This past weekend, The Electric Playground published a video celebrating the legacy of the Nintendo 3DS, a video I was lucky enough to be included in. The Nintendo 3DS marks the companies last dedicated handheld, if you discount the fact that the Nintendo Switch now comes in a portable only variety. Though it had a bit of a rocky start, it wouldn’t take long until the 3DS would begin to build a lot of steam, due mostly to the caliber of Nintendo’s first-party offerings like Mario, Zelda, Metroid, and Mario Kart among others. For the years the 3DS was on the market, it also played home to a number of comic book games, some of questionable quality which is not uncommon for titles based on licenses, but there are more than a few that are worth checking out if you still have your 3DS and keep it charged. Here’s the top ten comic book games, as determined by Comic Gamers Assemble, for the Nintendo 3DS.
10) LEGO BATMAN 2: DC SUPER HEROES
The first of many LEGO themed super hero games that would come to the handheld, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes loses the Gotham City open-world portion from the console game, but it’s still a highly enjoyable DC Comics game to play on the go. A lot of this has to do with the fact that the companion portable game still retains the story from the console game, which was the first LEGO title to use cut-scenes that were fully voiced, and features wonderful performances from the likes of Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor and Travis Willingham as Superman. As it was in the primary game, you not only get to play as characters from the Batman family, but other heroes and villains from the DC Comics pantheon as well.
9) MARVEL SUPER HERO SQUAD: THE INFINITY GAUNTLET
While players waited for LEGO to pick up the Marvel Comics license, publisher THQ and developer Griptonite made the wait a little bit easier with Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet. The console game of the same name owed a lot to the LEGO franchise, and the handheld game in way does also; You combine character specific abilities to navigate maze like levels and solve simple puzzles. In the console game, you could only carry two characters at a time until you unlocked freeplay mode, but here you can build up an army of characters that you’ll need to constantly swap back and forth in order to progress. Hulk can lift heavy blocks; Invisible Woman can create objects to weigh down pressure plates and heroes like Iron Man and Thor can fly across gaps. This game was also released for the original Nintendo DS, but the 3DS version includes cut-scenes taken from the console game, a few flying stages and a bonus level where you can play as villains like Loki, Magneto and Doctor Doom.
8) SPIDER-MAN: EDGE OF TIME
A year after the excellent Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions was released, it was followed up by a sequel, Spider-Man: Edge of Time. It came nowhere near as close to the quality of the game that came before it, but it was still worth playing, particularly if you’re a Spider-Man fan, because of the story written by Peter David and the terrific performances from Josh Keaton and Christopher Daniel Barnes who played Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099 respectively. Impressively, the entire game was shrunk down to fit onto a 3DS cartridge from the developer of the console game, Beenox. The colors are a little washed out and some of the character models could look better, but you’re getting the same game that appeared on consoles, cut-scenes and voice acting and all. This game would rank higher if not for that it suffers from a problem that a lot of games on the PlayStation Portable did, namely that it’s difficult to play this fully 3-D game with just one analog input.
7) LEGO BATMAN 3: BEYOND GOTHAM
It wouldn’t take long for TT Games to return to the DC Comics Universe with LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. Like LEGO Batman 2, a number of compromises had to be made to fit the game onto a handheld, but this is still a very enjoyable companion game, just like LEGO Batman 2 was. There’s once again no open-world to explore, but you are given some small areas to navigate between stages like the Batcave and the Justice League’s Watchtower. The excellent Batman ’66 bonus stage also was left on the cutting room floor, though you do get to play as this version of the Caped Crusader so it’s not all bad. A great addition to the handheld version of LEGO Batman 3 are a few on-rails shooting stages that feel like Nintendo’s Star Fox franchise that are a tad more enjoyable than the 2-D shooting segments that were built for the console game.
6) THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012)
Not even a full year after the release of Spider-Man: Edge of Time arrived, Beenox’s was already gracing the world with another Spider-Man game: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), based off of the movie of the same name that dropped that summer. The console game that Beenox released was notable for being their first attempt at an open-world with the Spider-Man license, a portion that like the LEGO outings already discussed was left out of the 3DS game. Still, there’s a lot of missions to play, and Beenox was no slouch at designing enjoyable linear Spider-Man stages. You can tackle missions however you wish, whether that’s picking off enemies from the shadows like the Noir segments in Shattered Dimensions, or go down swinging with a combat system that’s straight out of the Arkham games. Where TASM (2012) gets a leg up over Edge of Time is that the problematic camera was fixed somewhat. Though you need to use the directional pad to adjust the camera up and down, you can use the shoulder buttons to shift the horizontal axis, which makes navigating the 3-D world that much more enjoyable and this one of the best 3-D Spider-Man games to play on the go.
5) TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: DANGER OF THE OOZE
A sure fire way to get the most out of a licensed property is to hire developer WayForward to produce your game, which is exactly what Activision did with the best TMNT game they ever released in their short time with the license: Danger of the Ooze. Set in the universe of the excellent animated series that started in 2012, Danger of the Ooze borrows from the third Konami game from the original Game Boy, Radical Rescue, in that it marries the TMNT license with the exploration heavy design of a game like Nintendo’s Metroid. Unlike Radical Rescue where new abilities came from adding more Turtles to your roster, here you can play as the four brothers from the start with progression coming from weapon and traversal abilities you unlock. The later sections of the game reach dizzying highs when you start combining all of your abilities at once to get through some tricky platforming segments. About the only problem with this game is that it tries to homage the Ultra published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES where once a character falls, you have to find them, which means backtracking across tedious sections of the map to make your squad whole again.
4) LEGO MARVEL’S AVENGERS
LEGO Marvel’s Avengers would mark the end of an era for companion portable LEGO titles. By the time this game’s follow-up was released, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 which arrived in 2017, Nintendo had released the Switch, thus there was little need for a dedicated 3DS version. Luckily the LEGO portable titles would go out on a high note in what it easily the best LEGO comic book game on the 3DS. LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is the culmination of everything developer TT Games learned with their previous Marvel and Batman titles. There’s very little filler to get you from mission to mission, and this game packs in two whole Avengers movies worth of plot into its cart. For the first time ever in a LEGO 3DS game, there’s also a small open-world recreation of Manhattan to explore with missions completely unique to this version found within it. Unfortunately navigating the map can be a bit clumsy as flying controls are like LEGO Marvel Super Heroes – you have to use the face buttons to control your height – but there’s a lot of game to be found here to keep you occupied.
3) SCRIBBLENAUTS UNMASKED: A DC COMICS ADVENTURE
One of the most innovative franchises that arrived on the original Nintendo DS was Scribblenauts, a game in which puzzle solutions were limited to what you could imagine and bring to life by typing words on the lower screen. In 2013, developer 5th Cell took this concept and combined it with the DC Comics license and the results are something that any comic book fan should have in their collection. The core gameplay loop plays out much like other Scribblenauts games, only this time you can summon the likes of Swamp Thing, and all manners of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman from across the multiverse. There’s even tiny missions where you get to play out the origins of these iconic characters, using your words to comfort a young Bruce Wayne after the tragic loss of his parents. Scriblenauts Unmasked also released on the Wii U, and has since been ported to other consoles, but the 3DS is still one of the best ways to experience one of the more unique comic book games that have ever been produced.
2) THOR: GOD OF THUNDER
Publisher Sega didn’t have the best track record when it came to their Marvel Cinematic Universe tie-in games, but in 2011 they did end on somewhat of a high point with Thor: God of Thunder on the Nintendo Wii, a game that was then released on the 3DS close to the home video release of Marvel’s Thor. The game of the same name that would arrive on the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 would try its best to be “God of Thor”, but it was developer Red Fly who succeeded with this in their version, on a console with less horse power no less. Thor: God of Thunder can best be described as a character action game where you control the titular character and venture across the nine realms. What made the Wii version so special was that Thor’s trademark weapon, the mighty Mjolnir, was a near perfect fit for the Wii’s motion controller, but the same functions translate effortlessly to the 3DS, even better if you’re not a fan of motion controls at all. God of Thunder is brief, but there’s a lot to keep you engaged with it, from unlockable upgrades that change how you play, bonus costumes and even a full episode of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes about the character. Don’t let your experience with the PS3/360 version turn you away from this highly enjoyable Marvel Comics action game.
1) BATMAN: ARKHAM ORIGINS BLACKGATE
2013 was a pretty great year for those who love Batman video games, as not one, but two unique games released starring the character: Batman: Arkham Origins on consoles and a game that would expand on the conclusion of that game’s story in Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate. Batman: Arkham Asylum owed a lot to the 3-D Metroid games as the asylum and out of reach Riddler trophies became more accessible as your arsenal of gadgets expanded. Developer Armature Studio, made up of staff who once worked on games like Metroid Prime, took the same approach but set squarely in the second-dimension and very little is lost in the translation. Despite shifting from 3-D to 2-D, you still have the same mixture of freeflow combat and stealth predator sequences that feel very close to the full console Arkham experience. Though not a lot has been done with the story threads this game has introduced in the years since it has been released, this game expands the Arkham universe into the larger DC Universe with hints at the formation of the Suicide Squad. The Blackgate prison doesn’t have as much personality as Arkham Asylum, and the map can get confusing to read sometimes, but if you loved the other Arkham games, you owe it to yourself to play this, whether it’s one of the handheld games – this was also released for PlayStation Vita – or the deluxe version that came to consoles.