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Nintendo 3DS

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Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo 3DS XL
An Aqua Blue Nintendo 3DS in the open position.
Also known as 3DS, 3DS XL (abbreviation)
Developer Nintendo RED
Manufacturer Nintendo, Foxconn
Product family Nintendo 3DS family
Type Handheld game console
Generation Eighth generation
Release date Nintendo 3DS: Nintendo 3DS XL:
  • JP July 28, 2012
  • NA August 19, 2012
  • EU July 28, 2012
  • AUS August 23, 2012
Retail availability 2011 (2011)—present
Introductory price Nintendo 3DS:
Nintendo 3DS XL: ¥18,900/US$199/AU$349
Units shipped Worldwide: 45.42 million
(as of September 30, 2014)[5]
Operating system Nintendo 3DS OS
CPU Dual-Core ARM11 MPCore, single-core ARM9
Memory 128 MB FCRAM, 6 MB VRAM
Storage 1 GB internal flash memory
Removable storage Included 2 GB SD card (3DS)
Included 4 GB SDHC card (3DS XL)
Cartridge save
Graphics DMP PICA200 GPU
Sound Stereo speakers (pseudo-surround), microphone
Input A/B/X/Y buttons, Circle Pad, L/R bumpers, D-pad, 3D depth slider, volume slider, wireless switch, power button
Camera One user-facing and two forward-facing VGA cameras
Connectivity 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Infrared
Online services
Best-selling game Pokémon X and Y, 12 million units
(as of April 7, 2014)[6]
Nintendo DS/DSi, Virtual Console
Predecessor Nintendo DS family, Virtual Boy
Successor Nintendo 2DS (concurrent)
New Nintendo 3DS (XL) (concurrent)
Related articles Famicom 3D System
Virtual Boy
Website /

The Nintendo 3DS (Japanese: ニンテンドー3DS Hepburn: Nintendō Surī Dī Esu, abbreviated to 3DS) is a portable game console produced by Nintendo. It is capable of displaying stereoscopic 3D effects without the use of 3D glasses or additional accessories. Nintendo announced the device in March 2010 and officially unveiled it at E3 2010 on June 15, 2010.[7][8] The console succeeds the Nintendo DS, featuring backward compatibility with older Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi video games,[9] and competes with the Sony PlayStation Vita handheld console.[10] The handheld offers new features such as the StreetPass and SpotPass tag modes, powered by Nintendo Network; augmented reality, using its 3D cameras; and Virtual Console, which allows owners to download and play games originally released on older video game systems. It is also pre-loaded with various applications including these: an online distribution store called Nintendo eShop, a social networking service called Miiverse; an Internet Browser; the Netflix, Hulu Plus and YouTube streaming video services; Nintendo Video; a messaging application called Swapnote (known as Nintendo Letter Box in Europe and Australia); and Mii Maker. The Nintendo 3DS was first released in Japan on February 26, 2011, and worldwide beginning in March 2011.[11][12] Less than six months later on July 28, 2011, Nintendo announced a significant price reduction from US$249 to US$169 amid disappointing launch sales.[13] The company offered ten free Nintendo Entertainment System games and ten free Game Boy Advance games from the Nintendo eShop to consumers who bought the system at the original launch price.[14] This strategy was considered a major success, and the console has gone on to become one of Nintendo's most successfully sold handheld consoles in the first two years of its release. As of September 30, 2014, all Nintendo 3DS models and 2DS models combined have sold 45.42 million units.[5] A larger model of the console, the Nintendo 3DS XL, was released in Japan and Europe on July 28, 2012, and worldwide beginning in August 2012. It features screens that are 90% larger than the original Nintendo 3DS.[15] An "entry-level" version of the console, the Nintendo 2DS, was released in North America, Europe and Australia on October 12, 2013. While still playing Nintendo 3DS and DS games, it removes the autostereoscopic (3D) functionality, and changes the form factor to a fixed, "slate" design.[16] On August 29, 2014, a new model featuring a more powerful CPU known as the New Nintendo 3DS was announced,[17] which was released in Japan on October 11, 2014 and in Australia and New Zealand on November 21, 2014. It contains various changes from the original Nintendo 3DS, the most notable addition being the inclusion of an analog stick on the right hand side of the handheld, referred to as the C-Stick, and additional ZL and ZR shoulder buttons.



Nintendo began experimenting with stereoscopic 3D video game technology in the 1980s. The Famicom 3D System, an accessory consisting of liquid crystal shutter glasses, was Nintendo's first product that enabled stereoscopic 3D effects. Although very few titles were released, Nintendo helped design one—called Famicom Grand Prix II: 3D Hot Rally—which was co-developed by Nintendo and HAL Laboratory and released in 1988. The Famicom 3D System failed to garner market interest and was never released outside of Japan.[18][19]

Despite the limited success, Nintendo would press ahead with 3D development into the 1990s. Gunpei Yokoi, creator of the Game Boy handheld device and popular Metroid video game, developed a new 3D device for Nintendo called the Virtual Boy. It was a portable table-top system consisting of goggles and a controller that used a spinning disc to achieve full stereoscopic monochrome 3D.[20] Released in 1995, Nintendo sold less than a million units of the Virtual Boy spawning only 22 compatible game titles, and was widely considered to be a commercial failure.[19][21] Shigeru Miyamoto, known for his work on popular game franchises such as Mario and The Legend of Zelda, commented in a 2011 interview that he felt conflicted about Yokoi's decision to use wire-frame models for 3D and suggested that the product may not have been marketed correctly.[19] The failure of the Virtual Boy left many at Nintendo doubting the viability of 3D gaming.[22] Despite this, Nintendo continued to investigate the incorporation of 3D technology into other products.

