3DS Launch Games: Nintendo’s Second Best Portable Lineup

The 3DS launch was harshly criticised by fans disappointed with the absence of big franchise stars like Mario, Link and Kirby.

This anger was a bit unwarranted for two reasons. First, the fact that Nintendo didn’t have a new Mario game is no surprise, since the famous plumber failed to appear at both the GameCube and Wii launches in 2001 and 2006, respectively. Like it or not, there’s a strategy involved.

Second, the majority of 3DS games warrant a rental or purchase. Bottom line, you can’t go wrong with the likes of Super Street Fighter IV 3D EditionPilotwings Resort and Ridge Racer 3D, especially with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D set to debut this June.


Like it or not, Super Street Fighter IV on 3DS is a big deal.

That said, we decided to compare the 3DS launch lineup with those from other portable Nintendo systems to see how it fares. The result? Definitely not the worst of all time.

We’ll start with the official list of 3DS U.S. launch games:

Asphalt 3D, Bust-a-Move Universe, Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D, Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, Madden NFL Football, Nintendogs + Cats, Pilotwings Resort, Pro Evolution Soccer 3DS, Rayman 3D, Ridge Racer 3D, Samurai Warriors: Chronicles,Steel DiverSuper Monkey Ball 3DSuper Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, The Sims 3, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars.

OK, so not the greatest lineup. There are some real stinkers in there, especially from Ubisoft, but let’s have a look at some other handhelds.

Game Boy (U.S. launch August 1989)


Tetris put Game Boy on the map.

U.S. launch games: Tetris, Alleyway, Baseball, Super Mario Land, Tennis.

Tetris was obviously huge, and Super Mario Land was a great companion to the NES Super Mario Bros. Alleyway, Baseball and Tennis might as well not exist, since they failed to excite consumers. In the end, Game Boy had two must have games. You could make a case that they destroy the entire 3DS launch, but we’d counter with the old saying, variety is the spice of life.

Winner: 3DS

Virtual Boy (U.S. launch August 1995)


Mario’s Tennis was the VB’s lone bright spot.

U.S. launch games: Galactic Pinball, Mario’s Tennis, Red Alarm, Teleroboxer.

The Virtual Boy was Nintendo’s biggest failure, so right away, we can’t hold its launch games in high regard. Looking at this miserable list, only Mario’s Tennis deserves a play.

Winner: 3DS

Game Boy colour (U.S. launch November 1998)


Always good to see a new Tetris.

U.S. launch games: Tetris DX, Game & Watch Gallery 2, Centipede, Pocket Bomberman.

Another Nintendo system where Tetris is the biggest highlight. Hey, it’s one of the greatest puzzle games of all time, but come on. The rest of these games put us to sleep.

Winner: 3DS

Game Boy Advance (U.S. launch June 2001)


With Circle of the Moon, Konami was just getting started.

U.S. launch games: Army Men Advance, Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, ChuChu Rocket!, Earthworm Jim, F-Zero: Maximum Velocity, Fire Pro Wrestling, GT Advance Championship Racing, Iridion 3D, Konami Krazy Racers, Namco Museum, Pinobee: Wings of Adventure, Pitball: The Mayan Adventure, Rayman Advance, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2, Super Dodge Ball Advance, Super Mario Advance, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2.

Pound for pound one of the greatest launch lineups of all time. You can’t bet against new entries in the F-Zero and Castlevania franchises, while Mario, Tony Hawk (a superb technical achievement on GBA), Fire Pro and Super Dodge Ball were all worth a look. We even had fun playing Konami Krazy Racers, which held us over until Mario Kart: Super Circuit arrived. 3DS is good, but not this good.

Winner: Game Boy Advance

Nintendo DS (U.S. launch November 2004)


While not a bad port, the lack of a true analogue stick hurt Mario 64 DS.

U.S. launch games: Super Mario 64 DS, Asphalt Urban GT, The Urbz: Sims in the City, Feel the Magic XY/XX, Spider-Man 2, Madden NFL 2005.

In a word, boring. That’s one of the negative things we remember about the DS launch, in addition to the system being ugly compared to PSP and that silly thumb pad Nintendo wanted players to use with Super Mario 64. Feel the Magic had its moments, but come on. Nothing to see here.

Winner: 3DS

By our count, that makes the 3DS launch lineup the second best of all time, right behind the GBA. With this in mind, we hope you can look past the duds and embrace the system’s finest titles. Just don’t forget one important point: it could’ve been a lot worse. Just look at the Atari Lynx and Game Gear launch games:

Lynx: Blue Lightning, Electrocop, Gates of Zendocon, California Games.

Game Gear: Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, Columns, G-Loc, Psychic World, Revenge of Drancon, Super Monaco GP.