Top 25 Best 3DS RPGs Of All Time: The Ultimate List

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Released in 2011, the Nintendo 3DS was one of the Big N’s biggest gambles. They released a portable console right in the middle of widespread mobile gaming adoption worldwide – and it paid off.

The system’s power, 3D functionality, and a fantastic roster of games were enough to make it competitive – turning the gamble into a resounding triumph for the Japanese company.

Among these fantastic games, the RPG genre is especially well-represented and includes some excellent remakes and ports too.

If you’re interested in getting some more use from this classic Nintendo handheld, check out my top picks for the best RPG titles released for the 3DS.

 

25. Code of Princess (2012)

Code of Princess screenshot

If you love beat-em-ups and hot girls in ridiculous armor, you can’t skip Code of Princess.

This Action RPG follows Solange Blanchefleur de Lux – an exiled princess from the Kingdom of DeLuxia. Wielding the legendary DeLuxcalibur, she’ll fight her way through hordes of monsters to free her nation from their terror.

While the game’s side-scrolling gameplay is nothing to write home about, the unique character design and enjoyable game modes are really enticing. These include fantastic co-op and competitive modes.

Get it if you liked Guardian Heroes on the Sega Saturn.

 

24. Final Fantasy Explorers (2016)

Final Fantasy Explorers game screenshot

Final Fantasy Explorers is an enticing ARPG that can be summed up as “a Monster Hunter clone in the Final Fantasy multiverse”.

As such, the game has you hunting down iconic beasts and summons from Final Fantasy lore such as the Ifrit and the Bahamut.

It features multiplayer functionality and replaces the weapon-determined classes from Monster Hunter with an extensive Job system, including classics like Black and White Mages, Monks, and Dragoons.

 

23. Fantasy Life (2014)

Fantasy Life gameplay

Fantasy Life lets you choose one of twelve “Life Classes”, including jobs like Alchemist, Carpenter, Cook, or even Woodcutter – each with their own set of skills and playstyle.

Along with life-simulation aspects like buying a home and farming, the game has you exploring the world of Reveria, trying to uncover the truth behind the Doomstones – corrupting meteorites that fell all around the world.

It’s a pretty straightforward game. But still profoundly enjoyable.

I’d recommend it to RPG newbies in a flash.

 

22. Ever Oasis (2017)

Ever Oasis 3DS gameplay

Ever Oasis is an excellent Action RPG that sets itself apart from the rabble thanks to its successful integration of life-sim and town-building aspect.

Made by Grezzo – the same team behind the 3DS Zelda remakes – the game feels like a middle ground between Zelda and Animal Crossing.

You’ll explore a vast desert, defeating monsters and collecting resources to help your cute water-spirit friend expand your Oasis, bringing in new residents and traders.

 

21. Pokémon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby (2014)

Pokémon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby gameplay

I’m a sucker for Pokémon’s third gen games – Sapphire, Ruby, and Emerald on the Game Boy Advance.

These remakes on the 3DS feature updated graphics that elevate the already beautiful Hoenn region to the next level. They also add Fairy-type’ mons and Mega Evolutions.

As if that wasn’t enough, it also lets you acquire Johto, Unova, and Sinnoh starters on top of your main Hoenn critter.

The only drawback is that the remakes are considerably easier than the original, and the water-centric aspects like the Dive mechanic feel somewhat outdated.

Still a game well worth checking out.

 

20. Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl (2013)

Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl screenshot

The original Etrian Odyssey was one of my favorite games on the DS. And this remake on the 3DS is a dream come true.

The gameplay remains the same for the most part – including the high difficulty and need to make your own maps of the dungeons you explore.

The main additions include renewed 3D graphics thanks to EOIV’s engine, and a new character-driven story mode alongside the original make-your-own-crew campaign.

It also boasts a better balance between classes, which is a godsend.

 

19. Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth (2019)

Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth gameplay

Regrettably, there are no mainline Persona games on the 3DS – but if you like dungeon crawling and turn-based combat, this cute-looking spin-off will scratch that itch.

The game is an excellent blend of Persona 5’s style and lore with Etrian Odyssey’s gameplay.

It follows the Phantom Thieves after a trip to Mementos goes wrong, and they’re trapped within a mysterious cinema. They’ll have to travel through several films à la Viewtiful Joe to find a way out, meeting many characters from previous Persona games on the way.

 

18. Tales of the Abyss (2012)

Tales of the Abyss 3DS gameplay

Back when it came out for the PS2, Tales of the Abyss was hailed as one of the system’s best RPGs.

This port on the 3DS is just as good.

While it doesn’t feature many changes other than dramatically reduced loading times, it retains the exciting combat system, great narrative, and fantastic soundtrack by Motoi Sakuraba.

Even without counting side-content, it’ll easily provide over 50 hours of fun.

