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Discover the Nintendo 3DS hidden gems waiting to be uncovered in our guide to 10 of the very best!

With the recent closure of the Nintendo 3DS eShop, there’s been no better time to take a look back at the incredible library of games on Nintendo’s revolutionary handheld. Building upon the incredible variety of games on the original Nintendo DS, the 3DS brought enhanced visuals, native stereoscopic 3D, and a variety of social features through intuitive functions like StreetPass and SpotPass. For many of us, the Nintendo 3DS was our console of choice for many years! And the console wouldn’t be the same without its vast library of games, from first-party hits like Pokémon and Animal Crossing through to JRPG masterpieces like Shin Megami Tensei and Dragon Quest.

Just a few of the best on the 3DS!

We’ve already looked at 10 of the best Nintendo 3DS games, including fan favourites like Fire Emblem Awakening and Kid Icarus: Uprising. Now it’s time to delve deeper into the library and uncover 10 of the best Nintendo 3DS hidden gems you probably haven’t played! We’ll be focusing on the obscure, the unusual, and the underrated in order to help you track down the real hidden gems on the Nintendo 3DS.

So read ahead, switch on your 3DS, and find out which games make the list!

Nintendo 3DS Hidden Gems #1 – Culdcept Revolt

Nintendo 3DS hidden gems culdcept revolt

Developer: Omiyasoft
Release Year: 2016
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy

Combining board games, strategy and collectible card games, Culdcept Revolt is the first in our list of Nintendo 3DS hidden gems. Throughout Culdcept, players control territories on a game board using magical creatures and spells to dominate the board. The game’s story mode is lengthy and engaging, following the main character, Allen, as he navigates a world of political intrigue and magical conflict. Multiplayer mode is also gives you the chance to play Culdcept Revolt with friends, competing against others online or locally, with various game modes to choose from.

Overall, the game’s strategic depth is its main strength, requiring you to manage resources, build up decks, and make strategic decisions about which territories to control. With unique and engaging gameplay, with plenty of content to keep players busy, it’s certainly one of the standout strategy games on the console. Whether you’re a fan of board games, collectible card games, or strategy games, Culdcept Revolt is definitely worth checking out.

Nintendo 3DS Hidden Gems #2 – Yo-kai Watch Blasters

Nintendo 3DS hidden gems yokai watch blasters

Developer: Level-5
Release Year: 2015
Genre: Action RPG

Yo-kai Watch is certainly one of the highlights of the 3DS’ library and this action-packed spin-off gives you the chance to take on the role of a team of Yo-kai Blasters who battle enemies and solve mysteries. Gameplay is fast-paced and engaging, with each Yo-kai character utilising unique abilities and strengths, allowing you to create custom teams to suit their playstyle. The game also features charming and colourful graphics, a catchy soundtrack, and amusing sound effects, adding to its overall fun and light-hearted tone.

The game features both single-player and multiplayer modes, with players able to explore various dungeons and battle bosses in single-player mode, and team up with up to four players to take on even more challenging missions in multiplayer mode. Yo-kai Watch Blasters is a hidden gem of the Nintendo 3DS library that offers a unique and engaging experience for fans of the Yo-kai Watch series wanting something a bit more fast-paced and less story-driven.

Nintendo 3DS Hidden Gems #3 – Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure

Nintendo 3DS hidden gems rhythm thief

Developer: SEGA / Xeen
Release Year: 2012
Genre: Rhythm

Set in the stylish streets of Paris, imagine Professor Layton crossed with Rhythm Heaven crossed with Lupin III and you get none other than Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure! You take control a charismatic thief named Raphael, who embarks on a quest to uncover the truth behind his father’s disappearance, with a narrative featuring plenty of twists to keep you hooked. Rhythm Thief’s gameplay revolves around rhythmic mini-games, where players must press buttons in time with the music to complete various challenges. These are broken up by puzzle-solving elements, requiring you to use your wits to uncover clues and solve mysteries.

Where Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure truly stands out is through its unique and stylish presentation. The game’s Parisian setting is beautifully realized, with detailed and colourful environments that give the game a distinct and charming visual style. The game’s soundtrack is also a highlight, with a diverse selection of musical styles, heavily focusing on jazz, that perfectly complement the game’s various mini-games. There’s really no other game quite like it and that’s exactly why it deserves a spot in your 3DS library!

