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User Review: Nintendo's portable systems, a review. Pt. 4 - The Nintendo 3DS

On 07/20/2019 at 12:44 PM by Coolsetzer

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Welcome to my last review of Nintendo's portable consoles. Today, I'll be talking about the 3DS, the little portable that could. It's been a wild ride with this system. From its not-so-humble beginnings to its numerous incarnations, and now, its slow walk into the sunset, it's had a good 8 years now. I'll be honest, the last time I bought a game for the thing was in 2014. Still, I did have a lot of fun with the system. It just felt like to me that it burned bright for only a short time. Developer support for 3rd party kind of dropped off. Plus, Nintendo's offerings felt more like afterthoughts because they were busy trying to push forward with the Wii U, and the versions of games offered were often watered down experiences from its big brother counterpart after the first few years. Still, I recognize that the market was strong even after I stopped playing it, and the target audiences were those that could not afford a home console. So let's get to it. But first, a meme:



Okay, I know that the above is for the DS, but, the logic still applies. Nintendo held a vast majority of the market during this time. They weren't dethroned by the PSP, even though they gave them strong competition. Released in 2011, it retailed for a staggering $250. This was due to extremely positive feedback before the system's release. Initial sales were not good, and its price was reduced to $170 a few months later. To compensate those who paid the original price, they offered 10 NES and 10 GB Advance games as free downloads. Features of the system included stereoscopic 3D, circle pad in addition to the d-pad, and access to an eShop and Mii Plaza. Strangely, it did not launch with any games. There were some AR cards packed in that allowed you to play a couple mini-games, but that was it. It's a good thing that all of the 3DS consoles are compatible with DS games...


The 3DS XL(LL)

A little more than a year after the original, the 3DS XL was launched. This is the model that I traded for and kept. It featured a 90% larger screen. The Home button, Start and Select was also greatly improved.

The 2DS

This was released 2 years after the original model. Amidst complaints and disinterest of the 3D gimmick, it was taken out. It featured a tablet design, and was aimed at a younger audience with a $130 price point. I did not get one, since it looked goofy, and I really liked the clamshell design.


Their remodel of the 3DS released in 2015 for $170. The main selling point was the upgraded hardware, which improved the 3D. A microSD slot(?), a C Stick, 2 more shoulder buttons, and NFC for Amiibo were all added. They also took out the AC adapter, so good luck if you didn't already own one from a previous iteration. Also, the eShop added SNES games to the Virtual Console which were only compatible with this line.


This was released in limited editions in 2016 because Nintendo felt that it would not sell well in North America. It was released alongside the New 3DS in other regions, however. It was literally just a smaller version of the previous with interchangeable faceplates.


This merged the 2DS with the New line, only available in "large". Released in 2017, this is the final production of the 3DS line of handhelds. I'd like to get one, but they don't offer an all black model. Are you confused yet? Let's recap:


The Games

Joking aside, the system really did have some good releases. I have far less than the GBA or DS, but I still loved the thing. I got a number of Virtual Console releases and still take it with me to the National Guard sometimes. Here are some of my favorites games.

Super Mario 3D Land: The numero uno reason to play this console. This game literally restored my faith in the 3D Mario formula. I played it to completion, and had a great time doing it. Another good pick was New Super Mario Bros. 2. Not my favorite game in the 2D franchise, but it did let me get my Mario fix on when it was released.

Zelda: Ocarina and Majora were remakes for the system, and really good. Sure, Majora's Mask was a little on the muddy side with the graphics, but Ocarina of Time was gaming bliss. These are probably the best iterations yet. Special mention to Hyrule Warriors Legends, because it was a seriously fun game as well, even if you did have to have a >NEW< system to play it well.

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS: The last game I bought for the handheld, and honestly, probably better than its Wii U counterpart. This was because of the Smash Run. This was the last time that there were platforming sections in SSB.

Theaterythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call: A music game featuring Final Fantasy music. It was seriously good. Anyone with a passing interest in FF games should check this out, because the tracks are among the best. There was little point to the game besides playing along to the music, but oh what a good time it was.

Sonic Generations: A fun port of the now classic release. Another fun port was Star Fox 64 3DS. Odd pairing, I know, but still really good.

Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance: Confession time - I never played all the way through this. But that doesn't mean that I can't recommend it. It was probably one of the best KH games that isn't 1 & 2. I'd like to pretend that KH 3 didn't happen, and that Sora, Donald, and Goofy are still in training for the day that Xeyhanort or whoever it is comes back to steal Kingdom Hearts, or conquer the multiverse or something.

