It’s that time of year again – time to do your last minute shopping and satisfy the gamer needs of your family, friends and other loved ones. Rather than rushing out and buying a forgettable game, though, how about getting those ideal stocking stuffers they’ll love? If you need assistance with that, don’t worry, we’re here to help!
For our latest Gift Guide – for this year anyway – we turn to the Nintendo 3DS. This dual-screen handheld has seen a number of terrific games this year, both between downloadable releases on the eShop and retail selections. However, only ten can make our list – and we picked some real doozies to buy for your family and friends.
Without further ado, here are our picks!
Pokémon X & Y (Nintendo)
It’s Pokémon. If you’ve got young ones in your family or those particular friends that are addicted to “catching them all,” this is obviously a given – if they didn’t pick it up already. No matter which way you go, Pokémon X and Pokémon Y have hours of quests to complete, as well as hundreds of creatures to fight, capture and eventually learn more about via the Pokedex. On top of that, both games feature a bright, colorful world to explore and various characters to interact with, both friendly and competitive alike. It’s so addictive, you might just try to catch a copy of the game for yourself.
Project X Zone (Namco Bandai)
It’s one thing to see two game companies team up for a collaborative effort, such as a fighting game or a role-playing adventure. However, Project X Zone has three – and that provides more than enough company to entertain fans of the genre. In this wild crossover, players choose from characters in the Namco, Sega or Capcom universes, combining their efforts together for turn-based, combo-filled combat against a variety of enemies. With fun graphics filled with quirky animation and battle moves, and gameplay that even amateur players can get into, this Zone is well worth getting into.
Shin Megami Tensei IV (Atlus)
Every once in a while, a role-playing game comes along that rocks your gaming world completely, whether it’s with its vast storyline, its memorable characters or its difficult-to-master combat system that makes you really feel like you’re fighting for something. Atlus’ latest chapter in the Shin Megami Tensei series is all these things and more. Featuring a quest that will take well over 100 hours to complete – and that’s not including the side missions – it’s a game that will certainly keep those devoted RPG lovers of yours busy into the first few months of 2014.
Angry Birds: Star Wars (Activision)
After first making an impact on the mobile front, Angry Birds: Star Wars – a combination of Rovio’s hit fowl-flinging franchise and the mega-popular science fiction series – makes a reasonable shift to the 3DS front. Featuring a variety of challenging levels, including 20 exclusive to this version, a variety of control variations, and an affordable price tag (it’s currently only $20 at some stores), the Force is easily strong with this one. Besides, what kids – and adults, for that matter – don’t love Angry Birds and Star Wars together?
Fire Emblem Awakening (Nintendo)
Earlier this year, Nintendo brought its fan favorite strategy/role-playing adventure series Fire Emblem back into the mainstream with the impressive Awakening. All these months later, it continues to be a fine adventure that will please any adventure fans you may know. Featuring a superb real-time combat system that will put players’ skills to the test, along with a vast overworld to fight through and compelling visuals, Awakening has a lot to offer – and that’s not even considering its terrific storyline. Even if a player isn’t a fan of the series, Awakening will certainly make them one.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (Nintendo)
The year of Luigi – a promotional event dedicated to Mario’s less-popular brother – started off with a bang, thanks to this sequel to the sleeper GameCube hit. In Dark Moon, you guide Luigi and a special vacuum-empowered ghost capturing tool through a creepy mansion, chasing after spirits while finding other collectible goodies. Although the game specializes in spectral entertainment, it’s really a fun adventure for all ages, making it an ideal choice for kids. Fans of Luigi will love it, too, especially since it paints their heroes in a positive light. It’s the best way to spook someone this holiday season.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Nintendo)
This year was already a good one for Link and company, with the excellent Wind Waker HD that came out for the Wii U back in October. However, fans of the SNES classic A Link To the Past got more of what they love with A Link Between Worlds, a fantastic adventure that introduces a great new gameplay tactic – being able to transform into a painting. It sounds useless at first, but it allows Link to access areas that are otherwise unreachable in physical form. With hours of quests and items to collect, a presentation that will be very familiar with Link fans, and a beautiful soundtrack, this Link is just what you need to please fans of adventure this holiday season.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (Nintendo)
If you know people that didn’t get enough Luigi with Dark Moon on their 3DS, allow us to introduce their next gift – Dream Team. In this fun new role-playing/action game, players guide the brothers through a mysterious dream world, utilizing special abilities to overcome enemies and get to the bottom of things. Better still, there are segments in the game where you can actually tweak a sleeping Luigi’s face, making things happen in the gameplay as a result, such as a wind gust. Plus, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen someone’s face after unleashing a devastating boulder made entirely of Luigis. That makes Christmas special all by itself.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Nintendo)
If there’s one title that truly embraces players interacting with their community, it’s Animal Crossing: New Leaf. This all-ages accessible game has players running through their city, interacting with a number of memorable characters and having many misadventures. Whether it’s fishing, building a garden, or taking part in other events, New Leaf has a lot to offer. Plus, with its customization features, players will spend hours building their houses and other structures, and flourishing their city for their friends and family to visit. That makes this an ideal game to stuff in someone’s stocking…because who doesn’t like togetherness? Well, besides Grandma, anyway.
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D (Nintendo)
Easily one of the favorites from the Nintendo Wii era, Donkey Kong Country Returns made a fine transition onto the 3DS earlier this year – and we can’t recommend it enough for the platforming fans in your lives this holiday season. Featuring dozens of stages to beat, tons of collectibles to find (like all those pesky Banana coins) and innovative gameplay around every corner, Donkey Kong Country successfully blends modern game design with the classic presentation we’ve come to expect from the series. Even though it’s a bit challenging at times, you’d be bananas not to give it to someone you love.