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The Best 3DS Games of 2016

Top of its game.

This year gave us a bevy of amazing new 3DS games, reinforcing yet again why Nintendo's popular handheld is the most consistent, well-rounded portable console on the market. With a lineup that includes new and exciting games from iconic series, there were a wide variety of experiences to latch onto. From games with complex mechanics that tested our strategic and tactical mettle, to adventures that pulled us into fantastical worlds, the 3DS was on a roll in 2016. With the year about to come to a close, we've narrowed down the five best 3DS games that you need to add to your collection. In no particular order here's our Best of 3DS from 2016:

In an unorthodox, yet ambitious move for a new Fire Emblem game, Fire Emblem Fates was divided into three different adventures: Birthright, Conquest, and Revelation. Unless you were one of the lucky few who managed to pick up the limited edition that combined all three games on one cartridge, you had to purchase three separate games to experience Fates' entire story. Each throws you into a conflict between two warring families where you must choose whom to pledge your allegiance to; but which side do you choose? The version you play dictates that choice.

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Regardless of the path(s) you take, Fates has some of the best, most challenging tactical combat the series has to offer, with clever and intricate maps that weave a multitude of ever-evolving and meaningful struggles. And the relationships you build with your allies along the way create even more impactful conflicts, as you wage war and walk the "righteous" path. Fates may veer away from series tradition in its format, but it provides--across its three versions--the signature, epic narrative and strategic turn-based battles that fans have come to love. It's by far one of the most diverse, distinct, and fulfilling games on 3DS this year.

At first glance, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse might seem like a rudimentary expansion to 2013's well-received SMT IV, but it's so much more. Core features like combat, demon hunting, and questing are refined or bolstered by new ideas. Demons now have innate buffs or debuffs to certain skills types, which gives the fusion process a new level of depth as you reconsider what skills it needs. The pacing of Apocalypse's story is also much tighter, quickly throwing you into the conflict terrorizing Tokyo. And at the center is its protagonist Nanashi, a demon hunter brought back to life who must decide whether to follow the commands of the benefactor that revived him or to rebel. Enhancements like these result in an experience that manages to outshine the original game's already stellar foundation. SMT IV: Apocalypse is not only one of the best RPGs on 3DS this year, it's one of the best the handheld has to offer.

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Pokemon Sun and Moon launched in November to the delight of series fans everywhere. The latest entry is sure to please the most devoted players by treading familiar ground, but it also introduces new features that make the traditional Pokemon experience more accessible to new players. The structure of the adventure has been revamped, travel simplified, and combat made more intuitive through small but meaningful interface upgrades. But the refinements don't stop there. Sun and Moon's visuals are some of the most memorable in the entire series. The beautiful Hawaiian-inspired Alolan region is a delight to explore; and in keeping with tradition, the new Pokemon roster is vibrant, charming, and expressive. Sun and Moon is a reminder why Pokemon has consistently remained one of the most powerful and iconic franchises in gaming.

Kirby: Planet Robobot embodies the same fundamental charm that has made past Kirby games so endearing. It's not a drastic reinvention of the formula by any means, but it doesn't need to be. What's contained in Planet Robobot is the classic Kirby experience; you run around, absorbing enemy abilities, and use them for your own gain. But the wonderful addition this time around is the use of powerful robot suits, which gives the heroic pink puff added strength and access to a distinct set of moves and abilities. Robobot's level design is also some of the best of the series yet, encouraging exploration and replayability. And myriad extra modes add more variety to an otherwise enjoyable platformer: you can play through the entire game as Meta Knight, there's Kirby 3D Rumble, a mini-game where you dispatch enemies using as few moves as possible; and there's even Team Kirby Clash, a mode that allows you to team up with AI or nearby friends to tackle bosses in a medieval fantasy-themed setting. The sheer diversity of content offered here makes Planet Robobot one of the best Kirby games in recent memory.

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Rhythm Heaven Megamix marks the first time the cult favorite rhythm game series has appeared on 3DS, bringing with it the oftentimes absurd scenarios it's known for. Like past games, Megamix presents simple minigames that rely on one or two buttons that you have to press in time with quirky, original music. Its bright and charming art style inspire nothing but joy, as you rhythmically pick the beard hairs off of an onion or catch pineapples falling down a flight of stairs. Megamix's catchy music and ridiculous situations make it consistently endearing. It gives fans more of what they've always loved, and is sure to surprise newcomers with its unconventional sense of humor. If you haven't played a Rhythm Heaven game before, you owe it to yourself to experience the absurd yet uplifting ride that is Rhythm Heaven Megamix.

GAMESPOT'S BEST 3DS GAMES OF 2016

Fire Emblem Fates

Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse

Pokemon Sun and Moon

Kirby: Planet Robobot

Rhythm Heaven Megamix

GameSpot will be unveiling its picks for the best games of the year throughout all of December. Click here to see more.