Kotaku Gift Guides: For The Gamer On The Move

Kotaku Gift Guides: For The Gamer On The Move
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Some sort of handheld device for gaming is a great gift. Firstly, because handheld devices aren’t as ubiquitous among gamers. Most of us are playing on various different home consoles or PC — not all of us have a PlayStation Vita or a 3DS.

Secondly, they tend to be a little cheaper than your fully fledged home console, particularly a couple of years into their lifespan which is, coincidentally, usually the best time to buy a handheld — after the dust has settled and a fairly decent library has been established.

Another coincidence. That’s exactly the situation both the 3DS and the PlayStation Vita are in at the moment. Yay!

She Needs Premium Dude! PREMIUM!

New Nintendo 3DS XL
I’m going to come right out and say it: the 3DS is super great and if you have money to burn, the New Nintendo 3DS XL is the handheld I’d recommend. It has a phenomenal library packed with a number of established classics such as Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7 and the best Zelda game in a decade A Link Between Worlds.

And don’t forget my own personal game of 2013 Luigi’s Mansion 2.

There are a ton of different 3DS models and choosing the right one can be difficult. In general I recommend you go for the XL version if possible. The original 3DS XL is a good choice, particularly if you can get it cheap — but if money isn’t an issue go with the New Nintendo 3DS XL. You’ll regret getting the smaller version in the long run. I literally cannot go back to my old 3DS after upgrading the XL.

The ‘In Case You Missed It’ Machine

ps vita 2020 ps5

PlayStation Vita
I’ve spent way more time with my Vita than I ever expected. Why? It’s the indie games. It’s those indie games that I missed out on when they were first released on PC/Console. Eventually they make their way to the PS Vita and I fall in love with them. Some of these games, I’d argue find their natural home on the Vita. That’s why this handheld is completely unmissable. Complete classics like Hotline Miami and Fez — I played those on the Vita and they felt more at home there than they did on my larger screen.

Here’s the thing: the PS Vita is a luxury. Not that it’s expensive necessarily, more that it’s not a console you necessarily need, more like a console you indulge yourself with. That’s what makes it such a great gift choice for someone else in your life.

Surprise! iPads Are Great For Gaming

iPad Mini 3
Alright hear me out here. It might sound silly to recommend an iPad Mini on a site specifically for people who play video games, but it’s getting to the stage (I think) where the iPad is actually one of the best handheld consoles out there. When I think about games I’ve enjoyed this year, a massive amount of them were on iPad. A huge number of these games were also premium experiences: Monument Valley, Framed — games like this are as good as anything I’ve played on the PS Vita or 3DS.

I think an argument could be made that the iPad, sorta like the PS Vita, is a bit of a luxury. Most iOS games can be played on an iPhone if you have one, but the iPad screen is just so glorious and some of these high end games look spectacular on an iPad. I started playing Framed on the office iPad. When I made the switch to my mobile phone I swear I could hear the sound of a balloon deflating.

And — again — indulgences make for the best gifts.


  • Vita’s also becoming quite the platform for niche JRPG’s, much like the PSP. Pleases me no end.

    EDIT: Also, the new 3DS is pretty spiffy. Well pleased with mine.

    *stares longingly at my lone Pikachu Amiibo, patiently awaiting NFC functionality*

      • Depends on you, really.

        The new one has the extra ZL/ZR buttons and C-stick, so it’s basically just a CPP built into the device, like it always should have been. It’s convenient – but depends whether you use CPP enabled titles like MH3U, or RE:Revelations, etc.

        It’s a little faster than the old model, but really only evident when multitasking – like hitting home and closing applications, or going in an out of stuff like Notifications. Again, just more convenient.

        The biggest thing it has that the old model don’t is NFC functionality for your Amiibos, but it doesn’t work at present – apparently coming early 2015.

        Personally I find the unit to feel higher quality than the XL, which I never liked – but I’m a minority there, I’m pretty sure. The XL always felt cheap and nasty compared to the original – this feels like a nicer, higher quality build again.

        • The XL always felt cheap and nasty compared to the original – this feels like a nicer, higher quality build again.Yeah, you’re a weirdo 😛 XL was the best feeling piece of hardware Nintendo had put out since the original DS. Everything in the meantime all felt so cheap and awful in comparison, while those two seemed nice and sturdy (and also had awesome d-pads).

          Really wanna get a hold of one of the (small) new units to test out. Or hell, even an XL that isn’t wearing a gigantic metal brace.

