So You Want To Buy a 3DS? (Holiday Purchase Guide)

So you want to buy a Nintendo 3DS? Nintendo has a strong reputation even among people unfamiliar with gaming. They have hit some road bumps in recent years with their consoles. However, no one can argue against the fact that they dominate the handheld gaming market and have done so for 25 years. The 3DS looks to continue this trend. The hardware does not make the purchase worth enough alone. What games should you buy? Are there any good accessories worth their price?
Those of us here at Geeks Under Grace will help you familiarize yourself with the system, games, and accessories before you have to put your precious dollars on the line.
3DS XL
But first, what is the 3DS? I recommend watching the video at the top of the page to get a basic idea of how the system works. The 3DS is a handheld gaming system that is uniquely equipped with two screens; the tried and true visual setup that made the original DS so different. The bottom screen is sensitive to touch. Nintendo recommends the use of a stylus (included) on the touch screen to get the best control on what happens in your games.
“Games look better than ever on the two screens of the Nintendo 3DS family of systems. On the Nintendo 3DS XL (XL being a larger version of the first 3DS released), a widescreen display on the top screen shows 800×240 pixel resolution, allocating 400 pixels for each eye to create the 3D effect. The bottom LCD touch screen operates at a resolution of 320×240—with both screens capable of displaying a brilliant 16.77 million colors. The Nintendo 2DS offers a widescreen display on the top screen, showing 400×240 resolution, while the bottom touch screen operates at a resolution of 320×240.”
Wait! 2DS? Let me clear up some confusion. The 3DS itself gets its name from the 3D effect that the top screen can display. In an effort to create a quality visual effect, it costs money. The standard 3DS XL has a MSRP of $199.99. For some families this can stretch the budget thin. Nintendo, not wanting to leave anyone out, released a smaller, more affordable version for those that can do without the 3D effect. Enter the 2DS at a MSRP of $129.99. Both versions are capable of playing the same games and share nearly identical features, with the main difference being size and 3D.
2DS
Already an owner of the original DS? “Almost all existing Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi games can be played on the Nintendo 3DS family of systems in 2D. With backwards compatibility, your existing portable games look and play just as well. If you’ve downloaded Nintendo DSiWare games and applications on your Nintendo DSi system, you can easily transfer most of those games to any system in the Nintendo 3DS family. You can also transfer downloaded software, sounds, and images between systems in the Nintendo 3DS family.” If you’ve never owned an original DS, this feature alone opens you up to so many great games of the past 10 years.
The 3DS marks the addition of an analog pad for the first time ever on a Nintendo handheld. I would say a large downside to the 3DS is that there is only one analog pad when nearly all other gaming systems have had two analog sticks for more than a decade. Fortunately, there is a nice fix located in the accessories section of this list for those that are interested.
Online play is free. However, most games require that two players trade “Friend Codes” to play together on the same game. A Friend Code is a unique identifier for each 3DS that allows the player (or the players’ parents) to only allow multiplayer to occur with other players that you have expressly permitted into your game. The use of Friend Codes can feel awkward at first, but are great parental control tools.
Other notable features include the use of SD Memory Cards to expand the amount of digital games, applications, and save data that can be contained on your device. A 3D camera is built into the system as well. The camera is used both for certain games as well as simply taking 3D pictures of the world around you.
Enough about the hardware. I want content!

7 Must Play Games for All Ages

Bravely Default

[amazon template=add to cart&asin=B00GV4V8XC]

 Bravely Default

Read our review HERE
“Dark times have befallen the land of Luxendarc, and its fate is in the hands of Tiz Arrior and his three comrades. Mold them into heroes as you take a fantastic journey in Square Enix’s highly acclaimed RPG for the Nintendo 3DS system. Bravely Default offers turn-based battles with a twist. You’ll find a wealth of traditional moves and abilities at your disposal, and also innovative game play mechanics—like the Brave, Default, and Bravely Second commands—that enhance battles in new ways.” (1)
On a purely personal note, this game is the main reason why I purchased a 3DS and I cannot give it a high-enough recommendation. It is easily my 2014 3DS Game of the Year.
There is much to enjoy here. Whether you are a veteran RPG fan who is looking for a challenge or a someone new to the genre that wants to ease their way in, Bravely Default offers players the ability to customize the difficulty at almost anytime during gameplay. Fans of the older Final Fantasy games will find things that a familiar and yet the entire game feels fresh.

