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10 3DS eShop Games You Really Should Play

Our pick of the ten best Nintendo 3DS eShop games.

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Shovel Knight

Our pick of the ten best Nintendo 3DS eShop games.

With Nintendo now swimming in the murky waters of mobile you could be forgiven for thinking that the 3DS is a system bereft of great downloadable games.

Although the 3DS eShop was missing at the system’s 2011 launch, it has continually evolved and is a huge improvement over the Nintendo’s previous forays on the DSi and Wii. It’s well designed, and although the purchasing process is needlessly long, it does an above average job making games findable. No small task.

The eShop has also built up an impressive library of downloadable titles, even offering a smattering of free-to-play games that are no doubt informing Nintendo’s mobile strategy. While eShop pricing is not quite at mobile levels, it’s easy to assemble an extremely decent 3DS library without spending a fortune.

To help you do that we’ve selected our ten best Nintendo 3DS eShop games:

Zen Pinball

Marvel Pinball

Zen Pinball is available on every format known to man. I wouldn’t be too surprised to discover that there’s a version for the Speak and Spell in the works. That it’s a great pinball game, is a given. The 3DS version gets our nod due to the sense of solidity provided by impressive use of the system’s oft-derided 3D capabilities. These flourishes more than compensate for the sub-HD graphics, and the game’s physical controls are preferable to any touch screen input. Three versions are available and at a push we’d would recommend the Marvel edition.

Pushmo

Pushmo

It was tough to pick between Pushmo and its sequel Fallblox. Whilst Fallblox expands on the format, the original gets our pick due to its purity of concept. It’s one of those designs that’s so simple it’s remarkable no one ever did it before (the same applies to BoxBoy!). Pushmo is not a game that needs 3D but it’s certainly one that’s enhanced by it, using the effect to draw the player into the game’s toy box of puzzles. Pushmo can frustrate in its later levels but it’s always enjoyable and the level creation suite (with QR code sharing) ensures longevity. The Wii U edition is also recommended.

VVVVVV

VVVVVV

Terry Cavanagh’s ode to 8-bit computer gaming was originally released on PC in 2010 but it feels perfectly at home on the 3DS. The 3D effect is negligible but the lower screen map is a genuine help as you guide Captain Viridian through a series of intricate rooms in search of his crew. VVVVVV is as cunning as it is simple. It can be cruelly challenging but it’s never unfair. Every death (of which there will be many) can always be blamed on your lack of skill, timing, but more often than not, patience. Once the main game is complete the variety of remixed guest star levels ensure VVVVVV will be a game you return to.

SteamWorld Dig

SteamWorld Dig

SteamWorld Dig is the follow up to DSiWare’s SteamWorld Tower Defence but the only commonality is its fictional universe. Dig is a affection nod to the past evoking Super Metroid, Dig-Dug and Super Mario Bros 2. If that doesn’t sell it to you, the well-judged length, endearing visuals and satisfyingly crunchy digging mechanics definitely should. This was welcome surprise when it released in 2013 and it’s since made the moved to PS4, Vita and Wii U – a sure sign of its quality. It comes recommended on all platforms.

Gunman Clive

Gunman Clive

Gunman Clive is the cheapest game on our list, costing a paltry £2. The game’s sketchy looks are charming and platforming clean but challenging. A small game, then, but one more that is more than worth its modest price.


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Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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Thumbsticks editor and connoisseur of Belgian buns. Currently playing: Paper Mario: The Origami King, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Pikmin 3 Deluxe.