The Nintendo GameCube, released in 2001, was another 3D-capable system. With an LCD attachment, it could display true stereoscopic 3D, though only the launch title Luigi's Mansion was ever designed to utilize it. Due to the expensive nature surrounding the technology at the time, the GameCube's 3D functionality was never marketed to the public. Nintendo later experimented with a 3D LCD during development of the Game Boy Advance SP, but the idea was shelved after it failed to achieve satisfactory results. Another attempt was made in preparation for a virtual navigation guide to be used on the Nintendo DS at Shigureden, an interactive museum in Japan.[23][24] Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi encouraged additional 3D research in an effort to use the technology in the exhibition. Although the project fell short, Nintendo was able to collect valuable research on liquid crystal which would later aid in the development of the Nintendo 3DS.[19]


Speculation on the development of a successor to the Nintendo DS began to ramp up in late 2009. At the time, Nintendo controlled as much as 68.3 percent of the handheld gaming market.[25] In October 2009, tech tabloid Bright Side of News reported that Nvidia, a graphics processing unit (GPU) developer that recently made headway with its Tegra System-on-Chip processors, had been selected by Nintendo to develop hardware for their next generation portable game console.[26] Later that month, speaking about the future for Nintendo's portable consoles, company president Satoru Iwata mentioned that while mobile broadband connectivity via subscription "doesn't fit Nintendo customers", he was interested in exploring options like Amazon's Whispernet found on the Amazon Kindle which provides free wireless connectivity to its customers for the sole purpose of browsing and purchasing content from the Kindle Store.[27]

Nintendo has expressed interest in motion-sensing capabilities since the development of the original Nintendo DS,[28] and an alleged comment by Satoru Iwata from a 2010 interview with Asahi Shimbun implied that the successor to the Nintendo DS would incorporate a motion sensor. The claim led to a minor dispute between the publication and Nintendo over its accuracy.[29] In February 2010, video gaming website Computer and Video Games reported that a select "handful" of Japanese developers were in possession of software development kits for the Nintendo DS successor, with The Pokémon Company given special priority. According to their insider at an unspecified third-party development studio, the hardware features a "tilt" function that is similar to that of the iPhone, "but does a lot more".[30]


The Nintendo 3DS E3 2010 unveiling involved an elaborate stage with moving set pieces.

On March 23, 2010, Nintendo officially announced the Nintendo 3DS handheld console, successor to the Nintendo DS family.[9] According to industry analysts, the timing of Nintendo's original announcement, which had drawn attention away from the launch of the company's still-new Nintendo DSi XL handheld, was likely intended to preempt impending news leaks about the product by the Japanese press.[31] In April 2010, a picture of a possible development build of the internal components of the 3DS was released as part of a U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing by Mitsumi.[32] An analysis of the image showed that it was likely genuine as it featured components known to be used in the Nintendo DS line along with features of the 3DS that had not been announced like a 5:3 top screen, and a control nub similar to those used in Sony PSP systems.[33]

In June 2010, video gaming website IGN reported that according to "several developers who have experienced 3DS in its current form", the system possesses processing power that "far exceed[s] the Nintendo Wii" and with 3D shaders, they could make games that "look close to current generation visuals on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3". They also cited "several developer sources" as saying that the system does not use the Nvidia Tegra mobile chipset.[34] The system was officially revealed at Nintendo's conference at E3 2010 on June 15, 2010. The first game revealed was Kid Icarus: Uprising, with several other titles from third parties also announced, including Square Enix with Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy, Konami with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater 3D, Warner Bros. Interactive with a Batman title, Ubisoft with Assassin's Creed: Lost Legacy, Capcom with Resident Evil Revelations and Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, and Activision with DJ Hero. Other Nintendo titles were later revealed after the conference, such as Mario Kart 7, Animal Crossing, and remakes of Star Fox 64[35] and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.[36] Nintendo also demoed 3D trailers for DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon, Warner Bros' Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, and Disney's film Tangled on the 3DS.[37][38] The 3DS design shown at E3 was almost final, but subject to minor changes.[39]

On September 29, 2010, Nintendo of Japan announced the release date of the Nintendo 3DS in Japan to be on February 26, 2011. Furthermore, several additional features were announced: the inclusion of a Mii Maker (similar to the Mii Channel on the Wii), Virtual Console (including Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and "classic games" in 3D), a cradle for recharging the system's battery, multitasking, several included augmented reality games, an included 2 GB SD card, and stored game data, as well as the final names for the 3DS tag modes, StreetPass and SpotPass collectively. The colors available at launch were revealed to be Aqua Blue and Cosmos Black, and the launch price in Japan was revealed to be ¥25,000.[40] The final physical design was also revealed at this event.[41]

Pre-launch events

On January 19, 2011, Nintendo held two simultaneous press conferences in Amsterdam and New York City, where they revealed all of the features of the Nintendo 3DS.[42] In North America, the release date was confirmed as March 27, 2011 with a retail price of $249.99. In Europe, the release date was announced as March 25, 2011, though Nintendo said that pricing would be up to retailers. Most retailers have priced the handheld between £219.99 and £229.99,[43] though some retailers, such as Amazon, lowered the price following Sony's announcement of the PSP's successor on January 26, 2011,[44] with some retailers pricing the handheld at around £200 in February.[45]

In February 2011, Nintendo held four hands-on events in the UK named "Believe Your Eyes". February 5 and 6 saw simultaneous events in London and Manchester, while the 12th and 13th saw events in Glasgow and Bristol. Invitations to the events were offered first to Club Nintendo members, then later to members of the public via an online registration form.[46] Guests watched two brief performances and trailers, then were given time to play a selection of games on 3DS devices. Attendees were then allowed into a second room, containing further games to play (mainly augmented reality-based) and in-device videos.[47] In March, Nintendo held a few events in Australia at selected Westfield stores for people to try out the console, with a number of demos available.


