The 10 best Nintendo 3DS games – for systems New and old

Whether you're grabbing the updated model or just need some amazing games to play on the original, these are the essential picks

Super Mario 3D Land in all its colourful glory

There are few things so guaranteed to bring joy to a gamer as an hour or two in the company of Nintendo. 

OK, so the genres on offer may lack a little variety compared to Xbox and PlayStation but the games themselves are usually so beautifully crafted, innovative and fun to play that you won't care. 

And the good news is that there's now a new reason to fall in love with Ninty all over again. Or rather two.

The New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL just launched - you can read our review of the larger model here - bringing with them faster processors which should make new games even better. But you needn't wait for new games before enjoying them, because right now every 3DS game works with every version of the system. And if you're looking for the best portable games to play on the 3DS, you've come to the right place.

Nintendo's own games dominate the list, which shouldn't surprise anyone, but we've got a broad selection of experiences to choose from – including meaty adventures, compact puzzle and racing titles, and much more.

So whether you're just entering the 3DS market or need a refresher on what's amazing, we've got you covered. 

Super Mario 3D Land

Finding the perfect middle ground between the series' equally brilliant 2D and 3D platform-action templates, Super Mario 3D Land is bursting with creative stages and scenarios. It effortlessly shifts between side-scrolling and free-roaming moments, with the camera framing the action a little differently in each new area, making the whole game feel fresh – and really tailored for the 3D effect.

It's one of Mario's top adventures, even in a series marked by some of the best-loved games of all-time. 

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Rather than release another Zelda remake for 3DS, Nintendo opted instead to return to the world of fan-favorite A Link To The Past from the SNES and design a whole new adventure.

A Link Between Worlds has the familiar charm of the 16-bit entry, but also modern touches, not to mention a big twist: the ability to turn into a 2D drawing and slide along walls and around hazards.

The less-linear quest is bright and memorable, making for yet another classic action role-playing entry. And if it's remakes you want, don't miss The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time 3D and Majora's Mask 3D, which update the respective beloved N64 adventures. 

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

It'd be difficult to describe Animal Crossing without it sounding like a lot of time wasting and busywork, yet Nintendo's adorable life simulation manages to suck players in for hours and hours.

New Leaf is arguably the best of the series, with the handheld design making it easy to pop in and out of your colourful city, increased social functionality adding to its appeal, and your new role as mayor giving you more say over the town's development. Among addictions, it's an awfully cute one.