 

17. Rune Factory 4 (2013)

Rune Factory 4 screenshot

Rune Factory 4 is the latest entry in the well-loved series – not counting its remake on the Switch, of course.

This specific title brings varied and addictive gameplay that blends elements from life simulators and combat-oriented RPGs.

You can clear dungeons, grow crops, marry your favorite girl in town, and plenty more.

It’s the best-selling game in the series for a reason. So do yourself a favor and play this one right now.

 

16. Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon (2015)

Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon gameplay

If you love Pokémon but feel somewhat tired by the overused formula, you can approach the franchise from a different perspective through Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon.

It’s the best title in the Pokémon + Mystery Dungeon crossover series so far, letting you explore procedurally-generated scenarios with large teams of critters you’ll recruit by completing missions.

It has a compelling storyline with some deeply emotional moments – and the inclusion of all 720 ‘mons (at least up to that point in time) means you can still catch ’em all in this fantastic spin-off.

 

15. Bravely Default (2012)

Bravely Default 3DS gameplay

Developed by Silicon Studio, Bravely Default follows four warriors on their journey to awaken Luxendarc’s elemental Crystals before darkness consumes them.

If that reminds you of a particular RPG series, you’re right on the money – after all, Bravely Default began its development as a sequel for Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light.

In case you’ve played the latter, you know what you’re getting into in terms of gameplay.

It’s a pure turn-based RPG with some slight tweaks to keep things fresh, including a mechanic that lets you “save” actions for subsequent turns.

 

14. Bravely Second: End Layer (2016)

Bravely Second: End Layer gameplay

Two years after Bravely Default’s events, a new adventure begins with some new faces and a couple of returning characters.

The game features some improvements here and there, including better side-quests and a chain battle system that lets players take on multiple waves of enemies during random encounters, all for extra experience, currency, and items.

Bravely Default’s sequel feels more like an expansion than a new game, as everything from the graphics to the gameplay is mostly the same. S

till, that doesn’t mean it’s bad.

If you liked the original, you’ll love this one.

 

13. Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon (2017)

Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon screenshot

One of the best entries in Game Freak’s long-running monster-catching franchise has to be Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon, which features several improvements and a new storyline taking place on an alternate universe from that of the original Pokémon Sun & Moon.

And quite possibly the best change made to the core Pokémon formula in the seventh generation was removing HMs, which are replaced by the Poké Ride system.

This makes HM slaves redundant, freeing up one spot on your party for better combatants.

It also replaces Gyms with varied “challenges” like trivia events and other such mini-games. Don’t worry; there are still plenty of powerful trainers to challenge all around the region.

 

12. Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past (2016)

Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past gameplay

The Dragon Quest series has been a staple of JRPGs for several decades, and it doesn’t look like it’ll stop anytime soon.

One of the best ways to experience the classics is through recent remakes – including DQVII on the 3DS.

It follows the silent Hero and his companions as they travel to the past to keep the world’s continents from disappearing, eventually facing the Demon Lord behind it all.

Get it if you like classic RPG combat, extensive class systems, and games with over 100 hours of content – side-quests not included!

 

11. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (2017)

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King gameplay

Once you’re done with DQVII, you can move right on to the sequel, originally released in 2005 for the PS2.

This time around, you’ll take control of an 18-year-old royal guard on a journey to defeat the wicked Dhoulmagus and free the Kingdom of Trodain and its people from his curse.

This was the first title in the series to feature fully 3D environments. And its cel-shaded graphic style gives the game a timeless appeal that’s just as beautiful now as it was so many years ago.

 

10. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (2013)

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team gameplay

The Mario & Luigi series never fails to deliver a fantastic blend of Nintendo’s trademark creativity and out-of-the-box design with classic RPG mechanics.

M&L: Dream Team is probably the best in the series, thanks to its appealing graphics and varied gameplay, which alternates between levels in the real world and in Luigi’s dreams.

These mid-dream levels are immensely entertaining, as you’ll have to trigger special abilities on the top screen by messing with Luigi’s sleeping face on the touch screen.

It’s a pretty trippy experience. And you’ll love every minute of it.

 

9. Etrian Mystery Dungeon (2015)

Etrian Mystery Dungeon screenshot

As its name suggests, Etrian Mystery Dungeon is a crossover between the hard-as-nails Etrian Odyssey series and the renowned Mystery Dungeon franchise.

The game takes its dungeon-crawling elements from Mystery Dungeon, while combat and the game’s class system follow the Etrian Odyssey formula.

These classes include the Protector, Gunner, and Medic – among others.

Unlike Etrian Odyssey, which features pre-designed dungeons, this game will have you exploring procedurally-generated scenarios. It’s considerably easier than the usual EO hell, but it’s still pretty challenging.

