When the 3DS launched in March, it had a pretty sad launch lineup. But as the year went on, the system’s library expanded and improved each month. Improved enough that I have a five games on my “best of” list and five honorable mentions, and there are about five other games I’ve seen mentioned on other end-of-year lists. After a slow-start, the 3DS went on to have one of the better launch years in recent memory (software wise).
If you like Tetris, you will love this game. Every possible way you would want to play Tetris is packed onto one small 3DS cartridge. It presented in a slick and stylish package as well.
There hasn’t been a new take on the puzzle game in a while. Pushmo feels fresh because of that, as its push/pull/climb puzzle hasn’t really been explored before. The actual levels are brilliantly designed. At first they appear confounding, but solving them reveals their elegant simplicity. The best compliment for it is – it can be addicting as Tetris.
3. Mario Kart 7
7 is more of a refinement of the mascot kart racing series than a drastic reboot. Nothing important was taken away – Grand Prix, Multiplayer, Battle, and Online modes are all included. What was fun about the other games in the series remains fun here. It’s the little tweaks that make the game so enjoyable. Customizable karts, more interactive levels, and better item balance addresses some of the series nit-picky issues. The game is a bigger step forward for the overall series than you would have expected for a mobile edition.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
This entry is a bit of cheat. Ocarina of Time is widely regarded as one of the best games of all time and one of the first important 3-D (as in environments not as in stereoscopic) action adventure games. This is a fantastic port of it. The odd N64 control was actually improved in the transition to the 3DS control scheme. The graphics look great on the system and the music and ambient effects sound terrific. Audio and visually it is on par with other top 3DS games. One of Link’s greatest adventures still feels as big and enjoyable as it did all those years ago.
1. Super Mario 3D Land
Somehow, Nintendo did it again. The levels are creative, the visuals are bright and cheery, and the sound is pleasing. Why this is a more enjoyable experience than other platformers, I simply can’t explain (For example Rayman 3D also had creative levels with bright and cheery visual and pleasing sound). It’s just something often true of Nintendo’s top games, they are just more flat-out fun than other games. This game also shows of the 3DS’s capabilities as the 3D effect actually improves the platforming. This is easily the best game on 3DS in 2011.It’s also one of those games, like Super Mario Galaxy or Super Mario World that will be remembered fondly for years to come.
Honorable Mention – Pilotwings Resort, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon:Shadow Wars, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell 3D, Starfox 64 3D