The Nintendo 3DS is a portable gaming device released on the 26th of February, 2011. What makes the Nintendo 3DS unique from other handheld gaming devices is its ability to use two screens when playing games. Especially for strategy games that traditionally use single screens, such as StarCraft 2.
There is a wide variety of games available for the handheld console. They range from more traditional RPGs to puzzle and action titles to strategy games.
Very few RTS games are available in the Nintendo 3DS eShop, and a handful of strategy games use the system’s dual screens to give players more game options and strategies.
While a few of the strategy games on this list are available for download from the 3DS eShop, some of them require you to buy a physical copy from retail stores. There are the seven absolute best Nintendo 3DS games out there right now.
#1: Fire Emblem: Awakening
- IMMERSIVE STORY AND VISUALS:The deep and immersive fantasy storyline is told throughbeautiful 3D visuals and movies.
- DEEP CAST OF CHARACTERS: A massive selection of characters are at your command,withal with a unique personality and background story and different class types and skill sets.
- BONDS GROWN IN BATTLE: Team up characters to strengthen their friendships on the battlefield. The closer they grow, the better these friends and allies will fight together. Some characters can even...
- "9.6 out of 10. Fire Emblem Awakening is the most fluid and stunning strategy RPG experience available on a portable, and features the best storytelling and production value of any 3DS game to date" -...
- "4.5 out of 4 (Editor's Choice). The best Nintendo 3DS RPG to date" - Gamesradar
Fire Emblem: Awakening is a strategy RPG made by Nintendo and Intelligent Systems that was initially released on the Nintendo DS in February 2013. The 3DS port is significantly better than the DS version, with all the known issues fixed and more content added.
The game was developed to play quite similarly to the original Fire Emblem games on the GBA, with a few notable changes.
While some of the core mechanics remained the same, a few new ones were introduced. There is a new mode titled “casual mode,” where fallen characters do not get removed from your party permanently like they do in normal mode. This makes the game much less difficult and more appropriate for casual players that don’t want to lose their units for good.
If you play through to the end of the game, you will be able to give one of your characters a “promotion” from an underling to a full-fledged character in the army, allowing them to leave a base and participate in battles as “special units.”
Fire Emblem: Awakening is a good tactical RPG with excellent strategic elements. Players can enjoy many hours of gameplay, as a single playthrough of the story mode will take you about 31 hours.
Be warned that the difficulty level of Fire Emblem: Awakening is severely unforgiving, and you will lose many units in the early maps. So, if you are up for a challenge, Fire Emblem: Awakening is definitely a great choice for your portable Nintendo 3DS.
#2: Fire Emblem Fates: Special Edition
- Also featuring the Revelation path, all on a single game card, included exclusively in this special edition.
- 80 page art book with previously unreleased sketches, concept drawings, and more.
- Beautifully illustrated carrying pouch for your Nintendo 3DSXL system.
- “T” Teen w/ Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence, & Suggestive Themes
As its name suggests, this entry includes all three versions of the game (Birthright, Conquest, and Revelation) on a single cartridge. This means you can play any of the three versions at any time without purchasing separate copies.
It also increases your experience levels when you play them, which makes it easier to level up your units faster. This is a good way to play through the three stories, as you will miss out on important events in the other versions if you lock yourself out of playing that version’s story.
The story in this game is very well written. The narrative and dialogue are a lot more complex than its previous series installments. Fire Emblem Fates has you choosing a side between two warring royal families, the Nohr and Hoshido, which are located on two different continents.
This choice defines the story you play through, with only one of the three versions having an actual “good” ending. You will want to play through all three versions for the best story.
The gameplay is largely similar to those found in previous Fire Emblem games. It uses the same core turn-based strategy mechanics, with the combat being virtually identical to Awakening.
What makes Fire Emblem Fates: Special Edition so good is that it lets you experience three completely different stories, with multiple endings and secrets in each. The game features high replayability thanks to the branching storyline, which I’m sure many people will be exploring for a long time.
