mysteries, characters that are hard to let go
If you have an hour or twenty a day worth wasting just catching bugs or decorating you home, then Animal Crossing: New Leaf will take all of those hours from you. Never has so simple, cheerful and happy a game been so insanely addictive. There are still forum members on Neoseeker we haven't heard from in the months since New Leaf's release. It's okay though, we know they're in a better place.
- Who It's For: All audiences, those who want to do whatever they please, dislikers of challenging gameplay, happy people
- Why You Want: It's straight up relaxing, adorable, simple yet fun to play and is quite literally endless
More Great Other Games:
If you're looking for other genres, including racing games or sports, we have to warn you that the 3DS doesn't support many quality titles in those areas. Odds are if your friend or family member is asking for something specific, then by all means pick them up what they want, but otherwise stick to the above recommended genres!
Check out all of Neoseeker's other Holiday Gift Guides for 2013: