Why The 3DS Has Become The Best Gaming Machine Out There

Why The 3DS Has Become The Best Gaming Machine Out There
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Two years ago, Nintendo was in trouble. The House of Mario had just released a brand new handheld system with impressive 3D graphics, but nobody seemed to care. Sales were sluggish and reception wasn’t great.

So they did something drastic: just six months after releasing the 3DS, Nintendo slashed the system’s price from $US250/$A350 to $US180/$A250, shocking the gaming world. “Nintendo is screwed!” people would shout. “It will never recover from this!”

Don’t look now, but it has recovered. And everything has changed for the Nintendo 3DS.

Over the past two years, Nintendo’s handheld has slowly morphed from national punchline to bona fide powerhouse. When it launched in March of 2011, the 3DS wasn’t very compelling: sure, it was a pretty machine, but who wanted to pay $US250/$A350 for a system that could play… what, Steel Diver? Two years later, buy the 3DS XL — an upgraded version of Nintendo’s glasses-free 3D machine — and you can play some really good games in some really good series, from Kingdom Hearts to Super Mario to Professor Layton. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can hop onto the digital store and access a lot of weird, unorthodox, completely fascinating games, like Pushmo and Crimson Shroud.

The 3DS’s library is getting stronger and stronger. Look at this morning’s Nintendo Direct presentation. Today we saw announcements of a great-looking new Mario & Luigi, a new Mario Golf, a Donkey Kong Country Returns remake, and a whole bunch of crazy downloadable games for the eShop, which is growing more and more impressive every month.

These announcements were packaged with new details and info on already-announced games like Luigi’s Mansion 2, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and DLC for the excellent Fire Emblem: Awakening, which came out last week. Unless you only play first-person shooters, you’ll probably find something appealing on Nintendo’s glasses-free 3D machine.

And we haven’t even gotten to the third-party stuff. The Atlus role-playing games Etrian Odyssey IV and Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers are both coming soon, as are new Castlevania and Monster Hunter games. (If Square Enix decides to listen to their fans and bring over the original RPG Bravely Default: Flying Fairy and the Dragon Quest VII remake, even better.)

Keep in mind, Nintendo hasn’t even visited two of its biggest franchises: Zelda and Metroid. Major new 3DS games starring Link and Samus — which, as anyone who follows Nintendo knows, are inevitable — would continue keeping us attached to the pocket-sized system.

The best video game systems are, quite simply, the systems that have the best games. In 2013, that’s the 3DS.

That’s a lot of name-dropping, but the point is this: the 3DS is impressive, and continues to get more and more impressive as Nintendo does more and more to support it. While it’s always fun to debate over console power and technical specs, the best video game systems are, quite simply, the systems that have the best games. In 2013, that’s the 3DS.

As Stephen Totilo has pointed out, the 3DS is worth getting just for Fire Emblem: Awakening, a wonderful game that is essentially chess on crack. But the 3DS is also worth getting because of what else is on there — Super Mario 3D Land is one of the best Mario games Nintendo has ever made, Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward was my favourite game of 2012, and Revelations might be the only Resident Evil game worth a damn since number four.

Three or four years ago, the best game system on the market wasn’t the Xbox or PlayStation: it was Nintendo’s DS. Filled with puzzlers, platformers, RPGs, adventure games, and tons of series from tons of different genres, the DS was cheaper, more accessible, and more interesting to me than any other system you could buy. Games were $US30-$US40, and developers seemed far more willing to experiment with crazy new ideas — like a Mario RPG in which you explore Bowser’s stomach, or a visual novel that requires you to hold your system sideways to play. Over the past nine or 10 years, I’ve bought more games for my DS than for any other system.

The 3DS has followed the same path, and now it’s booming. Sales are great — Nintendo says they’ve moved 30 million of the little buggers worldwide — and the machine has exceeded our expectations by a great deal.

Maybe it was the near-death experience that did it. Back in the summer of 2011, when the 3DS was tanking and nobody thought it could keep up in a world of iPhones and Androids, Nintendo kept up the effort and kept fighting with their backs against the wall. They wisely decided to stop selling the 3DS as a 3D machine — a smart move, because people don’t really care about 3D anymore — and instead reverted to the same approach that has worked for them for three decades now: making great games.

Seems simple, right? Gimmicks and specs are irrelevant: a system with great games is a great system. The 3DS has great games. And it’s a great system.

Picture: 55Laney69/Flickr


    • I don’t agree that it’s the best console ever, but it is one of the best.

      And it has a lot more than Nintendo only IPs as it’s good games. At least it has games though.

        • How? The 3DS is a DS with compatibility for more games.

          N64 has by far the best software and from a control and interface perspective the Wii U is the best.

          • Inferior hardware. The buttons and body aren’t anywhere near as nice as the DS Phat. Although the 3XL comes close. But yeah, DS has an incredible library.

            Imo GCN > N64 though.

          • I don’t think it’s right to lump portables in with home consoles. Two completely different markets.
            For home consoles it would have to be
            N64>SNES>Wii U>GC>WII>NES
            Portables would have to be

          • I agree, it is unfair to group it with home consoles, ultimately they strive for similar goals as consoles but have different hurdles (such as the obvious portability), but at the same time it is inevitable because when you purchase a console you need to consider the alternatives, and a lot of people can’t just get both, so comparing them serves a purpose.

            that being said I love my 3DS, I’m just waiting to get more games for it, recently I looked at getting a PS Vita but it’s release line up looks so bare, and the 3DSs looks so… bountiful.

          • The DS was a very comfy console, way more than the 3DS. But the 3DS has a better library.

            N64 had Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie and Tooie. Your argument is invalid.

          • GCN had Wind Waker, the Pikmin games, the Metroid Prime games, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat and Resident Evil 4. Counter-invalid!

          • I already addressed that in my post though. Yes it can play DS games, but it’s still a physically inferior unit to play them on. The buttons are and the unit entirely uncomfortable in comparison to the Phat.

            I honestly still carry around my Phat whenever I want to play one of my DS games, even if I’m already carting around the 3DS for StreetPasses.

          • Yep I’d agree GCN > N64 when it comes to game libraries. Nintendo actually lost a lot of third party support with the N64.

          • DS lite has compatability with Advance games, it’s own library far exceeds the 3DS. It was more innovative at release than the 3DS. I just think overall it is my favourite console now. (used to be SNES) πŸ™‚

          • Of course the DS Phat and Lite would have more playable games on them, they have access to two complete generations!!
            Innovation doesn’t make a console. Look at the PS2 or 360. No innovation in them at all but massively popular and have some great games. I have always believed software innovation is 10* more important than hardware innovation.
            Now if only Nintendo would realise that…

          • Of course, given time, the 3DS could beat it. If Ninty really put some work into the eShop and start putting SNES & Advance games in the virtual console range(A full library rather than the random stuff atm). πŸ™‚

          • Yeah I really don’t know what is going on with the 3DS VC. We should have all the NES and GB classics on their by now and be starting to get SNES and GBC games on their. GBA games I think will come near the end of it’s lifecycle.

          • I think they purposely roll them out from worst to best to encourage sales. Why would you buy the GB version when you could have the SNES version?
            Just wich they’d hurry the fuck up.

        • Dreamcast is still the best!
          DS is arguably the best portable console, but given my 3DSxl is just an updated version, i can see 3DS being the best portable.

  • nobody seemed to care. Sales were sluggish and reception wasn’t great….Don’t look now, but it has recovered. And everything has changed for the Nintendo 3DS.
    …Vita anyone?

    • I’d be a bit miffed if they cut the Vita price by $100 a year after launch. Unless they give me some kind of free stuff to compensate. I still reckon Vita is coming good. I haven’t got the buyers remorse, or even the post purchase rationalisation happening.

      • I hope they don’t cut the price, but I’d be OK with it if it meant a lot more sales. That is if they somehow compensate existing Vita owners such as myself. Also, I bought mine on day 2 of release, not. one. regret.

        • Yes, they had the Ambassador Program, it came with quite a few NES, GB and GBA games…
          I can’t remember them all, but it wasn’t bad for a free gift πŸ˜€

  • All of the games, except for two, mentioned in the article are sequels. As good as the system is I would like to play a new game.

    • I’ve never understood this whole “It’s a sequel, therefore not original” mindset some people have.

      I mean, Super Mario 64 was a sequel technically, right? But it still did something completely new for not only the Mario series, but for the platformer genre as a whole.

      A game being a sequel does not make it incapable of innovation.

        • Its funny that you say pokemon as a sequel, because untill BW/BW2 there was never a true sequel.
          And the jump in BW to BW2 was rather well done, sure no real changes, but the story continued nicely IMO

      • Depends which way they’re going with it. If they’re referring to them in the sense that they’re basically rehashes of the last game, then it’s fair enough. Not so much if they’re seeing things with the same titles/adding numbers and automatically dismissing them based on that.