#3: Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation
Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation is the third and final version of Fire Emblem Fates and is definitely a worthwhile conclusion to one of the best 3DS strategy games ever released. The game was developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo.
The game features a new story based on the final chapters of Fates: Conquest. In this version, you can choose to play as either Nohr or Hoshido, both of which have their own unique units and story gameplay.
The game allows you to start the Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright or Fates: Conquest playthroughs at any point you want, but it will be locked out if you still need to complete the other version first.
The game mechanics are basically the same as those in other Fire Emblem games. The story is competently written and makes interesting choices that affect the gameplay, giving each edition of the game its own unique feel.
This is definitely one of the best 3DS strategy games out there. It’s also a perfect way to end a good story arc for those who have played through Birthright and Conquest. If you are a fan of this series, Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation is definitely worth checking out.
#4: Gotta Protectors
Gotta Protectors is an 8-bit style retro side-scrolling beat ’em up. You control a group of heroes in the “Great Guardians,” and you are tasked with defending Princess Lola against the evil forces that want to kidnap her.
The game features three different game modes: Classic, Challenge, and Co-op Challenges. In classic mode, you play through a set number of levels collecting stars on each level to unlock new characters for use in co-op, challenge, and campaign modes.
Challenge mode is a series of randomly generated levels where you must clear the level as fast as possible. Co-op challenges are played with two players; one controls the hero, and the other controls the AI-controlled monster boss.
The game features a wide roster of characters that all have unique play styles and abilities. Each character also has a unique weapon with special attacks. The controls for each character are well-defined, making it easy to handle movement, attack, and special skills with only one button press.
Leveling up also grants you access to new upgrades and more powerful weapons. This increases the game’s replayability, making it fun to play through the entire game multiple times. The game also features a lot of really nice anime-style artwork and anime-inspired character designs.
#5: Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright
- For the Nintendo 3DS
- NTSC version with World Edition packaging as shown
- Command an army as the main character
- Players can choose between fighting an opposing force or joining them to make changes from within
Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright is the first game in the series to focus solely on Birthright, which is the peaceful version of the series. It was released worldwide for Nintendo 3DS and Android on February 19, 2016.
As a prequel to the original Fire Emblem, it follows 19-year-old Prince Corrin (voiced by Ayahi Takagaki) as he must overcome his personal doubts and inner battles to save Hoshido. It is set in the fictional world of Ylisse, which is based on the location of modern-day Japan.
In addition to following the story from a third-person perspective, it also features the ability to play out battles from a top-down tactical viewpoint. This version of Fire Emblem Fates also features new gameplay mechanics, such as My Castle.
It’s a customizable castle that you can upgrade with facilities such as stables and shops. This will let you spend money earned by clearing battles and progressing through the game.
The game features a new three-pronging storyline, following the exploits of the Hoshido army as Corrin tries to save Hoshido from destruction and his training to be a general. There are also battles that carry over from Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest.
These include special maps that only allow you to use units that can be trained in a particular area. These maps have different obstacles and terrain than most standard maps.
The game is a fun experience for those who have already played the original Fire Emblem and a good place for newcomers to start the Fire Emblem series. This is because Birthright starts off in a very accessible manner without too many complexities and restrictions. It’s also a lot easier than its sequel and expansion, Conquest.
#6: SteamWorld Heist
SteamWorld Heist is a strategy action game with turn-based shootouts. It is a great indie game that was developed and published by Image & Form. SteamWorld Heist takes place in the steampunk-inspired future of the SteamWorld universe, where you play as Piper, a steam-driven robot.
SteamWorld Heist features brilliantly designed characters, interesting environments, and great graphics. The storyline is original, and the gameplay mechanics are simple and easy to pick up. The game also poses a decent challenge, which is a rare occurrence in indie games.
In SteamWorld Heist, you take command of a team of space pirates that is led by Piper, who is great at firing off guns and a master with the sword. You have to play through 4 different missions in the game, and each mission is played out like a side-scrolling shooter.
