Apr 27, 2019

Nintendo 3DS Systems: great library on a bit outdated devices

Review of game consoles Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 2DS
Whilst considering getting a console of the Nintendo 3DS family of systems nearly a year ago, I was surprised by very low specifications of these devices and at the same time by the amazing variety of exceptional games available for them. These feelings remain even after some time of active playing. Still, it turned out that low specs are unable to spoil the experience, so the game library opens doors to many amazing adventures.

I’ve got a Nintendo 2DS XL console (Pokéball Edition), and I’m quite happy with it. In this review of these systems, I would like to describe the best models for purchasing, for which gamers they may be interesting, my personal feelings of playing on this console, and my personal lists of the best games for Nintendo 3DS (in three categories).

To not get confused by the variety of models

The first console of the Nintendo 3DS family appeared in 2011. The original devices have smaller screens and lower “might” than the further models, so it’s better to leave them for collectors. The same model but with a bigger screen is called Nintendo 3DS XL. It was released in 2012. It’s also not the best choice for purchasing.

Nintendo 2DS models are made especially for very young gamers. This device is one flat thing, so it won’t be broken during openings. The other side here is a very, very small screen.

New Nintendo 3DS is an improved original device, released in 2014. Still, for newbies to this family, it’s better to check out the following models - the larger New Nintendo 3DS XL and the best of them all, Nintendo 2DS XL (from 2017). The last type of devices is the newest, has better internal power and outer appearance. I would recommend it over all the other models.

Devices of the Nintendo 3DS family of systems: 3DS XL, 2DS, 2DS XL

As the other 3DS models, the Nintendo 2DS XL comes in a big variety of designs. Some of them are based on Nintendo games: the Pokémon series, Animal Crossing, etc. There is a nice Minecraft model, with a creeper design.

For young, casual, and very enthusiastic players

Each system of the New Nintendo 3DS family is suitable for playing any game from the vast library of games. This huge variety of amazing adventures is the primary reason to get the thing and to play on it.

These consoles are great for small kids. Nintendo is well-known for its entry-level games – such as Yoshi and Kirby. They are not too hard to make players frustrated with a strong boss or a clever puzzle. And they are not too easy to become bored. 

Nintendo 3DS systems are good for casual players as a great alternative to mobile gaming. Most of the games in the library are not meant to show you as many advertisements as possible or to sell you all sorts of virtual gems or coins. These games are a completed experience for having fun, where you need to develop skills for passing through difficult moments, not to find ways to overcome unnecessary difficulties. The feeling of playing with a button system may become a surprisingly good discovery for those, who get used to touch screens of smartphones.

Enthusiastic players may find in Nintendo 3DS systems a kind of portal to great games. Many breathtaking explorations in the world of The Legend of Zelda wait for new adventurers. Lots of Mario, Pikmin, Metroid, Dragon Quest, Monster Hunter, games are available on the Nintendo 3DS consoles (often exclusively on them). The Virtual Console is a way to get access to games from the NES, SNES, and GameBoy era. All the games from the old Nintendo DS consoles run on the new generation of these handheld devices. If you are not stuck to 4k graphics and the newest hits of the game industry, the Nintendo 3/2DS systems may significantly expand your gaming experience. 

Various edition of the handheld game console Nintendo 2DS XL

A continuation of the great tradition

That mentioning of 4k graphics in a previous paragraph was a reference to the weakest part of the Nintendo 2/3DS consoles – their significantly outdated screens. The resolution of 400 x 240 on a 4.88-inch display is a weird thing to offer customers in 2019 (and probably later). If it wasn’t about the game library, such specifications would kill the systems long, long time ago.

I was stopped by the specs of Nintendo 2DS XL once, when decided to buy PlayStation Vita instead. After a while, I made that risky step and bought the Nintendo handheld – I do not regret. 

I heard some excuses for such low screen resolution, like difficulties in rendering virtual worlds for high-end screens. I’m not sure about these technical details, but it’s ok for me to accept somewhat unsmooth visuals in Pokémon games and have a small device in my hand, with no fans inside and heating issues. Also, let’s not forget that many games for these systems are of the classic era – they just don’t need 4K. Maybe, they would even lose some charm with such interpretation. 

After a while, it turned out that the screen of my Nintendo 2DS XL is not a problem at all. It’s a nice feeling to hold the device in hands and enjoy probably the highest evolution of the classic Nintendo handhelds. The predecessors of these consoles are devices of the Game & Watch series, a few versions of GameBoys, and the Nintendo DS systems – they make up the great tradition of Nintendo handhelds. 

The Nintendo company is very good in making these small entertainment systems, and the 2/3DS consoles play in their own league. Technically better gadgets can’t really compete here. Even the Nintendo Switch gives the experience of a different kind – but it seems like it’s going to replace the 3DS systems on the market.

Handheld consoles of Nintendo: Game & Watch, GameBoy, GameBoy Color, GameBoy Advance, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 2DS XL

I almost don’t talk about 3D effects in this article because of two reasons: they aren’t available on my 2DS XL system, and I feel them as excessive. Nintendo decided to concentrate on excellent games, not on 3D – in 2017, the company renewed the series and left 3D illusions behind. Now, mostly 2DS XL systems are available on the market.

