The Nintendo 3DS is RPG heaven, this much we have determined. We’ve managed to push our way through two parts in this series so far, and if we’re honest it’s not showing any real sign of slowing down. This genre truly runs deep on the little dual screened bundle of joy, so much so that we’re still, here on Part 3, having to consider which RPG games make the cut!
Enough talk! These Nintendo 3DS RPG games aren’t going to sort themselves out! Join us then as we pull out another 5 top quality RPG games for our favourite portable console!
5. Bravely Second: End Layer
A Square Enix JRPG was surely necessary for the 3DS, and with Bravely Default they delivered a fantastic, bite sized yet ultimately fulfilling title. They innovated on the turn based battling front, breaking a few boundaries whilst managing to remain true to the Final Fantasy, Job based game play. The game was almost universally loved, save for a bit of stalling at it’s final chapter, and a sequel was surely on the cards – but how best to follow it up?
Enter Bravely Second then, and the fans were given exactly what they wanted: More of all the good bits, less of the bad. There are more classes, more extravagant spell effects, new and even more impressively drawn backgrounds and somehow even more tongue in cheek comedy. All the while it retains that snappy, chunky battle system that keeps you coming back for more.
We’d argue it’s not quite up there with Bravely Default, which had that truly new feeling and broke some new ground in the genre. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a great title itself however – we’d certainly recommend any RPG fan take a look – but given that the two are significantly connected, our advice would be to play Bravely Default first.
4. Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl
The RPG genre can take many different forms. Third person action games, grid based tactical shooters and even text adventures can lay claim to the title. When it comes to the Etrian games however, it’s particularly unusual, at least in 2020: They are first person, dungeon crawling, random turn based battling mixed with cartography and party management games. They’re almost Dungeons and Dragons, visualised and with a dose of ‘J’ in in the ‘RPG’. All of this is dosed with a big dollop of difficulty, resulting in a series of compulsive, addictive and thoroughly engaging games unlike any others.
The Nintendo 3DS has quite a few of these titles, the entire series if you include the DS versions, one of which is included in a previous list. Where the ‘Untold’ series differs here is the story line, or rather the actual inclusion of one. Happily it’s actually quite an interesting one, and something that will give you even more reason to delve deeper into it’s dungeons – not that we needed one if we’re honest.
3. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux
Another Atlus Nintendo 3DS RPG makes it’s way onto our list, in the form of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux, which is a re-imagining of the original Strange Journey released on the Nintendo DS. Whilst many may recognise the SMT series for it’s main spin off series – Persona – Strange Journey Redux is a return to the series’ roots: It’s a first person dungeon crawler that plays very similarly to the Etrian series, albeit with the map making element removed and the themes and surroundings taking on a much darker, Megami Tensei theme.
As an RPG alone, Strange Journey would have struggled to make an impression in it’s original form. Happily the developers took it upon themselves to update it with modern features: There are difficulty options now, a nice chunk of new demons to fuse, voice acting has been added and the whole game was given a new and vibrant lick of paint.
On the Nintendo 3DS, alongside the updates detailed above, Strange Journey Redux becomes the perfect hopping on point for prospective fans of the series. Along with SMT 4: Apocalypse (yes, that will also make the list at some point…) it gives people a doorway into the cult series that was previously so impenetrable. Just because it’s welcoming however, don’t expect it to be easy – SMT as ever prefers to teach you lessons by trial and error. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
2. Dragon Quest 7
Another RPG remake joins our list, this time in the form of Dragon Quest 7, which isn’t even the first Dragon Quest remake to find it’s way onto our radar, although admittedly it’s more of a port. It’s almost like the developers at the time loved the 3DS as much as we do, especially for classic RPG experiences.
Originally the title was released for the Playstation, on which it enjoyed massive success, especially in Japan. Even with this success however, the 3DS remake wasn’t going to be released to the rest of the world, before fan and media uproar forced the developers hand. Well, we’re sure glad they did, because if you’re looking for the classic JRPG experience then your search will inevitably end with Dragon Quest. It’s mix of quaint charm, snappy turn based battling and hokey comedy will draw in even the most hardened of RPG naysayers.
Our recommendation comes with an addendum however: If you haven’t experienced a Dragon Quest game before, then we’d advise you to play Dragon Quest 8 on the Nintendo 3DS – it’s widely accepted to be one of the best in the series and indeed one of the best RPG games of all time. If you love it, and we’re sure you will, then you’ll find more of the same here in 7, and we’re just fine with that thanks.
1. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
From RPG remake and port, we come now to a complete re-imagining. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is a remake, nay a complete revamp of an earlier game in the series, Fire Emblem Gaiden, itself a NES title. Where the other titles in this list had a generation or so to jump between their original and remade releases, Fire Emblem Echoes had to update a title 25 years old, which was no small undertaking.
The fact that they succeeded in updating the game is testament to a caring and devoted developer, but to succeed in such an incredible fashion has to be commended. Not only this, but Gaiden itself is an unusual title and one that already played quite different to the usual Fire Emblem fare. So the team had to update a game one quarter of a century old, that plays completely differently to it’s brethren, and then somehow convince gamers to buy it.
It’s on this list because they comfortably managed to make one of the best Fire Emblem games of all time, and one of the best RPG games of this generation. It might include a fatigue system, third person exploration and random battles, but the sheer quality of it’s battle system, voice acting and all around design on display here will keep you coming back for more. Alone it stands out as a high quality RPG, but for a Fire Emblem fan it becomes essential, and an experience in the series that’s only recently been eclipsed by Three Houses.