#7: Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest
- Two kingdoms are on the brink of war. Whose side will you choose?
- Torn between two families, you're an heir of Hoshido, raised by Nohrian royals.
- If you walk the path of Conquest, you must fight to change your misguided kingdom from within.
- Command warriors with expert precision and forge deep relationships to master this turn-based strategy game.
- “T” Teen w/ Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence, & Suggestive Themes
Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest is the expansion of Fire Emblem Fates. It’s based on the same gameplay mechanic. It includes new gameplay mechanics, such as making decisions to help your character grow, more story events, and challenging maps that add even more replayability.
Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest adds a lot of content to Fire Emblem Fates. Aside from that, it also adds new gameplay features. These include the Arena, which features up to 6 players taking on increasingly difficult monsters. All the while, they must compete for coins earned by winning battles.
The game also contains new maps, as well as new characters, and two new campaigns. It also lets you switch between Birthright and Conquest routes on the fly, which allows you to play either story without having to restart the game entirely.
If you finish one story and want to play the other, you can connect your 3DS from your SD card and switch from one game to the other. It’s a great feature for those of us that enjoy both storylines.
How to Choose the Best Nintendo 3DS Real-Time Strategy Games
Finding the best real-time video game for Nintendo 3DS can be daunting. There are so many to choose from, and some have been released for other systems as well. Here are some tips on how to choose the best Nintendo 3DS real-time strategy games.
Check Out the Reviews
The first thing you can do is check out the reviews. Websites like IGN and GameSpot list all the different Nintendo 3DS real-time strategy games and offer a review for each one of them.
These reviews will let you know what other gamers thought of the game, while also giving in-depth information about the gameplay mechanics.
You can also read gamer reviews on sites like Metacritic and GameRankings, which will often include interesting information about the different games, such as whether or not there are cheat codes.
Look at the Gameplay Options
Another way to get a good feel for the game is to look at the gameplay options. Some of the real-time strategy games for the Nintendo system let you customize your controls.
Sometimes you may want to play a game where you hold down your attack button so that you can swing with more force.
Check Out if There are Any Compatibility Problems
If you’ve been playing the game on your PC, checking for any compatibility problems before buying it is good. Sometimes the PC and Nintendo versions of a game can have slightly different controls. Or, sometimes, the mouse and keyboard can be better for some games than a controller.
Look at the Multiplayer Features
Most of these types of games have multiplayer options. Some games will let you play against the computer with a friend or other players. Other games will let you play with others online. This is useful information if you’re planning to play with your friends.
Look at the Map Size
Sometimes the maps in a strategy game can be more difficult than others, which you should consider before buying. Each map in a strategy game is usually a different size, and some can be more difficult to stay alive in than others. If you don’t like hard games, check the size of the map before buying the game.
Look at the Graphics of the Game
If you’re looking for graphics, then look at how good they are in the game. Real-time strategy games for Nintendo systems are often known for their amazing graphics. You’ll definitely want to check them out before buying the game.
Check Out if There’s a Second-Player Mode
Some of the Nintendo 3DS real-time strategy games have multiplayer modes that let you play with a second player, so it would be best to look into this before making a purchase. You may prefer the game more when you play with a second player.
Know What System it’s For
If you’re looking to play real-time 3DS strategy games, then it would be best to look for the ones that are available for the Nintendo 3DS. If you don’t have a Nintendo 3DS, then check out some of the other systems and see which games are available on those.
Check Out the Game Rating
The game rating is basically a representation of how hard or easy a game is. You’ll want to ensure that the game is appropriate for your skill level.
Check Out the Price Range
Each game will have a price range, and you can choose based on what works best for you. If a game is too expensive, it may be a good idea to wait until it decreases in price.
Look At the Game Options
Since there are many different types of games, you’ll want to check out the specific available game options. You’ll want to know what maps are available, how much harder or easier the games can be, and how long it will take you to finish the game.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Zyabich/Shutterstock.com.