          • Hahaha, I’ve discussed it an length with many parties, and I’m aware I’m a minority. I won’t do the tirade/rant again as to why I thought it was better. Regardless the New 3DSes are awesome!

          • Dot points? 😛 I am interested what makes you think the vanilla was better. I did like the design of it a whole lot more (visually), but didn’t think it was at all comfortable to use. Plus the d-pad was horrible.

            Were you a fan of the Lite, by any chance? I hated that too 😛

          • – First of all, the colors. The 3DS had these vibrant, awesome colors – glossy finish, metal flecked – they were really pretty. Even the black was nice to look at. But the XLs all had the same matte black chassis with colored backs and lids. The Australian selection was just awful. We had the dull red and blue, I think? Apart from a couple of the LE XLs, of course. The stock XLs were sinfully ugly in comparison to the 3DS. Overseas had a lot more XL variety – but that’s typical, we always miss out.

            -The XL interior was the same ugly, matte black as the chassis – whereas the 3DS was colored and glossy.

            -The 3DS chassis components were all fitted (is that the right word?) Sharp edges, screws holding it all together – it just felt tight and solid in my hand. The 3DS lids had a bit of flap on them for the most part, but mine was OK. The XL’s chassis was all rounded edges, which was obviously to assist with the fact most of it was held together by plastic clips. I had said clips come undone once or twice on my XL. While not a big deal – it didn’t break or do it frequently, it’s not a real assuring thing to happen with my brand-spankin’ new Nintendo console.

            I own a launch Ambassador US 3DS (Black), a JP 3DS (Red), a US XL (Red) and an AU New 3DS XL (That charcoal grey/black color, forget it’s name) so I’ve spent some time with them. The XL just always felt substandard in almost every way – except for that big screen of course, that’s impossible to argue with.

            I distinctly remember paying $350 (?) when I was in Japan for my launch 3DS – which I think was about standard in AU as well – and the ensuing complaints it was too expensive. I don’t agree, but I know a lot who thought that way. So the XL dropped, what, 12-18 months after the 3DS? They had to drop the cost down to $250 to make it more affordable, AND fit the new bigger XL screen in. Compared to the 3DS, the only way they were going to manage that is to cut manufacturing costs. I just think those cost cuts made the entire unit feel cheap and nasty.

            EDIT: Fuck. That came off as ranty. Oh well. You asked! lol

          • Hey, I can appreciate a good rant.

            The 3DS did have some pretty good colours. I wish I could have picked up a red unit. And holy crap that purple unit the US got! Pure sex. Would have absolutely loved if we could have got the orange one like you saw in the prototype range… though that said, the blue one? Horrible. Partly with the silver strip at the back, but mostly that awful aqua colour that the bottom “layer” was, that looked horrendous. I was leaning towards the blue one right up until we got hands-on time with them, and once I saw it the decision for a black one was instantaneous. They did look great though, there was a lot of consideration put into their design, and all sorts of subtle cool points about them. And can agree that the XLs were more boring and basic in comparison.

            I didn’t have a problem with the XL colours though. I’m a big fan of red and black, so that one did me fine. And I hate gloss, just gets covered with fingerprints and shows off any scratches really easily and also reflects light, so that big inside panel around the top screen was annoying as all hell in a room with lots of lights. So I was ecstatic to have a nice return to the glory of matte 😛

            I think the pack panel was one of the main negatives on the XL, the way the sides easily unclipped. It wasn’t a big deal or anything, but it still kind of bothered me. Made it feel a little cheap and unsturdy. But curves are great! They’re so comfortable to hold in your hand! The sharp edges of the vanilla (and particularly those little “feet” on the bottom corners) were pretty painful after a while.

            I know I thought the 3DS was too expensive at launch. It was going to be the first Nintendo release (not counting revisions) that I skipped, but that Dick Smith deal for $300 lured me back in.

          • Not to mention that at launch the 3DS came in Aqua Blue, or what I’m pretty sure is teal. COOLEST. COLOUR. EVER.

          • I’ve got two XLs and them both to feel cheap and flimsy. Especially the piece of plastic on the bottom, mine feels like a good twist in the right direction would snap the back of the case off. The volume knob is in an utterly stupid position, right by the padding on my hand between the base of my thumb and index finger and I’m constantly bumping it which is amazingly frustrating.

          • Haha, I’m still totally perplexed as to how you manage to hit the volume slider. Do you operate the L button with the first joint of your index finger? That’s the only way I can seem to make it happen.