If you are interested, imaging seeing 3D objects over the device. They appear if you watch at 3DS at a certain angle. Such an effect doesn’t really affect the gameplay. It can be turned off on the Nintendo 3DS systems.

Lists of the best games for the Nintendo 2/3DS

After getting such a device, gamers may become confused by the impressive library of available games. Here are some titles, I would recommend getting.

Games, made especially for Nintendo 3DS:
  • "Pokémon X/Y" or "Pokémon Sun/Moon" (Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon) – experiencing adventures in the core Pokémon series is quite a reason for getting the 3DS devices for many gamers. If you are not really into the “catch ‘em all” adventure, you still can give these games a chance, they are worthy of your attention.
  • “The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds” and “The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes” – two quite different games of the same famous series. The first one is a revision of classic solo adventures, with many explorations, puzzle solving, and monster battles. The second one is a multiplayer experience, which is better to have with two friends with the 3DS systems in one room.
  • “New Super Mario Bros. 2” and “Super Mario 3D Land” – examples of the Mario greatness. The first one is an interpretation of classic side-scrolling platformers. The second game is a fun adventure in a 3D world.
  • “Fire Emblem: Awakening” – a tactical role-playing game. Some critics consider it as the best entry to the “Fire Emblem” series.
  • “Yoshi's New Island” – simple and fun adventures of the green dinosaur and a baby Mario. The game is suitable for small kids, but it also offers some exciting challenges for grown-up gamers.
  • “Super Smash Bros. 3DS” – rather a chaotic fighting of many game characters. They don’t kill each other, just push out of the platforms. 
  • “Mario Kart 7” – one of the most popular game series on many Nintendo systems. Famous game characters race on many amazing tracks. The game is filled with cool effects, traditional for karting games.
  • “Metroid: Samus Return” – a popular side-scrolling shooter of the legendary series. A powerful lady in robot-like costume battles against many dangerous creatures.
  • Ever Oasis- an amazing adventure in a fantastic desert, where Children of the Great Tree build thier cozy oases and fight against evil monsters of Chaos;
  • “Dragon Quest” – many games of this series are available for the Nintendo 3DS systems. For example, “Dragon Quest VIII” is a good one to get acquainted with the franchise.
  • “Monster Hunter 4” – an action role-playing game. Explore an impressive world and destroy dangerous monsters.  
  • “Detective Pikachu” – probably the most unusual Pokémon game, where Pikachu talks with a deep man voice and solves crimes in the virtuality.
  • “WarioWare Gold” – lots of fun mini-games from evil opposition of Mario.
  • “Animal Crossing: New Leaf” – a life simulator with super cute animals.
  • “Shovel Knight” – an interesting indie platformer.
  • Hey, Pikmin – adventures with colourful minions.
The best games for Nintendo 3DS family of Systems (Nintendo 2DS, 2DS XL)

Games, re-released for the Nintendo 3DS systems:
  • “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D” and “The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask” – remastered versions of the great games for Nintendo 64. They are among the best adventures in this series (and in the whole game culture), praised by critics and gamers.
  • “Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker” – a colourful puzzle game from Wii U.
  • “Super Mario Maker” – create your own Mario levels and play on others’ worlds (from Wii U).
  • “Yoshi's Woolly World” – a cute green dinosaur in a simple platformer (from Wii U).
  • “Kirby's Epic Yarn” – adventures of a brave pink bubble (from Wii).
  • “Xenoblade Chronicles 3D” – action-adventures in an open world (from Wii).
  • “Luigi's Mansion” – creepy adventures of Mario’s brother (from GameCube).

Virtual Console games:
  • “Super Mario Bros.” – one of the most popular games of the NES era.
  • “Super Metroid” – arguably the best game of the series (from SNES).
  • “The Legend of Zelda” – the start of great adventures (from NES).
  • “Donkey Kong Country” – a classic platformer with a famous ape (from SNES).
  • “Castlevania” – an action-platformer in the gothic style (from NES).
  • “Mega Man” – an action-platformer in the science-fiction style (from NES).
  • “Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow” – the first game of the Pokémon series (from GameBoy).
These games are just examples of the Nintendo 2/3DS library. Many others can be added to this list, but it’s better to explore the Nintendo eShop and sales of used cartridges by your own. The mentioned games are nice to start your experience with these devices.

To the shelves of history

It’s quite obvious that Nintendo is going to move forward, leaving 2/3DS behind. New games appear rarely, the official speakers mention mostly the Switch device. That’s ok – in the growing world of gaming things are changing rather quickly. 

Still, the Nintendo 3DS family of systems keeps being interesting for gamers. You just can’t get this experience on other devices. Of course, it’s not for everyone. But maybe it’s exactly for you?

For additional information, check out the official site of the Nintendo 3DS consoles.

See also…
NES Classic and SNES Classic are alternatives to Nintendo 2/3DS for playing classic 8- and 16-bit games. These devices run with modern TVs.

A news about the release of an improved edition of the classic game console Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES Classic)

Super Mario Run is an original Nintendo game made for Android and iOS devices:

Game review for Super Mario Run - an original Nintendo game for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets

Nintendo is well known for excellent platformers. Some nice free-to-play platformers are available online on the Very Good Games blog:

Play free online games - adventure platformers for PC and mobile devices