The Nintendo 3DS launched in Japan on February 26, 2011, priced at ¥25,000. On March 25, 2011, the system launched in Europe, with pricing set by individual retailers. On March 27, 2011 the Nintendo 3DS launched in North America, priced at US$249.99. On March 31, 2011, the system launched in Australia and New Zealand, priced at A$349.95. The system originally launched in all regions in both Aqua Blue and Cosmos Black color variations. On July 28, 2011, Nintendo announced the Nintendo 3DS would be getting a price cut of almost a third of the console's original price, from $249.99 to $169.99 in North America, 25,000¥ to 15,000¥ in Japan, and $349.95 to $249.95 in Australia. Although in Europe, pricing is up to retailers, the system also received a substantial price cut.[48] In an effort to compensate those who had paid the original price, the company introduced the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program, through which existing 3DS owners were eligible (conditional that they must have accessed the Nintendo eShop at least once prior to August 21) to download ten Nintendo Entertainment System games and ten Game Boy Advance games at no extra cost.[49][50] Nintendo further stated that the NES Ambassador titles would see future release to the general public on the Nintendo eShop, while there were no plans to make the Game Boy Advance Ambassador titles available.[51] The ten NES games were released in North America on August 31 and in Europe on September 1, 2011. These include:Balloon Fight, Donkey Kong Jr., Ice Climber, Metroid, NES Open Tournament Golf, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Wrecking Crew, Yoshi (North America) / Mario & Yoshi (Europe & Australia) and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.[52][53] The ten Game Boy Advance games were released in North America on December 16, 2011. These include: F-Zero: Maximum Velocity, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, Kirby & The Amazing Mirror, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Mario vs. Donkey Kong, Metroid Fusion, Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi's Island, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Wario Land 4 and WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames! [54] On April 28, 2012, the Nintendo 3DS launched in South Korea, in Cosmos Black, Misty Pink and Cobalt Blue color variations.[55] On September 28, 2012, the system launched in two other regions, Hong Kong and Taiwan, in Cerulean Blue and Shimmer Pink.[56][57]

Larger model

A Nintendo 3DS XL in the open position.

Rumors of a larger model of the Nintendo 3DS being in production appeared during June 2012, when Japanese publication Nikkei wrote an article stating that the system was initially scheduled to be unveiled at E3 2012. However, Nintendo responded that these rumors were false and that the article was "entire speculation", but refrained from further commenting on the subject.[58] Finally, on June 21, 2012, the system was announced during a Nintendo Direct presentation. Featuring 90% larger screens than the original Nintendo 3DS, the system was set to launch on all major regions during the middle of the year.[59] The Nintendo 3DS XL launched in Japan on July 28, 2012, priced at ¥18,900, and was available in Silver + Black, Red + Black and White color variations.[60] In Europe, the system launched on the same day but in Silver + Black, Blue + Black and Red + Black color variations.[60] On August 19, the Nintendo 3DS XL launched in North America, priced at US$199.99, and available in Red + Black and Blue + Black.[61] On August 23, 2012, Australia and New Zealand saw the launch of the new handheld, priced at AU$249.95, and available in the same color variations as in Europe, Silver + Black, Blue + Black and Red + Black.[62] The launch of the Nintendo 3DS XL coincided with the release of New Super Mario Bros. 2, the first Nintendo 3DS game to be available in both retail and downloadable versions. On September 20, 2012, the Nintendo 3DS XL launched in South Korea, in Silver + Black, Red + Black and White color variations.[63] On September 28, 2012 the system launched in two other regions, Hong Kong and Taiwan, in Blue + Black and White color variations.[64] In December 2012, Nintendo Chinese distribution partner, iQue, launched the iQue 3DS XL in three special editions, one featuring a Mario decal while the other two feature both Mario and Luigi.[65]


Nintendo 3DS button and features layout.
The following explicitly refers to the original Nintendo 3DS model. Some technical details do not apply to later Nintendo 2DS and New Nintendo 3DS models.

The console utilizes custom components co-developed by the Nintendo Research & Engineering Department and other manufacturers, all combined into a unified system on chip. The main processor (CPU) is a ARM11 MPCore-based dual-core processor manufactured at 45 nm. One processor core is dedicated to games and applications, while the other core is exclusive to the operating system, enabling multitasking and background tasks. These tasks are handled seamlessly in the background during gameplay or while the system is in sleep mode. The system also contains a single-core ARM9 processor, enabling backwards compatibility with Nintendo DS games. The graphics processor (GPU) is developed by Digital Media Professionals, and consists of a semi-custom PICA200 processor.[66][67] The system contains a total of 128 MB of system memory consisting of two 64 MB (512 Mb) FCRAM chips developed by Fujitsu, with a maximum bandwidth of 3.2 GB/s. However, 32 MB are reserved for the operating system and unavailable to games. Additionally, the system contains 6 MB of VRAM. The console also contains a dedicated hardware audio DSP module capable of outputting mono, stereo or pseudo-surround sound through either its two speakers or headphone jack. The Nintendo 3DS contains two separate screens. The top screen is a 15:9 (5:3) autostereoscopic LCD screen with a display resolution of 800×240 pixels (400×240 pixels per eye, WQVGA). On the original Nintendo 3DS, the screen measures at 3.53 in (90 mm), while on the 3DS XL it measures at 4.88 in (124 mm). The screen is able to produce a three-dimensional effect without the need of 3D-enabling glasses using a parallax barrier. In order to adjust the effect's intensity, there is a 3D Depth Slider next to the screen allowing the user to adjust the intensity of the 3D effect or turn it off altogether. The bottom screen is a 4:3 resistive touchscreen with a display resolution of 320×240 pixels (QVGA). On the original Nintendo 3DS, the screen measures at 3.02 in (77 mm), while on the 3DS XL it measures at 4.18 in (106 mm).[68][69] The system features three camera sensors: two cameras on the outside of the device, capable of taking 3D photos and capturing 3D video; and one camera facing the user positioned above the top screen. All camera sensors have a maximum resolution of 640×480 pixels (0.3 megapixels, VGA) with one-point focus and can only achieve digital zoom. There is also a microphone in the bottom of the system.[68] The system includes 1 GB of internal flash memory manufactured by Toshiba, but it is mostly used by the operating system and its pre-installed applications. The system's memory can be expanded via an SD memory card slot, which supports up to 128 GB SDXC memory cards. All Nintendo 3DS systems come packaged with a 2 GB SD card while Nintendo 3DS XL systems include a 4 GB SDHC card. The system uses 2.4 GHz 802.11 b/g wireless network connectivity with enhanced WPA2 security. There is also an infrared port on the back of the console, which allows the system to connect with certain peripherals such as the Circle Pad Pro and the amiibo reader/writer.[70] The Nintendo 3DS comes with a 1300 mAh lithium ion battery. Its longevity fluctuates between 3 and 5 hours while playing Nintendo 3DS games and between 5 to 8 hours while playing Nintendo DS games, depending on brightness, volume and wireless settings. The Nintendo 3DS XL however, comes with a 1750 mAh lithium-ion battery capable of lasting between 3.5 to 6.5 hours playing 3DS games and 6 to 10 hours playing DS games. While the original 3DS weighs approximately 230 grams (8.1 oz), the larger XL version weighs approximately 336 grams (11.9 oz). When opened, the original 3DS is 134 mm (5.3 in) wide, 74 mm (2.9 in) broad, and 21 mm (0.83 in) thick. The XL version however, is 156 mm (6.1 in) wide, 93 mm (3.7 in) broad, and 22 mm (0.87 in) thick. The 3DS also come with a telescoping stylus, extendable to up to 100 mm (3.9 in) long, while the 3DS XL come with a regular 93 mm (3.7 in) stylus.[68]


