7 Best Nintendo 3DS Strategy Games for tactical engagement on two screens

Strategy games and handheld consoles are a perfect combination. Players can play the game at their own pace everywhere. On the 3DS, there are lots of choices for strategy games, and these are seven of the best of them.

Best nintendo 3DS strategy games

7. Langrisser Re:Incarnation -TENSEI -

Langrisser Re:Incarnation –TENSEI- represents a revival of a beloved series after a long hiatus, and while it may not reach the heights of its predecessors, there's still plenty to appreciate. The story offers branching routes that add replay value and depth to the narrative. Exploring different factions' perspectives is a novel way to experience this game.

Character design and sprites maintain a nostalgic charm reminiscent of the original Langrisser games. In terms of gameplay, Langrisser Re:Incarnation  –TENSEI- presents a challenging experience, especially for newcomers to the series. The lack of traditional grinding mechanics forces strategic thinking and careful unit management. 

Noriyuki Iwadare's exceptional music elevates the experience, complementing the gameplay with memorable melodies and nostalgic callbacks to past entries. While English voice acting may be limited, the Japanese voiceovers are incredibly acted.

Langrisser Re:Incarnation –TENSEI- will not appeal to everyone, even those strat-heads, but for fans of the series or those seeking a challenging SRPG experience, it offers a worthwhile journey. The game's engaging story, strategic gameplay, and evocative soundtrack make it a worthy addition to the 3DS library.

6. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.

Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. innovatively blends third-person shooter and strategy RPG elements, a combination rarely explored in gaming. Set in a steam-powered world under alien threat, the game boasts a unique premise inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's tales. While the story can lean towards parody, it maintains a sincere tone, bolstered by recognizable characters like Tom Sawyer and Henry Fleming.

In the prep room, players customize their team's loadout, selecting primary weapons, sub-weapons, and boilers for each character. The game's grid-based combat challenges players to strategically position their squad on dynamic maps teeming with enemies and hidden gear. Steam management adds depth, with movement, attacks, and Overwatch relying on this vital resource.

While the single-player campaign offers engaging missions and replayability, multiplayer modes like Death Match provide additional excitement. With a length of around 20 hours for the story campaign and additional content for completionists, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. offers a satisfying balance of shooter and strategic gameplay.

5. Project X Zone 2

Project X Zone 2 surpasses its predecessor in nearly every aspect, offering an improved experience for fans of crossover strategy RPGs. The story follows Shinra agents Reiji Arisu, Xiaomu, and newcomer Chizuru Urashima as they investigate mysterious golden chains in Shibuya, encountering a plethora of iconic characters along the way, including Chris Redfield, Yuri Lowell, and Chrom and Lucina from Fire Emblem: Awakening (more about this game further down the list). 

Gameplay retains the core mechanics of the first game but introduces new elements like Mirage Cancel, which allows players to execute more attacks with precise timing. While Mirage Cancel can be challenging to master, the game offers alternative strategies such as utilizing XP on special moves or taking advantage of charged attacks for increased power. Solo Units were more impactful this time around, adding depth to combat, and the skill learning system and attack upgrades provided strategic depth that was lacking in the first game.

Project X Zone 2 excels in character interactions, references, and engaging gameplay, making it a worthwhile experience for fans of crossover RPGs in the subgenre of strategy.

4. Monster Combine TD

This is a little bit different than not just the previous titles featured before this, but also the entire list. This is the only Tower Defense strategy game in this ranking, and it deserves every praise it gets. Monster Combine TD presents a departure from the traditional tower defense format, drawing inspiration from the multi-path setup of games like Plants vs. Zombies.

In this alternate dimension, players defend a magic school from attacking students using armies of monsters. The gameplay revolves around summoning monsters and strategically placing them to counter enemy forces, with cards dictating unit placement and upgrades. Unlike Plants vs. Zombies, units are not rooted and can be freely moved around various terrains, adding depth to the tactical aspect of the game. Monster Combine TD offers an intriguing twist on the tower defense genre with its card-based summoning mechanics and dynamic unit movement. 

