Animal Crossing: New Leaf

The 3DS is having a great year. Between hardcore strategy role-playing games and the return of beloved franchises, Nintendo has been cookin’ up a diverse library for its 3D-enabled handheld.

During yesterday’s Nintendo Direct video announcement, it revealed a ton of information on upcoming 3DS games for the spring and summer — and just a few hours later, it was ready to show some of them off during a press event in San Francisco. While we played everything there, we’ve narrowed down the list to the four games you should pay attention to, breaking down just how similar or different they are from other entries in their respective series.

As an extra bonus, we wrangled up a few Nintendo representatives to tell us some little known facts behind each game.

Harness the power of the ‘stache

Title: Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
Release date: August 11


The newest role-playing adventure for the world’s most famous plumbers (which is different from that other Mario RPG series) has the Mario brothers running back and forth between dreams and reality to save Princess Peach. It’s like Inception except with less music by Edith Piaf and more vaguely Italian-sounding dialogue.

What’s old or new about it?

Besides earning experience points and levels, Dream Team is totally different from earlier games in the series. Mario crosses into the dream world whenever Luigi volunteers to sleep on magical pillows. This is where he teams up with the magnanimous Dreamy Luigi (they’re Luigi’s dreams, after all), a much more powerful version of his brother. Dreamy Luigi can merge with sparkling auras called Luiginary Works, where he becomes a giant, disembodied face that can help Mario around the 2D platforming levels.

The first Luiginary Work uses Luigi’s thick mustache as a stretchy tree branch — you pull his real mustache with the stylus on the bottom screen and let go once Mario is on it — that propels Mario to greater heights. Luigi’s second power brings objects in the background to the foreground with a powerful sneeze; you trigger it by rubbing his nose with the stylus.

Did you know?

“The game’s writing in English is handled by Nate Bihldorff, from the Nintendo of America localization team,” said a Nintendo representative. “Nate has been the lead writer for every game in the series to date.”