          • Heh, I still haven’t gotten around to applying the screen protectors I got Stickman (hey what happened to that guy…) to grab for me ages ago, so still haven’t used any stylus-based games since getting the system. Although I’m pretty sure the only one I’ve bought since then is Rhythm Thief, anyway. Funny, now that I look at the titles on my shelf it seems like there isn’t all that much in the way of stylus-based games at all. Feels like there would have been more on the DS.

            Anyway yeah I still think you’re weird 😛

          • @mrtaco: the bulk of stylus-oriented games are also music games (eg Thearthythm) and that makes it doubly annoying to accidentally hit the volume knob. It’s just too loose, I think. I don’t understand why they made it a knob and not a pair of digital buttons like the Vita.

          • Because digital volume buttons are stupid and I hate them. Really annoyed me on the Micro.

            Sliders forever! Although I kinda miss knobs. It was a little easier to make microadjustments to them.

        • Thanks. For me it doesn’t seem like there’s much point in upgrading yet. I only played MH3 on my wii u and I’ve already played through resident evil with my CPP. Might just wait and see if anything exclusive to the “new” model gets released that I’m in to.

      • Right now it’s very close to the 3DS XL. The C-Nub means a built in Circle Pad Pro which is awesome, but not that many games really took advantage of the Circle Pad Pro to begin with and even new games won’t until at least the North American release of the New 3DS. If you plan to get one in the future there’s not much point in waiting, but you really won’t see many benefits to having a New 3DS XL over a 3DS XL right now unless you play a lot of Monster Hunter 3.
        It’s mostly little things that make it better. The new head tracking for instance makes the 3D work really, really well. I’ve gone from always off to always on.

      • the new console will be getting more exclusive titles announced for it’s possible everyone will have to upgrade to it at some point by the look of things

  • With the 3DS I can’t stress it enough but make sure you’re buying the right version. Stores are selling the 3DS for only a little less than the New 3DS. It looks like you’re getting a good deal but you’re buying the version that’s in the process of being made obsolete and will surely see a major price drop (if not total discontinue) in the near future.
    A good way to know is ask if there’s a charger included. If there’s no charger in the box it’s the New 3DS. If there is a charger it’s the 3DS (aka the ‘old’ 3DS). Yeah, you read that right, the better version doesn’t come with a charger. It’s nice that Nintendo finally made it possible to get a 3DS charger without buying an entire 3DS, and it’s nice that my old 3DS charger works with it, but it sucks for anyone who isn’t upgrading. I foresee a lot of really annoyed parents running around on boxing day looking for chargers so the New 3DS system they brought their kids is more than just a coloured lump of plastic.

    • The packaging is pretty much the other sure-fire way of telling the difference, particularly on how slimmed down the boxes for both the New 3DS and New 3DS XL are compared to their older cousins. It’s particularly easy when looking at the New 3DS packaging, with it’s colourful box and prominent “Replaceable cover plates” blurb on the front.
      I do wonder if retail staff have been clued in about the whole “charger not being included in the new models” thing (particularly if it’s not a specialist game store), and it also makes me wonder how many customers will heed the advice to buy a charger (if they haven’t already got one)…

      • Yeah, if you’ve got the packaging in front of you it’s not as big a problem. Although I think going in blind it’d still be a little hard to tell that the new slimmer boxes were seriously different and not just another minor XL or 2DS style variant. I know this thing inside out and even I think at a glance the New 3DS XL looks like a 3DS with a different colour scheme and a shiny coat of paint.

        I’m guessing in stores and places like JB HiFi they would have been told to mention the charger. I’d be surprised if an EB employee were allowed to sell you a 3DS without trying to sell you a charger to go with it. It’s one of those situations where doing the responsible thing happens to be profitable.
        Like you say though not all stores that sell New 3DSs are specialist stores. My mum would probably go to K-Mart to get gaming stuff. My nan would definitely go to Big W. My sister would most likely end up at The Good Guys near her if she didn’t hunt for the absolute cheapest place online. My dad would probably just keep putting off going to the shops until Christmas morning when they’re all shut. =P I’m not trying to badmouth employees at those stores but since they don’t specialise in games I wouldn’t expect them to know that much about the hardware.

