Platform Nation’s Games Of The Year: Handheld

While the big 3 consoles tend to grab all the headlines, the fact of the matter is that handheld gaming is every bit as popular as console gaming (if not more so, if you count casual gaming on phones and tablets).  To make sure we left no stone unturned in our Holiday Buyer’s Guide coverage, here are Platform Nation’s Top 3 Games of the Year for the handheld category, 2011. We will start off with Platform Nation’s number 3 pick, and work our way to the #1 Platform Nation Handheld Game of 2011.

3. The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D

One of the most critically acclaimed titles ever made returns, this time with the stunning realism of glasses-free 3D visuals. In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Link embarks on a heroic adventure through time to prevent Ganondorf from seizing the ultimate power granted by the Triforce. Solve puzzles, travel through the expansive land of Hyrule and more as you explore this immersive world on your epic quest. Will you be able to put a stop to the Gerudo King of Thieves before he can reach this holy relic?

Some Nintendo fans may be up in arms that their favorite series only came in third, but let’s face it, it made the list and even though it may not rank up their with our top Handheld game third is a pretty good standing.  While the game is received a nice overhaul for the 3DS, and is based on what many argue is one of the greatest games of all time (and certainly the best Zelda game), it IS a remake. A beautiful, fun, nostalgic remake, but a remake none-the-less. Plus it is pretty hard to beat out the number one Platform Nation pick for 2011.

2. Professor Layton and the Last Specter

Professor Layton games are tons of fun, and they are not just for a certain age group; it is one of those games that is picked up easily, and yet proves to be hours of fun. Not much surprise on my end that the game came in as number 2 on the list.  With great cut scenes (including some excellent visuals), familiar but improved gameplay, and more balanced puzzles, the Last Specter should not be missed.

A letter arrives in the mail, and it’s from Professor Layton’s old schoolmate, Clark. Detailed in the letter, Clark informs the professor that a mysterious giant is destroying the town of Misthallery. Professor Layton and his new assistant, Emmy, head out to the town to investigate the mystery. Why is the town being destroyed? How could it be related to the village’s legend of a Specter? Only by solving the plethora of puzzles laid out before you will you be able to solve the mystery.

1. Super Mario Land 3D

Join Mario in a new, eye-popping adventure with stunning 3D visuals. Jump, dash and hover your way through fully rendered 3D environments. Watch out for Goombas with tails and ink-spitting Piranha Plants along the way. With awesome 3D graphics and new and exciting features, Mario is more super than ever.

Play through fully rendered 3D landscapes in Super Mario 3D Land. Use the Circle Pad to confidently move Mario through fun and exciting environments while the 3D visuals make it easier to judge distances and depth. Perform a rolling somersault attack, run fast with a dash move or put on the Tanooki suit for the first time on the 3DS, and use your tail to hover and perform floating jumps and attacks. Watch out for all-new enemies, including Goombas with tails and ink-spitting Piranha plants.

Here is what Platform Nation’s Jeff Jones had to say about Super Mario Land 3D.

All in all, every part of this game has the Nintendo “polish” on it. Once I finished a level, I started the next until I forced myself to stop. The level environments weren’t over-used nor the mechanics within each level. The perfect pacing of the levels and gradual increase in complexity never overwhelmed me. If there was one drawback, the built-in tutorial didn’t teach all of the mechanics. Long jumps and rolling are helpful moves to execute, but they only appear in the paper manual. Super Mario 3D Land, exceeded my expectations for fun and innovation, which were admittedly already set very high. Jam packed with Nintendo homages, Easter Eggs, and hidden areas, and levels, the replayability level is very high. I can’t recommend this Mario game enough. And in the end, who doesn’t want to save the princess?

Well there you have it, Platform Nation Community, these were the writers’ Top 3 picks in the handheld category. Our list was compromised solely of Nintendo titles, as no other handheld games even made a showing. And now for the million dollar question: Do you agree with our picks, or maybe you had an iOS game or even a PSP game you thought should have made the list? Let us know, in the comment section below, what your Top 3 picks are in the handheld category.

Source (game descriptions only): Best Buy

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