        • Judging on the game, not dismissing because it is a sequel. I understand the business behind selling existing IP or tie ins with tv or movies it just gets frustrating.

  • Makes me wonder what Sony will do for the Vita to improve sales.

    And while it’s not selling badly, what Nintendo will do with the Wii U now that they seem to be almost in the same position as the 3DS was around this time after release.

  • That’s stupid logic, 3ds is the best gaming machine because it has the best games. No that’s not how it works, the vita is a far superior game machine in every single aspect no amount of games changes that. ( I own both)

    Now where you to say best complete game package or something along those lines i could agree, but to state in the title its the best “machine” is flat out wrong. Sure its nitpicking but im sick of false kotaku titles.

    • A gaming machine is worthless if there are only lackluster games to play on it. The Vita is definitely technologically superior, but the technology comes second to the software. Software makes or breaks a console.

    • It’s not “best machine”, it’s “best gaming machine”. Without games, a console is worthless – and it’s widely accepted that the 3DS’ game library is better than PS Vita’s.

      • But the ps2 was, the xbox was superior in technology it had online and the better controller. The Ps2 as a machine was inferior. In terms of overall package it delivered because of its games however it was the better choice as a package.

        Look at it this way, if the all those 3ds games were on both the vita and the 3ds then no one would want them on the 3ds, which was all i was trying to say.

        Because its specs are weaker, its missing a thumb stick its online pales compared to the vita and the 3d is a mere gimmick in most instances, it is the inferior gaming device in that respect. Even if it has better games at the moment (Though the only games worth playing for myself aren’t out yet for either system).

        All of this is why i said its not really correct to call it the best gaming machine, rather best gaming package or something to that effect.

        • Just because a console is more powerful doesn’t mean its “The best console” by that logic Atari Jaguar would have been the best console during the mid 90’s and look what happened to that.

          Games DO matter for the console otherwise its nothing more than an expensive paperweight.

          • whooosh reading comprehension please. The vita is aesthitically pleasing, its got more grunt, has better menu and online shop and better controls. It is 100% the superior game machine compared to the 3DS, period.

  • If they could improve the dust-collecting capabilities, I’d buy a second one. At the moment, it doesn’t gather dust beyond it’s own dimensions.

  • I wouldn’t call it the best, but it’s pretty damn good.
    Will be better when we get
    – Fire Emblem: Awakening
    – Bravely Default: Flying Fairy
    – Monster Hunter 3 and 4

    I’m probably forgetting some others… but they’re the main ones i want.

    edit: POKEMON! how could i forget -_-

    • I’m not a Sony fan, but I hope so too. The Vita is an excellent piece of hardware, a little pricey but excellent. It just needs it’s ‘must-have’ game and needs to find an audience other than the ‘portable PS3’ market. Sony has a great back catalog from the PS1 and PS2 eras which they haven’t even tapped into yet.
      Imagine the original Crash and Spyro games on the Vita. I would buy the Vita just for them.

      • Big selection of PSone titles available for Vita right now. Decent selection of PSP titles too. Dunno how PS2 emulation would go…

        • was gonna say- I have crash bandicoot on my Psp which I bought through the Ps store ( as well as fear effect and eventually Legend Of Dragoon :). )

      • Sony just made to many mistakes with the Vita such as marketing, pricing, proprietary memory and games. I agree with what some fans of the Vita are saying, if The Vita just had some decent games it would be the far superior handheld. Unless wthe barren wasteland that is Vita games changes I can’t see it ever challenging the 3DS. I feel the 3DS is Nintendo’s weakest handheld they have every made and much like Sony made a bunch of mistakes with it (like 3d…) however they got the games and that is really all that matters in the end.

        also my console grades
        N64>SNES>NES>GC>Wii U>WII>


        Hopefully for Vita fans and those on the fence about purchasing one, the system really takes off with some solid games. The Vita has a ton of portential imo.

    • Who knows. . . I’m assuming Sony is hoping for a spike in sales come late February in Japan (coinciding with the Vita release of PSO2) which could lead to a resurgence if the rumour that Capcom is making a Monster Hunter game for the Vita is true. If the console gains some momentum in Japan, it’ll lead to more Japanese developers taking the risk to make games on it, which in turn leads to more games on the platform.

      • All we need in the West is more localisations, we miss too much. Also, why don’t all the western developers give it a go? SO few Western handheld games by comparison.

        Where’d you hear the MH rumour? As far as I know they’re still working on 4, which atm is a 3DS exclusive.

