The 3DS probably isn’t the first system you think of when you go looking for great strategy games. Many of the genre’s best games are coming out on PC, whereas the exciting upcoming games on Nintendo’s handheld tend toward more accessible genres.
There may not be many strategy games for the 3DS at retailers, but when you include the 3DS eShop and Nintendo DS backward compatibility, you’ll find you have access to many of the greatest handheld strategy titles of the last decade.
These standout strategy games take full advantage of the 3DS hardware.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Shadow Wars $29.99
Shadow Wars was one of the bright spots in the 3DS launch lineup for mature gamers looking for a satisfying strategic experience with a military special ops atmosphere. The game’s story isn’t terribly deep, but the campaign is good for hours of scooting your unique soldiers around the map, taking advantage of tactical terrain features, and upgrading your team when you come home victorious. Though the game doesn’t support wireless multiplayer, you can compete with friends in hotseat battles by passing a single 3DS back and forth.
Fire Emblem: Awakening $39.99
This is the big one. Awakening is a sprawling fantasy strategy RPG with fully voiced, lovingly animated cinematic sequences, tense high stakes battles, and complex subsystems ripe for exploitation. Every character in your army has a unique name and personality, and if you play with Fire Emblem’s classic permanent death mechanics turned on, those who die in battle are wiped from the story for good. This is doubly nerve wracking, since characters who fight alongside one another may develop relationships, and even have children who join your army as playable characters in the later chapters of the game. Of course, you can turn off Awakening’s more brutal difficulty settings, but if you want a strategy game that can offer you take-no-prisoners challenge, Fire Emblem delivers.
Cube Tactics $4.99
Need a bite-sized real-time strategy game on the road? Nab Cube Tactics from the Nintendo eShop. Your goal is to lead your army across the battlefield to destroy your opponent’s Core Cube, but you won’t be circling up units and micromanaging them as you would in a game like Starcraft II. Instead, you control the flow of battle by placing cubes of terrain. Learn how your units move and setup a world that they’ll exploit to lead them to victory. This one supports competitive multiplayer, and at it’s cheap price point, it probably won’t be too hard to talk a friend or two into picking it up with you.
Thanks to the 3DS’ backward compatibility, your library of awesome strategy games gets even bigger. Check your local used game retailer for these awesome options!
A turn-based strategy Pokémon adventure set in a fanciful caricature of feudal Japan? In this unique crossover with the Nobunaga’s Ambition strategy series, your Pokémon training warlord sets out to conquer the 17 kingdoms of the Ransei region, recruiting other warlords and their Pokémon along the way. Each creature only has one attack, but you’ll command several Pokémon on the battlefield in every mission, so there’s plenty to manage. Interactive terrain, bonds to nurture between Pokémon and warlord, and an extensive set of post-campaign missions offer lots of depth to keep franchise and genre fans engaged. It’s the perfect change of pace after you finish the latest Pokémon adventure!
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift
Fans of the Final Fantasy Tactics series know that they can count on each new game to provide fun tactical battles set in the rich worlds of this long-running franchise. Grimoire stars Luso, a young boy who finds himself magically transported to the fantasy world of Ivalice. There, you’ll guide him through hundreds of quests alongside characters that can be customized with classic Final Fantasy roles like Red Mages and Dragoons. Take care to keep your party diverse, though. Neutral Judges can outlaw certain moves in battle, and breaking laws robs you of bonuses, and locks out character revival for the rest of the fight.
Advance Wars: Days of Ruin
The latest entry in the Advance Wars series sheds some of its former playful look for a more gritty, apocalyptic art style in this military strategy outing. You’ll command tons of units at once across land, sea, and air, as you push across maps, and capture cities to supply your military. Though the ability to choose from commanding officers with special powers is gone from single player, particularly successful units can level up as they battle, giving you added incentive to protect your veterans. Competitive multiplayer and a tool to create custom maps add to the replay value if you can find a friend who has a copy too.
What the 3DS lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality when it comes to these strategy games. Get your hands on some of these awesome titles to have challenging battles on the road.
What’s your favorite 3DS strategy game? Let our community know, especially if it didn’t make the list!