Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Top Ten Nintendo 3DS Retail Games of the System's Second Year

On March 27, the Nintendo 3DS celebrated its second anniversary in the North American market. We've had lots of great times with Nintendo's stereoscopic wonder, and the great times seem to be coming much more often now. Remember that launch? Yeesh. Things have really turned around with the combination of a well-timed price cut and an influx of stellar software. Like we did last year, we're naming the ten best Nintendo 3DS retail releases of the last year. Will your favorites be included or left out? Regardless of the outcome, we're sure we've got some 'splaining to do!

10) Paper Mario: Sticker Star


We start off the countdown with a game that disappointed longtime Paper Mario fans. The exclusion of partners was killer, and so was the lack of new characters. Heck, even the puzzle solutions were uncharacteristically obtuse for a Mario RPG. So what went right with this game then? Well, the experiment of using stickers for battle, collecting new ones, and keeping enough coins to purchase others was one that worked in our opinion. The music is also the best we've heard yet in a Paper Mario game. And even with all of the issues (and there ARE issues) with the game, Paper Mario: Sticker Star was still an enjoyable experience.

9) Harvest Moon 3D: A New Beginning

Welcome to Echo Valley, population: dwindling. With a tale no doubt inspired by the real world, the denizens left in the desolate town lost nearly all they had to their names thanks to a rotten economy. Thanks to your loving parents (or maybe not so much since they're making you do lots of back-breaking labor in running a farm) have left you a farm to build and grow. Along the way you'll find materials and building blueprints to slowly build a thriving new community-- better than ever before! Harvest Moon 3D: A New Beginning is the best Harvest Moon entry in a long while, and playing is indeed believing. Who knew life on the farm could be so much fun?

8) Style Savvy: Trendsetters


This was decidedly a game that we did not expect to love so freaking much. It's Style Savvy: Trendsetters, a game about storming the fashion world, slowly building your fashion empire from humble beginnings. Yes, you start as an apprentice for a local fashion celebrity, and soon you gain control of your own shop. As you satisfy the needs of your customers, you gain new clothing brands, styles, and areas that you can visit in town. Then there are all the fashion contests you can try to dominate. With thousands of clothing items and loads of content, Style Savvy: Trendsetters isn't for everyone obviously, but for those that give the game a chance, they will find that is really rewarding and entertaining.

7) Theatrhythm Final Fantasy


A Final Fantasy rhythm game where Square Enix can charge you for DLC tracks? And since the music is so phenomenal you WILL want to buy and download new tracks! Why didn't they think of this game sooner!? Theatrhythm Final Fantasy originally released on the Nintendo 3DS before a smaller, less complete version went on iOS devices. It has you tapping, sliding, and touching the bottom screen in time with the musical prompts. Level up your armada of Final Fantasy all-stars and let them gain new helpful abilities. A rhythm game like no other, Theatrhythm is one of SuperPhillip Central's favorite rhythm games period.

6) Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance


Despite the inane plots and elements of Kingdom Hearts (sure, Nomura, I totally understand why the game is called Dream Drop Distance), you will find an abundance of exciting action with Kingdom Hearts 3D, the prelude to hopefully and finally a Kingdom Hearts III. The game features a new combat system called Flowmotion, which has Sora and Riku slinging around poles, bouncing off walls, and spinning around foes to help assist with defeating the Dream Eater menace. It makes for combat that is some of the most exciting the series has yet seen. With multiple difficulties, awesome Disney cameos, sensational Yoko Shimomura-composed music, and the aforementioned amazing action, Kingdom Hearts 3D is an essential purchase for any RPG fan and Nintendo 3DS owner.

5) Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask


Professor Layton has a love and hate relationship with the two of us at SuperPhillip Central. We love the quirky charm and characters, the stories, the presentation, and all those puzzles, but at the same token we hate it when we overlook such a simple solution to a seemingly difficult puzzle. (We also hate those sliding block puzzles.) That "aha" moment is something we don't get too often in games nowadays, and Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is chock full of them. The game looked into Professor Hershel Layton's past this time, and it made for a story that was intriguing and touching too. If you're a lover of Layton like SuperPhillip Central, then you no doubt already have this game. And if you don't, what are you waiting for?

4) Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate


The behemoth-sized encounters that make the Monster Hunter experience so cherished in Japan has finally released in North America with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. The added benefits of centering the camera on your intended target and accessible touch screen controls make for one of the better portable Monster Hunters on the market. The game is also available on Nintendo's Wii U. If you own both copies of the game, you can transfer your monster hunting character to and from both versions of the game. Really cool, but Sony did it first! (Har-har.) Whether you're a fan of taking the game on the road with you or if you prefer to play at home, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate has the types of colossal confrontations that will have you clamoring for more, playing until all hours of the night.

3) Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon


The Year of Luigi starts out right with Mario's cowardly but cute twin brother once again entering the ghost-busting business in an effort to rid the ghosts from multiple mansions and restore the pieces of the Dark Moon. This 3DS sequel to Luigi's Mansion offers a new mission-based structure, incredibly well thought out boss battles, clever puzzle design, multiple cleverly hidden secrets, and gorgeous visuals. Next Level Games really has really improved under Nintendo's guidance, and this is coming from the studio that developed and designed Captain America: Super Soldier! Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon is a humorous and charming game that was well worth the wait for patient Nintendo 3DS owners.

2) Fire Emblem: Awakening


Although rampant shipping issues marred this otherwise impressive debut for Fire Emblem on the 3DS in North America, we managed to track down a copy of the game and enjoy it. The game featured both the classic mode, where perished characters are gone for good, ones that you have built an emotional investment and attachment to, and a beginner-friendly casual mode, where downed characters return after the battle. The presentation values are grand with animated cutscenes, an orchestrated soundtrack, and a story that spans three unique acts. Fire Emblem: Awakening is a stellar entry in the strategic RPG series.

1) New Super Mario Bros. 2


Soulless. Tired. Rehash. These are some of the words that critics describe New Super Mario Bros. 2 as. However, we at SuperPhillip Central think of the game differently. We see levels that consistently bring something new to the table. We see secrets that are expertly hidden. Most importantly, however, we see a bright future for the Mario franchise. The game was made by a new, less experienced team that went through a crash course of 2D Mario level design. The end result is our favorite game from the past year on the 3DS. Hey, you can't fault us-- we're platform game whores!

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That's our list of the top ten Nintendo 3DS retail games of the system's second year, but we're curious as to which games would make your list of top retail games. Do you agree or disagree with our order? What games would you remove? Which would you add? We left out Mario Tennis Open and Etrian Odyssey IV, for starters. Let us know your thoughts below in the comments section. As for this year, it's already looking fantastic with Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Pokemon X/Y already announced. It's a good time to be a Nintendo 3DS owner.

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