3DS

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The original Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, despite its ridiculous title, was one of the best early offerings on the 3DS. It made several of our year-end top ten lists, was a runner-up to our Best 3DS Game award that year and was a virtual lock to make our 3DS Best to Own Forever list earlier this year. And it would have, were it not for the fact that a sequel, Curtain Call, was about to be released.

Curtain Call takes everything that made Theatrhythm great and adds more of it: more songs, more characters, more titles from which to draw those songs and more of the original’s “Dark Notes,” now turned into the new Quest Medley mode. It even removed some of the minor flaws, like the pointless (if optional) tap-fest Intros and Epilogues and restricting the characters’ skill slots to a specific type. READ MORE

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Until this point, the Super Smash Bros. series has been almost entirely defined by its local multiplayer experience. Sure, there have been single-player modes, and sure, Brawl had online play, but the true focus has always been on jumping in and battling it out with a friend or three on the couch. Almost out of necessity, this new 3DS entry of Super Smash Bros. shifts that focus to something more personal, something more customized and about reaching goals on your own.
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Ever since the release of Mario’s Picross on the original Game Boy, Nintendo handheld systems have been fertile ground for quick, level-oriented puzzle games. The original Tappingo, released in the 3DS eShop earlier this year, was a short but fun experience, offering an original take on puzzle design that felt right in line with this legacy. Tappingo 2 follows the original template very closely, with the only new feature being a zoom function for the larger puzzles. I had a good time with the game, but in the end, it leaves that unsatisfying feeling that it just doesn’t do enough to improve on its predecessor.

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When Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was first announced, the respective fan bases of both franchises were sold almost immediately. The two camps have a significant overlap, and those fans had just been exposed to something they knew they wanted very badly yet had never even imagined could be possible. Even fans of only one half of the mix were intrigued by the possibilities of the two worlds colliding. READ MORE

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Influences from the NES era are nothing new. This has been an ongoing trend in indie games, often to draw on the nostalgia factor and also cut the costs of developing in HD. Some might even say the trend is getting a bit overdone, and I might have agreed with them until now. Shovel Knight has proven that combining old art styles and mechanics, and mashing together old genres, can still be done well. READ MORE

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Tomodachi Life is a weird game to describe. Think of it as a mix of TamagotchiThe Sims and Animal Crossing. As the island’s proprietor, you create Miis, move them into an apartment complex and ultimately become their problem-solver. They live their daily lives, meeting fellow residents on the island that you make at your discretion, become friends, fall in love, get married and, if you’re lucky, have kids as well. READ MORE

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With the release of The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave, developer Genius Sonority hit upon a formula that was both compelling and a showcase of the 3DS’ particular strengths and quirks. Since then, the focus has been on augmenting and fleshing out that experience, building upon what was largely a proof-of-concept title and giving you more reasons to stay in the world and let yourself get lost in it. The Denpa Men 3: The Rise of Digitoll seems like the culmination of these efforts, a game so full of bells and whistles that we’re not sure there’s room for any more. READ MORE

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In the past, the Mario Golf series has been defined by two separate, equally-viable tracks: the console one, focusing on party play and maintaining a low barrier to entry, and the handheld one, crafting a more personal experience with progression and customization. We live in a different world than we did when the series last appeared on the Game Boy Advance and GameCube, though, and now a handheld game has the potential to be both of these things at once.
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The JRPG is going through an oddly fruitful point in its life right now. On one hand, it is undeniable that the genre lacks the cachet that it had during the 32-bit era, and it is doubtful it will ever reclaim that. However, publishers like Atlus, Nippon Ichi and XSEED  long regarded as some of the biggest risk-takers in publishing have taken it upon themselves to ensure that many of the more offbeat titles in the genre actually make it outside of Japan. That has never happened on this scale before, and it is the only way that a game like Conception II would have ever seen the light of day in English-speaking territories. READ MORE

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At the risk of repeating myself, if you’re a fan of the Professor Layton franchise, you don’t really need to be reading this review. You know what you’re going to find here, and you probably don’t need my recommendation to pick up the sixth and final(?) chapter in the Professor’s puzzling adventures.

If you’re choosing now, of all times, to just get into the series? You might just be picking up the best iteration yet at the worst possible time. READ MORE