The Nintendo 3DS input controls include the following: a round nub analog input called the Circle Pad, a D-pad, four face buttons (A, B, X, Y), bumper buttons (L, R), a HOME button, START and SELECT buttons, and a POWER button. It also features a dedicated volume slider and a wireless switch, which turns on or off wireless communications. The touchscreen can be interacted with either the user's finger or a stylus bundled with the handheld. There is also a six-axis motion sensor, which includes a 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis gyroscope. Through the Circle Pad Pro accessory the system has access to a second Circle Pad and trigger buttons (ZL, ZR).

Game card

The Nintendo 3DS Game Card is a media format used to physically distribute video games for Nintendo 3DS systems. Despite looking near-identical to its predecessor, the Nintendo DS Game Card, there is a small tab jutting out on the side of the card, preventing 3DS game cards from being inserted into a Nintendo DS.[71] These game cards can hold up to either 1 GB, 2 GB or 4 GB of game data depending on the game, which is 2, 4 and 8 times more storage, respectively, than the biggest Nintendo DS Game Card's capacity (512 MB). Some sources claim that an 8 GB version could be produced should a game ever require it.[72]

Circle Pad Pro

The Circle Pad Pro (Slide Pad Expansion in Japan) is an accessory/add-on which connects to a Nintendo 3DS system adding it a second Circle Pad and extra set of trigger buttons (ZL/ZR). Pictures of the device first appeared on September 2011 in Famitsu, a Japanese gaming magazine.[73][74] The device was first released in Japan on December 10, 2011, coinciding with the release of Monster Hunter 3G in the region.[75] It was subsequently released in Europe on January 27, 2012, in Australia on February 2, 2012, and in North America in February 7, 2012, coinciding with the release of Resident Evil: Revelations in those regions.[76] Other titles compatible with the add-on include Ace Combat 3D (Japanese version only), Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Dynasty Warriors VS, among others.[77][78] The Nintendo 3DS XL version of the device, called the Circle Pad Pro XL, was released in Japan on November 15, 2012, Europe on March 22, 2013, and North America on April 17, 2013.[79][80][81][82] The additional controls on the New Nintendo 3DS can be used with Circle Pad Pro compatible titles.[83]

AC adapter

All systems in the Nintendo 3DS family use the same AC adapter used with the Nintendo DSi and Nintendo DSi XL. In order to reduce production costs, certain console bundles, such as Japanese and European releases of the Nintendo 3DS XL and the upcoming New Nintendo 3DS, are not bundled with an AC adapter, requiring players to either use one from an older system they may own or purchase one separately. Along with plugging the adapter directly into the system, the standard Nintendo 3DS comes with a charging cradle, which players place their system into to charge. Charging cradles for the Nintendo 3DS XL and New Nintendo 3DS systems are sold separately from their respective systems, and there is no cradle for the Nintendo 2DS.[84]

Other models

The Nintendo 3DS family has two other models available, with a third currently in development. The Nintendo 3DS XL is a larger model of the console which was released on July 28, 2012, and features 90% larger screens than the original Nintendo 3DS.[15] The Nintendo 2DS is a complete redesign of the handheld which is released on October 12, 2013, and is described as an "entry level" version of the 3DS. This console, while still capable of playing Nintendo DS and 3DS games, removes the 3D functionality and changes the form factor to a fixed, "slate" design.[16] The New Nintendo 3DS, which also has an XL variant, adds additional controls and improved functionality, and will be able to play certain games not compatible with previous models.

Nintendo 2DS

A Black + Blue Nintendo 2DS.

The Nintendo 2DS (abbreviated to 2DS) was announced on August 28, 2013, as a new entry-level model of the Nintendo 3DS family. While its hardware and software are relatively similar to the Nintendo 3DS (and still offers compatibility with Nintendo DS and 3DS games), it lacks the 3DS's signature 3D screen, does not have internal stereo speakers (only using a mono speaker), and uses a slate-like form factor as opposed to the clamshell design used by its Nintendo DS and 3DS predecessors. The Nintendo 2DS was released in North America and Europe on October 12, 2013, coinciding with the launch of Pokémon X & Y and is being sold alongside the Nintendo 3DS and 3DS XL at a relatively lower price point.[85]

As a cheaper model of the Nintendo 3DS family, that still plays Nintendo DS and 3DS games, the Nintendo 2DS is seen as a market strategy to broaden the overall Nintendo handheld gaming market. As such, the 2DS is a handheld console targeted at a different audience than that of the regular Nintendo 3DS models, particularly younger users. Despite concerns from critics who felt that the company was trying to de-emphasize the 3D functionality by releasing the 2DS, Nintendo maintains that 3D is still part of their future plans.[86]

