As the powerful DS (finally) starts to fade from view, 2013 is in some ways is the first full test of Nintendo’s portable. The system can no longer rely on its predecessor. It must deliver new content, and do that consistently. Here’s what’s incredible: it will very likely do that. Looking over what’s imminent, what might make this year, and considering what could eventually make its way to the 3DS this year, there is a ton of quality content headed Nintendo’s way. Quite possibly more than the last two years combined.
Here’s what we know to be coming. We’ve classified these games into four categories – the Near Future (titles confirmed to be coming in the next several months), the Distant Future (titles we know are coming, with no release window), the TBD future (they’re out in Japan, with no word on localization) and eShop games (which often show up with only a few days’ notice). Take a look. We think you’ll be impressed. We were.
THE NEAR FUTURE
- Fire Emblem: Awakening
Luigi isn't alone in early 2013.
- Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
- Brain Age: Concentration Training
- Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titans
- Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers
- Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate
- Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
- Pokemon Mystery Dungeon
- Naruto Shippuden 3D: The New Era
- Disney Infinity
Whether you’re looking for a niche RPG or a big, iconic Nintendo sequel, the first quarter of 2013 is loaded for the 3DS. We’d be surprised if the rest of the year turns out this much content – and there are some truly great games headed your way. Starting in just three weeks, Nintendo will release its first big production, Fire Emblem: Awakening. A long-running strategy RPG series, Awakening features some of the best storytelling, localization and production we’ve seen on the 3DS. You can wait to read our full review on January 30 (at 9am PT), but it’s probably safe to say you should check this one out just based on our most recent preview.
From there we start to get into a fast and furious release schedule, which includes several noteworthy RPGs. Whether it’s Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan, Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers (part of the Shin Megami Tensei series) or Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, the variety of niche, role-playing experiences on the way is fantastic. Just one of these games, when packaged with some of the other games on the way, fills a gap that the 3DS hasn’t seen much of in its life. You want deeper, longer-lasting experiences? Here you go.
Of course, Nintendo isn’t done with just Fire Emblem. In just a few weeks the publisher will release the latest entry in its Brain Age series, Brain Age: Concentration Training. Though it’s unlikely to capture the same lightning its predecessors did years ago, the fact that it’s currently unlike anything else on the 3DS makes it a strong option to consider, particularly for more casual gamers.
All of this builds to more action-oriented games, headlined by Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon and Castlevania – Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate. These two games couldn’t be more different, but will also provide a stark contrast to the numerous RPGs highlighted above. Toss in a few games aimed at slightly younger audiences (Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, Naruto: Powerful Shippuden and Disney Infinity) and the 3DS, in the span of just a few short months, will have a formidable array of new experiences.
And that’s not even counting the eShop. More on that later.
THE DISTANT FUTURE
Ace will return.
- Pokemon XY
- Animal Crossing: New Leaf
- Super Smash Bros.
- Ace Attorney 5
There’s certainly much to anticipate in the 3DS’s near future, but it doesn’t end there. Looking beyond the next few months, there are still a handful of titles we absolutely can’t wait to get our hands on.
Pokemon X and Y will be ushering in the first fully 3D Pokemon generation this October, and the brief glimpse we’ve had of the cel-shaded graphics and updated battle camera certainly has piqued our interest. And if the way Animal Crossing: New Leaf has been conquering Japan is any indication, Nook’s next portable adventure could be just the addiction we need to round out the year (hooray for pants!).
Looking into the very distant future, we already know that the next version of Super Smash Bros. will have a 3DS counterpart - and that alone is more than enough to get our imaginations running wild. Unfortunately, very little is known about either version of the next Smash at present, outside of the fact that the Tekken team will be helping series creator Masahiro Sakurai with the game’s development. Hopefully that changes soon, as it wouldn’t be crazy to expect more details to arrive before year end (heck, even just a name and logo would do).
While we’re at it, we’re also looking forward to the one and only Phoenix Wright’s return as the main protagonist in Ace Attorney 5. In fact, we certainly wouldn’t object to seeing that thing hit North American store shelves sooner rather than later.
THE 'TO BE DETERMINED' FUTURE
Please, Namco? Please?
