Why You Should Buy a 3DS in 2015

Even the smallest console can change the course of the future.

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Join in us over the next few days as we look at all of the leading games consoles and platforms out right now and try to convince you why you should spend your hard-earned cash. Today we're looking at the 3DS, with Alexa Ray Corriea taking the lead on why you need the system in 2015.

The Nintendo 3DS has transcended its humble beginnings, coming a long way since its quiet launch in early 2011. Now, nearly four years later, the 3DS library has become impressively varied, offering a hearty bang for your buck in terms of content. A handful of available titles, including Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, have sold upwards of two million copies each--and that's only in the games' first few months on the market. And with a dozen more first-party games coming this year alongside a brand new version of the hardware, it's difficult to ignore what this little machine has to offer.

The Library

In 2014, the Nintendo 3DS boasted three titles crossing the one million copies sold mark: Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, Pokemon Omega Ruby, Pokemon Alpha Sapphire. These games came out in October and November, respectively, and still managed to swarm the charts within weeks of being released. They stand alongside seven other titles that have sold more than one million on Nintendo's latest handheld, including two The Legend of Zelda titles (Ocarina of Time 3D and A Link Between Worlds), four games in the Mario franchise (Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land, New Super Mario Bros. 2, and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon), and Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the most recent and arguably definitive version of the life simulation series.

These 10 titles are just the cream of the crop, the games all your friends are playing and have become the must-haves for the system. 2013 saw the addition of a new Ace Attorney title, a new Fire Emblem and the first 3D Pokemon RPGs as well, and 2014 quickly raced to top the previous year's additions to the catalog.

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The year kicked off with Bravely Default, a new Square Enix role-playing game that has reinvigorated the JRPG genre and was GameSpot's own top 3DS game of 2014. 3DS owners got Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy along with coveted crossover title Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney. Beloved Nintendo mascots Yoshi and Kirby got new games in the form of Yoshi's New Island and Kirby: Triple Deluxe. Mario Golf: World Tour satisfied our itch for another Mario Golf game.

Tomodachi Life, Nintendo's own Mii-driven life simulation game, and Fantasy Life, Level-5's fantasy simulation-RPG blend, both launched to much love from the 3DS community. These two games, along with Animal Crossing, making the 3DS the ideal platform into which you can build and escape to your dream world. Additionally, Square Enix released the definitive version of its celebratory Final Fantasy rhythm game, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call.

Fall 2014 packed on the heavy-hitters, with Super Smash Bros. for 3DS launching in early October. Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire launched in November. A handful of other titles in much-loved series also launched in fall, including Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Pokemon Art Academy, and Harvest Moon 3D: The Lost Valley.

And this was just in 2014. You've got everything from creature-training role-playing games to hardcore dungeon crawlers, brawlers, and some classic old-fashion good times with Mario and the gang. Nintendo's dedication to the 3DS is evident in the content launching for it.

Upcoming Games

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Right off the bat, Nintendo is launching another 3D remake of a beloved Zelda game, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D. Majora's Mask will be the first game to take advantage of the brand new, upgraded Nintendo 3DS hardware...but more on that later.

Following up fast is Capcom's Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, the definitive version of Monster Hunter 4. Later this spring 3DS owners will also get to enjoy Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., a turn-based strategy game from the team behind the Fire Emblem series, and a port of beloved Wii RPG Xenoblade Chronicles. A new Fire Emblem is also on the way at an unannounced date, along with free-to-play Pokemon Shuffle and a Super Mario-themed version of Puzzle and Dragons Z. Also coming exclusively to the 3DS are Xseed Games' Harvest Moon spin-off Story of Seasons and Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX starring the titular virtual pop star.

Japan has already announced territory release dates for Bravely Second, the sequel to Bravely Default, and Final Fantasy Explorers, a Monster Hunter-like RPG that focuses on mastering job classes. It's unclear whether we'll be getting Dragon Quest VII, Dragon Quest X or Theatrhythm Dragon Quest on 3DS in the West just yet, but we're looking forward to the 3DS version of Atlus' Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 - Record Breaker Hopefully we'll see these and more coming stateside as North America's appetite for 3DS games steadily grows.

Nintendo appears to be treating 2015 the same way it treated 2014, spacing out anticipated releases over the course of the year. And not only are they offering something new and tasty every few weeks, but the promise is there of more juicy games to come later this year. 3DS owners can expected to be given new things all the way through until Christmas, and being able to count on steady content makes the platform irresistible.

Hardware

There are a few options for those looking to purchase a Nintendo 3DS. There's the 2DS, the tablet-like model with no 3D capabilities that forgoes the clamshell design. The 2DS currently sports a bunch of different color models at $129.99 each.

The regular 3DS, based on the model launched in 2011, which you can get for as low as $100 at retailers like GameStop. The XL versions are a little more common, ranging from single-colored to themed patterns for $199.99.

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Also priced at $199.99? The New Nintendo 3DS XL, which launches in North America on Feb. 13. This new model is a more refined version of the hardware with sharper graphics and supports the NFC capability necessary to use Amiibos with the system. The New 3DS is currently up for pre-order across several retailers, but you may find difficulty finding one as they're gobbled up. You could also try you hand in getting one for $100 at GameStop by trading in your older 3DS.

Certain upcoming games take advantage of this updated hardware. Majora's Mask 3D can be played on both the old and new models but looks sharper on the new model, and the 3DS port of Xenoblade Chronicles can only be played on the new model.

If you haven't purchased a 3DS yet, the new model is the best option for you as more and more games are tailored to the updated system. Or, if you already own one, you should consider an upgrade. Nintendo is investing big time in its handheld hardware, throwing a lot of energy and resources behind tweaking its power. Nintendo is adamant in letting you know that it cares about you, the player, getting the best experiences you can, and this enthusiasm and promise makes the 3DS an attractive purchase consideration.

Other Stuff

Players are still using StreetPass. StreetPass is Nintendo's way of making online connectivity fun, of bringing players closer together and into the same virtual world. On top of StreetPass you have the increasing popularity of online functionality in Nintendo's games. You can craft your Mii likeness in Super Smash Bros. and send it to fight against your friends' Miis. You can buy, sell, and trade Pokemon with a worldwide network of trainers. And you can visit your friends in their virtual worlds, peeking into their lovingly-built fantasy lives and learning a little bit more about them in the process.

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Cross-buy between the Wii U and 3DS will also launch this year. On March 5, players can get Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars for both systems for just $20. Nintendo has suggested that this is an experiment, not a fully-implement feature just yet, but it's still a big step for Nintendo.

But the most intriguing thing? Those Amiibos, man. With Amiibo capability coming to the 3DS as well, there are a dozen (more like two or three dozen) more reasons to stock up on those figurines. We don't know exactly how they will work yet, but consumers have already shown enough interest in the current run to safely say their popularity with continue. People are climbing over themselves and spending large sums of money to get the more rare figures, making Amiibo collection a sort of meta-game. Having the Amiibo also compatible with 3DS makes buying more of them a little more reasonable, as you can now use them with two consoles.

The Nintendo 3DS is the best handheld on the market right out--mobile phones be damned--and offers experiences deep enough and numerous enough to justify a treat-yourself New Year's purchase.

Check out our rundowns of the other platforms in 2015.

Alexa Ray Corriea on Google+

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