The Nintendo 3DS family of systems has been a boon to families for years. They are sturdy, compact handheld gaming systems with a huge library of cool games. Unfortunately, the way that Nintendo handled the naming, and the branding of the console as they have iterated on it over the years has created a very confusing environment for parents. Below is a low-down on the available systems in the family and our recommendations regarding them.
“New” Nintendo 3DS XL
This is a redesign of the Nintendo 3DS XL hardware with a more powerful processor in it. This allows it to play a handful of “New” 3DS only games (like Minecraft). This is a great handheld for families that want to use the #D function in the games that include it.
Most of the special edition 3DS consoles that are released at this point are this model. So, if you buy one of those, then this is what you are getting.
“New” Nintendo 3DS
This is a smaller edition of the “New” 3DS. They have the improved internal tech that is built into the XL, but in a smaller package. The biggest difference between the two systems (aside from size) is that the standard addition uses
“New” Nintendo 2DS XL
This is the newest iteration of the console. It has the same screen size as the 3DS XL models, but it eschews the 3D feature much like the standard 2DS models.
Some might consider that to be a downside, but it really doesn’t make much of a difference. Most 3DS games made at this point don’t really use the 3D features on the handheld at all, and even when they do the feature is not required for gameplay.
This was the original release of the handheld and is nearly impossible to find. I would not recommend getting this version of the console unless it is being handed down from someone you trust. It has likely been around since around the console’s launch and might have some damage.
With that said if the handheld you are being offered is in good condition it will still work. I just recommend being cautious.
Nintendo 3DS XL
This is the original large model of the 3DS. These are still available, and are relatively inexpensive, but I find it hard to recommend this model. Its underpowered compared to its cost. If you are looking for a 3DS option that will be gentler on your wallet, then I would recommend the “New” Nintendo 2DS XL instead.
The Nintendo 2DS was a brilliant redesign on Nintendo’s part. They removed the standard clamshell design in favor of a flat device that looks like a cross between a tablet and a Game Boy. Removing the hinge did away
with one of the console’s biggest weaknesses as they are relatively fragile. It did some with a downside though.
The clamshell design protected the consoles dual screens from scratches.
Another significant difference is the removal of the 3D features. This is important for some parents who have concerns about their young children’s vision. It also helps Nintendo reduce the cost of the system.
This was my favorite iteration of the handheld for a very long time until the “New” Nintendo 3DS XL was released. I love the button placement and the durability. It is still readily available in a bundle that includes Mario Kart 7.
A PSA About Special Editions
There are a whole bunch of Special Editions available built for different 3DS games. They are beautiful machines, but it is important to note that they don’t include a copy of the game.
Make sure to check back out all of our other 2017 Holiday gift guides!