Being the sucker I am for Nintendo, I knew from the get-go that no matter how hard I fought it I would find myself in a Best Buy or some equivalent retailer picking up a 3DS at launch. That said, I've had a 3DS since all the way back in March. The hardware itself is great, and all of the built-in features are cool, novel, and interesting for about the first day or two. Unfortunately, there weren't really any games to play after that besides one especially good Ghost Recon game (and maybe the recent Nintendo DS release of Pokemon White/Black). A lot of time has passed, but finally, the drought of games for Nintendo's new handheld seemed to have ended. Here are the games that are making me happy and proud to be a 3DS owner.

1. Super Mario 3D Land:

It's really no surprise that Nintendo's first real, entirely new effort on the 3DS would be a must-own title. While Mario has certainly never fallen out of popularity over the years, he saw a bit of a rebirth with New Super Mario Brothers on the original DS which brought the series back to its side-scrolling roots along with Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii which took Mario and literally removed him from any and all sense of reality, meaning, and logic (in a great way). Super Mario 3D Land is the logical conclusion of both of these games. Taking some of the best parts of Mario titles past and present, the game moves seemlessly between 2D platforming, more modern 2.5D levels (somewhat like that of Little Big Planet), fully 3D Galaxy-like levels, and even the occasional Legend of Zelda style top-down area. Because it does not feel the need to stick to one specific type of platforming, the level design is some of the best the series has ever seen. The designers really played with the system's ability to display 3D and built perspective puzzles and interesting areas into each and every level. Simply put, it may be my favorite Mario game to date.

2. Mario Kart 7:

Mario Kart DS was not only one of the best games in the series but also one of the best games ever released on the DS. That's why I had to pick up Mario Kart 7 when it released earlier this month. While not straying too far out of familiar MK territory, MK7 keeps the MKDS mix of equal parts new tracks and old tracks by featuring 16 new tracks across four cups and 16 slightly-remixed versions of prior tracks in the series pulled from everything between the original Mario Kart for SNES up to Mario Kart Wii. Coins have been brought back from some of the older titles in the series and Diddy Kong Racing-esque flight and underwater mechanics have snuck there way in (and really do make for a lot of fun moments). While I would have been happy to see the series go fully behind the concept of planes, karts, and boats, these new mechanics are well executed and still feel great, even if they are a bit half-baked overall. If you have loved Mario Kart in the past, you'll love Mario Kart 7. It acts as a "Best-Of" of the series while also having some of the system's best uses of 3D (after the other two titles on this list).

3. Pushmo (3DSware):

Nintendo has always been lagging behind in the Internet and downloadable game areas. While the Wii's Virtual Console is nice, it tends to be quite overpriced overall and suffers from a few glaring omissions. With the launch of the 3DS, we also saw the launch of Nintendo's 3DSware store. Despite my weekly check-ins on the service since March, it has been extremely slim pickings aside from the ocasionally awesome 3D Classic (Xevious, anyone?). That all changed though with Pushmo, a new puzzler game from Intelligent Systems Co. Reminiscent of Picross 3D for the DS, Pushmo puts you in control of a tiny but chubby sumo wrestler look-alike that must navigate a number of large, pixel-based puzzles, pushing and pulling the blocks along three different planes in order to reach a lost child, normally located towards the top. The central game concept is simple at first, but more and more different mechanics are added on as you go along. The ability for users to create their own levels and distribute them both in person and online via QR codes gives Pushmo an absolutely vast amount of levels and content, especially for the $7 price tag. On the original DS, this would have been a full $40 release (and one of the best games on the system). Do yourself a favor and pick it up!

I am happy to see the Nintendo 3DS finally beginning to take off. Hopefully, this holiday season coupled with these great titles will take the system from possible failure (in the long term) to a worthy successor the the original Nintendo DS. We'll see!

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