If you’re in the market for a handheld gaming machine, the Nintendo 3DS is a fantastic choice. It’s the most popular dedicated handheld of this generation by a long shot, and it’s home to countless excellent games. But knowing what you’ll need to get the most out of a new 3DS can be tricky. So without further ado, here’s the only guide you’ll need when buying a Nintendo 3DS.
Nintendo 3DS System
When it comes to 3DS hardware, you have a few options to choose from. Here are the two best 3DS models on the market, along with the pros and cons of each.
New Nintendo 3DS XL: This is the latest, greatest version of the hardware. It has a fantastic 3D effect thanks to its built in face-tracking technology, plus several extra buttons that come in handy while playing certain games. It’s also the most powerful model, which means it has faster loading times and can play at least one game — Xenoblade Chronicles 3D — that the others cannot. Grab a black one here, or a red one here.
Nintendo 2DS: If you’re buying the system for a younger child, or money is a big issue, consider the Nintendo 2DS. It’s kind of like “light” version of a 3DS. It has fewer features, like no 3D effect, a slab-like design, and fewer buttons than the New 3DS XL. On the plus side, it’s significantly cheaper and it’s great for kids — especially if you’ll need to buy multiple units for multiple children. Buy a black one here, or a red one here.
To get an idea of the experiences your new piece of technology can provide, you’ll need some games. Luckily for you, the Nintendo 3DS is home to scores of top-notch titles. Here are some of the best.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: Many people view the Super Nintendo title The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past as one of the best games ever made. With A Link Between Worlds, Nintendo has gone back to the same setting, to great effect. The dungeons, puzzles, and bosses are all different, but equally well executed, as is the otherworldly atmosphere, soaring soundtrack, and twisting story. This is no simple rehash; this is one of the best games to come out in years. Buy it here.
Fire Emblem: Awakening: It’s not every day that you stumble across a superbly balanced strategy RPG — but that’s exactly what this game is. Fire Emblem: Awakening nails the fun factor of the genre and does a great of job of welcoming newcomers to the fold. Between battles, it also tells a compelling story of warring kingdoms that are filled with characters you’ll grow to love. If you’re looking for a deep game you can sink serious time into, look no further. Get your copy now.
Super Mario 3D Land: This game might go light on the 3D effect, but it goes heavy on fun. It’s like a perfect mix between the compact comfort of a side-scrolling Mario game and the “anything goes” openness of the Mario Galaxy series. So whether you grew up playing Mario games on the NES, Wii U, or any system in between, you’ll feel right at home in this brilliant platformer. Buy the game here.
Pokémon Alpha Ruby/Omega Sapphire: As with most Pokémon games, this one has you play as a young Pokémon trainer who goes on an adventure to collect all the cute little monsters you can. You’ll visit eight towns and duke it out against other Pokémon masters on your way to becoming the best in the world. This time around you’ll find a number of new Pokémon, plus all-new “mega-evolutions.” It’s a great game, whether you’ve played other games in the series or not. Pick it up here.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf: Lots of games create edge-of-your-seat tension in players. Not Animal Crossing. This is a life simulation game with no points system, no level progression, no time limits, and no real goal. Mostly, you just wander around the town, tidying up, collecting things, chatting with neighbors, and decorating your home. What’s the point? There is no point — and that’s kind of the point. If you play a lot of challenging, goal-based games, Animal Crossing: New Leaf might be the breath of fresh air you didn’t know you needed. Add it to your collection here.
Bravely Default: The makers of Bravely Default clearly built the game on the rock-solid foundation of classic RPGs like Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that it borrows lots of great ideas from modern games and breathes new life into the formula. Throw in some of the most eye-catching graphics on the system and a killer soundtrack, and you’re looking at a game that’s both classic and modern. Grab your copy now.
For some hard-to-fathom reason, the New Nintendo 3DS XL doesn’t come with the AC adapter you’ll need to charge the system’s battery. Unfortunately, you need to charge it if you want to play games. So if you plan to buy a New Nintendo 3DS XL, be sure to grab a power cord here.
Nintendo eShop gift card
It’s clear that the future of video games is digital, and the Nintendo 3DS has one of the best collections of downloadable titles available. Whether you’re interested in newer games like Pushmo and Shovel Knight or classics like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Mega Man 2, you’ll find loads of great games to play on the Nintendo eShop. To download them, you’ll want plenty of eShop credit so your account never runs dry. Stock up on eShop credit here.