New Nintendo 3DS

During a Japanese Nintendo Direct presentation on August 29, 2014, Nintendo revealed two new models, known as the New Nintendo 3DS and larger sized New Nintendo 3DS XL. The most notable addition is the inclusion of a C-Stick on the right hand side and ZL/ZR buttons at the rear, which offer similar functionality to the Circle Pad Pro attachment. Other new additions include camera tracking for improved 3D viewing angles, brightness adjustment based on environmental lighting, slightly larger screens, colored buttons based on the Super Famicom/SNES controllers, expandable memory via microSD slot, and built in support for Amiibo figures (older models require a separate peripheral). The new models also feature a more powerful CPU, allowing for faster download and browsing speeds, improved battery life, larger screens, and the ability to transfer files wirelessly to PC. Additionally, the regular New Nintendo 3DS model will feature customizable panels.[87][88] The device also features a pre-installed online content filter intended to prevent children from visiting mature websites, which can be turned off via a 30 yen fee (30 cents) using a credit card.[89] Certain newer games which specifically intend to utilise the more powerful CPU on the New Nintendo 3DS such as Xenoblade Chronicles will not be compatible with older 3DS models, according to a statement by Satoru Iwata.[90][91] The systems was released in Japan on October 11, 2014 and in Australia and New Zealand on November 21, 2014, with releases in Europe and North America expected sometime in 2015.[83][92]

In The Verge's review, the pros of the system are the 3D effect is improved, faster performance, ability to add swappable faceplates and it has some new control additions. The cons of the system are the screen is still outdated, the cameras are bad, the new C-stick doesn't work for all types of games, and the XL model omits faceplates.[93]

User interface

The latest version of the Nintendo 3DS Home Menu. The upper screen displays a 3D animated logo for each individual app, while on the bottom screen displays application icons.

The Home Menu (stylized as HOME Menu) is a graphical user interface similar to the Nintendo DSi Menu and Wii U Menu for Nintendo 3DS systems. It is used to launch software stored on Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS Game Cards, applications installed on a SD card and DSiWare titles installed in the system's internal memory. Application icons are set in a customizable grid navigable on the lower screen. On the upper screen, a special 3D animated logo is displayed for each individual app, as well as system information such as wireless signal strength, date and time, and battery life.[94] Using the Home button, users can suspend the current software that is running and bring up the Home Menu, allowing the user to launch certain multitasking applications, such as the Internet Browser and Miiverse. Similarly to the Nintendo DSi, the menu has upgradeable firmware. On April 25, 2012, a system update brought the introduction of a folder system, which allows users to put applications inside folders.[95] On June 20, 2013, a system update brought the introduction of the Save Data Backup feature, which allows the user to back up save data from downloadable Nintendo 3DS software and most Virtual Console games.[96] An update was released on October 30, 2014 to enable players to download custom themes for the Home Menu, based on various Nintendo titles.[97]


Nintendo 3DS Camera is a built-in photo and video recorder with an integrated media gallery and photo editing functionality. The app uses the system's two front facing cameras to take 3D photos, and the user-facing camera to take regular 2D photos. All photographs are taken at a resolution of 640 x 480 pixel (VGA), or 0.3 megapixels. There are various options and filters available when taking photos or recording video. There is also a Low-Light option, which is useful when taking photos and recording video in low lighting conditions.[98] On December 7, 2011, a system update added the ability to record 3D video along special recording options, such as the ability to make stop motion animations.[99] All recording modes only allow a single video to be up to 10 minutes long.[100]


Nintendo 3DS Sound is a built-in music player and sound recorder. Supported filename extensions include MP3 audio with .mp3 and AAC audio with .mp4, .m4a, or .3GP. Audio files can be played from an SD card, with visualizations displayed on the upper screen. Music can be played while the console is closed, using the system's headphone jack. A set of sound manipulation options are available, as well as several audio filters. Ten-second voice recordings can be also be recorded and edited.[101] These can then be shared throughout other applications such as Swapnote. There is also a StreetPass function built-into the app, where users exchange song data to make a compatibility chart between them.[101]


The Nintendo 3DS is capable of suspending an application and run one of six multitasking applications. Once a game or application is running, the user can press the Home button to suspend it and temporarily open the Home Menu. It is then possible to open another specially designed multitasking application built into the system without closing the currently suspended software. Attempting to open a game or application while another is already running will result in a warning prompt.[94] These multitasking applications include:

  • Game Notes, which allows users to write and save notes, with screenshots from both screens of the current suspended software present to aid the user.
  • Friend List, a list of registered friends, with information such as their current status as well as current/favorite application; up to 100 friends can be registered by exchanging friend codes.
  • Notifications, whilst receiving notifications the top LED light will flash either blue or green, depending if it is a SpotPass or StreetPass notification, respectively.
  • Internet Browser
  • Miiverse, a social networking service dedicated to games and other applications; comments and software screenshots can be posted on dedicated software communities.
  • Camera, a lightweight version of Nintendo 3DS Camera with most features omitted, accessed by holding the L and R buttons; QR codes can be read by the camera.

Software and services

Nintendo eShop

Nintendo eShop is the Nintendo 3DS's online software distribution service. The eShop provides downloadable retail and download-only Nintendo 3DS titles, Virtual Console titles, and various applications and videos. It also allows users to purchase downloadable content (DLC) and automatically download patches for both physical and downloadable games. All content obtained from Nintendo eShop is attached to a Nintendo Network ID but can only be used in one system. Background downloading is possible via SpotPass, while playing games or in sleep mode. Up to ten downloads can be queued at a time and their status can be checked on the Home Menu.[102] The Nintendo eShop supports simple user software reviews. Users can submit a review with "stars" ranging from one to five, representing its quality in a crescent order, and categorize software by whether it is suitable for hardcore or more casual players. User reviews can only be submitted after using the software for at least one hour.


