The 3DS Games Worth Keeping an Eye on in 2016

A look at the 3DS games you won't want to miss.

Even though 2016 has just begun, it’s clear that the coming months are going to be a great time for games, especially if you’re a 3DS owner. 

The Nintendo handheld has plenty of promising exclusives scheduled to release this year and a bevy of multiplatform games bolstering its roster. With so many games dropping this year, spending 2016 hunched over the 3DS’ dual screens sounds like a smart decision.

In the interest of getting the most out of your 3DS, here are some games worth keeping an eye on in 2016.

Zero Time Dilemma – Spike Chunsoft:

The third and final chapter in the Zero Escape series, Zero Time Dilemma was met with praise and excitement when it was officially revealed in October. It was for good reason, too, since Zero Time Dilemma almost never went into development due to the series’ poor sales history in the West.

Zero Time Dilemma is set between Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (999) and Virtue’s Last Reward. While there isn’t much known about Zero Time Dilemma at the moment, the promise of closure to the Zero Escape saga is more than enough to be excited about for many handheld gaming fans.

Expect a hard-hitting visual novel that dabbles in philosophical quandaries and morally gray themes while also presenting players with the “room escape” elements found in the two previous entries.

Mighty No. 9 screen Mighty No. 9 screen

Mighty No. 9 – Comcept/Inti Creates:

After a handful of delays, Mighty No. 9 is finally scheduled to release in February. 

While Mighty No. 9 will be available on every current platform, the game’s 2D, Mega Man-inspired platforming lends itself naturally to the 3DS. Starring Beck, an android who has more than a little in common with the Blue Bomber himself, Mighty No. 9 has a number of different stages for players to jump, dash, and blast through.

Mighty No. 9’s director Keiji Inafune knows what it takes to make a responsive and challenging platformer. Despite the hiccups along the way, Mighty No. 9 looks to be this year’s most promising platformer, even if the game’s art leaves a little to be desired.

Dragon Quest VII/VIII – Square Enix:

If you’re the kind of person who thinks it’s weird to be excited about the 3DS getting two ports of unabashedly old-school JRPGs, then it’s safe to say that you’ve never experienced the magic that is Dragon Quest

Dragon Quest VII and VIII are widely regarded as the long-running franchise’s crown jewels, and rank among the most enjoyable – and lengthy – JRPGs ever made. The upcoming re-release of these two Dragon Quest games has the potential to not only steal hundreds of hours away from nostalgic JRPG fanatics, but also introduce a new generation to the franchise that laid the groundwork for an entire genre.

Plus, Yangus is the best thing to ever happen to Dragon Quest. His dialogue and accent are worth the price of Dragon Quest VIII alone.

Return to PopoloCrois screen Return to PopoloCrois screen

Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasona Fairytale – epics:

In addition to having one of the year’s longest names, Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale could potentially be one of 2016’s biggest sleeper hits.

Combining the slice of life elements from Story of Seasons (formerly Harvest Moon in the West) and Animal Crossing with whimsical role-playing and crafting suites similar to the Rune Factory games, Return to PopoloCrois is a little game jam-packed with content. If you’re the kind of person who wants a bit of farming, a touch of crafting, and some good old fashioned combat in their video games, then Return to PopoloCrois is just what you need.

The 3DS has always been a safe haven for games that march to their own beat. Return to PopoloCrois, with its “farming sim meets grid-based, tactical RPG” structure captures the essence of the quirk and charm that makes the 3DS’ library feel special.

Leviathan from Final Fantasy Explorers Leviathan from Final Fantasy Explorers

Final Fantasy Explorers – Square Enix/Racjin:

Sure, 2016 is the year the Final Fantasy XV finally hits store shelves, but 3DS owners will get a chance to experience a new Final Fantasy adventure in February.

Final Fantasy Explorers has a bit more in common with Monster Hunter than it does with previous games in the franchise. Explorers encourages cooperative play, allowing four players to team up and defeat familiar Final Fantasy beasts. 

To sweeten the deal, Final Fantasy Explorers’ combat is built around the classic “Job System,” giving each player an opportunity to pick and choose what skills and specialties they bring to the table while donning the iconic wardrobes of Black Mages, Dragoons, and Samurai. 

Bravely Second: End Layer screen Bravely Second: End Layer screen

Bravely Second: End Layer – Square Enix/Silicon Studios:

The direct sequel to 2014’s Bravely Default, Bravely Second picks up two years after the events of the first game.

A new cast stars alongside some familiar faces, and notable tweaks to Default’s “Brave” and “Default” combat system – including the ability to chain increasingly difficult battles together – add an additional layer of depth to Bravely Second’s gameplay

Bravely Second, much like its predecessor, looks to be a game that is as much of a love letter to classic RPGs as it is a modern experience that plays with turn-based combat conventions.

Fire Emblem Fates – Intelligent Systems/Nintendo:

2016 is a great time to be a Fire Emblem fan. With SMT X Fire Emblem more than likely landing on the Wii U before the year’s end and Fire Emblem Fates a few weeks away, the endearing and enduring Fire Emblem series has never been more popular.

Fire Emblem Fates takes a different approach than Fire Emblem: Awakening. Told over two main games – Birthright and Conquest – with a third, downloadable chapter called Revelations to follow, Fates deals in drama and political intrigue as players must choose between their own bloodline and the plight of their adoptive countrymen. 

Birthright and Conquest represent two different sides of the Fates experience. While both games feature the same core cast, each version has over twenty characters unique to their respective game. Furthermore, Conquest has been referred to as the more “traditional” Fire Emblem journey, eschewing the ability to grind levels between story segments in favor of a more difficult and varied mission structure. Birthright will be a bit more welcoming, with replayable missions and straightforward objectives for each battle. The division of Fire Emblem Fates across multiple games is a strange one, but it’s worth grabbing both main versions if you’re a fan of the franchise.

Raymond Porreca is a freelance writer from Philadelphia, PA. You can talk to him about 3DS games and anything else on Twitter @rayporreca.