 

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

[amazon template=add to cart&asin=B009B1D7JK]

 MH3U

“Discover the epic world of Monster Hunter as you journey through more than 200 exhilarating quests, battle larger-than-life monsters and create hundreds of weapons and armor.”
“Don’t hunt alone! Hunt with your two AI companions in single player quests or team up with up to 3 players via local connection. A fully customizable touch screen allows you to personalize your hunting experience and local Nintendo 3DS search feature allows you to find other hunters near you location. Nintendo StreetPass™ functionality gives you the ability to share you guild card with fellow hunters.” (2)
The Monster Hunter series was hard before it was cool. That being said, its difficulty should not scare off anyone interested in this great Action game series. Starting out on Sony systems, the games on the 3DS have helped bring new players to fight monsters that veterans have taken down years ago.
The single-player campaign is great to get acquainted with the game, learn to fight the major monsters, and craft some decent equipment. Once that is done, online multiplayer awaits for even further challenge and rewards. The community of Hunters have always been friendly and willing to team up with proven warriors and newbies alike.
The sequel, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, is coming out in 2015, so now is a perfect time to grab this game at a great price a get into the Monster Hunter universe.
 

Fantasy Life

[amazon template=add to cart&asin=B00KWIYPZG]

 Fantasy Life

“In the world of Reveria, you get to choose from 12 different jobs, called Life Classes. Each Life helps shape your adventure with its own set of quests and skills, so you’ll want to try a few—or try them all. Since you can easily switch Life Classes during the game, the possibilities are endless.” (3)
Everything that developer Level 5 touches turns to gold.
Fantasy Life is a game that mixes elements of casual games like Animal Crossing with class systems seen in many MMORPGs. Mine ore, pound that ore into weapons, and use those weapons to slay some beasts. Every job has its place in this world. The best part is, the player is not limited to only one or two. Every job or “Life” is accessible at any point of the game.

 

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

[amazon template=add to cart&asin=B00GANWVJE]

 Link Between Worlds

“Return to the world of the Super NES™ classic The Legend of Zelda™: A Link to the Past™ for a brand new story that bursts to life in glorious 3D. Another dimension means new opportunities for puzzle solving and exploration. Launch yourself between dungeon levels and stay ahead of shifting platforms.”
“The classic top-down Hyrule from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past gets a 3D makeover that turns treetops into a lush forest canopy and dungeons into ominous, multi-level mazes. The 3D is more than just a cool effect. It gives you a sense of your position relative to flying enemies and a greater awareness of dangerous ledges.”
“Hyrule is only the beginning. The kingdom also has a dark side—a parallel world known as Lorule that has its own princess and its own troubles. It doesn’t have its own Link to save it, however. That’s up to you.”
“Link’s most powerful tool in this 3D adventure is the ability to go 2D at critical moments. It adds a new dimension to the tricky dungeon puzzles that have been the hallmark of the series. Nowhere to stand? Just jump into the wall as a living painting and scoot around the corner to a safe ledge. Careful though—you can’t hang out on the wall as long as you’d like.” (4)

 

Super Smash Bros. 3DS

[amazon template=add to cart&asin=B00DD0B1R0]

 SSB

Read our review HERE.
The epitome of mash-up returns for another round. Super Smash Bros. is a series that is deep enough to be used in professional gaming, yet easy enough to get into for a newbie to enjoy. Play as 50+ of your favorite Nintendo characters and fight against your friends. From instantly recognizable characters like Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, and Star Fox to more obscure characters like Shulk from Xenoblade or Lucina from Fire Emblem: Awakening.
The franchise speaks for itself. Chances are if you have been in the proximity of a Nintendo console in the past 15 years, you have at least seen some of this series being played. The biggest change in this iteration is that it is the first on a handheld gaming system.
 

The Pokemon Series

[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00K848IH0,B00KI2OZ9M,B0053B5RGI,B0053B66KE]

 Pokemon

 
Read our review of Pokemon HERE.
You can’t go wrong with any of the Pokemon games. Each release in the main series has at least 2 (and sometimes 3) versions differentiated by colors, gems, or minerals. You will see these versions often referred to in pairs or groups according to their position in the series. For instance, the fifth installment in the series is referred to as Black/White or Generation 5. Taking that example, Pokemon Black and Pokemon White are fundamentally the same game with variations in the type of Pokemon availble among other small changes. The different versions of each release are used to encourage playing with a friend to obtain all available Pokemon.
The 3DS is capable of playing more than half of the main series games thanks to backward compatibility with the original DS.The most recent, notable Pokemon games are the remakes of Generation 3, Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby. These games include nearly all of the changes brought to the series by last year’s Pokemon X and Pokemon Y. The first official Pokemon titles to hit the 3DS, Pokemon X and Y introduced the biggest changes to the series in years, namely mega evolutions and a new type of Pokemon: the Fairy type.
 

