If you’re a Nintendo 3DS owner then you can skip this article (but feel free to share it far and wide), because you already know that the Nintendo 3DS is an incredible handheld system and a worthy successor to the insanely successful Nintendo DS#.

Despite what Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, thinks about the challenging mobile gaming climate…

Touch-based games are fun – there are many games with really good design. But having sticks and buttons make things totally different.

So I hope, like many of you, that this culture of playing portable games continues but the climate is not healthy for now because of the huge dominance of mobile gaming.

…the Nintendo 3DS is well worth the investment, even after being on the market for nearly 5 years.

However, it’s not uncommon for the average consumer to be terribly confused by Nintendo’s product lines, and the 3DS line of products doesn’t do anything to help, with confusing names like Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS XL, New Nintendo 3DS, New Nintendo 3DS XL, and of course the Nintendo 2DS.

Hopefully this guide will convince you to pick up one of these amazing handhelds while alleviating any confusion about which one is right for you.


Picking the right 3DS

New Nintendo 3DS
The New Nintendo 3DS is the ‘newest’ and most current 3DS model on the market. It’s a solid upgrade over the original Nintendo 3DS, featuring a faster CPU, more memory, enhanced (finally usable) 3D visual effects, and built-in amiibo support.

For most gamers who already own a Nintendo 3DS this upgrade is unnecessary though, because to date there are only 2 games that require the extra horsepower found inside the New Nintendo 3DS# and most new games are able to be played with only slight performance downgrades when not played on a New Nintendo 3DS. However, if you’re a first-time owner, this is the handheld to own because the extra power is noticeable and it makes using the system a dream. Also, if you’re a fan of the glassless 3D visuals (which I happen to be), the head tracking is a must have.

Unless your cost conscious, the New Nintendo 3DS is the right model for any new 3DS users. It’s difficult to call it an absolutely necessary upgrade for current owners, but you probably wouldn’t regret making this upgrade anyway.


Nintendo 3DS
I put a lot of miles on my original 3DS, but the New Nintendo 3DS was a welcomed upgrade for all the features I listed above. That being said, this original system is still a great choice for someone who is looking to play a few games on the go without paying top dollar.

Note the Nintendo 3DS is about $25 cheaper, but it lacks all the bells and whistles you get with the new 3DS that are well worth the extra cost. While I do think highly of this system, the fanboy/gadget nerd in me has to recommend the new hotness you get with the most recent New Nintendo 3DS. Regardless, you won’t be disappointed with the original Nintendo 3DS if you think it’s the one for you.

Nintendo 2DS
Are you a small child that can’t be trusted with pricey gadgets? Are you on a very tight budget? Do you believe that glassless 3D visual effects are the work of the devil? If you answered yes to any one of those questions, then the 2DS might be right for you.

The 2DS is Nintendo’s barebones 3DS experience, as it lacks 3D support, the signature DS clamshell design, and an XL version. This unit is targeted at kids who shouldn’t be playing games in 3D# and are likely to be a bit tougher on their handhelds (though that’s not to say the 3DS isn’t a solid device). If you’ve got a budget issue or you have a brood of 6+, you might consider arming them with a 2DS while you treat yourself to the full-featured New Nintendo 3DS.

XL vs not XL
The XL monicker obviously implies that the model is larger, as it features a larger top and bottom screen and slightly better battery life.

Deciding whether or not you should go with an XL or not is totally up to your personal preference. Some prefer the non-XL version because it’s a bit more portable and the smaller screen makes the graphics appear to be less jaggy. I personally enjoy the XL because it’s easier to hold in my monster hands and with the head tracking on the New Nintendo 3DS coupled with the larger screen, it really let’s the 3D effect shine and looks gorgeous on most games. So, the question is: do you care more about having a compact console or a larger screen with a more immersive 3D effect?

Getting some Great Games

The 3DS has arguably the best lineup of games for any handheld released to date. It also helps that the 3DS is 100% backwards compatible with Nintendo DS titles, so it would be a challenge for you to not find at least 5-6 games you absolutely love.

While it does depend on the types of games you’re into, I’ve listed a selection of some of my favorites, many of which you’ll find at the top of many ‘Best of 3DS’ lists around the web.

Protecting Your Stuff

I don’t know about you, but I get a bit overzealous about protecting my video game collection, especially when I’m on the go. Fortunately, you can do that in style with these great Hori Hard pouch cases that will fit your 3DS and couple of games too.

Don’t miss out on these features

The 3DS can do a lot of cool things, but there are three functions you really need to know about, because I’ve met more than one 3DS owner whose mind I was able to blow by showing them a feature on there 3DS that they had never used.


This is one of my favorite features, though I remember thinking when I first got my 3DS that I’d never use it because the handheld was just not that popular at the time.

StreetPass allows your 3DS to communicate with other 3DS handhelds while it’s asleep and chilling out in your purse/manpurse on your way to work. When two 3DS are in close enough proximity, they communicate with each other by quickly exchanging data (that you choose to share). Typically, this is your Mii Character, your region (state/country), and the game you recently played. You can then take these Miis you’ve collected and play through a series of games.


Augmented Reality Games using AR cards

I’ll admit I’ve only played maybe 20mins with my AR Card games, but either way, if you’ve never experienced augmented reality gaming, the 3DS offers one of the best examples of how this technology can work.

Explaining AR in text is kind of hard, but I’ll give it a shot. Simply put, using special cards that provide a marker in the physical world, the 3DS camera can place game elements on the 3DS screen, making them appear like they are there in the room with you (when viewing the 3DS screen of course). Combine that with a gyroscope, and you can do things like battle a dragon popping out of the surface of your kitchen table while you walk around it to get a better shot at it’s vulnerable areas. It’s really a trip, and unless you’re in the market for a Microsoft holo lens, this is the best way to try out augmented reality gaming.


Download Play

This is the best feature for a household that has more than one 3DS. Certain 3DS games, which are marked as Download Play, are capable of allowing people to play multiplayer games locally using one copy of the game. For this feature to work, one user simply needs to start the game and select the Multiplayer Download Play option while the other launches the download Play app, which searches for available download play sessions.

Most games begin within 30 seconds and offer a compelling multiplayer experience. Some of my favorite download plays are Mario Kart 7, Mario Party, and Tetris Axis.



Whether you’re buying a 3DS (or 2DS) for yourself or someone else, there’s a lot of choices to make and details to consider. However, regardless of the system you do choose, I’m confident you’ll be happy you decided to pick up one of these handhelds, as it has still yet to reach its peak in gaming goodness.

As always if you have any questions, drop a comment here our shout at me on Twitter @joecorbett.