 

8. Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology (2018)

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology gameplay

After being chosen to wield the White Chronicle – a tome that allows the user to travel through different timelines – it’s up to protagonist Stocke to save the world from desertification.

When I first played Radiant Historia on the DS, I was enthralled by its fantastic story and engaging gameplay – but also frustrated by some of its mechanics and the lack of clues on how to progress.

The Perfect Chronology remake addresses some of these issues. It makes the game considerably more palatable to casual gamers and anyone who likes clearing games without having to google puzzle solutions.

It also has a fantastic new art-style and an anime opening by A-1 Pictures.

 

7. Fire Emblem: Awakening (2013)

Fire Emblem: Awakening screenshot

Fire Emblem is one of Nintendo’s most beloved series nowadays – but back when Awakening came out, it was experiencing a bit of a rut.

This fantastic game single-handedly blew life back into the series thanks to deep customization, gorgeous visuals, and lots of lovable characters whose personal trials and tribulations are often more absorbing than the central narrative.

It’s polished to a mirror sheen, and there are tons of side content to explore – not to mention plenty of DLC.

Just keep in mind that it’s one of the easiest games in the series. If you’re looking for a real challenge, you’ll have to play the game on Lunatic difficulty.

 

6. Fire Emblem Fates (2016)

Fire Emblem Fates 3DS gameplay

Much like Fire Emblem: Awakening, “Fates” focuses on its gorgeous visuals and endearing cast of characters – but tries to improve the formula by injecting some more difficulty into the mix.

The game is divided into three parts: Birthright, Conquest, and finally Revelations, which wraps up the events of the other two parts.

Where the previous game allowed you to pair-up characters romantically however you wanted, this game has predetermined couples.

This makes their love stories considerably more enjoyable and cohesive.

 

5. Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse (2016)

Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse screenshot

The original SMTIV on the 3DS was already a fantastic game, but the sequel – Apocalypse – takes it to the next level.

The game is set on an alternate timeline to the original, though the post-apocalyptic Japan setting remains the same.

This time around, you’ll play as Demon Hunter Nanashi – a silent protagonist with the power to persuade demons to join his party. You’ll need to get familiar with the system if you wish for strong allies.

If you like this game, you can always go back and play its predecessor. It’s a bit easier, but it’s still profoundly enjoyable.

 

4. Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan (2013)

Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan gameplay

If you want to get into the Etrian Odyssey franchise, you can’t go wrong with its fourth installment on the 3DS.

Not only is it one of the easiest entries in the series, but also one of the most enjoyable thanks to its amazing animated 3D graphics and incredible symphonic soundtrack.

The classes are also well-balanced, and their skill trees are fun to uncover. Some items even allow characters to use skills from different classes, giving rise to some interesting strategies.

If you find the base game too easy, you can always tackle the optional Hall of Darkness dungeon after clearing the story mode once.

 

3. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (2012)

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance 3DS gameplay

Set right after the events of Kingdom Hearts 2 and Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, Dream Drop Distance follows Sora and Riku on a quest to protect dream worlds based on The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tron: Legacy, and the classic Pinocchio.

Its gameplay is most similar to that of KH: Birth By Sleep. Plus some additions here and there to keep it fresh.

For example, it’s now possible to tame enemies in each world to serve as your allies and support you in battle.

As we’ve come to expect of the series, it features gorgeous visuals (for a handheld) and a fantastic soundtrack – plus it’s vital to understanding the plot of Kingdom Hearts 3.

KH DDD was updated in the PS4 remakes, but the 3DS version is really where it’s at if you want the original experience.

 

2. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (2015)

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate screenshot

Monster Hunter is one of the most enjoyable action RPG series ever created.

And before Monster Hunter: World came out – MH4 Ultimate was the best way to enjoy it.

Not only does it feature more platforming and larger areas than Monster Hunter 3, but it also robust online functionality that blows all previous portable Monster Hunter titles out of the water.

As you might expect, its gameplay keeps the base formula of hunting giant beasts for parts to make better equipment that’ll help you take down even larger marks.

If you want to get into the series, this is a great place to start, as the tutorial and the first couple of missions do a fantastic job of drilling the basic mechanics into your skull.

 

1. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D (2015)

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D gameplay

Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii was (and still is) of the best JRPGs ever made.

It was definitely the cream of the crop of its generation – and it’s just as good on the 3DS too.

The game takes place atop two warring Titans frozen in time. The biological beings of Bionis – like protagonist Shulk – are in perpetual war with the Mechon race of machines that inhabit Mechonis.

It’s one of the few games that require the New 3DS hardware, thanks to its fantastic graphics and detailed models.

But along with beautiful visuals, the game also features a sweet soundtrack – and it’s compatible with the Shulk Amiibo, giving your glorified figurine some more value.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.