Miiverse (portmanteau of "Mii" and "Universe") is an integrated social networking service, which allows players to interact and share their gaming experiences through their personal Mii characters. It was originally launched on Wii U and was launched on the Nintendo 3DS on December 11, 2013 via a firmware update.[103] Its functionality is similar to the Wii U version albeit without the private messaging feature, and requires a Nintendo Network ID. Miiverse allows users to seamlessly share accomplishments, comments, hand written notes, and game screenshots with other players on various communities specific to their games and applications. It is possible to access Wii U communities on the Nintendo 3DS and vice versa. It is also possible to access Miiverse on every internet enabled smartphone, tablet and PC.[104] The service is moderated through software filtering as well as a human resource team in order to ensure that the content shared by users is appropriate and that no spoilers are shared.[105] It is also possible to post screenshots from certain games to social networking websites such as Twitter, Tumblr and/or Facebook via the Nintendo 3DS Image Share service.[106]

Internet browser

The Nintendo 3DS's internet browser was released via a firmware update on June 6, 2011 in North America and June 7, 2011 in Europe and Japan.[107] It functions as a multitasking system application and can be used while another application is suspended in the background. The browser contains a text wrap option to automatically wrap text to the width of the screen at different zoom levels, and is mainly controlled with the stylus or the Circle Pad and the D-pad to cycle through links on the page. The browser supports HTML, CSS, JavaScript and some HTML5 elements but does not support Flash video or music.[108] It can also download and show 3D images with the .mpo file extension and allows users to save images on an SD card. Additionally the browser supports JPEG and MPO image uploads from the system's photo gallery. The user can also choose between the Google and the Yahoo! search engines, and can also create bookmarks.

Video services

Nintendo Video launched in Australia, Europe, and Japan on July 13, 2011, and in North America on July 21, 2011, along with a tutorial video.[109][110][111] The service periodically updates its video content availability through SpotPass, automatically adding and deleting content from the console. Up to four videos can be available through the app at the same time. Nintendo Video content include: established series such as Oscar's Oasis and Shaun the Sheep (with fifteen exclusive episodes);[112] original series such as Dinosaur Office and BearShark by CollegeHumor; short films; movie trailers; and sports videos by Redbull and BSkyB. Most Nintendo Video content is available in 3D and available for permanent download in the Nintendo eShop for a fee. The Netflix streaming video service was released in North America on July 14, 2011.[113] Netflix users are able to pause streaming video on the Nintendo 3DS and resume it on other Netflix-enabled devices. Only 2D content is available through the service.[114] Nintendo announced on October 21, 2011, that Hulu Plus would be released on the Nintendo 3DS by the end of the year.[115] On February 16, 2012, following the debut of Hulu on the Wii, Nintendo reiterated the announcement this time claiming it would be available on the 3DS sometime in 2012.[116] Finally, on August 6, 2013, the Hulu application became available in Japan and on October 17, 2013, the Hulu Plus application was launched in North America, along with a one week free trial.[117][118] On November 29, 2013, the YouTube application was released for the Nintendo 3DS.

Discontinued video services

The SpotPass TV service launched in Japan on June 19, 2011. The service was a joint service between Nihon TV and Fuji TV that brought free 3D video content to Nintendo 3DS users in Japan. Types of content included programming teaching the user how to do magic tricks, Japanese idol sumo wrestling, sports, 3D dating, among others. The service was terminated on June 20, 2012, a year after its inception.[119] An Eurosport app launched in Europe and Australia on December 15, 2011, and worked similarly to the Nintendo Video app. It featured weekly episodes of Watts Zap and other compilation videos containing Eurosport content.[120] The service was terminated on December 31, 2012, a year after its inception.[121]


Swapnote (known as Nintendo Letter Box in Europe and Australia) is a messaging application for the Nintendo 3DS. Swapnote was released on December 21, 2011 in Japan and on December 22 in Europe, Australia and North America, via the Nintendo eShop. The application is free and is pre-installed on newer systems. It allows users to send hand-written/drawn messages to registered friends via SpotPass either or other users via StreetPass.[122] The app also allows users to freely embed pictures and sounds into their messages.

On October 31, 2013, Nintendo abruptly suspended the Swapnote/Nintendo Letter Box SpotPass functionality after discovering minors were sharing Friend Codes with strangers who had exploited the messaging service to allegedly exchange pornographic imagery.[123][124]

Mii Maker

Mii Maker is a system application that allows users to create Mii characters through either a selection of facial and body features, such as the nose, mouth, eyes, hair, among other, or by taking a photo using the system's cameras and auto-generate a personal Mii. Mii characters can also be added and shared by reading special QR codes with one of the cameras.[125] It is also possible to import Mii characters from a Wii or a Wii U system. However, Mii created on Nintendo 3DS systems cannot be exported back to a Wii due to the addition of character parts in Mii Maker not present on the Wii's Mii Channel.[126] This restriction, however, is not applied when exporting a Mii from a Nintendo 3DS to a Wii U system.

Activity Log

Activity Log is a system application that tracks game-play and keeps a record of which games have been played and for how long, as well as physical activity, such as counting every step taken while carrying a Nintendo 3DS using its built in pedometer. The feature encourages walking every day with the system in order to earn Play Coins, at a maximum of 10 each day at a rate of one per 100 steps, to a total of 300 coins. Play Coins can then be used with compatible games and applications to acquire special content and a variety of other benefits.[127]

Network features

Nintendo Network

Nintendo Network is Nintendo's unified network infrastructure similar to the Sony's PlayStation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live, and succeeds the previous Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service. The Nintendo 3DS was the first system to support the new network infrastructure. Nintendo outlined that, while Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection had been created as a way for developers to experiment with their own network infrastructures and concepts, the Nintendo Network was created to be a fully unified network service. The new network infrastructure provides the means for an unified online multiplayer experience and other online interactions such as leaderboards and communication, as well as software downloads and streaming media services. The Nintendo 3DS uses a Friend Code system much like the original Wii to connect to the network, with the exception that only one code necessary for each console.[128] This makes it much easier and more flexible for players to interact with each other over the Internet.[129] Regardless of this, as of November 18, 2012, some Nintendo Network services require a Nintendo Network ID account in order to be accessed, such as Nintendo eShop and Miiverse. This account can be shared with a Wii U and with future Nintendo consoles. The Nintendo Network administration team has moderators on staff to remove inappropriate content from its services, such as Miiverse.[130]


