We recently announced our Game of The Year awards, however, one thing we didn’t mention was some of the best handheld games of the year (although, one did get nominated for GOTY). Therefore, we created this wonderful list to showcase the handheld games that wowed us in 2013.

Fire Emblem Awakening

Fire Emblem

Once dubbed as a great franchise in Japan, that never truly translated over to the US, Fire Emblem has been working very hard to shake that perception. With numerous games coming out to both handhelds and consoles the franchise slowly began building up its fan base. Yet in 2013, the pinnacle of all it’s hard work came to life.

Fire Emblem Awakening took everything the series had made itself known for and cranked it up to another level. A gripping story full of compelling moments makes you feel fully involved, and truly makes you care for the characters. Awakening gave new firsts for the series, including a player created main character, tag-teaming your characters together in battle, and perhaps the most intriguing addition, getting your characters married. Every single new feature felt fresh yet true to the franchise, making the game  more enjoyable to play.

Awakening also took full advantage of the 3DS graphics system, utilizing 3D models to their fullest in both gameplay and cut scenes. The 3D pop out effect was also used to great effect, the game made you feel engrossed in the battles as you saw them pop off the screen.

Fire Emblem Awakening was a triumph for the series, and will no doubt be the benchmark for future games in the series.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

It keeps getting bigger!

It’s hard to describe a game where you pretty much live an entire life and do pretty much anything a regular person can do. Yet Animal Crossing: New Leaf did that and more, all the while keeping the charm and wonder the series has been known for.

In the game, you become the mayor of a town (much to your own surprise) and once you’re there you get to do whatever you want. Help out the citizens and make the city better, or just make your house and life that much more epic. New Leaf truly gives you the freedom to do what you want.

Nintendo though didn’t stop there. They continually give new and exciting activities to do, numerous things to collect, and plenty of ways to connect with fellow 3DS and Animal Crossing lovers to expand your world and horizons.

Few games connect people together continually and have them play for so long like Animal Crossing. If you do check out this game, be warned, you’re going to be playing it for a while.

Killzone: Mercenary


There is always going to be a game that sets the tone for a genre on a gaming system. For the Vita, FPS games will be measured up against Killzone: Mercenary.

Utilizing the Vita’s dual analog stick control system, Mercenary acts, and reacts, just like a FPS should. Mercenary also takes advantage of the graphical power of the Vita, producing numerous scenes that’ll make you think you were playing a console game.

Though the story is slightly short, there is plenty to do, especially with the fact that everything in the game is based around money. Upgrading is fun and gives you plenty of abilities to boost yourself up with. Add to that a simple yet deep multiplayer, and you have a game that proves it knows what it’s doing.

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon


Nintendo dubbed 2013 as the “Year of Luigi”, evidenced by his numerous inclusions in games, from Super Mario Bros U. DLC, to Smash Bros., to the Dr. Luigi game, and more.

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is a true sequel that picks up after the events of the original game. Professor E. Gadd is studying very peaceful ghosts when a Boo sends everything straight to heck and causes the ghosts to become rather violent. Knowing he needs help, he summons Luigi to capture the ghosts, stop the Boo’s, and restore the Dark Moon to bring peace back to the valley.

Though not a perfect game Dark Moon does add to what we remember from the original. More mansions, new ghosts, new missions, and plenty of gear makes this a very fun, very Luigi, experience. If you loved the original Luigi’s Mansion, you’ll definitely want to pick up Dark Moon.



Easily one of the best games on Vita, Tearaway embraces both creativity, originality, and the presenting of new and fresh ideas throughout the entire game.

You play as Iota, or Atoi, and are basically thrown into a wonderful world of paper. The game constantly invites you to become part of the world and interact with basically every single aspect of it. The world is beautifully crafted, utilizing many aspects of paper to make the world seem even more alive. Your touch-screen interactions allow you to mess with the world as you see fit. Adding to the fun and pleasure.

With beautiful design, simplistic yet enjoyable story, and truly fun gameplay, Tearaway is something you should check out if you have a Vita.

Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies


Well, the long-running courtroom drama series Phoenix Wright made its epic return via the Nintendo EShop, with a brand-new fully loaded adventure, Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies. Dual Destinies takes place after the events of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney and brings Phoenix back to the forefront as he fights to end the “Dark Age of the Law.” He’s not alone though, Apollo returns, along with the fantastic addition of Athena Cykes to round out the crew.

