10) Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy (PSP)
Duke it out with the heroes and villains of the Final Fantasy series such as Cloud (FFVII), Squall (FFVIII), Terra (FFVI), Cecil (FFIV), Tidus (FFX), Kefka (FFVI), Sephiroth (FFVII), Ultamecia (FFVIII), Kuja (FFIX), Jecht (FFX), Golbez (FFIV), and newcomers like Lightning (FFXIII), Tifa (FFVII), Kain (FFIV), and Laguna (FFVIII). Battle in fully three-dimensional arenas, participate in the many characters' chapters in story mode, customize your equipment, level up your strengths and abilities, and listen to one of many remixed and remastered tracks from Final Fantasy past in Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy.
9) Dead or Alive: Dimensions (3DS)
Celebrating fifteen years, the Dead or Alive franchise appears on a Nintendo system for the first time with this compilation of the greatest in Dead of Alive history. With a huge cast of characters, battle arenas, downloadable costumes (they're free, by the way), and many modes to plow through, Dead or Alive: Dimensions is the ultimate fighting game on the 3DS. The online play showcases the hardware's strengths with trifle amounts of lag or slow-down, the photo mode allows you to take 3D shots of your favorite fighters, and collecting and trading figurines via StreetPass seldom gets old.
8) Star Fox 64 3D (3DS)
Take flight with Fox McCloud and the gang in Star Fox 64 3D, a remake of the 1997 Nintendo 64 original. The game sports updated graphics that look incredible on the 3DS screen, optional gyro controls, three difficulties (Easy, N64, and Expert), remastered voice acting that sounds better than ever before, and an all-new multiplayer mode that can be played with or without bots across four maps. Gearing for high scores, earning medals, and taking down Andross' many enemy fighters is all in a day's work for Team Star Fox.
7) Professor Layton and the Last Specter (DS)
This start to a new trilogy in the Professor Layton franchise is actually a prequel to Curious Village. It shows the beginnings of the relationship between Layton and Luke and how the two became teacher and apprentice. There are more puzzles to solve than ever before ranging from block sliding quandaries to arithmetic problems. The story contains some truly touching moments, insane production values with stellar voice acting to boot, and characters that you can't help but love. After you've solved the mystery of the Last Specter, download new and free puzzles as well as take a journey to Little London in the cute, quaint, and charming London Life bonus mode-- exclusive to North American copies.
6) Kirby Mass Attack (DS)
What's better than one Kirby? How about an army of ten Kirbys? That is exactly what you get in Kirby Mass Attack. The game is controlled solely with the stylus, tapping the screen to command your Kirbys, flicking them at switches and enemies, battling bosses, finding gold medals, and furiously touching the screen to lift huge objects. The bonus content in the form of mini-games like a Whack-a-mole mini-game, a shmup, an RPG, and a pinball game all add to the value of this amazing adventure. Suck up a copy today-- you won't regret it.
5) Mario Kart 7 (3DS)
Mario Kart roars onto the Nintendo 3DS with sixteen all-new tracks, sixteen retro tracks like Luigi's Mansion, Coconut Mall, Dino Dino Jungle, and Koopa Beach from past Mario Kart games, the usual ragtag team of racers plus new ones such as Metal Mario (in his second spin-off game), Lakitu, Honey Queen, and Wiggler, and a robust online mode that is decidedly quite unlike Nintendo. The addition of Communities means those with the same play styles can race one another without the need to exchange friend codes. It just goes to show that Nintendo might not be entirely clueless when it comes to online after all. This might not be the ultimate Mario Kart experience, but it is certainly pretty close.
4) Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSP)
A remake of the 1998 cult classic, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together brings forth a story of power, war, and attrition in this excellent tactical RPG. Put your brain through the wringer with dozens upon dozens of unique maps and battles that demand your total and unequivocal concentration. The new Wheel of Fortune option adds even more to consider when entering battle as if the battles weren't already exciting enough! With a story from the great mind of Mr. Matsuno (Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story), there is no shortage of tremendous plot twists and epic moments in this modern take on a classic.
3) Pokemon Black and White
A new generation of Pokemon has been unleashed onto the masses, and it introduces over 150 individual Pokemon, new evolutions, a new region to explore, new towns, new rivals, new triple battles, and so much more. Moreover, trading and battling Pokemon online has never been simpler. There is a lot to like about the newest pair of Pokemon games, and it wouldn't be surprising to me if young and old trainers were still playing these games long after they've caught them all.
2) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS)
The legend returns with a vengeance with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. More of a remake than a port, Ocarina of Time 3D showcases the brilliance of the 3DS hardware with impressive stereoscopic 3D visuals that have been enhanced from the Nintendo 64 original, a much more difficult Master Quest that unlocks after the main game has been completed, and a Boss Rush mode to pit Link against his toughest foes. Indeed, one of the greatest games of all time just got a little bit better.
1) Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)
If only because it is an original title unlike Ocarina of Time 3D, everyone's favorite overall-ed hero returns to a hand-held and earns top honors. Mario hops and skips his way onto the Nintendo 3DS with a brand-new platforming adventure. Run and jump through eight worlds with levels that take the portly plumber through grasslands, deserts, frozen fjords, sunset skies, airships, and Bowser's many castles. The 3D effect is the best the 3DS has seen yet with either the choice for pop-out or pop-in 3D. Even after the first eight worlds have been beaten, you aren't finished yet. There's a whole lot more to trek though if you want to get those highly lusted for five golden stars next to your profile! Giving Mario to the masses has always been Nintendo's mantra, and they definitely succeeded with Super Mario 3D Land!
Those were but a sampling of the terrific titles that first and third-parties dished out for portables this past year. We saw the arrival of the 3DS in all territories which started out slow at the gate but ended strong while in Japan the PlayStation Vita launched with huge fanfare and one of best launch lineups in recent memory. Meanwhile, the DS had its last full year of support from its parent developer and third-parties as they all move onto its successor, the 3DS. All-in-all, it was a bang up year for dedicated portables in 2011.