Fire Emblem Awakening: A new(at the time) adventure in the FE universe. Using cell shaded graphics, this really set the bar for how Fire Emblem could be. And that story! Just don't look at the characters' feet, because what has been seen cannot be unseen.

Mario Tennis(Mario Kart 7 I guess): The tennis title was great. Perfect for on the go. MK 7 introduced spam sliding so I mostly ignore it these days. Still, it's a good way to pass the time in single player mode.


*me still wants

That's about it for the Nintendo 3DS from me. It was great for me to look back on all these consoles and realize how much of a constant companion the portable systems had with me. One of my planned projects in the upcoming years is to mod my old Nintendo 3DS XL to be my emulator machine with all of the portable games for GB, GBC and GBA that I own. I just need to do one more upgrade to the New 3DS before I undertake such a task. Thanks for reading, everyone. I really liked interacting with you all. Maybe I'll make a couple more blogs before I continue living my best life. Cheers.




07/20/2019 at 07:23 PM

I loved my 3DS XL but I just wasn't getting to play it enough and so I traded it for digital cash. 

One day, I get it again and play Prof. Layton and like 20 other games I need to play. I guess this way, when I do get it again, I can get the newer XL with better hardware. 


07/24/2019 at 01:07 PM

Never traded it, but I stopped playing it by the end of 2015. There just wasn't anything coming out for it that I wanted. 


07/27/2019 at 08:57 PM

I had a power outage last week. Crashed my system three different times before it got fixed. I wish I had my 3DS for that. I may set up an emergency DS near my console for that kind of thing. 

Cary Woodham

07/20/2019 at 09:09 PM

Like I said, I'll have a 3DS tribute blog written sometime in August.  The 3DS lasted a pretty long time.  Some of my favorite games include Animal Crossing: New Leaf and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.  Also loved the StreetPass stuff.


07/24/2019 at 01:06 PM

I forgot about Link Between Worlds. Definitely a pick up for sure. 


07/21/2019 at 03:30 AM

My 3DS was a Zelda 3DSXL that was released for A Link Between Worlds. The 3DS was more of what I want in a handheld, but I've since moved on to the Switch. We got two more Dragon Quest ports and a little cult gem, 7th Dragon III Code VFD.


07/22/2019 at 12:04 PM

I really enjoyed 7th Dragon


07/24/2019 at 01:08 PM

I will have to add all the DQ games after III onto my list. Hopefully, I can pick them up for on the cheap. 


07/22/2019 at 12:03 PM

I'm currently playing Persona Q 2 on my 3DS. I have 31 physical games, and in digital games I have 33 3DS, 15 NES, 10 GBA, 7 GBC and 6 SNES.

As you would expect from me there are a lot of RPGs in the mix some of which have barely been touched.

At one point it was the only game system I was playing but it is now being neglected for Switch.

Person Q 2 brought me back to the 3DS though but I keep thinking it would have been better as a Switch game.


07/24/2019 at 01:12 PM

I bought into the NES & SNES classic systems and hacked them with all the games I wanted, so I didn't really need the Virtual console after that. Still, I'd like to get the N3DS modded to run older GBA, GBC & GB games. 

Matt Snee Staff Writer

07/22/2019 at 04:10 PM

the 3DS is one of the few systems I bought at launch. The games available at the time were pretty weak... I remember playing Dead or Alive and thinking to myself - "Bored!"

However, some great games did come out for it. I loved the Etrian Odyssey games, and Mario 3D Land was fun. I also enjoyed playing Majora again. 


07/24/2019 at 10:03 PM

It turned around after they gave it attention, which it seriously lacked. That's what happens when you become an early adopter sometimes. At least you could play DS games to tide you over. 

The Last Ninja

07/27/2019 at 08:51 PM

You forgot to mention the BEST 3DS game--Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Not only was it an homage to ALTTP, but it was an excellent Zelda game in its own right. 3DS games that I really enjoyed include Mario 3D Land, Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon, Smash, Kirby Planet Robobot, FF Theatrhythm, Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright, and Metroid Samus Returns. I also downloaded a bunch of classic GB games, which was a great feature for the system. 


08/16/2019 at 08:05 PM

You're right! I totally spaced it. I really need to pick it up and play through it. I started a quick play of ALTtP awhile back so I could spot the differences. I got stuck and took a rest. haha

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