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3DS Hidden Gems to Try Before the eShop Shuts Down

3DS Games to Try
By | May 11th, 2022 | Categories: Others

The shutdown of the Nintendo 3DS eShop draws near. We still have a year or so (March 2023) before it’ll no longer be possible to make purchases onthe Nintendo eShop for the 3DS family of systems and the Wii U system, but prices for physical copies of certain games have already started to rise as gamers rush to stock up before digital versions become unavailable. With certain games being delisted from the 3DS eShop, people can only play them if they have the actual cartridge on their hands if they didn’t snag the digital version beforehand (Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D is a perfect example of this). To make matters worse, in just a few days (May 23, 2022), you’ll no longer be able to use a credit card to add funds to your account. You’ve come to the right place if you’re thinking of snagging a couple of titles that you think might be hard to find later on or could be stuck in the 3DS timeline. The handheld is home to a plethora of lesser-known RPGs that don’t get enough limelight. So here’s a glance at some hidden gems released for the 3DS.

All the Etrian Odyssey Games

Despite the Etrian Odyssey series being around for nearly a decade and even receiving a bit of critical acclaim, it’s barely scratched the surface of the mainstream (only 500k sales in the West during the first calendar year). Sadly, there’s not that much interest in old-school-inspired, hardcore first-person dungeon crawlers. There are six Etrian Odyssey titles stuck in the 3DS: Etrian Odyssey Nexus, Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl, Etrian Odyssey Untold 2: The Fafnir Knight, Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan, Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth, and Etrian Mystery Dungeon (it’s a spinoff but I’ll still include it nonetheless).

All of the games listed above are great, but if I had to pick the one you should play above all else, it would undoubtedly be Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan. It was the most successful Etrian game in terms of sales, and with good reason. It’s one of the best games in the series, not only in terms of balance but of overall quality. Considering that it’s the earliest of all the 3DS Etrian Odyssey, this is an accomplishment in and of itself. Etrian Odyssey IV didn’t do much in core gameplay-wise, but it added a casual mode, making the game more accessible for newcomers. It’s still a difficult RPG, but the tweaks and adjustments made to the gameplay make it worth checking out – even for gamers outside of this hardcore niche.

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is a “must pick up” for the 3DS. If you don’t have the coin to get the physical copy of this (they’re pretty expensive), I recommend getting the digital version, as Atlus discounts their games now and then on the 3DS eShop. Since it was originally released for the Nintendo DS, you might’ve heard of this game, but this ported version has added content and new character art. The 3DS version adds a new storyline that’s considered as another “true ending.” It’s far from being the first video game to draw on parallel timelines, but it smartly integrates world-hopping into its narrative and gameplay. The result? A game that feels like Chrono Trigger but with a storyline that leans more toward war and politics.

Truly, Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is a top-tier JRPG – it’s a beautifully-paced experience, has a likable cast of characters, is brilliantly fun, and has an engaging time-travel hook. Whether you’re reliving a past playthrough or it’s your first dip through time, I guarantee you that this game will make a stellar addition to your 3DS RPG collection.

Ever Oasis

There’s a rich array of JRPGs to choose from over the 3DS’ lifespan, and it’s easy to think that it may be too saturated. Well, Ever Oasis is a friendly reminder that there’s still room for innovation. It might be a new IP, but it comes from a long pedigree. Developed by Grezzo (who made the 3DS Zelda remakes and StreetPass Garden) and the brainchild of Koichi Ishii (the creator of Secret of Mana), Ever Oasis is a fun-filled package that feels crisp and undeniably new among the sea of games that belong in the same genre.

Its addictive gameplay loop, fantastic sense of style, fun combat, and town-building mechanic make it feel like no other. It’s reminiscent of Final Fantasy Explorers and Rune Factory 4, but it is its own experience. For any ARPG enthusiast looking for something unique and full of charm, Ever Oasis is a title that should be on your radar.

River City: Tokyo Rumble

I could quickly fill this list with many JRPGs, but let’s try to diversity things, shall we? You might know River City Ransom as the NES game released in 1989. It started with almost zero fanfare to its name, only for its reputation to age like fine wine as years go by. Ironically, you could say that same thing happened with River City: Tokyo Rumble.

River City: Tokyo Rumble had a small initial print run that immediately sold out, with few outlets and critics reviewing it. As a result, many people missed out on a superb follow-up that melds some of the funniest writing you’ll ever see on the 3DS and the beloved beat ‘em up gameplay of the original River City Ransom. In essence, River City: Tokyo Rumble is a viable choice if you’re on the lookout for something easy to pick up and play.

Shin Megami Tensei IV

The 3DS is one of the few select systems to see a mainline release in Atlus’ flagship SMT series. Fortunately, the release of Shin Megami Tensei IV proved that these cathartic adventures are just as engaging on small, dual screens. Not nearly as popular as the RPG powerhouses such as Pokemon and Final Fantasy, its spinoff, the Persona franchise, even overshadowed the Shin Megami Tensei series.

With a peerless menagerie of deities, demons, and monsters to meet (and lead) in battle, one of the best plot twists I’ve ever seen, and a combat system that rewards clever play, Shin Megami Tensei IV is a game that keeps on giving. Think of SMT IV as similar to Pokemon, but it covers much darker tones.

You can also dive straight into its sequel, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, which adds a plethora of improvements and streamlines navigation. But if you want to get the most of it, I recommend starting with SMT IV first.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars

Before you scoff at the title and think of it as “just another shooter,” you’ll be glad to know that Shadow Wars has nothing to do with your assumptions of the Tom Clancy games. Instead, it’s the closest thing a Nintendo portable has ever seen to XCOM – both games even share the same producer.

Taking notes from franchises like the Advanced Wars series and Fire Emblem, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars won’t surprise anyone in terms of basic gameplay, but the addition of the cover mechanics makes it feel fresh. You can easily clock in more than 30 hours in your first playthrough as the campaign’s quite lengthy. There’s a lot to enjoy here, and if you’re craving a deep strategy experience with a modern military edge, Shadow Wars will not disappoint.

Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.

Sales were abysmal for Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.; the game was a commercial flop and rumored to have only sold 31k units in North America during its first month. People just weren’t ready to see Abraham Lincoln fight extraterrestrial beings.

Kidding aside, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. was Nintendo’s answer to Sega’s Valkyria Chronicles series – just weirder. It was named Lincoln vs. Aliens in Japan and developed by Intelligent Systems. As Abraham Lincoln takes on hordes of aliens in this steam-punk-inspired adventure, you’ll use a mix of third-person action and turn-based tactical gameplay.

One might argue that Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. flopped hard because it had too complex and deep mechanics – or maybe there just isn’t that much love for a steampunk version of good ol’ Abe. Either way, it’s still a great title to get if you’re interested in strategy games. Best of all, physical copies of it are dirt cheap, making it accessible and affordable to own.

Goodbye 3DS

The goodbye for the 3DS will be bittersweet (mostly bitter), but at the same time, there’s plenty to celebrate about its long life. As with any Nintendo system, the 3DS was home to many household franchises (The Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, Super Mario). But let’s not forget that the 3DS library is much deeper than those fan favorites; the handheld is also home to various obscure games that don’t get enough attention or recognition.

Before the Nintendo Switch began its modern-day dominance, the Nintendo 3DS was one of the best handheld systems ever to hit the market. Hopefully, after taking a glimpse at some of these underrated games, you now understand why the 3DS is considered by many as not just a mere handheld game console.

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