Over the course of five cases you’ll find and deduce clues, deconstruct testimony, and seek the truth of mysteries and murders that are just as twisted and funny as you remember from previous games. Characters new and old round out the experience and give Dual Destinies a feeling of nostalgia while also bringing new and fresh life to the series.

Dual Destinies adds new mechanics into the  gameplay, while also bringing back old favorites. The game also gets a facelift via full 3D models, animations, and environments.. It also includes 2D cut scenes which has full voice acting, a first for the series, but one that feels totally in line with what the game is.

Pokémon X & Y

A fully 3D world

A game so good it got nominated by us for GOTY. Pokémon X & Y had a lot of hype going into its release, and thankfully it delivered on just about every single level.

Between a graphical overhaul for both the battle system and the Kalos region itself, and numerous gameplay additions both inside and out, the game is a near masterpiece.

The Kalos region is huge, and begging to be explored. Pokémon from all regions are there, and though the thought of having all those Pokémon with so few new ones might be a cause for concern at first, you’ll quickly move on as you explore the world.

Being a Pokémon trainer has never been easier! New additions and alterations allow you to raise your Pokémon team faster all the while giving you a closer connection with them via Pokémon-Amie. Add that to the epic Mega-Evolutions, a revamped Wi-Fi  system that allows you to see, connect, battle, trade, and talk with trainers from all over the world, and you have an experience unlike any Pokémon game before it.

Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds


When fans originally heard that Link to the Past would be getting a sequel, they were both optimistic and cautious. After all, if it’s in the same world, what would be new about it?

Though the world may be the same, A Link Between Worlds most certainly is not the same game. The dungeons, the bosses, the main bad guys, the “other world” and more lend to this being one of the best Zelda games ever. The difficulty is incredible and worthy of his forbearers, yet for the first time you get to choose what dungeon you can go to first via Rovio’s shop. Rent out items and do what want, go to whatever dungeon trips your fancy. Just don’t die, the items will go back to the shop if you do.

All in all the game is incredible, and a must have on the Nintendo 3DS.

Velocity Ultra


You’d be forgiven if you didn’t pay much attention to this game at first. After all, a vertical shooter that doesn’t look very impressive? Pass, right? To those that actually delved into Velocity Ultra, you found a gaming experience worth talking about.

Velocity Ultra breaks convention by giving you the power to teleport as massive barriers and puzzles come your way. This de-emphasis on the shooting aspects should’ve been its downfall, instead, it’s its saving grace. The mechanic works beautifully, and you’ll have a blast simply teleporting from spot to spot in a blink of an eye. The fast paced tempo makes the game even more fun and challenging, and it’ll make you strive for higher and higher scores.

Many games try to bring something new to the genre they’re inhabiting and fail, Velocity Ultra though, succeeds.

About The Author

Guest Writer

Todd is a born and raised Nintendo fanboy. But his desire to play more games led him to PC and indie gaming. He'll still chat the moon about the Big N, but he might surprise you about what else he knows in the world of gaming.

  • Kristi78968

    I’m very glad to see Dual Destinies on the list! It’s a very remarkable game and even made me cry at parts. Are you guys hyped up for the next installment? The producer for Dual Destinies said they’re already coming up with ideas for it! 😀

    • CrisJ

      Im personally not… But I know Todd is…

    • Todd Black

      You bet I am! I love the Phoenix Wright series, and I’m glad we’re getting another installment.
      Fingers crossed for the return of Maya and Ema! I missed them so much in Dual Destinies! Oh, and a bigger part for Trucy! I know that’s a lot of characters to balance, but I know they can do it!

      • Kristi78968

        Yes! I so want the return of Maya and Ema. If they could squeeze Gumshoe and Kay from Investigations in there, it would be so awesome! Are you going to play the Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney game when it releases? 😮

        • Todd Black

          Possibly, I’ve never play Professor Layton before but with Phoenix in the title it’d be hard to put down.
          They need to put Maya in the next Phoenix Wright title, they’ve teased her in both Apollo Justice and Dual Destinies, she needs to return! Pearl got to come back before Maya! What kind of justice is that?

          Don’t get me wrong…..Pearls is awesome, but so is Maya!