Nintendo 3DS and DS Multi-player Essentials

Though handheld consoles tend to, quite rightly, be geared towards single-player games, the onset of wireless technology meant that such machines have been able to break free of the awkward link cables of times gone by, allowing for much more convenient multi-player experiences where it's fitting to include them.

Over time, I've found that there are some Nintendo 3DS and DS games with real multi-player sticking power, and I'm going to share them here, in no particular order.


Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS (3DS) - In my view, the best Super Smash Bros. game since Super Smash Bros. Melee. A full Super Smash Bros. title, with tons of new features, and a brilliant multi-player mode that even (optionally) allows for the use of a few of the new features, such as move-set customisation and fighters made using Miis. It is also one of two games on this list that use an interesting property of, at least, the original 3DS console (I have no idea if it's present on the 3DS XL, 2DS, New 3DS, or New 3DS XL) - certain impact sounds will push a puff of air at you out of the speaker wells, which is a really cool effect. This game supports up to four players, and requires that each player have their own copy of the game.


Namco Museum DS (DS) - This compilation of emulated classic arcade titles also contains a complete portable version of the GameCube title, Pac-Man VS. As a nice bonus, you can also temporarily send any of the arcade games to another player so that they can try them out, too (they'll lose the game when they switch their 3DS back to 3DS mode, or power off their DS). This only requires one Game Card for up to four players, including the host. Note that Pac-Man VS. can only be played in this fashion, as it does not have a single-player mode where AI players fill in for your rivals.


Star Fox 64 3D (3DS) - This remake of the N64 title, Star Fox 64/Lylat Wars, does not retain the N64 version's multi-player mode, which is for the better, since back then winning hinged on whoever could start moving in circles fast enough once a match began. The new multi-player game in the 3DS release eliminates this problem, and boasts larger arenas which offer much more room for strategic flying. You can also view a live feed of your opponents' faces, grabbed from their 3DS' cameras and rendered above their ships, as you play, as well as after someone wins, which is often hilarious. Only one Game Card is required for up to four players, including the host player. There is no multi-card play available at all.


Diddy Kong Racing DS (DS) - Another remake of an N64 game, this time, Diddy Kong Racing. Diddy Kong Racing DS has a fantastic multi-player mode with a large number of tracks, but the downside is that you have to play through the entire game before you can use all of them, and the game is still just as repetitive, unfair, and bogged down by cheating AI players as the N64 original was. If you don't want to put up with this, it's a good idea to buy a used copy with a completed save file, or to use a cheat device to unlock everything. This game supports up to eight players, including the host, from only one Game Card!


Mario Kart 7 (3DS) - The third portable Mario Kart title, and enormously better than its predecessors, at that. The game contains a selection of new and retro courses to race on, along with the ability to use customised karts for the first time. You will need to unlock certain characters and kart parts before you can use them, however. The game supports up to four players from one Game Card, but in this case, only the host is allowed to choose a character and customise their kart - everyone else must use the Shy Guy character in the Standard Kart. It is best played with each of the four players using their own copy of the game.


Mario Tennis Open (3DS) - This game is best described as the tennis equivalent to Mario Kart 7! You have a selection of characters and themed courts to play on, and there's no RPG nonsense getting in the way of playing tennis, as is the case with some of the other Mario Tennis installments. Each court has a different type of surface, which affects the tennis ball differently. As long as the touch-screen controls and Mii characters are banned from multi-player matches, due to the former providing too many hints and the latter usually being overpowered, this is great fun. This game supports up to four players, either from a single Game Card or with each player using their own copy of the game, with no restriction of features in Single Card mode.


Steel Diver: Sub Wars (3DS) (Digital) - A free-to-play first-person submarine battle game, this one is a download-only title that's available from the Nintendo eShop. You can optionally buy the full game, which gives you a full single-player mode and more submarines to unlock for both the single and multi-player modes, or you can buy optional enhanced submarines on a singular basis for either the Free or Premium versions, but this absolutely isn't necessary to have a laugh with some friends with this game. Due to the realistic movement of the submarines and nature of the water, you can't just go in all guns (or rather, torpedoes) blazing - strategic manouevres are a must! Like Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, Steel Diver: Sub Wars can, at least on the original 3DS console (I don't know the status of this feature on the other variants of the system), push puffs of air out of the speaker wells and into your face when certain impact sounds are played, to good effect. This game supports up to eight players (divided into two teams of up to four players each), who must all have the game installed on their Nintendo 3DS, and updated to the current version number.

Does anyone else have any go-to titles for multi-player gaming on the Nintendo 3DS and DS?


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