        • There was a rumour recently that the reason Monster Hunter 4 was delayed was because Capcom were working on a PS Vita version. Now I’m not sure if the rumour is true or not, or even whether they’re making a straight port of MH4 to Vita or maybe making MHF4? Regardless, I would not be surprised to see a MH game grace Sony’s handheld. . .

  • It’s pretty nice but I don’t have much use for a handheld console now, so it gets dusted off when some game I want comes out, I play it to death, then throw it back in the corner waiting for the next game.

  • I’m at the point where I would take a 3DS if one was given to me, and the device itself is alright. I just can’t bring myself to pay full RRP for portable games when I could pay the same for something on my Xbox instead. It’s not like I’m actually going to use this thing on the train anyway.

      • I’m aware of that, but those are games I either have no interest in, or do not want to pay full price for. I just feel that portable games lack in quality and longevity compared to home console versions. Whether or not I’m wrong is academic, it’s just how I feel.

        Pokemon is a good exception, but that itself has become such a complex JRPG juggernaut since the last version I really felt at home with (the original iteration of Silver) that I feel like I couldn’t properly commit to it.

        • Unless you specifically mean multiplayer, I actually find it to be the reverse of this, these days especially, consoles have all those expensive pretty 6 hour jaunts, portables have massive libraries of RPGS and games with replay value you don’t find as often in games trying to be ‘cinematic experiences.’ Anecdotally, I’m still collecting all the star thingys in Super Mario 3D land, while often picking up tactics ogre on PSP for a map or two, meanwhile my partner is slowly chipping away at the various endings of Virtue’s Last Reward, and I’m pretty sure my mate has actually melded with his Vita via Person 4 Golden.

      • On the rare occasions I game while commuting to work, I am generally satisfied with iOS offerings. I might be tempted by a 3DS if I didn’t have a smartphone.

  • I only picked my 3DS up when it was on sale in November, and I couldn’t be happier with it. The only time I spend gaming away from my pc nowadays is on my 3DS. And with Fire Emblem that has just come out recently (yet to go get it), and the new Pokemon coming out later this year, I think that is more than enough to tide me over for console/handheld gaming πŸ™‚

  • No mention about the best feature about the macine: STREETPASS

    This feature alone has spawned thousand of social gettogethers all over the globe where you can get bucketloads of streetpass data and also play multiplayer games with others there.
    I attend the one in Brisbane regularly which has been really successful for the last 18 months, you can find them on Facebook

  • 3DS might be the one of the best portable console out there, but Nintendo Australia is probably the worst retailer/publisher/1st party company in this nation.

    Exorbitant price mark up (love that Nintendo shop price), slow updates, bad Nintendo club reward, and many unreleased titles (Where is Code Princess 3DS? Harvest Moon a New Beginning? Megami Tensei Overclocked?)

    Also knowing 3DS is region locked… it’s damn confusing to not be able to play some of the titles : [
    My Wii U and 3DS XL pretty much deserted… Wii U probably the only last console I purchased from Nintendo Australia.

  • What the 3DS really needs even though I’m not a fan of them is a First Person Shooter.

    I don’t think there are any on there at the moment which is surprising considering how many the DS had like Metroid Prime: Hunters, Dementium, and various Call of Duty games with Black Ops being the best one, sure the 3DS is backward compatible but it can’t make use of the 3DS features like Gyro aiming as we saw in Resident Evil: Revelations, or Streetpass or Circle Pad Pro functionality.

    Get a great FPS on the system and that’ll really drive up sales Nintendo.

    • Dude, high five! So rare to find another Dementium fan. I was so hanging out for the second one too, disappointed it never arose. You didn’t list Moon though? Definitely recommended if you liked Dementium. It’s more of a shooter than the more horror-skewed stylings of that though.

      And agreed on the FPS thing. I thought playing Hunters on the DS with the thumbstrap was incredible, and couldn’t wait to get more FPS action. But it never came for some reason :/

  • Nintendo know how to make good games and exclusives, that’s why the Wii was not as powerful as the Xbox or PS3 but still sold HEAPS! same goes for 3DS…

  • Great console, but Nintendo is not doing well.

    Go to here:


    Look at the chart over the history. Nintendo is in massive trouble, It has retained zero growth from the wii craze and continues to plummet. Sometimes you need to look further than the shelf before making comments like that.

  • I love my 3DS XL.

    Held off, and eventually picked up the Pikachu LE from the UK for $250AU.

    Got Street Fighter 4 and Mario Tennis Open. Mario Tennis is amazing. Can’t wait for Golf.

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