The Nintendo 3DS doesn’t often pop into mind when people discuss the greatest game consoles of all time, and that’s a bit of a shame. What might be Nintendo’s last dedicated handheld gaming device delivered a beautiful assortment of games. From remastered console classics to new installments in familiar franchises and even fresh originals, the 3DS had it all.
Even though the platform has largely been abandoned by Nintendo in favor of the Nintendo Switch, it still has a lot to offer to gamers. Here’s everything you need to know about the Nintendo 3DS.
The Nintendo 3DS first launched in Japan on February 26, 2011. The 3DS was then launched in western regions between March 25-31, 2011.
As with past Nintendo handhelds, there were multiple versions of the Nintendo 3DS. The original 3DS XL came out just a year later, first launching in Japan and Europe on July 28, 2012 before arriving in North America and Australia the following August.
From there, the Nintendo 3DS was replaced with the New Nintendo 3DS, which had a number of new features. The New Nintendo 3DS had increased RAM, a better processor, two more shoulder buttons, a right analog nub, an improved 3D display, and a slightly different design.
The release of the New Nintendo 3DS was somewhat strange. The normal New 3DS originally launched in Japan on October 11, 2014, with a staggered release in 2014 and 2015 for Europe and Australia. North America didn’t receive a New 3DS release until the XL version launched in February 2015, which was followed by a standard-sized release in September.
Alongside the Nintendo 3DS was the more durable Nintendo 2DS, which could play 3DS games but didn’t have 3D support. The original 2DS, which lacked the 3DS’ famous clamshell design, launched in North America, Europe, and Australia on October 12, 2013, but it didn’t arrive in Japan until February 27, 2016. The New Nintendo 2DS had a clamshell design and launched first in Australia on June 15, 2017, then in other regions the following July.
The last game to be released on Nintendo 3DS will be Andro Dunos 2, an arcade shooter that is getting a limited physical release in 2022.
The 3DS was officially discontinued on September 16, 2020, but a number of digital-only releases have come out since then. Many of these releases only released in certain regions, with Europe and North America still receiving games on the 3DS to this day.
The last major releases for the Nintendo 3DS were Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn, which came out in all regions in March 2019. Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth first came out on November 29, 2018 in Japan but then arrived in the west on June 4, 2019, which technically makes it the last major 3DS release in the west.
Animal Crossing is arguably the biggest breakout success in video games in recent years. Though the franchise has existed since 2001 with its first release on the Nintendo Gamecube, Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the Nintendo Switch saw Animal Crossing go from being a cult favorite to being a big part of gaming pop culture.
A large part of Animal Crossing: New Horizon’s success was thanks to the gameplay developments that came through Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the Nintendo 3DS. Animal Crossing: Wild World brought the series to mobile devices and established it as an online multiplayer title, but Animal Crossing: New Leaf refined the formula to what fans know today.
While New Leaf didn’t quite hit the same heights of popularity that New Horizons did, it’s still a critical installment in the franchise. Fans of Animal Crossing can still get a lot from New Leaf today.
The Nintendo 3DS was discontinued in September 2020, but video game retailers that sell used hardware still sell Nintendo 3DS games and units. The availability of specific 3DS models will vary between locations, and prices also vary depending on the color and condition of the units.
The cheapest in most locations for those looking to relive some of the 3DS’s best games is picking up a used Nintendo 2DS, which can currently be had for $90 from Gamestop. Beyond that, different versions of the 3DS or New Nintendo 3DS can run up to $150.