The best open-world games on Nintendo DS and 3DS

When gamers try to think of their favorite open-world games, chances are they’ll pick something from the Xbox 360 era and beyond. The HD generation, including Xbox 360 and PS3, is when this genre truly opened up to a whole new level.

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Grand Theft Auto and Ancient Scrolls were two more important series than they had ever been in the past. It was only the beginning too, because this current generation is breathtaking. What about handhelds during and after the first generation HD? Do the DS and 3DS have any memorable open-world games worth playing today? The easy answer is yes, although some of these choices have asterisks attached.


8 A brave omission

A brave omission was like a reboot of the Final Fantasy series that recalled the classic settings of the 3DS. The story was a more grounded fantasy tale involving princesses, evil knights, monsters, crystals, and more. There was a job system as well as an easy-to-understand turn-based combat system. It also saw the return of a world map dotted with places to see and side quests to do. It became more open with the third sequel on Switch, Bravely Default 2but that original game still counts as an epic open-world adjoining RPG.

seven Dragon Quest 8

The 3DS is home to many dragon quest games worth mentioning. Dragon Quest 7 might be the biggest problem since it remade the PS1 classic into something more accessible compared to the original release. However, overall, Dragon Quest 8 is the best game and could be the best in the series. It may look identical to its PS2 counterpart, but that’s a plus.

The world of this RPG is huge, possibly one of the biggest in the series on PS2 and 3DS. dragon quest the games are notoriously long, and it would be a feat if players could complete this with less than eighty hours involved.

6 The fantastic life

The fantastic life is an action RPG for the 3DS created by Level-5. They worked on Dragon Quest 8 too, but it was an original concept. Players could choose a class ranging from a knight to a tailor and live out their fantasy life in an ever-changing kingdom.

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There were plenty of monsters to fight, but half the fun of this RPG was doing menial tasks. It felt more like a simulation game than just an RPG, but there’s one thing that’s for sure; the world is small at first, but it gets bigger as the game progresses with lots to do.

5 Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown War

Nintendo had a strange history with this series, but Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown War was a DS exclusive at first. It was later ported to other systems like the PSP, but the DS remains the best platform to date. That’s because there are a lot of clever mini-games that use the DS’s stylus and touchscreen, like sorting contraband.

It’s by no means the best game in the series, but there’s a pretty big open city that players can navigate to create mayhem. The graphics are also to be commended as they resemble the style used for most box displays.

4 Monster Hunter Stories

Monster Hunter Stories was the first major spin-off of this giant franchise which started on PS2. This spin-off was a take on Pokemon where hunters could choose to befriend monsters, or Monsties as they are called in this game, to join their party. It was a turn-based RPG with an open world on the 3DS.

The idea was good even if the execution was a bit clunky in some areas, like slow combat speed and AI. The sequel on Switch is better, but there’s still fun exploring the different biomes of Monster Hunter Stories.

3 Pokemon X/Y

Between the DS and 3DS, there are too many games in this series to choose from. The duality of Pokemon X/Y has, however, made huge waves in the series. They weren’t quite 3D yet, but the top-down perspective of the series was changed to look more like 3D.

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Among the many sequels and remakes on 3DS, these two games still stand out as the best in the system. For DS fans, Pokemon Black/White that’s where it is. Hopefully these two games get remakes on the Switch sooner rather than later.

2 Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is a feat beyond all reason. This game was first released on Wii and pushed the system to its limits. It’s easily the biggest open-world game on Wii and 3DS; in fact, it’s so huge that it was exclusive to the New 3DS line of consoles.

There weren’t many exclusives for the New 3DS, but this was one of them and even this handheld barely held things together. It’s not the best way to experience this classic RPG, but again, it’s like a miracle that it can run on the New 3DS.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was really a surprise. A link to the past is considered one of the best descendant games in the series, if not one of the best overall. Getting a sequel decades later was an incredible treat, and it changed the show for the better.

Dungeons no longer needed to be done in order as there was an item rental shop. It’s not as big a world as, say, the remake of Ocarina of time on 3DS or even the open waters of ghost hourglass on DS. However, when it comes to quality, a link between worlds is by far the best original laptop Zelda series games.

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