Nintendo 3DS Hidden Gems #4 – Dragon Quest: Rocket Slime 3

Nintendo 3DS hidden gems dragon quest rocket slime 3

Developer: Tose
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Action RPG

Unfortunately an exclusive to Japan that never made it to Western shores, Dragon Quest Rocket Slime 3 continues on from the beloved Dragon Quest: Rocket Slime on Nintendo DS and expands upon it significantly.  This unique and charming action-adventure game set in the whimsical world of the Dragon Quest series but centred entirely around Slimes! The game features an adorable cast of characters, including the player-controlled Slime protagonist, who sets out on a quest to save his town from a mysterious threat.

Gameplay is still primarily centred around seafaring Slime ship battles, where players control a vessel and must engage in battles with other ships by firing various ammo types or by boarding the enemy ship and sabotaging it from within. Players can also collect and recruit various Slime and monster allies throughout the game, each with their own unique abilities and strengths, to help them in battle or to solve puzzles in the game’s dungeons. It’s a delightfully charming game that might stretch your Japanese skills (like a slime), but is still well worth picking up if you own a Japanese 3DS.

Nintendo 3DS Hidden Gems #5 – Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy +

Nintendo 3DS hidden gems ace combat assault horizon legacy plus

Developer: Access Games
Release Year: 2015
Genre: Air Combat Simulation

Taking the thrilling aerial combat of the Ace Combat series, Assault Horizon Legacy+ puts the power and speed of fighter jets right in the palm of your hands. Control various fighter planes and engage in intense dogfights against enemy forces. Despite the limited hardware of the Nintendo 3DS, the standout feature of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy+ is its stunning presentation, with beautiful and detailed 3D graphics that showcase the game’s various landscapes and environments alongside blisteringly fast aerial combat.

You’ll have access to a range of different fighter planes throughout the game’s campaign, each with their own unique strengths/weaknesses and ability to customise each of them with various weapons and upgrades to improve their combat effectiveness. Thanks to its engaging storyline, fast-paced gameplay, and stunning presentation and performance on the 3DS, this is definitely a must-play handheld title for fans of aerial combat games or action games in general. There are also 2 releases of the game, with the superior + version adding Amiibo support, updated controls, and optimised for New Nintendo 3DS.

Nintendo 3DS Hidden Gems #6 – Nano Assault

Nintendo 3DS hidden gems nano assault

Developer: Shin’en Multimedia
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Shoot ’em Up

Developed by Shin’en, the team behind gems like The Touryst and Fast Racing NEO, Nano Assault is a sci-fi themed shoot ’em up game where you’ll face off against a deadly virus that has infected the Nanostray, a microscopic organism that has taken over the human body. Blast through a variety of different levels set in different parts of the body, each with its own unique enemy types and challenges. Your microscopic ship, although tiny, is powerful and can be upgraded with various weapons and power-ups to help them take down the enemy organisms.

Nano Assault and its digital-only upgrade, Nano Assault EX is fast-paced and intense, with players facing off against hordes of enemy forces and bosses that are challenging to defeat. Controls are tight and responsive along with its impressive 3D graphics and detailed visuals that bring the game’s sci-fi setting to life. For fans of shoot ’em ups, Nano Assault is a must-have! An enhanced console version was also developed for Wii U and PlayStation 4 with Nano Assault NEO, but lacks the gorgeous stereoscopic 3D of the 3DS version.

Nintendo 3DS Hidden Gems #7 – Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars

Nintendo 3DS hidden gems ghost recon shadow wars

Developer: Ubisoft
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy

If you were an early adopter of the Nintendo 3DS (like myself), you might remember that the launch library of the console was initially incredibly sparse. There really weren’t that many worthwhile games at all in the first few months, meaning we had to scrounge for whatever seemed worthwhile. But one game stood head and shoulders above the rest! It was essentially the Nintendo 3DS’ answer to Fire Emblem before Fire Emblem even released on the console. I’m of course talking about Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, the tactical turn-based squad shooter that was without the real hidden gem of the launch library.

Where most Tom Clancy games are shooters, Shadow Wars instead adopts a more challenging and strategic role. Engage in tactical combat across a variety of different landscapes, taking advantage of soldiers’ various abilities and weapons to outmanoeuvre and outsmart your enemies. Use cover and flanking manoeuvres to gain the upper hand or risk your soldiers looking like swiss cheese! If you’re a fan of strategy games like Advance Wars or Fire Emblem, Shadow Wars can be picked up for a bargain bin price of $10 – 20 and is critically overlooked as one of the hidden gems on the Nintendo 3DS.

