Nintendo's 3DS is home to plenty of fantastic portable titles; many of which are eShop games. Today marks its fourth birthday so I wrote this list to summarize ten of the best downloadables that have come out so far. Please note that games with physical releases and Virtual Console games are not included. Anyway, enjoy reading! Maybe you'll discover some hidden gems while you do.
10 Mutant Mudds
Max was simply hanging out playing video games. Little did he know that a nearby meteor would crash thus spawning the sinister Mutant Mudds. So, what does he do? He grabs his trusty water gun and jetpack, of course. If there's one thing that'll rid the world of those dirty critters, it's water. 2D plane-shifting platform shooters don't get much better than this.
9 The Legend of Dark Witch
What happens when you combine Mega Man mechanics with a Gradius-style power-up system? You get The Legend of Dark Witch starring the sassy Zizou! Although terribly underrated, this little hidden gem with an even smaller price tag is surprisingly a ton of fun from start to finish. For more on Zizou's poorly translated journey, check out my full review here.
8 Picross e
If you're looking for a short game to pass the time while you wait for the bus then there's nothing better than solving a few Picross puzzles because let's face it; Sudoku is so early 2000s. With a shocking five titles already released and a sixth one on the way, there are hours upon hours of picture-uncovering puzzles that are just waiting to be solved.
7 Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies
Many fans were left dumbfounded when they found out that the latest installment of their favourite lawyer's adventures wasn't going to have a physical release. But, after playing Dual Destinies, they didn't care as much since it delivered the same plot-twisting courtroom insanity and wacky characters that they've come to know and love.
Is that a typo? No, it's a game from another dimension! Play as Captain Viridian who must find members of his crew named Victoria, Vermillion, Vitellary, Verdigris, and Violet after being separated due to dimensional interference while teleporting out of their ship. With gameplay heavily influenced by Gravity Man's stage in Mega Man 5, how could you not enjoy this ultra-retro space-exploring platformer?
5 Azure Striker Gunvolt
Speaking of Mega Man (he sure is coming up a lot in this top 10), here's Azure Striker Gunvolt! From the developers of the Mega Man Zero series comes this equally incredible 2D platformer with interesting gameplay mechanics that allow you to tag and electrocute enemies. Can you keep your chain high enough to get the best rank on all of the exceptionally challenging levels?
Truly innovative puzzle games are becoming more of a rare sight. However, leave it to Nintendo to push the boundaries yet again. Pushmo (and its sequel Crashmo) stars a sumo wrestling cat named Mallo as he attempts to rescue children who have been trapped in playground-like structures by pushing and pulling his way to the top. For more on this unique puzzler, read my review here.
3 Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
Shantae was an obscure (and extremely rare) Game Boy Color game. After many attempts at a sequel, one finally came out eight years later for DSiWare. Thankfully, fans didn't have to wait that long for the next sequel which came in the form of Shantae and the Pirate's Curse. This iteration more than satisfied fans with its exploration-based platforming and wonderful cast of colourful characters. It also proved that Willow Smith isn't the only one who likes to whip her hair back and forth.
2 Cave Story
With an already established history of wowing audiences, Cave Story finally made its way to 3DS in its original form almost one year after Cave Story 3D succeeded to impress players. After awakening from an amnesia-inducing slumber, our hero must explore the vast game world in order to stop a power-hungry doctor from using the cave's rabbit-like creatures to take over the world. Sounds like an adventure you'd like to go on? Of course it does, so if you haven't already experienced this retro-inspired gem then what are you waiting for?
1 Shovel Knight
Did someone say retro-inspired gem? There's one game that comes to mind when I hear that term; Shovel Knight! Presented like a long-lost NES game, Shovel Knight was actually developed within the confines of the 8-bit era and it triumphs in every aspect of what made that moment in gaming great. The good news is you won't need a shovel to dig up this retro title, just download it on your 3DS!