Hidden Gems On Nintendo 3DS

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By Latonya Pennington on December 4th, 2021


Earlier this year, it was announced that Nintendo is ending credit card support for purchases made on Japan’s Nintendo 3DS and Will U eShops. While it hasn’t been confirmed that this change will also be applied to the United States’ 3DS eShop, this is significant news given that Nintendo ceased production of the Nintendo 3DS last year. As sad as it is, sooner or later Nintendo will shut down the 3DS eShop for good.

In its nearly ten year lifespan, the Nintendo 3DS became home to a lot of great games available physically and digitally. Having gotten a Nintendo 3DS XL late last year, I soon discovered that some of the most games were either available as a digital exclusive or were lesser known. Given that the price of physical 3DS games have recently skyrocketed, it is worth checking out the eShop for cheaper prices with games that slipped under the radar.

7th Dragon Code III: VFD

This year saw me developing a love for Japanese dungeon crawling RPGs and I was excited to recently get my hands on this particular game. The premise is that you create a party of three and play a dragon hunting video game called 7th Encount, after which you are chosen to work for an organization to time-travel and kill real dragons threatening the world in different areas.

The dungeons you explore in third person as you hunt dragons in various time periods such as Atlantis are beautiful to look. Their beauty is enhanced by an ambient and energetic electronica soundtrack that plays in and out of battle. Not to mention, there are fun character job classes like Samurai, God Hand, and Agent that are cool to see in random encounters and boss battles.

Fantasy Life

Speaking of job classes, Fantasy Life is perfect for those who like life simulators but want one set in a fun fantasy world. After creating your character and choosing from one of twelve life paths (i.e. job classes), you arrive in a local town in the fictional world of Reveria where you meet a talking butterfly after receiving a summons from King Erik. From there, you must rise through the ranks of your life path while exploring Reveria to solve the mystery of ominous black stones falling from the sky.

Not only is the world of Reveria bright, cute, and colorful, but traversing it while making progress in your life class and the light storyline is really engrossing. It is especially entertaining because you can take on multiple lives at once, switch lives easily, and keep the skills you learn when you switch. Some lives also compliment each other; for example, the Alchemist life allows you to craft HP and MP potions for the Magician. Not to mention crafting or fishing is as simple as gathering or buying materials and then playing a button mashing mini game.

This game became my favorite game to play on Nintendo 3DS because it felt like MMO game made for offline solo play. There is some repetitive gameplay, but I didn’t mind because mining gold in the Cave of Bones or fighting zombie pirates with magic fireballs and a pirate princess NPC by my side was a good time. After beating the main storyline and reaching level 40. I even bought the Origin Island DLC which gave me a new life rank, a new world island to explore, and a post-game storyline to do!

Crimson Shroud

In addition to making Fantasy Life, developer Level 5 also made a digital exclusive game that takes the JRPG back to its tabletop role playing roots. You play as three seemingly doomed explorers as they explore a dungeon seeking an ancient treasure known as the Crimson Shroud. Although there are turn-based random encounters, actions are decided by the roll of dice that can add some damage bonuses or allow a character to dodge an attack. Did I mention that all the characters and enemy NPCs resemble tabletop figurines? If you don’t mind reading blocks of text for some exposition and want a slightly different JRPG experience that takes less than 20 hrs to finish, then feel free to give this game a try.

Shantae and The Pirate’s Curse

Taking a break from RPGs to move on to this quirky platformer that is also available on other consoles like Switch and Steam, this digital exclusive game sees you taking on the role of the purple haired genie known as Shantae. Shantae doesn’t have her powers due to an evil curse, and so must team up with pirate Risky Boots in order to save the world and get her magic back.

Since Shantae doesn’t have her genie powers, she must fight with her hair and an arsenal of weapons such as guns, swords, and boots. These fights occur in various lush islands that can be accessed through Risky Boot’s pirate ship and in between these fights, there are a plethora of puzzles to solve and obstacles to jump over. Complimenting the adventure is a cast of wacky characters and a catchy music soundtrack.


This cute and sprawling puzzle game has you playing as a plump little guy who must save the neighborhood kids from the climbing walls known as Pushmo. Pushmo puzzles are a series of colorful blocks that you must push and pull to navigate and reach the end of the level. Many of the blocks also function as murals that reveal themselves as you solve each puzzle with tools such as ladders and buttons that help with blocks of a certain color. With a whopping 250 levels and a level editor where you can make your own Pushmo puzzles, some might find the game a bit bloated but it is an entertaining way to pass the time.

Inazuma Eleven

When you combine soccer with the dynamics of a sports anime and an action RPG, you get this game. As the protagonist Mark Evans, you must keep Raimon Junior High’s soccer club from disbanding with the help of a team of wacky classmates and becoming the winners of the Soccer Frontier tournament. While you’ll use buttons as you explore the town of Inazuma, things turn exclusively touch screen when you hit the soccer field as you receive challenges from other school’s teams.

Tapping the screen with the stylus lets you draw paths for the characters to follow, speed them up, and give them specific directions for where to kick the ball. You can also call a time-out and plan out your plays and are presented with choices when you run into a rival on the field. When this happens, time stops and you can decide to intercept the rival trying to pass the ball or try to shoot the ball yourself. Each victory lets your team level up and learn special moves that are as showy as the ones from a Mario sports game. If you love sports games, but are looking for something a bit different, give this game a try.

Stella Glow

I hated this game but I have to admit that this game does have some redeeming qualities for fans of tactical RPGs, especially Imageepoch’s Luminous Arc series. The developers are the same people behind Stella Glow, which has a strong music motif throughout the game. The player finds themselves in the village boy shoes of Alto, a young boy who wants to live peacefully with his childhood friend Lisette. When Hilda, The Witch of Destruction destroys their village with a powerful song, Alto and Lisette unlock new abilities as they are thrown into a world-threatening crisis involving other witches.

Although the gameplay wasn’t great, the witches you fight and become allies with was somewhat enjoyable. It was especially cool when you activated each witch’s special J-pop or J-Rock song, which has different effects on the entire field and can help you turn the tide in battle. It made longer battles more bearable, especially when maneuvering the characters felt like a slow game of chess at times. The graphics are rather cute if you don’t mind chibi figures and the witches themselves are the best characters in the game. If you can ignore the creepy fanservice interactions between Alto and the witches and have the patience to persevere through long scenarios, get this game.

Latonya Pennington is a pop culture freelance contributor. Their gaming articles and features can be found at Fandom Games, Into More, Gayming Mag, and Into The Spine, among others.


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