Originally posted December 20th 2015 on the Seafoam Gaming Forums
Out of all the titles Nintendo usually offers on their digital stores, the Virtual Console has always been a nice bonus service for retro gamers hoping to experience their favorite classics yet again, and the 3DS eShop is no exception, offering a wide variety of Game Boy, Game Boy Color and NES titles to choose from. However, the 3DS Virtual Console service has been rather slow with new titles in 2015 compared to previous years. In fact, neither Japan or Europe received a single 3DS Virtual Console game this year, with North America only receiving nine! Still, there’s always the idea of quality over quantity, so today I’m going to rank the top five 3DS Virtual Console games of this year, which should hopefully help you find at least one new favorite to check out on the 3DS eShop, if the title is available in your region of choice that is.
The fifth best 3DS Virtual Console title of 2015 is…
Bionic Commando: Elite Forces (Game Boy Color, 1999)
Launching on the very first day of 2015, this little known sequel to the Game Boy entry in the Bionic Commando series is noteworthy for a few things. The first being that it originally only came out in North America, with Europe only getting this as a 3DS Virtual Console game last year, while Japan never got it at all! The second thing to note is that this is Nintendo Software Technology’s first title! Yes, before they were doomed to make Mario Vs. Donkey Kong sequels for all eternity, NST tried their hands with other third party franchises, with Capcom’s Bionic Commando being their first attempt.
For a GBC game made in 1999, the animation is surprisingly smooth, with some cool digitized voices as an added bonus. Of course it manages to keep that Bionic Commando feel intact, so fans of the NES or Game Boy title should feel right at home with this little known entry in the series. I strongly recommend picking this game up if you haven’t played it before, as it still holds up well to this day, and is a solid entry in the franchise.
The fourth best 3DS Virtual Console title of 2015 is…
S.C.A.T: Special Cybernetic Attack Team (NES, 1991)
Another little known gem, this time from developer Natsume-Atari. (Not to be confused with the publisher of this version, Natsume Inc, which is an entirely separate company) An americanization of the Japanese Famicom game Final Mission, S.C.A.T. is noticeably easier than its Japanese counterpart, offering six lives to start with instead of three, a more detailed story, and quite possibly the clearest voice sample in NES history, with the classic “You must destroy them! The Earth is counting on you. Good Luck!”.
Despite these changes, don’t be fooled into thinking this is an easy game, as S.C.A.T. is still a brutal horizontal shooter, with challenging bosses and very long stages, which is where the 3DS restore points will come in handy. While it is essentially a clone of Capcom’s Forgotten Worlds, S.C.A.T. is still worth picking up solely because it manages to be frustratingly fun, with an amazing soundtrack to boot! You can even play this game with a friend over 3DS Download Play, making it even easier to recommend if you have a buddy around.
The third best 3DS Virtual Console title of 2015 is…
Game & Watch Gallery 3 (Game Boy Color, 1999)
The third entry in the Game & Watch Gallery series, Game & Watch Gallery 3 offers an even bigger variety of games to choose from, along with plenty of unlockables. While it comes nowhere close to having the amount of unlockable content as its sequel, it still has plenty of things that you can unlock by getting good at the games included. With eleven different games in total, five of which that get modern remakes, there is a lot here to enjoy for high score fans. The best part? It’s $3.99, making this a steal compared to most other Game Boy Color titles.
The second best 3DS Virtual Console title of 2015 is…
Shadow of the Ninja (NES, 1990)
Another game developed by Natsume-Atari, one most notably famous for being the game that was originally going to be ported to the Game Boy before being transformed into a Ninja Gaiden spinoff. Luckily despite being heavily inspired by the Ninja Gaiden NES games, Shadow of the Ninja still manages to keep things different, offering two player co-op that can be performed on the 3DS thanks to Download Play, along with an emphasis on upgrading the two weapons you have available. Outside of shurikens and bombs, you won’t find any subweapons here, so you need to make good use of your kusarigama and sword to defeat the evil forces of Emperor Garuda once and for all! With challenging stages and limited continues, this game is tough, but not nearly as difficult as S.C.A.T. Definitely worth checking out especially if you have a friend that could play this with you.
And finally, last but not least, the best 3DS Virtual Console title of 2015 is…
Lufia: The Legend Returns (Game Boy Color, 2001)
I cannot stress this enough; Lufia: The Legend Returns is by far one of the best dungeon crawlers I’ve ever played, rivaling some of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games in terms of quality. With an engaging story, the classic Lufia battle system mixed with a bit of roguelike elements, (similar to the Ancient Cave dungeon from Lufia II) excellent music and a lot of content to experience, Lufia: The Legend Returns is an underrated gem that unfortunately suffered from the launch of the Game Boy Advance back in 2001. Depressingly, it seems bad luck strikes again with the 3DS Virtual Console rerelease, as I barely hear anyone talk about this title even after being rereleased in Europe and North America.
It’s a shame, since I truly enjoyed this game a lot, mainly thanks to how surprisingly in-depth the story is compared to other Game Boy Color RPGs of the era. While you will see unfortunate typos here and there, the translation still manages to be pretty faithful to the original Japanese version, almost to the point where you may be surprised that it got the E for everyone rating in America. Out of all of the games I’ve played this year on my 3DS, Lufia: The Legend Returns had the most playtime (which had about sixty hours of playtime as of this article), with even more time spent with this game than I did with Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon! (which had 45 hours of playtime as of this article) RPG fans, you do not want to miss this. Lufia: The Legend Returns is Seafoam Gaming’s pick for the best 3DS Virtual Console title of the year, and I hope that you all decide to give it a try, especially if you love the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series.
So those were my top five picks for the best 3DS Virtual Console games of the year. True, there weren’t that many of them, (and in the case of Europe and Japan, none at all, although all of these games can be found in the European eShop, although depressingly Japan has none of these titles available on their 3DS Virtual Console) but quality over quantity I say, and while this is very well likely the final year that the 3DS Virtual Console got continued support from publishers here in the US, it definitely went out with a small bang, with some hidden gems getting the attention they long deserved. What are your personal favorite 3DS VC games from this year? Or did you not have any interest in the service to begin with? Let us know in the comments or on my twitter.