The Nintendo 3DS family has dominated the handheld console space since it launched in 2011. With glasses-free 3D in most models, 3DS has a huge library of games including Pokémon Sun and Moon, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Mario Kart 7, Yokai Watch, and many others. 3DS family has also sold 60 million consoles worldwide, way ahead of its portable rival the PlayStation Vita.
If you’re looking for a handheld console, 3DS or 2DS is therefore an easy choice. But as for which specific model to buy? That’s a much more difficult question!
There are five main versions of the 3DS and 2DS. Here’s a timeline of all the models versions that have been released in the UK (not including colour options or limited editions).
|Model||Screen size||3D||System power||Controls||Custom face plates?||Main selling point|
|New 3DS||3.88” (upper)
|Enhanced with face-tracking||Enhanced||Extra C-stick and shoulder buttons||Yes||Faster, better 3D, custom face plates|
|New 3DS XL||4.88” (upper)
|Enhanced with face-tracking||Enhanced||Extra C-stick and shoulder buttons||No||Bigger screen, faster, better 3D|
|New 2DS XL||4.88” (upper)
|No||Enhanced||Extra C-stick and shoulder buttons||No||Cheaper, faster, no 3D (suitable for under 7s)|
|None||Standard||Standard||No||Cheaper, no 3D (suitable for under 7s)|
|3DS (original)||3.53” (upper)
|3DS XL||4.88” (upper)
The original 2DS, 3DS and 3DS XL have been superseded by the New 2DS XL, New 3DS and New 3DS XL. The New 2DS XL also remains current as the only system in the family designed for under-7s. Here’s what you should know about the most current system line-up.
If you want the most portable (i.e. smallest), up-to-date version of the 3DS, New 3DS is the one to go for. New 3DS offers:
If you prefer a bigger screen and you aren’t bothered about customising your console with face plates, New 3DS XL may be your best bet. It also has:
Exclusive games: New 3DS (and New 3DS XL) also has some exclusive games, although not many. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D and Runbow will only play on ‘New’ systems. Many SNES Virtual Console games will also only play on New 3DS and New 3DS XL.
One of the great drawbacks of the original 2DS was its slate form factor, which some felt made it difficult to hold for extended periods and left the screens exposed at all times. The New 2DS XL introduces the iconic clamshell design that's been common in Nintendo's handhelds for years in order to keep the screens scratch-free and make the unit more comfortable to play on.
As the name suggests, the New 2DS XL once again lacks 3D capability, which makes it cheaper and suitable for children under 7.
If you’re buying a handheld console for a small child, or just want the cheapest version available, the New 2DS XL is the best current option.
Each 3DS and 2DS version has also offered a range of colour options. There are too many to list here, but colour options available in the UK in 2016 included:
Finally, the 3DS family is made even more diverse by the huge number of special edition consoles that have been released.
Special edition consoles available in 2016 included:
Over 40 different limited edition 3DS and 2DS systems have been released, many of which were only available in Japan and most of which sold out long ago.
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