StreetPass is a close proximity data exchange functionality which allows game content to be exchanged between Nintendo 3DS systems. Using the console's background connectivity in sleep mode, a Nintendo 3DS can automatically discover other Nintendo 3DS systems within range, establish a connection, and exchange content for mutually played games, all transparently and without requiring any user input. For example, in Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, if the user passes by someone with the same software, they will initiate a battle to collect trophies from each other.[131] Each application's StreetPass content is stored in one of twelve "data slots" in the console. Using this data slot, Nintendo 3DS users can readily share and exchange content for multiple games at the same time whenever they are connected, regardless of what game card is currently in the console.[132] On August 5, 2013, a system update introduced a new feature called StreetPass Relay. This feature allows users to exchange StreetPass data when passing by a certified Nintendo Zone hotspot with the last Nintendo 3DS user to pass by that same hotspot, if he or she too had StreetPass enabled. In the United States, there are over 29,000 Street Pass Relay Points, while Europe is set to see approximately 30,000.[133][134] A day later, the feature also became available in Japan.[135] On [date], StreetPass Relay points were updated in North America and Europe to allow up to six users to be stored for exchange instead of one.

StreetPass Mii Plaza

StreetPass Mii Plaza is a StreetPass application which comes pre-installed on every Nintendo 3DS system. In it, players meet other players' Miis over StreetPass and online through Nintendo Network, and interact with them. In this application, the player's Mii can be customized with hats earned from mini games, along with a short customizable message and other information. When new Mii characters are encountered by the system, they will appear at the plaza gate. The player can then use them to play various mini games before encountering more Mii characters.[136] Meeting the same Mii characters multiple times adds extra functionality, such as personalized messages and the ability to rate them. The applications comes with three minigames, while further minigames can be purchased optionally.[137]


SpotPass is an "always on" background network connectivity system which can automatically seek and connect to wireless network nodes such as Wi-Fi hotspots, sending and downloading information in the background while in sleep mode or playing a game. SpotPass also makes uses of certified hotspots with partners such as AT&T in North America and The Cloud in the United Kingdom. Users are able to connect to these hotspots automatically and free of charge.[138] Content that can be downloaded via SpotPass include full game and application downloads, firmware updates, patches, and specific in-game content. It can be customized to fit the user's preferences, including opting it out altogether for selected software.[139] An application similar to an e-book reader is being considered to use this functionality to "automatically acquire magazine and newspaper articles".[140]

Nintendo Zone Viewer

The Nintendo Zone logo.

Nintendo Zone Viewer is a built-in application that detects and makes use of certified SpotPass hotspots. When a hotspot is detected, a notification will appear in the system's Home Menu. In this application, users can see game trailers, game screenshots, download game demos and view information about current and upcoming Nintendo 3DS titles. After the player leaves the hotspot the app remains on their Nintendo 3DS system, although no content can be accessed.[141]


Retail copies of games are supplied on proprietary cartridges called Nintendo 3DS Game Cards, which are packaged in keep cases with simple instructions. In Europe, the boxes have a triangle at the bottom corner of the paper sleeve-insert side. The triangle is color-coded to identify the region for which the title is intended and which manual languages are included. Unlike with previous Nintendo consoles, the complete software manual is only available digitally via the system's Home Menu. Software published by Nintendo and by some third parties come packaged with come with Club Nintendo points, which can be redeemed for special rewards.[144] Retail and download-only games are also available for download in the Nintendo eShop. All Nintendo 3DS consoles are region locked (software purchased in a region can be only played on that region's hardware).[145] A total of 186.22 million Nintendo 3DS games have been sold worldwide as of September 30, 2014,[5] with 26 titles surpassing the million-unit mark. The most successful game, Pokémon X and Y, has sold approximately 11.61  million units worldwide.

Launch titles

The Nintendo 3DS launched in Japan with 8 games,[146] in North America with 15 games[147] and in Europe with 14 games.[148] An additional thirty games were announced for release during the system's "launch window", which includes the three months after the system's launch date.


Augmented reality

An augmented reality tech demo called Target Shooting, as seen at E3 2010.

AR Games is a compilation of several augmented reality mini-games and simple tools, which is pre-installed on every Nintendo 3DS, along with 6 paper cards that interact with certain games. Five of the six cards have a picture of a character on them, consisting of Mario, Link, Kirby, Pikmin, and Samus. The sixth one is a question mark box from the Super Mario Bros. series. Nintendo has also published downloadable versions of this card in larger sizes.[149] By scanning the cards, real time graphics are augmented onto live footage. It is also possible to take 3D photos of Nintendo characters, using any to all 6 AR Cards, as well as their Miis. Some AR cards are also compatible with other Nintendo 3DS games including Nintendogs + Cats, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Pokédex 3D Pro, Freakyforms: Your Creations, Alive! and Tetris: Axis.[150][151] Face Raiders is another augmented reality application pre-installed on every Nintendo 3DS system. In order to start playing, the user must take pictures of peoples' faces. These faces then turn into enemies and attack the player, who must shoot them using the system's gyroscope. The background of the game is the rear camera's viewpoint.[152] As people walk by in the background, the game takes their pictures from their faces, also adding them as enemies. It is also possible to collect faces from the system's image gallery, which is searched automatically for faces.[153] There are other Nintendo 3DS applications that similarly use the system's AR capabilities, such as Pokémon Dream Radar and Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir.[154][155]

Download Play

Download Play allows users to play local multiplayer games with other Nintendo 3DS systems using only one Game Card. Players must have their systems within wireless range (up to approximately 65 feet) of each other for the guest system to download the necessary data from the host system. Download Play on Nintendo 3DS systems is also backwards compatible, meaning that it is also available for Nintendo DS games. Unlike Download Play on Nintendo DS, game data, once downloaded to the guest system, is stored on the system's SD card, no longer requiring a re-download for a future game session.[156] Nintendo 3DS games can only transfer a maximum of 32 MB of data to other systems while in download play.[157] Other forms of local multiplayer modes require each player to own the software that is currently being used.