Nintendo 3DS Hidden Gems #8 – Cave Story 3D

Nintendo 3DS hidden gems cave story plus

Developer: Nicalis
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Metroidvania

The iconic indie game masterpiece by Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya, but remade entirely in 3D by Nicalis, exclusive for Nintendo 3DS. Set in a charming and intriguing world filled with memorable characters and hostile threats, Cave Story 3D is easily the most visually-engaging version of the game to date. Once again you’ll take on the role of a steadfast robot named “Quote”, who must navigate through a variety of different levels, defeat enemies, and solve puzzles to progress through the game’s gripping narrative.

Despite being remade entirely, the underlying gameplay is much the same, with very little content that deviates from the original release. However, the obvious change to Cave Story 3D is its enhanced 3D graphics, which add an extra level of depth and immersion to the game’s already entrancing visuals. The soundtrack for the Nintendo 3DS release was also fully remastered and arranged by none other than Danny Baranowsky, the legendary composer behind series like Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac. Although it comes with a hefty price tag, Cave Story 3D is a 3DS hidden gem well worth adding to your library.

Nintendo 3DS Hidden Gems #9 – Rhythm Heaven Megamix

Nintendo 3DS hidden gems rhythm heaven megamix

Developer: Nintendo
Release Year: 2015
Genre: Rhythm

Are you always tapping your foot to the beat and singing along with your favourite songs? Look no further than Rhythm Heaven Megamix on the Nintendo 3DS! With over 100 rhythm games, many of which are updated versions of previous Rhythm Heaven entries, this vibrant and charming rhythm game is perfect for unleashing your musical prowess. Megamix offers arguably best rhythm gameplay on the 3DS, with a plethora of new and challenging music-driven games to keep you entertained for hours.

The game’s difficulty curve is designed to gently ease newcomers into the series before ramping up the challenge. And the music, composed by Tsunku, is highly addictive and has a tendency to get stuck in your head – but with such catchy tunes, who’s complaining? While there are other popular rhythm games on the 3DS, even some that made this list, neither can match the beat of Rhythm Heaven Megamix. Give it a try and you might find yourself humming its tunes all day long!

Nintendo 3DS Hidden Gems #10 – Theatrhythm: Dragon Quest

Nintendo 3DS hidden gems theatrhythm dragon quest

Developer: indieszero
Release Year: 2015
Genre: Rhythm

The last on our list of Nintendo 3DS hidden gems is yet another Japanese exclusive, and arguably one of the best! And thankfully, this one requires pretty much no knowledge of Japanese language to fully enjoy, just a sense of rhythm and a love for the iconic Dragon Quest series. It’s Theatrhythm Dragon Quest! Similar to the Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (which you can find out all about in our Theatrhythm Final Bar Line review), this entry features popular music from the Dragon Quest series and rhythm-based gameplay. You’ll tap, swipe, and slide on the 3DS touchscreen in time with the music to progress through levels and defeat enemies.

One of the unique features of Theatrhythm Dragon Quest is the use of character classes, such as warrior, mage, and thief, each with their own set of skills and abilities. These classes can be leveled up as you progress through the game, making them more powerful and able to tackle more challenging levels. Of course the main highlight though is the music! Featuring songs from across the series all the way up to Dragon Quest X, it’s a musical smorgasbord and an absolute joy for Dragon Quest fans who’ve heard many of these tunes for hours on end and looking for a new way to enjoy them.

Are these hidden gem games still available for purchase or download since the closure of the Nintendo 3DS eShop?

The availability of these hidden gem games for purchase or download since the closure of the Nintendo 3DS eShop can vary. Some physical copies of these games may still be found through retailers or online marketplaces. However, digital copies may be more challenging to obtain, and availability could depend on region and platform.

Can I play these games on newer Nintendo consoles like the Switch, or are they exclusive to the 3DS?

The games listed in the article are exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS and cannot be played on newer Nintendo consoles like the Switch without some form of emulation or modification.

Are there any similar hidden gem lists for other consoles or handhelds that I might be interested in exploring?

While the article focuses on hidden gems for the Nintendo 3DS, similar lists for other consoles or handhelds do exist and can be found across various gaming websites and forums. Each platform has its own unique library of games that enthusiasts have uncovered and shared as hidden gems.

And that’s it for our list of Nintendo 3DS hidden gems! Though there are many more to discover and we’d love to hear all about your favourites! So join the Qualbert Discord to chat with us about all things Nintendo DS/3DS.

If you enjoyed this list of Nintendo 3DS hidden gems, be sure to check out our article all about the 7 Nintendo DS Hidden Gems (that won’t break the bank!) and

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