One of the neat little features that Nintendo has implemented into both its Wii U and 3DS consoles is a playtime recording app, that tracks which games you’ve been playing, and for how long. Nintendo probably implemented this so parents can make sure their kids aren’t spending too much time playing games when they should be doing homework, but it’s a fun little way to, at the end of the year, reflect back on the games that I’ve really been playing.
And so, here are the ten 3DS games that I have spent the most time playing in 2015, in ascending order of how much I’ve played each game. I’m fairly certain no one will be surprised by the one that won.
The newest entrant on my little play list, Yo-Kai Watch is a game that I had an intense addiction to while I was playing it for review. It’s the kind of game I would start playing at 6pm and find myself still playing it at 2am, because it blended a fast flowing, simple, but entertaining combat system, with the addictive nature of monster collecting, and a narrative and cultural context that plays up to my nostalgia for Japan. My “pleasant surprise” of 2015.
Pokemon Trading Card Game
Of the dozens of virtual console games that I have on my 3DS, it is Pokemon Trading Card Game that I play the most. Not because it’s a necessarily long game – I just tend to play it over and over again – but as a fan of CCGs, this one does a really great job of capturing the essence of the real card game, wraps it a simple, but enjoyable narrative, and some bright, colourful graphics. I am amazed that with the NFC capabilities of the Wii U and New 3DS, Nintendo hasn’t gone and created a new Pokemon Trading Card game and released a series of cards with NFC chips built into them.
Devil Survivor 2 is a particularly meaty JRPG, which explains why I’ve played it so much. It’s not actually my favourite SMT game, and not necessarily one that I’ll come back to in a hurry, but I did quite enjoy the anime earlier in the year, so I enjoyed the opportunity to play through that story, with Atlus’ customary rock-solid monster collecting and breeding mechanics and all that entails.
As anyone who reads DDNet knows, I have a deep and abiding love for the Persona series. Especially Persona 4 (Risette!). And Persona Q absolutely delighted me when I played it for review last year. It offered all the dungeon crawling fun of an Etrian Odyssey title with a really great narrative that made brilliant use of the characters from both Persona 3 and 4. And it has an adorable chibi Risette. So this year I played it again, and because it is a decently long game (especially on the higher difficulty setting), it ended up being one of my most played.
I really found Lord of Magna’s combat system fascinating – almost like a JRPG meets ten pin bowling. But what I really, really, enjoyed was the characters and their interactions. As innocent as harem stories come, Lord of Magna I found to be charming enough that I worked to complete it 100 per cent – something I rarely give myself the time to do these days.
I missed the original release of Conception 2. Something I was vaguely interested in, but put it to the side because I had a lot of other games to play. But when I finally got around to it this year, I am disappointed in myself that I let it go so long. Conception 2 is a brilliant little JRPG with a much stronger social commentary within it than anyone gave it credit for on release. And, with me being a big fan of roguelikes and all, I found myself really quite hooked on dungeon crawl and in-depth party management, too.
Anyone who has actually played Xenoblade Chronicles will not be surprised to see it on my list of “most played” games for the year, because it sprawls like almost nothing else. Devote some time to the side quests and distractions and you’ll easily top 100 hours on this one, and it’s well worth the grind, thanks to its engaging narrative and interesting combat mechanics. If only the Wii U spiritual sequel was more like this.
I like a good simulation game. Last year, Nintendo Pocket Football Club was my most played 3DS game by a massive, massive margin. This year, I downed far more time than I should have on A-Train. But then, when the tutorials alone will take up upwards of 20 hours to complete, you’ll just have to take for granted that you’re in for a time sink. Luckily it’s actually worth it, because watching a city build up around a well-managed transport network is not only rewarding, it’s also insightful; this is how real cities would operate if managed well (not something that Sydney’s planners seem to understand, sadly).
Of course, Puzzle & Dragons is well known for being a free-to-play time sink on the iPhone, and while the 3DS game isn’t free-to-play, it has, none the less, retained that heritage. And then there are actually two games in one, with an entirely separate quest having a delightfully Mario Bros. skin. Simple but entertaining Match-3 gameplay, combined with light JRPG mechanics and narrative, create a game that I still pick up for the occasional session, months after completing the review.
No, seriously, you all saw this coming, right? I adore Hatsune Miku. I love Hatsune Miku. Her games make me happy. I genuinely like Miku music (as my dozens of CDs attest). Project Mirai DX isn’t my ideal vision of a Miku game (I’m more partial to the “realistic” Miku of the Diva series), but I couldn’t help but get utterly hooked by the ridiculous charm of this anyway and, over 200 hours later, it is my most played Nintendo 3DS game this year.
– Matt S.