The 3DS has plenty of swagger.

After a slow start, Nintendo’s portable console has had its share of great years since it launched in 2011. 2013, for example, gave us notable 3DS games like Fire Emblem Awakening, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, and Pokémon X and Y. However, 2014 was even better for the system, at least when it comes to software.

We already graded the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U. Now, it’s time for us to pull out our red pens and tackle the 3DS.


The 3DS has had a steady stream of great games for a few years now, so it might be easy to think of its 2014 as more of the same. Yet when you look at the list of notable releases for the system, you’ll really get an idea of just how many exclusives the 3DS this year.

Obviously, you have notable first-party games in that list, including Yoshi’s New Island, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, and Super Smash Bros. However, 2014 was really a great year for role-playing games on the 3DS. Square Enix gave us Bravely Default early in the year, and Atlus gave Nintendo its first entry in the popular Persona series, Persona Q. Plus, Nintendo released new Pokémon games, which is its premier RPG franchise. OK, they were remakes of older games in the series, but still.

Super Smash Bros. on the 3DS is an awesome portable version of the fighting game franchise.

Above: Super Smash Bros. on the 3DS is an awesome portable version of the fighting game franchise.

Image Credit: Nintendo

We gave nine of the games above a score of 80 or better. That whole list really only have one notable stinker, Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal, which has an abysmal Metacritic score of 42. Of course, Sonic’s record has been spotty for years, so this isn’t a huge shocker.

The 3DS also got some great digital games via the eShop, including Azure Striker: Gunvolt and Shovel Knight.

Grade: A

While it doesn’t get the benefit of multiplatform releases like the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, the 3DS had one of the strongest gaming libraries of the year.

Features and support

The 3DS received several system updates throughout 2014, most of them focusing on stability and slight adjustments to the user experience. Nintendo did add at least one new feature via the introduction of themes, which change the design and sounds of the 3DS home screen. That’s not exactly an incredibly innovative addition, but it certainly adds a nice level of customization to the system.

Grade: C

Nintendo gives the 3DS plenty of support, although the portable didn’t see any major new features this year.

The Persona Q 3DS is pretty snazzy.

Above: The Persona Q 3DS is pretty snazzy.

Image Credit: GameStop

Incentives and prices

The 3DS currently comes in a standard version, an extra-large portable called the 3DS XL, and a cheaper alternative that ditches the 3D capability called the 2DS.

The 3DS XL costs $200, but it also comes in bundles with games like Super Smash Bros. and Persona Q. Those packages also include unique art on the handhelds themselves, and they also cost just $200.

The 2DS costs $130 and comes with Mario Kart 7. A regular 3DS costs $170.

Of course, a new 3DS (actually called the New Nintendo 3DS) will come out in the U.S. next year. It adds an extra analog stick, two additional shoulder buttons, and other new features. It also comes in a regular and XL version. We don’t know exactly when its coming, but it’s already out in Japan. You might want to consider waiting for the new model instead of buying a 3DS this year.

Grade: A

Nintendo gives consumers a lot of options when it comes to buying a 3DS, and each one is reasonably priced for what it offers. The 3DS XL bundles are an especially nice value, even with the specter of the future New 3DS hanging in the air.

Kirby has never sucked better.

Above: Kirby has never sucked better than he did on the 3DS in 2014.

Image Credit: Nintendo


The 3DS is going strong. Great software make it a constant companion for any gamer who loves Nintendo or RPGs. Sure, it might not have some of the fancy features of a new console, but the 3DS is a wonderful portable machine that never tries to hide the fact that it’s all about games.

Overall grade: B+