5. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
Release date: March 24, 2013
The original Luigi's Mansion was an inventive adventure that eschewed typical Nintendo-style gameplay in favor of something more unique, but its own brevity was its undoing. Dark Moon fixed this by adding in multiple mansions to explore, a wealth of content to consume, and bountiful ghosts to bust. And in case you were wondering, bustin' definitely feels good.
In many ways, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has the practicality of a point-and-click adventure. Each room - which looks like a wonderfully detailed diorama with the 3D slider on - has an enormous amount of character to it, and you'll want to explore every inch of every mansion as you progress. Where it diverges is, obviously, in its ghost busting, which works well thanks to satisfying combat and a wide variety of poltergeist types.
4. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Release date: June 9, 2013
No game encapsulates the feeling of childhood as well as Animal Crossing: New Leaf. You're not digging up rocks, you're finding fossils! You're not helping your mom make coffee, you're working at a coffee shop! You're not scribbling with a crayon, you're making a flag! Everything in Animal Crossing is so important, so full of wonder, that you can't help but be whisked away by the cheery world and loveable characters.
Once you've invested time in New Leaf, you might as well give up on everything else in life. Though it looks like a goofy collect-a-thon, this charming game is actually about discovery, collection, and friendship, and it does a great job at rewarding you and incentivizing you to keep playing and collecting.
3. Pokemon Sun & Moon
Release date: November 18, 2016
Pokemon Sun & Moon isn't a new beginning for the more than 20 year old series, but it is a very refreshing vacation. For every standby that remains - yup, you still play as the new kid in town who befriends a Pokemon-studying professor - Sun and Moon rethinks another. Forget about the staccato progression of defeating gym leaders, now you move from one Trial to the next, demonstrating not just your mastery of Pokemon but your respect and understanding of the natural world.
Pokemon went to a fully 3D graphics style starting with Pokemon X & Y, but Sun and Moon is the first to really take advantage of it with a grid-free movement system and a camera that actively swoops around to help you admire the Hawaiian-inspired vistas. You don't know how much a low-angle shot of a beautiful beach helps liven up boring old route crossings until you've tried it yourself.
2. Fire Emblem: Awakening
Release date: February 4, 2013
There's a chance that the Fire Emblem franchise means nothing to you. You may have heard about your friends playing it on NES or Game Boy Advance, but just never bothered to try it yourself. Back then, you had a reason: they seemed super hard, crazy niche, and difficult to get into. Thanks to Fire Emblem: Awakening, you no longer have that excuse. While the strategy RPG maintains the same level of complexity as past games, it's accessible enough for anyone to jump into - and by Chrom’s chiseled shoulders, you absolutely should.
Your mind will be tested on the battlefield, as you edge troops into position and outmaneuver opponents. The ability to link together characters for dual attacks raises the strategic bar even higher. These links can be taken further, into marriage, and even parenting, which helps bolster the already engaging story. Awakening is almost humbling in sweep, taking you on a journey that spans entire generations. Its tactics might not be quite as honed as sequel Fire Emblem: Fates, but Awakening's story is without a doubt superior.
1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Release date: November 22, 2013
For many gamers, hardcore Nintendo fans or no, the Super Nintendo's A Link to the Past holds an extra special place in their quadrisected hearts. The uplifting music, colorful world, challenging combat, and rich exploration made Link's 16-bit debut a timeless classic. All those memorable qualities have been imbued into A Link Between Worlds on 3DS, which captures the essence of top-down Zelda gameplay so beautifully that it's hard to believe. It's the perfect mix of old and new, blending traditional themes and fresh mechanics to create an incredible handheld adventure.
Young Link must take up his sword and shield once more to defeat the narcissistic magician Yuga, a villain who inadvertently gives Link the power to blend into walls in the form of a living painting. You'll have to use your newfound ability to solve puzzles, conquer dungeons, and collect empowering items through the kingdoms of both Hyrule and Lorule, a dark dimension of opposites and intense difficulty. From beginning to end, A Link Between Worlds is a magnificent journey, one infused with powerful nostalgia and exciting new ideas alike.