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

[amazon template=add to cart&asin=B0053BCML6]

 Animal Crossing

 
“There are no points or levels, just an amazing array of sights and sounds, places and activities…all yours to explore. Spend your time passing new ordinances—or going fishing. Hang out at a coffee shop or visit a tropical island. It’s all up to you.”
“Your game is what you make it—and personalizing your world is part of the fun. Create cool patterns for clothing or furniture, build new structures in your town, design gardens and museum displays, and so much more.”
“Time passes in the world of Animal Crossing just as it does in real life. Celebrate holidays and see the seasons change. Meet new visitors or get gifts from your neighbors. There’s always something special to look forward to.” (5)
 

Bonus Game Especially For Kids (But You Might Enjoy Too)

Disney Magical World

[amazon template=add to cart&asin=B00HWMP0OU]

 Disney

 
“In Disney Magical World, you can create a new life filled with fun and adventure. Get to know more than 60 beloved Disney characters, from Aladdin to Mickey Mouse, Cinderella to Winnie the Pooh, and so many more.”
“Dance the night away at Cinderella’s Castle. Go fishing with Donald Duck. Battle ghosts with your magic wand. There are so many ways to have fun, your only problem might be choosing where to start!”
“As you build a life in Disney Magical World, new areas will start to open up. You never know what you might discover!” (6)

Bonus Game Only For Adults

Shin Megami Tensei IV

[amazon template=add to cart&asin=B00C1ZBFTW]

 SMT4

Content Warning: This games deals heavily in the battle of demons and other supernatural powers. There are some scantily-clad demons within the game as well. This game is definitely not for children.
That aside, Shin Megami Tensei IV is a solid RPG that in many ways is a throwback to older RPGs from the 90s. This is the series that inspired the Pokemon games. Nearly all of the foes you will face in this game are capable of being persuaded to join your team. Instead of “evolving” your team members like in Pokemon, you will fuse two or more demons together to make stronger party members.
The combat is turn-based and incredibly strategic. Even a normal encounter in early dungeons can wipe your entire party clean if you do not pay attention to the fight at hand.
If you are able to overlook the content in the warning above, Shin Megami Tensei IV is a solid game with nice mechanics and an interesting story.

Games Coming Soon That You Should Pre-order

Story of Seasons

[amazon template=add to cart&asin=B00KM66UFQ]

 Story of Seasons

Story of Seasons is the next game in the Harvest Moon series. For those unfamiliar with the series, Harvest Moon is about planting and harvesting crops as well as getting married and starting a family. How can something that sounds so mundane on paper be so entertaining? FInd out when Story of Seasons releases on February 10, 2015.

 

Persona Q

[amazon template=add to cart&asin=B00KVRK3EU]

 Persona Q

Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth brings together the characters from both Persona 3 and Persona 4 for a dungeon-crawling adventure. Imagine Unchained Blades or Etrian Odyssey mechanics modified with the Persona style. Look for this crossover game when it comes out just in time for the holidays on November 25, 2014.

 

Useful Accessories

 

Circle Pad Pro XL

Circle Pad Pro XL

“The Nintendo 3DS XL Circle Pad Pro is a comfortable cradle that holds the Nintendo 3DS XL system while adding an analog Circle Pad on the system’s right side. The attachment also adds additional shoulder buttons to give it a feel more akin to traditional console controllers. It is designed as an optional accessory and is compatible with select titles, including Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Resident Evil Revelations, Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance], Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, and Kid Icarus: Uprising. Note: The Nintendo 3DS XL Circle Pad Pro is not compatible with the Nintendo 3DS or 2DS. Nintendo 3DS XL system sold separately.”
You can find this being sold by third-party merchants on Amazon, however, your best chance at avoiding mark-up and only paying the MSRP of $19.99 is buying HERE from Nintendo.com

 

dreamGEAR Nintendo 3DS XL Comfort Grip

[amazon template=add to cart&asin=B008XHCLFO]

dreamGEAR 3DS XL

“The dreamGEAR Nintendo 3DS XL Comfort Grip will provide an easy and inexpensive solution to extend your playtime by adding great comfort for your hands. The ergonomically designed silicone cover will eliminate cramping hands and fingers and add grip to your device. Our Comfort Grip features cutouts for all ports, sliders and the camera and therefore will not interfere with any features of the 3DS XL you love. The cover slips on and off with ease and, while on the device, can help protect the platform from scratches and damage caused by small drops. With the dreamGEAR Nintendo 3DS XL Comfort Grip you will play comfortably!”
Accessory can be found HERE.
Thank you for checking out Geeks Under Grace and our purchasing guide for the Nintendo 3DS. We have other purchasing guides as well and you can check them all out HERE.

 

(1) Bravely Default
(2) Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
(3) Fantasy Life
(4) The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
(5) Animal Crossing: New Leaf
(6) Disney Magical World

 

*All pictures are from their official sources (i.e. Nintendo, Square-Enix, Capcom, Level 5, XSeed, Atlus, and Disney)

Thomas Martin

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