I like the DS Lite the best because the game library is amazing and it has backwards compatibility with GBA games. I also love the GBA SP.
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It's between the DS Lite and DSi XL, despite never owning the latter. The former can play GBA games and the latter has great screen size, which is honestly one of the harder things for me to use about the DS Lite and original nowadays.
3DS would be up there for DS compatibility, but I absolutely hate the black borders while playing DS games on it.
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Despite many a memory with the Gameboy Pocket, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance and DS Lite, I'd have to give in to the latency effect and say that the 3DS XL is the best Nintendo handheld ever.
I think the formula for the success has a lot of key components that meld together nicely. The compact shell design is a smart move, making a return from the DS, as is the bottom touch screen and stylus. The variety of colors once again, makes things feel personalized - important for a handheld game system. Nice big screen, booming speakers, 3D slider - go a long way in enhancing the gaming experience.
Then you've got the system software. Core focus is on games, and fun and useful features. There are LOTS of things you can do right on the home menu - take 3D pictures, browse the web, make Miis, go for walks and rack up PlayCoins, go to the eShop, read QR codes, draw and write stuff in swapnote, post in a forum with people playing the same games as you in Miiverse....etc, etc. There's lots to do, but notice that ads don't constantly blare and you and tell you to try this new game or spend $5 for this piece of DLC on your main menu. It's just your programs and features and games. This is how a game system SHOULD be.
You can try demos of games, download VC games, download downloadable games... And sure releases might be slow and the eShop organization might leave a lot to be desired, but it's still a nice offering.
And then there's the good games! Need I say more?
I don't think any other Nintendo handheld really compares. And a few years down the road, who knows? Maybe you'll be able to own your entire GB, GBC, GBA and DS game collection on the 3DS as well? Not likely, but you know what I mean.
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I vote for the GBA such a great Nintendo handheld. But the DS is almost the best selling Videogame device ever. So DS has to take it. Just for the sheer amount sold 153.98 sold just behind the Playstation 2. 155 million. The DS is still on the market in 2014 not bad since in debuted in 2004.
Nintendo has been the king of handhelds since 1989-2014 the 3DS is at 36 million and continues to sell quite well.
GBA SP is my favorite. But DS is the best Nintendo portable system