For a while there, it looked like 2011 would be a rough year for the Nintendo 3DS, but one big price drop later, the handheld has finally hit its stride, and the future has never looked brighter.
Sure, Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land will be a pretty hard act to top, but 2012 is already shaping up to be a phenomenal year for the handheld. In the last month alone, we've already gotten two fantastic titles in the form of Resident Evil Revelations and Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, and things don't look to be slowing down one bit between now and December.
Should these games be every bit as successful as their predecessors on the original Nintendo DS, we can certainly hope—if not expect—to see even better games in the years to come as more developers flock over to the 3DS in the same way they did for the older generation handheld. We're betting Nintendo is counting on these games to be successful, so expect some major polish.
To help you round out your 3DS wishlist, we've put together a list of the ten upcoming releases that have our thumbs twitching with anticipation. Here's the skinny on the games that will help the 3DS shine in 2012.
10. Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir
The 3DS offers a lot of variety, but the one department it's seriously lacking in is scares. Spirit Camera, and offshoot of the popular Fatal Frame franchise should help fix that. With a premise that's about as original as they come — the game's story mode is linked together by segments that require you to use the handheld's AR capabilities with a pack-in notebook — should definitely add something different to the 3DS's lineup when it releases on April 13.
9. Fire Emblem: Awakening
A new Fire Emblem on the 3DS is more than enough reason to be excited, but Awakening has plenty more to offer. Long time fans will also be happen to know that Marth will finally be returning. At the moment, the game has only been confirmed for a 2012 launch in Europe, but it's likely Nintendo will announce the details of a North American release before too much longer.
8. Monster Hunter Tri G
Monster Hunter might not be as big in the West as it is in Japan, but it's a damn good action RPG, a genre the current 3DS lineup is lacking. Tri G should help fill that void (and give you a reason to dust off that Circle Pad Pro). Monster Hunter Tri G will be out in Europe in Q3 2012, but we're hoping they it to North America before the year is out as well.
7. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Kingdom Hearts fans would probably prefer the long-awaited Kingdom Hearts III, but at least we've got Dream Drop Distance to help tide us over until Square Enix delivers. Gameplay will be much the same as the other portable releases, but Circle Pad Pro support should help this DDD easier to play than anything we've seen on the DS or PSP.
6. Heroes of Ruin
An action RPG with online co-op support on the 3DS? Yes, please. Sure, Heroes of Ruin might be a little on the generic fantasy side, but the gameplay looks fantastic and the multiplayer features, including the ability to trade items with other players via StreetPass, should make for a damn good time. You'll be able to loot your heart out when the game launches later this spring.
5. Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle
Professor Layton's 3DS debut has been out in Japan for more than a year, but Nintendo is finally bringing all the puzzle-solving goodness to the West this year. Well, Europe at least. Currently, there's no word on when the game to will hit the States, but with a little luck that'll change soon.
4. Kid Icarus: Uprising
No franchise in Nintendo's stable is quite as neglected as Kid Icarus. It's been almost twenty years since we last saw angel boy Pit in a starring role, but Kid Icarus: Uprising is about to change all that. With a unique new third-person shooter take on the series and six player online multiplayer, Uprising is bringing Kid Icarus back in style. Better still, the wait is almost over, as the game launches in North America and Europe on March 23.
3. Animal Crossing 3DS
Details on Animal Crossing 3DS are rather scarce, but what we have heard sounds fairly promising. For starters, you'll start the game as the Mayor of the town, so you might not have to spend hours working your way out of Tom Nook's indentured servitude. Plus, the 3DS's online capabilities mean Nintendo has a chance to make this the most connected Animal Crossing yet.
2. Paper Mario 3DS
This summer, another classic Mario franchise will make its 3DS debut with the release of Paper Mario 3DS. The new installment's gameplay should offer the perfect blend of old and new. Combat will be making a return to the series' turn-based roots, while an increased emphasis on action and platforming segments should keep things feeling fresh.
1. Luigi's Mansion 2
Poor Luigi. For every starring role he gets, his younger, stouter brother gets . Thankfully, the green plumber will get another chance to shine later this year in Luigi's Mansion 2, a 3DS exclusive sequel to one of the GameCube's best launch titles. Ghost hunting should be even more fun this go around, thanks to more puzzle oriented gameplay, a 3D makeover, and a support for gyroscopic controls.