3. Mercenaries Saga 2: Order of the Silver Eagle

Mercenaries Saga 2: Order of the Silver Eagle offers a straightforward Tactical RPG experience with 32 main missions, taking around 20 hours to complete. The story follows Claude, captain of the prince's guards, as he embarks on a quest to find a cure for a poison used in an assassination attempt on the prince, leading to involvement in a larger conflict. The subdued anime-style visuals reminiscent of games like Final Fantasy Tactics complement the gameplay effectively.

In terms of gameplay, Mercenaries Saga 2 sticks to the standard Tactical RPG (TRPG) formula but executes it well. Battles are quick-paced, lasting 5-20 minutes, with minimal lag or unnecessary animations. The game's balance is commendable, with no overpowered weapons or spells and few useless ones. Characters can choose from various classes and freely switch between them outside of battle, allowing for customization and strategic flexibility. MP management adds depth, with characters recovering a percentage of their max MP at each turn, balancing heavy, light armor and encouraging thoughtful spell usage.

Mercenaries Saga 2: Order of the Silver Edge offers replay value through New Game+ and the ability to refight variations of story battles for grinding purposes. It provides a satisfying TRPG experience at an affordable price, making it a worthwhile choice for fans of the genre, especially considering the lack of similar games on the platform.

2. Fire Emblem: Awakening

Fire Emblem: Awakening marks a significant milestone for the series, bringing it closer to mainstream success since its debut in the United States in 2003. Released on February 4, 2013, this thirteenth installment garnered widespread acclaim, appealing not only to existing fans but also attracting newcomers to the franchise. The game offers a compelling narrative, engaging gameplay, and a wealth of content, making it a must-have for both seasoned players and newcomers alike.

The story begins with a mysterious encounter where the player, portrayed as a character alongside Chrom, battles a formidable foe. As the plot unfolds, the protagonist wakes up with amnesia, joining Chrom's group of Shepherds in defending their land against a looming threat. The narrative unfolds through strategic battles and character interactions, gradually revealing layers of intrigue and depth.

Gameplay in Fire Emblem: Awakening combines tactical role-playing elements with turn-based strategy. Players navigate grid-based maps, strategically positioning units and engaging in battles with enemies. The game introduces a robust avatar creation system, allowing players to customize their character's appearance, stats, and abilities. Additionally, the inclusion of Casual and Classic modes caters to players of varying skill levels, offering options for those seeking a more forgiving experience or a challenging test of strategy.

The game's depth extends to its unit and class system, allowing players to customize and evolve their characters throughout the game. With a wide array of classes, skills, and stat growths, players can tailor their units to suit their playstyle. The support system adds another layer of strategy, as units build relationships and gain bonuses by fighting alongside each other. Furthermore, the inclusion of downloadable content and Spot Pass features provides additional challenges and rewards, ensuring a wealth of content for players to explore. 

1. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked

Devil Survivor Overclocked marks the Shin Megami Tensei series' venture into the strategy RPG realm, originally released for the DS and later ported to the 3DS. While this version doesn't significantly enhance the original game, it introduces additional content such as a new game day, some voice acting, and new demons. Set in Tokyo during a demon-infested lockdown, players must navigate through seven days (with an added eighth day in Overclocked) using mysterious devices called COMPs to summon, fuse, and battle demons. The game surprises with its engaging and mature storyline, complemented by likable characters and multiple narrative paths.

Outside of missions, players can freely explore Tokyo through a menu, engaging in various events and battles that progress the in-game timer. Despite its promising setup, the game falls short of fully realizing its potential, particularly in leveraging a plot device involving future-telling emails to create meaningful player choices. Demon collection remains a core aspect, with players able to form teams of human party members and demons, obtained through fusion, auction, or the demon compendium. 

Battles blend SRPG and JRPG elements, offering a challenging yet fair experience with extensive strategic options. The combat in this game remains highly enjoyable, with addictive character development and strategic depth. Graphically, Devil Survivor Overclocked maintains the original DS version's aesthetic, featuring isometric maps and distinctive demon artwork. Devil Survivor Overclocked delivers an enjoyable SRPG experience with rewarding gameplay and a compelling story with an increased difficulty that is not common on the platform.