The Best Nintendo 3DS eShop Games of 2017

Retail wasn’t the only place 3DS shined in 2017. Here are the best digital games to grace the handheld last year.

By Kevin Knezevic. Posted 01/08/2018 10:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

While Nintendo’s new Switch may have been the center of attention in 2017, the company’s dedicated handheld, the 3DS, had yet another stellar year. Despite being almost seven years old at this point, it received a steady stream of great games throughout 2017, from masterful remakes like Metroid: Samus Returns and Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia to a handful of new and classic gems in the 3DS eShop.

We’ve already recounted the best 3DS retail games of 2017, and now we’re taking a look at the best titles to hit the handheld’s digital store last year. Despite being largely overshadowed by the launch of a new Nintendo console, 3DS saw some wonderful eShop releases in 2017 that proved the handheld still has a lot of life left in it, even with the Switch vying for gamers’ attention. Read on to see the best 3DS eShop games of 2017, as voted on by the Nintendojo staff!


Pokémon Gold & Silver Versions

The Virtual Console release of Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow Versions back in 2016 was exciting for many reasons. Not only did it give series veterans and newer fans alike the chance to relive the adventure that kickstarted a global phenomenon and became one of Nintendo’s most lucrative franchises, it opened the door for other classic Pokémon games to arrive on the service. Over a year after their re-release, their second-generation sequels, Pokémon Gold and Silver Versions, landed in the eShop, and the pair handily proved just why they are still held in such high regard by fans, 17 years after they first debuted.

Even compared to newer Pokemon games like Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Pokémon Gold and Silver stand as two of the best installments in the long-running franchise. Not only did the pair improve upon the foundation laid down by Red, Blue, and Yellow with a hundred new Pokémon, two new types, the ability to breed and hatch Pokémon, a day and night system, and a whole new region to explore, they remain some of the most engrossing titles in the series, making it easy to lose yourself all over again in the land of Johto. Moreover, Gold and Silver are two of the biggest adventures Game Freak has ever released; even after you conquer Johto’s eight Gyms and take your place as the Pokémon League champion, you’re able to revisit Kanto–the original setting in Red, Blue, and Yellow–and take on its eight Gym Leaders. When it comes to the Pokémon series, Gold and Silver still remain among the very best, like no game ever was.


Bye-bye, Boxboy!

Nintendo’s pantheon of mascots could hardly be called “conventional,” featuring the unlikeliest assortment of heroes in gaming, from plumbers and diminutive spacemen to tie-wearing gorillas and insatiable pink puffballs. Even among this ragtag assembly, however, one of the most unusual heroes to headline a Nintendo game is Qbby, the squat, block-like protagonist of the Boxboy series. Despite being one of the Big N’s newest characters, Qbby has become a sort of de facto mascot for the 3DS eShop, starring in a trilogy of wonderful puzzle-platformers that could only be found in the digital store. His latest adventure, Bye-bye Boxboy!, arrived back in April, and it serves as a fitting capstone to his tenure on 3DS.

Like Qbby’s previous two outings, Bye-bye Boxboy! is a 2D platformer through minimalist stages laden with inventive puzzles. Despite possessing no discernible limbs (besides a pair of stubby legs), Qbby has a few unique powers at his disposal to overcome these obstacles, such as the ability to create up to four other blocks in different arrangements to help him navigate through levels. Bye-bye Boxboy! also introduces a number of new powers, like the ability to conjure up bombs or warp blocks, which you’ll need to use to clear the most devious collection of puzzles in the series yet. It may be easy to overlook many 3DS eShop games, particularly now that Switch has become the object of developers’ attentions, but Bye-bye Boxboy is a gem that no 3DS owner should miss.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney

Pokémon Gold and Silver weren’t the only classic games to arrive in the 3DS eShop last year. Capcom also brought Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, the offshoot installment in its courtroom drama series, to 3DS in 2017. Despite originally appearing nearly a decade ago on Nintendo’s previous dual-screen handheld, Apollo Justice remains a fun entry in the franchise that is certainly worth a look for all 3DS owners, whether or not you’ve already experienced it on DS. Set seven years after Trials and Tribulations, the game shifts the spotlight away from the original Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright, to the eponymous upstart Apollo Justice, who must defend the former protagonist in his very first case. Featuring a wonderfully written and engrossing story with improved visuals, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is another one of the year’s best releases that shouldn’t be missed.


Mighty Gunvolt Burst

Mighty No. 9 may not have been the Mega Man revival fans were hoping for, but it helped pave the way for what certainly is a wonderful Mega Man-style adventure: Inti Create’s Mighty Gunvolt Burst. Starring Mighty No. 9’s Beck and Gunvolt from the Azure Striker Gunvolt series, Mighty Gunvolt Burst is a fast-paced side-scrolling action game that calls to mind the Blue Bomber’s best days. Featuring a beautifully retro presentation, intense and fluid gameplay, and a deep customization system, Mighty Gunvolt Burst is an absolute gem that shouldn’t be missed, whether you pick it up on 3DS or Switch.

Blaster Master Zero

While action may be Inti Creates’ forte, the developer has proven itself just as adept at crafting Metroidvania-style adventures with Blaster Master Zero, a remake of Sunsoft’s NES classic. While not as intense as the Gunvolt titles, Blaster Master Zero is another wonderful addition to the eShop’s library thanks to its engrossing gameplay, large, interconnected world to explore, and myriad upgrades to find and collect. Like Mighty Gunvolt Burst, Blaster Master Zero is available both on 3DS and Switch, so players have no reason not to pick up one of the best digital games to grace a Nintendo console last year.

Those are Nintendojo’s picks for the best 3DS eShop games of 2017! We’ll be back tomorrow with our list of the best games of the year overall. In the meantime, do you agree with our choices? Sound off with your own favorite digital games of 2017 in the comments below!

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