Virtual Console

The Virtual Console service allows Nintendo 3DS owners to download and play games originally released for the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Sega Game Gear and Nintendo Entertainment System. Virtual Console games are distributed over broadband Internet via the Nintendo eShop, and are saved to a removable SD card. Once downloaded, Virtual Console games can be accessed from the Home Menu as individual apps. The service was launched on June 6 in North America and June 7, 2011 in Japan and Europe as part of a system update.[158]

Nintendo and Sega also launched the 3D Classics series, a selection of enhanced retro games for the Nintendo 3DS featuring updated stereoscopic graphics.[159][160]

Backward compatibility

In addition to its own software, the Nintendo 3DS is backward compatible with most Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi software. Like the DSi, the Nintendo 3DS is incompatible with DS software that requires the use of the Game Boy Advance port. Nintendo DS and DSi software cannot be played with 3D visuals on the 3DS. The original DS display resolutions are displayed in a scaled and stretched fashion due to the increased resolution of the 3DS's screens. If the user holds down the START or SELECT buttons upon launching Nintendo DS software, the emulated screens will be displayed in Nintendo DS's native resolution, albeit smaller with black borders. On the Nintendo 3DS XL, this method yields a viewing size for DS games similar to their native sizes (due to the larger screen size of the XL), unlike on the original 3DS models, where the games appear to be shrunk.[161][162]




The Nintendo 3DS hardware has received very positive reviews. IGN called its hardware design a "natural evolution of the Nintendo DSi system."[38] CNET praised the device's 3D effect, while IGN called it "impressively sharp and clean", and impressively superior to its predecessors,[163][164] although it was noted that the 3D effect only worked if the system was held at the right distance and angle.[164][165] A common complaint was the 3DS's battery life; Engadget reported to get 3 hours of battery life from the system,[165] while IGN reported 2 to 4.5 hours of play. The Nintendo 3DS XL was very well received at launch. Reviewers generally recommended the console to new buyers of the Nintendo 3DS line, although not so much to current owners of a Nintendo 3DS. Kotaku mentioned it as "possibly the best portable gaming device ever...[and] a well-designed machine..." and that "it plays great games"[166] while The Verge called it "the best portable gaming buy around right now."[167] The Nintendo 3DS XL improves upon the battery life of the original 3DS. Kotaku claimed that the Nintendo 3DS XL's battery "lasts a cross-country flight.".[168] The Verge noted that the larger top screen makes more obvious problems with aliasing and low-resolution textures. It did, however, say that the 3D felt more immersive. "Where the 3DS felt like peering through a peephole into another world," they said, "the XL is almost like stepping through a door."[169] On the other hand, Destructoid said the 3D effect on the XL was more subtle than on its predecessor.[170] The Verge spoke positively of the build quality and design choices, saying the console improved on the original.[169] A Destructoid reviewer said the 3DS XL was easier to use than the regular Nintendo 3DS, mainly due to his large hands.[170] The Verge noted lowered sound quality from the original, the result of smaller speakers.[169] Both The Verge and Gizmodo complained of low-quality cameras.[169]


As of September 30, 2014, Nintendo reports 45.42 million units have been shipped worldwide, of which 16.61 million were shipped to Japan, 15.27 million were shipped to North America, and 13.54 million were shipped to other territories including Europe.[5]

Health concerns

Nintendo has publicly stated that the 3D mode of the Nintendo 3DS is not intended for use by children ages six and younger, citing possible harm to their vision. Nintendo suggests that younger players use the device's 2D mode instead,[171] although the American Optometric Association has assured parents that 3D gaming in moderation would not be harmful for children.[172] Additionally, the 3DS may help in screening children before the age of 6 who have depth related vision problems according to Dr. Michael Duenas, associate director for health sciences and policy for the American Optometric Association, and Dr. Joe Ellis, the president of the optometrists' association.[173] However, Dr. David Hunter, a pediatric ophthalmologist affiliated with the American Academy of Ophthalmology believes that it is largely speculative whether a child who has problems perceiving depth in real life would react to a 3DS in any way that parents would recognize as indicating any problems with depth perception.[173] Nintendo's vague warning, that, "there is a possibility that 3-D images which send different images to the left and right eye could affect the development of vision in small children," was not specifically backed up by any scientific evidence, leading Duenas to believe it is motivated by preventing possible liability rather than safeguarding against realistic harm.[173] Nintendo has stated that a parental control involving a PIN will allow parents to disable autostereoscopic effects.[174] Playing games in 3D has been suspected of causing headaches among some gamers.[175] The dizziness experienced by some users may be explained similarly to the headaches that watchers of 3D movies have similarly experienced, which is believed to be due to confusion caused by a lack of visual cues that humans use to perceive depth in their everyday environment.[173] Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime partially cited these concerns as one of the influences of the Nintendo 2DS, an entry-level version of the Nintendo 3DS systems lacking 3D functionality.[85]

Legal issues

In 2011, 58-year old former Sony employee Seijiro Tomita sued Nintendo for infringing a patent on the 3D screen that obviates the need for 3D glasses. On March 13, 2013, United States federal jury ordered Nintendo to pay him US$30.2 million in damages.[176] However, on August 7, 2013, that amount was reduced by 50% to US$15.1 million due to the fact that the initial figure was, according to federal judge Jed Rakoff, “intrinsically excessive" and "unsupported by the evidence presented at trial”. He added that when the suit was originally filed in 2011 the 3DS was not profitable. Nintendo decided to appeal for an overturn, but judge Rakoff has thrown out the plea.[177] On December 11, 2013, it was decided by Judge Rakoff that Nintendo pay 1.82% of the wholesale price of each unit sold to Tomita.[178]


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External links

  • Official Nintendo 3DS website (Japanese)
  • Official North American Nintendo 3DS website
  • Official European Nintendo 3DS website
  • Official Australian Nintendo 3DS website
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