- Project X Zone
- Bravely Default
- Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney
- Layton and the Azran Legacies
- Monster Hunter 4
- Fantasy Life
- Rune Factory 4
We’ve walked you through what is confirmed to be on the way in the next few months and even detailed a few games that sit on the distant horizon. But the 3DS actually has a wealth of content that’s just begging to come to the Americas and Europe. Trapped in Japan, here are the games that we’re desperate to get our hands on. Some are more niche, some are almost guaranteed hits. Regardless, here’s hoping publishers see the 3DS’s increasing hardware sales and determine a publishing plan. Heck, at this point we’ll take eShop-only releases. Just get these games overseas!
We’ve written about two Japan-only games, Bravely Default Flying Fairy and Project X Zone, extensively. Zone is a strategy game using a huge array of characters from Namco, Capcom and Sega. It’s insanely ambitious, but extremely cool and flashy. It would likely be a nightmare from a licensing standpoint, but we still want it. Bravely Default is an extreme opposite of Zone. Being an entirely new concept from Square Enix, it’s certainly a risk, but with 3DS sales escalating, the likelihood of this beautiful RPG coming across the seas is getting better.
Though the Professor Layton adventure that launched with the 3DS in Japan just made its way to Europe and North America, Nintendo’s gentlemanly puzzle-solver has already found himself on two more adventures. Professor Layton X Ace Attorney and Professor Layton and the Azran Legacies haven’t been confirmed for release outside of Japan, with the latter just a month or so away from release in Japan and the former arriving last November, but given the quality of the franchise as a whole, we’re dying for more. Azran has been billed as the final game starring the main man himself, Hershel Layton. The crossover with Ace Attorney combines two of our favorite franchises. We can’t think of two games more suited for our 3DS systems.
Monster Hunter 4, Rune Factory 4 and Fantasy Life are bigger question marks in our eyes. Capcom seems to be testing the waters with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, and we wouldn’t be surprised if the international fate of the fourth installment hinges on the reception of the enhanced Wii U/3DS ports. Fantasy Life has us a bit worried too. The Level-5/Brownie Brown RPG strikes us as being a bit too eccentric and text-heavy for localization. Given the fact that it’s a completely unknown franchise, it seems unlikely we’ll ever see it. But we’d love to be proven wrong. In the case of Rune Factory, again, sales of games like Harvest Moon will dictate whether Natsume determines the niche title moves outside Japan. It has in the past... we'll see if the 3DS sells enough systems to create that ideal climate.
THE ESHOP FUTURE
The eShop is unpredictable, but delivers great content.
- Rhythm Hunter Harmo Knight
- Tokyo Crash Mobs
- Renegade Kid’s First-Person Shooter
- ATV Wild Ride 3D
- Jett Rocket II – The Wrath of Taikai
- Mutant Mudds 2
In the midst of all the exciting retail releases heading our way in the near and not-so-near future, it’s easy to forget about what the 3DS eShop has to offer. But that would be a mistake. While we don’t know the exact release date for most of these titles, it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ll all arrive within the next 50 weeks (few eShop games are teased more than a year in advance of release, after all). At the top of that list is probably Rhythm Hunter HarmoKnight, the new IP from Pokemon developer Game Freak. The game mixes rhythm gameplay with scrolling, platforming action, and features some awesome tracks Pokemon fans may recognize.
Another big eShop title heading our way sometime this year is Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, which will be bringing the curvaceous, purple-haired genie back to the portable landscape for the first time since DSiWare title Shantae: Risky’s Revenge. Tokyo Crash Mobs is more imminent (it hits the Shop this Thursday, in fact), but ever since we first demoed this quirky title, we’ve been eager to play the full thing. All you need to know is it involves throwing people at other people - craziness ensues, and it’s actually a lot more fun than it should be. Other things coming soon include Capcom’s continuing celebration of Mega Man’s 25th anniversary with the digital release of his six NES classics. The original game that started it all is already available for download, with Mega Man 2 heading to the 3DS Virtual Console on February 7 and the rest set to follow in the weeks to come.
Finally, there are a few eShop titles we haven’t heard much about, but that already sound promising. Yatagarasu is a 2D fighting game from a few members of the King of Fighters team. Considering their experience with the genre, we can’t wait to see how this game turns out. Otherwise there’s also the first person shooter Renegade Kid has teased (that’s about all we know about that one), as well as ATV Wild Ride 3D (which promises loads of stunt-fueled adrenaline rushes). Not bad considering all of these things are in addition to the 3DS’s rather fruitful retail release schedule.