  • Mmmm… Vita is my jam. My 2DS is for the odd game that I want to play on that platform like Bravely Default or Fire Emblem Awakening. In general though, my three Vitas are used in constant rotation with a 32GB card in two of them and a 16GB in the other. One is my US account Vita and the other two are my EU/AU account Vitas. Mark is right – Vita is pure indulgence 🙂

    • Why different accounts? (US,EU,AU)

      Price difference? Does the AU store have less games? Is it not worth getting a Vita that’s AU store only?

      • NO region swapping (no easy region swapping anyway) means having a few Vita’s isnt as bad (unless you are a trophy hunter)

        I love my vita far too much… I need a new one, this one is too scratched and battered

        • Hell, I barely even buy games for my Vita – between PS+ and cross-buy games from PS3/PS4, I’ve built up a pretty good collection just from that. I’ve bought a few as well (Persona 4 is unmissable, obviously, and I have an Everybody’s Golf habit that needs feeding). But if you already have a PS3 and/or PS4 and you also have a PS+ subscription, the Vita just about pays for itself.

          • Agreed. The bonus being that a lot of indie PS4 games are also released on Vita so with cross-buy you get to enjoy a Vita version without having to use remote play.

          • In some cases the Vita versions are better than the PS4 versions or are just suited to the Vita screen

            However, I am the opposite of you guys, I buy heaps of games on the vita + the cross buys + the PS+ stuff

            Oh, and I have a Vita TV for games that i wanna play on the couch on a big screen with surround sound – stuff like Kickbeat I hated on Vita, but all of a sudden on VitaTV I find myself playing it heaps and enjoying it

            AS for Miku… I am waiting to buy a cart as soon as I see one available in stores

        • Another reason why I got a couple of them for my main account is that I’m worried that Miku will result in rapidly deteriorating face buttons and d-pad.

      • US store has some more games available – specifically I got that Vita plus a US account to download the digital version of Monster Monpiece, which Idea Factory (probably wisely) didn’t even bother submitting for classification in Australia. I had a JAP physical version of the game but I wanted to actually read the story and couldn’t find a translation or full long play on Youtube.

  • Definitely get the New Nintendo 3DS if you can afford it. Either XL or the normal size.

    Pluses of New 3DS: C-Stick, ZL & ZR Buttons, SNES coloured buttons, super stable 3D, increased processing power, cover plates, nice build quality.

    I went from a Pokemon XL down to a normal New 3DS and have had no trouble adjusting as the New 3DS has screens that are 20% larger than the 3DS. New 3DS XL is still larger of course (same size as original XL) but I find it is the perfect in-between.

    I wrote a review on the Polygon Forums, which you can find here:


    If you want a bit of an in depth look at the changes, have a look at it, if you want. There are pictures! It’s also 1500 words long. You have been warned.

    I hope that it helps.

  • Just to put out an alternative perspective, you should be aware that 3DS will be a terrible purchase if you’re not into Nintendo’s franchises. I still sometimes regret buying both of mine. I kind of expected more from third parties on it, but thus far the only really worthwhile third party game has been Bravely Default.

    There’s also so many things about that system that are incredibly stupidly compromised by the fact that Nintendo acts like they’re still stuck in the dialup era when it comes to internet functionality. Digital purchases are locked to your system, not your account details. Saves are encrypted to the system too. Their general game design can be frustratingly archaic too. Luigi’s Mansion 2 for example is an amazing game… unless you fuck up somewhere and die, because you’re going to do that entire level over from the beginning, losing everything including any collectibles you might have found along the way. Given how long the levels are it’s not particularly suited for playing in short bursts either. The fact they decided to region lock the system is icing on the cake, though it’s worked out well for them since I’ve had to buy two systems. :\

    Though to be fair, the Vita has the same problem in a lot of ways. Few games on it have really been designed to make use of its portability. I’ve just generally found that the system has far more games that I want to play (my library is about four times bigger on Vita than on 3DS), the hardware is generally better made and the system software is much cleaner and more functional. Especially if you also own a PS4, as it’s an excellent companion hardware piece.

    • I’m the opposite, I have about 10 games for my Vita and most of them aren’t worth playing or are remakes whereas I have around 40 3ds and regular ds games I’ve bought to use on my 3ds with probably half those being actual 3ds title. I use my 3ds WAAAAAAAAY more than I use my vita (haven’t turned it on in a long time). I agree on the points that nintendo have made some bad decisions with their internet and account stuff tough.

      • Yeah, in the end it comes down to the sort of games you enjoy playing. I had a very large DS library but I haven’t really spent much time with my 3DS, the games largely just haven’t been doing it for me.

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