The 13 best Nintendo 3DS games

UPDATED: Metroid: Samus Returns joins our pick of portable essentials

With Nintendo's Switch having well and truly taken flight, the 3DS is now entering its distinguished twilight years. Given just how many brilliant games have seen release for this portable marvel, it's never too late to start enjoying the best of them.

Nintendo's quirky little handheld boasts quite the library of miniturized classics, and they're all available to play whether you have the standard 3DS, the streamlined New 2DS XL, or the enhanced New Nintendo 3DS, but there's plenty more worth investigating.

Yes, classic series like Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda are present and accounted for, but dig a little deeper and you'll find more reasons to stay glued to this dual-screened device. Especially now Metroid has made it's grand return to a Nintendo console. Here are 13 of the absolute top games you can play today on Nintendo 3DS.

Metroid: Samus Returns

A remake of Metroid II for GameBoy, Samus Returns reimagines almost every aspect of the portable favourite for its 3DS debut. Combat is now focused on countering your many foes, a new sprawling map has been crafted for the adventure and those pesky Metroids have never looked more resplendent in the palm of your hands.

As the intergalactic bounty hunter’s first turn on a Nintendo console for seven years, Samus Returns unsurprisingly sticks to the same schtick that made its predecessors so beloved. That means exploration around a hostile alien landscape is very much the order of the day. The more you indulge your curiosity, the more health and weaponry you’ll have to slay the game’s many fearsome bosses. It’s a thrilling - if familiar - routine and one that ensures Samus Returns is a welcome revival for this uniquely feted franchise.

Pokémon Sun and Moon

Got Pokémon Go to thank for your newfound (or revitalized) interest in monster-bagging? It's time to turn your attention to Pokémon Sun and/or Pokémon Moon instead. These fully-fledged series entries augment the classic collecting and battling approach with some nice tweaks.

The tropical Alola region and its inhabitants give the game a sunny disposition, while dozens of new monsters, glossier graphics, and fresh Z-Move attacks boost the familiar formula. While not a dramatic change from the classic template, it's arguably the best Pokémon has ever been.

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.