Maybe you haven’t noticed, but the Nintendo 3DS is rocking it. This October was the sixth consecutive month that the handheld led overall hardware sales, and now the 2DS is on shelves beside it.
The 3DS had some amazing games come out this year, solidifying an already impressive library. So there's more than enough options out there for every type of gamer. There are even some bundles and deals on hardware.
Let’s run down the list of absolute must-own items, perfect for gifts and stocking stuffers.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds 3DS XL Bundle
A great holiday gift for kids or adults, this Zelda-themed 3DS XL will make other gamers jealous. The gold and black with the etched Triforce is gorgeous to look at. This bundle also comes with a download code for The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, which is an extremely fun Zelda game just released for the 3DS. This bundle is a steal at the price of $219.99, considering a new 3DS XL by itself goes for $200.
Nintendo's new 2DS offers the gaming library of the 3DS without the 3D feature (it also plays DS games). It's great for kids as an entry-level console, as it's a good deal cheaper than a 3DS and 3DS XL, and you don't have to worry about the hinges on the folding screen breaking. Coming in at $129.99, this is the perfect gift for 3DS gaming for a lower price.
Pokémon X and Y
To miss out on the latest installments of Game Freak’s Pokémon series would just be silly. It’s Pokémon! Who doesn’t want to play it?
There’s no doubt in my mind that Pokémon is the most accessible role-playing game series out there — sometimes I forget that it’s even an RPG. And X and Y are incredibly social games thanks to plenty of new WiFi-based features like the Player Search System and O-Powers. You can trade, battle and interact with other trainers all over the world.
X and Y are the first entries to be set in the Kalos region, which is basically just France. They also introduce Mega Evolution, an extra evolutionary stage exclusive to a select few Pokémon, and other changes, like 3D battles. Finally, Pokémon move and behave like living creatures, not sprites.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Here’s one that’s perfect for adventures old and new: A Link Between Worlds just came out, and boy, is it good.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a streamlined, less linear remake of the classic Super Nintendo title A Link to the Past. It adds an item-renting system, which lets you take on the redesigned dungeons at your own pace, and paintings. Yes, Link can now turn into a drawing on walls to solve puzzles or bypass obstacles. Yeah!
And you get it all wrapped up in cool 3D. Finally, a reason to keep the slider on.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a casual life-simulation game that turns people all manner of hardcore. Fishing, digging for fossils, and keeping your cute animal neighbors happy is serious business.
New Leaf is the latest in the Animal Crossing series, and it’s one of the biggest titles on the 3DS right now — a real system-seller. So what are you waiting for? A whole town is in need of a good mayor.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
You may have skipped this one if you’ve played other games in the Mario & Luigi action-RPG series, but I promise, Dream Team is something special.
That’s primarily because developer AlphaDream’s title casts Luigi, the oft-ignored brother, as the star, not Mario. The result is thoughtful and amazing; you’ll want to play this one in 3D. Nothing beats seeing a giant Luigi stomp over an equally enormous foe or a bunch of mini Luigis trample enemies as a massive rolling ball.
I love comic books, and plenty of other gamers do as well. So chances are they’ll find it incredibly hard to resist Scribblenauts Unmasked, the latest Scribblenauts puzzle game from developer 5th Cell where the words (and combinations of words) you think up come to life on the screen.
This entry’s got tons of characters and locations from the DC Comics universe: Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman … Zombie Batman … and countless others. 5th Cell’s animation makes them all, hero or villain, wonderfully adorable, and the possibilities for how you can make them interact would make any geek drool.
Fire Emblem: Awakening
This one’s for the strategy enthusiasts. Fire Emblem: Awakening is an incredibly polished and well-made tactical RPG and one of the best titles out this year. Some even consider it the best Fire Emblem in the series, with characters that are worth investing in.
If you’re worried about finding the battles too hard, there are plenty of difficulty modes, including a casual option that disables the dreaded permadeath.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
Dark Moon is the long-anticipated sequel to the first Luigi’s Mansion, which debuted on the Nintendo GameCube and tasked the wimpier plumber brother with sucking up ghosts in a haunted house using a fancy vacuum cleaner.
Luigi gets his dues at last. The action-adventure game is one of the oddest and most lovable titles on the 3DS, and it’s tons of fun.
Etrian Odyssey 4: Legends of the Titan
So we’re back to the RPGs, but that’s no surprise: The 3DS is a great system for them. Developer Atlus helped prove that with Etrian Odyssey 4: Legends of the Titan.
The series is known for its brutal difficulty, but Legends of the Titan is more inviting to newcomers, featuring a casual mode (just like Fire Emblem: Awakening) that softens some of the blows that come from dungeon-crawling and battles. It’s made for old-school RPG fiends and those who have always wanted to break into the genre but were too scared to try.
Be sure to check out all of the other awesome gifts, games and consoles in GameZone's 2013 Holiday Gift Guide for Gamers (Click on the image below).