The 3DS has had a long and winding history. Over the years it has developed a strong collection of games for families, but which version of the hardware is the best fit these days?
Family Gamer TV works with a range of different families of varying shapes and sizes. They all play 3DS games regularly, but also all do this in different ways and with different versions of the handheld.
Making the right choice about buying a 3DS comes down to understanding how you use the hardware. Some play more at home than on the go, while others love popping theirs in a pocket when they go to town for street passing. Then there are those who are all about multiplayer games with other family members. Here's some suggestions for each handheld:
Nintendo 2DS is ideal for younger players, both as an entry point to the world of 3DS games as well as a more robust unit that will best stand up to drops and spills. The lack of 3D also makes it super simple to setup for the youngest games in the home, with no need to lock the feature off.
The position of the controls higher up the unit can also work better for smaller hands. Also, not having 3D means the battery life is slightly longer.
The original 3DS is still a great family handheld for Nintendo games. Although harder to track down in this form it can be worth finding second hand at a lower price. Of note, the speakers on the original 3DS are to our ears much better and a little louder than newer versions.
The original 3DS XL offers a strong redesign of the original 3DS format with larger screens ideal for playing games in a family where other people want to watch the action from a wider angle. It's worth noting that although the screens are big, the positions of the buttons still suit most sizes of hands.
Lacking in the 2DS and original 3DS and 3DS XL is the NFC feature that works with amiibo cards and figurines. While some have used this as an excuse to upgrade to a New 3DS or New 3DS XL, I'd still suggest that buying the additional NFC adaptor for your existing handheld is a better way to go.
The New 3DS has a bunch of enhancements over the older versions. Firstly it has more horsepower for better visuals on certain games (although not faster loading speeds in our experience). It also has an additional analogue stick for certain games, as well as more trigger buttons.
More impressive though is the super-stable 3D on both the New 3DS and New 3DS XL. This tracks the player's face to keep the 3D effect locked in and viewing experience easier. It's easy to underestimate how much of a difference this makes.
Battery life is similar with the New 3DS. Although there are more power saving features and auto screen brightness, these are offset by the extra power needed to use the stable 3D feature — as it has an infra-red light to power.
One feature unique to the New Nintendo 3DS is the cover plates. Again, it's easy to see these as a gimmick. However, kids and collectors have really got into cover plates. The variety of skins on offer along with the matching on-screen themes can make it feel like you have a new console with each new addition.
As you can let us know in the comments, everyone has a different system of choice. For families, our advice is to consider all the options in full before making that all important Christmas purchase. Oh, and if you don't have one already, make sure you purchase a charger too - most of the systems mentioned don't ship with one.