Why 2013 Is the Year to Own a Nintendo 3DS

While we might be staring brand new consoles in the face, we in the gaming community still find ourselves in an awkward position in these last few months of 2013. Sure, we’re in the midst of a great dump of games on consoles here in Q1, but current-gen consoles are beginning to peter out, and both the Wii U and Vita are struggling to find their footing in a fickle market.

But there’s one system that  continues to soldier on through it all, facing an impressive bevvy of games both released and forthcoming. And the odd thing? It’s not even a home console…it’s a handheld.

Yes, folks, I’m talking about the Nintendo 3DS. While it struggled to take off initially back in 2011, the system has hit its stride in a big way this year and promises to have a better year than most with its constant stream of strong releases. On top of that, With a standard 3DS selling brand new for $169.99 or a 3DS XL selling for $199.99, the system is one of the most inexpensive gaming platforms available today. Considering the litany of great games both released and yet to be seen and this starting price point, there’s really been no better time than now to pick up a 3DS. Need  more proof? Here’s a list of the most compelling and interesting titles set to release in 2013 that have the interest of Nintendo fans everywhere piqued.

Pokemon X&Y: While many game franchises have existed for years and years, a majority of them have undergone major changes that have either been beneficial or have stripped the series of core elements that made it fantastic to begin with. Not so with Pokemon, however, a franchise that has persisted with roughly the same mechanics for years while frequently kicking out successful new iterations.

There’s something to be said for that, too; sure, they’ve been churning out the same formula since they began, but the changes they have made are ones that only help the game series overall. And in Pokemon X&Y, we’re looking at an all-new set of games delivering the great gameplay we’ve all come to know and love from a Pokemon game, but with a few interesting new ideas.

In Pokemon X&Y, players will be able to experience the world in brilliant 3D rather than the isometric view of old. On top of that, new legendary Pokemon are introduced,  and you’ll have the ability to pick from three all new starters in Froakie, Fennekin, and Chespin. Sure, it’s the same capture, battle, and explore format, but there’s enough of a difference here to promise that Pokemon X&Y will be something special.

Pokemon X&Y will be out for 3DS this fall.

Fire Emblem: Awakening: For those who love strategy RPGs, Fire Emblem: Awakening is the game to play in 2013. Featuring the same combat system we’ve come to know and love from the Fire Emblem series, the game also introduces a number of unique new elements that allow better accessibility for both the most experienced and the most novice of players. Add to that great localization, fantastic visuals, and a great story, and Fire Emblem: Awakening is one that shouldn’t be missed on your 3DS system.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf: Animal Crossing is one of those rare game franchises that have gobbled up hours and hours of people’s lives ever since its first appearance on the Gamecube. A sim-style 3DS game, Animal Crossing: New Leaf introduces a number of new elements into the Animal Crossing formula, including becoming mayor and giving players a new level of customization options. There are new areas to explore, new activities to take part in, and more pieces of your life to be absorbed into the game’s virtual world. Get ready to step into the animal-filled town this summer.

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon: Nintendo has declared 2013 the “Year of Luigi,” so expect to see a handful of games featuring Mario’s green-clad brother rolling out on both the Wii U and the 3DS.

Luigi’s Mansion 2 is a follow-up to the 2001 Gamecube game that sees Luigi brandishing his Poltergust ghost-sucking vacuum and ridding the world of creepy and mischevious ghosts. Also included in the game is a multiplayer mode that allows you and your friends to team up for some ghostbusting action. What’s not to love? After all, I ain’t afraid of no ghost.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate: While the Wii U might be struggling right now, the promise of what Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate has in store for both the console and the 3DS is encouraging. Featuring cross-platform game saves and play, you’ll be able to take Monster Hunter 3  Ultimate with you on the go and play with your friends on both the Wii U and 3DS platforms.

Ultimate takes the best of Monster Huner 3 and brings it back with even bigger and badder enemies, a more brilliant world to explore, and the opporutnity to experience cross-platform play with both your Nintendo 3DS and Wii U systems. With Monster Hunter 4 on its way, Ultimate is a great way to get back into the action while prepping for the all new adventure. Look for Ultimate on the Wii U and 3DS in March.

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team: Continuing with the “Year of Luigi” theme, Nintendo announced this game at their last Nintendo direct conference.

Once again, Mario and Luigi will team up in Dream Team and go into Luigi’s dreams and battle enemies in the classic RPG-style format we’ve seen from the plumber brothers before.  This time, however, you’ll also have a unique array of mechanics at your disposal to use in solving puzzles and helping the brothers out of their latest bind.

Dream Team drops on the 3DS this summer.

Mario Golf: World Tour: Few sports spin-offs are quite as endearing as those starring the Mario squad, and Mario Golf: World Tour on the 3DS is no exception. The latest entry in the Mario Golf family, World Tour looks to provide fans with an in-depth golf game that will satisfy both seasoned golfers and casual fans. Great care has been taken to make sure the game has tight and accessible controls that will allow players to enjoy the experience to its fullest extent.

Look for Mario Golf: World Tour on 3DS this summer.

Donkey Kong Country Returns: It’s been a while since we’ve seen the lovable ape in action on a 3DS system, and Nintendo aims to rectify that by bringing back one of Donkey Kong’s most beloved games in a re-make for the 3DS that will fully utilize the system’s 3D functionality. We don’t have much information about the game beyond that, but the game is set to release this summer in both Japan and North America.

Castlevania: Mirror of Fate: Giving us a deeper look into the origins of Trevor Belmont, Castlevania: Mirror of Fate sees classic Castlevania action mixed with ideas borrowed from Lords of Shadow. During the game, you’ll engage in combat with a variety of enemies using the series’ iconic whip, witness new story elements, and explore the depths of Dracula’s castle. Mirror of Fate promises to be not only a gorgeous game, but a true Castlevania experience with a sizable world to explore and monsters to slay. Look for the game on 3DS on March 8th.

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity: Continuing with the Pokemon hype train, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity is yet another installment in the PMD series that sees players exploring new dungeons and environments as their favorite pokemon. DLC add-ons for the game (including some free DLC through April 30th) will allow players to go to all new areas and engage in challenging battles to test their skill. Look for Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity on 3DS on March 24th.

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers: Making its North American Debut, Soul Hackers is a first-person RPG that takes players through dungeons as they explore an eerie cyberpunk world mixing elements of futuristic mayhem and horror in one engrossing experience. Shin Megami Tensei is a series synonymous with great games, and this looks to be no exception.

Soul Hackers releases on 3DS on April 16th.

Project X Zone: Featuring characters from the properties of Capcom, Namco Bandai, and Sega, Project X Zone is the ultimate Strategy RPG mashup set to release this summer in North America. Yes, it looks bonkers. And that’s a good thing. After all, where else will you see the Valkyria crew teaming up with Dante and Mega Man?

3DS eShop Games: The Nintendo 3DS eShop is home to a list of surprisingly great games including Pushmo, Crimson Shroud, classic NES titles, and the release of the Mega Man classic series, and games like Game Freak’s upcoming HarmoKnight and Mario and Donkey Kong Minis on the Move. Add to that fair prices that won’t break your bank account, and you’ve got a compelling case for 3DS fans to go online and see what hidden gems they might unearth on the eShop.