Handheld gaming has been an important “side business” for video game developers since the days of the original Game Boy. Nintendo gave birth to real handheld gaming in 1989; Sega, Atari, Neo Geo, and Sony would all eventually follow suit. While systems like the Game Gear and PSP were formidable, Nintendo has always crushed its competition, with the Game Boy and its descendants laying waste to all other handhelds.
Nintendo’s current handheld the 3DS (3DS XL and 2DS) has continued the Big N’s dominance in the handheld market. While Nintendo now competes with the iPhone and Android phones; 3DS is still the leader in dedicated handheld gaming machines. This particular has shipped over 40 million units worldwide since its launch in 2011 and has continued to offer excellent content that covers a wide range of genres and playstyles.
I’m going to put the 3DS up against systems like PS4 and Xbox One. Why? You may ask. That’s because 3DS offers more of a pure gaming experience than any of the other major consoles. The 3DS has it all: Action, Adventure, RPG, Strategy, Independent, DLC, and Sports (yes sports)! Since 2012 the 3DS has been my go-to console. That may sound strange, because I’m normally a strict home console player. My 3DS case is bulging with games, and I often find myself chomping away at a great platformer or JRPG on my lunch breaks. It may not have the best graphics or processing power but it offers up what all gamers want, games.
I bought a PS4 in March of 2014 salivating over the idea of having a brand-new console with oodles of games to play, bright new graphics, and new life into home consoles. I don’t regret purchasing a PS4, but shortly after I set the new, big, black box up I had played Killzone (hated it) and Knack for about an hour each, and found myself bored. I turned back to my 3DS, sunk another three hours into Bravely Default, and found myself much more satisfied.
Why was my attention taken away from the PS4 and ensnared by the 3DS? What makes this console so appealing? The games. Gaming should be all about the games. It sometimes gets too bogged down with graphics, processing power, and physics. What makes a game and console great are the experiences we as gamers have while playing them. My favorite game of 2014 thus far has been Bravely Default, a handheld game I easily threw 80 hours into. That’s 80 hours on a tiny handheld screen! The games on 3DS feel like they’re more intimate, smaller, and ultimately more fun.
That’s how the 3DS snuck up on me. Many gamers wrote it off as another, albeit excellent, handheld that they would take with them on trips, or play in bed for a little while before sleep. The 3DS has changed that. I remember looking at my Amazon wishlist and seeing 3DS game after 3DS game, with very few PS4 and WiiU games off in the distance. Then it hit me, this is my most used “current gen” console. It does that, with $40 games and hours of great gameplay.
For any gamer it is a necessary purchase. This wonderful clamshell is durable, and offers so many deep gaming experiences, that it should always be in your pocket or bag. I hear mine now, begging me to beat that next stage in Kirby or play just one more battle in Pokemon X & Y. It’s a brilliant device, and Nintendo has proven once again that it’s not about power, but about fun. Great software and fun ultimately have made the 3DS the best console on the market. Seriously, go get one.