Is what I really want a 3DS?

I’ve been vacillating about a PS4 or maybe a WiiU for a while now. I think the future of the PS4 is great, and I have a Vita for remote play and a PS3 now. But realistically, the game library is anemic, particularly since I have a relatively modern computer with a monstrous video card, which means any cross platform game I can play on that.

The WiiU library is closer to what I want, but I just have no faith it will progress much from where it is. And a lot of the Nintendo home console games don’t interest me a ton: I’m interested in New Super Mario U, but not, say, Mario Kart (sacrilege, I know!)

So I was looking around today, and noticed a review on Polygon for a new Kirby game for the 3DS. I’d written the 3DS long ago as ugly graphics on a form factor I thought was stupid. I still hate the 3DS (and the DS and the GBA before it) form factors, but that Kirby game’s graphics looked pretty fantastic. Not super HD detailed or anything, but plenty good. And on looking it looks like there’s a lot of my favorite gametypes on the platform: Platformers and RPGs. So now I’m wondering if a 3DS would be the system for me.

So, questions for folks:
What games does a 3DSXL play? (I know Nintendo generally has some limited string of backwards compatibility. The last system from them I owned was a GBA. I don’t expect them to still support those games or anything, but what is the gamespace availability for the 3DSXL? Will it play older regular DS games? Just 3DS games?)

Is there a metroid game (in the GBA/SNES Metroid vein) for the 3DS?

Are the standards from Nintendo (Yoshi’s Island, Kirby Games, Mario Games, Pokemons, etc…) still good games? Try to discount the “Yoshi’s Island XXXVI is more of the same” criticism. That’s not a drawback for me atm!)

Barring the Nintendo releases, which I can figure out for myself, what are the must haves that a 3DSXL will play? (Say, top 3.)

Do old, 16-bit/arcade type shoot-em-ups still exist even on this platform? Or are those games truly gone the way of the dodo? (Oh, how I would love a Thunderforce I-V collection; although Thunderforce I & II were a bit primitive…)

And a bonus question: Is there any mechanism whereby a WiiU will play the 3DS/XL games? I ask only because I care about the games here, not so much the portability. If I could plop the 3DS/XL games on the WiiU screened remote, for instance, I’d probably be enticed to go with the WiiU to also open up the potential for nice multiplayer games on the TV as my little boy gets older and closer to playing games with dad age. (He’s a bit young at 2 right now, but in the next year and a half, it’s on! And I’m 99.9% positive that when I want to sit down and play games with him, for tons of reasons, I’ll want to do so on a Nintendo system.)

I’ll tell you this much, mouselock - the last couple of months while I’ve found myself at a generational console crossroads, so to speak, I’ve been spending far more time with my 3DS and enjoying it greatly. I guess it all comes down to the kinds of games you play. I love puzzle games and have played the old DS Ace Attorney and Professor Layton games, and those have had recent releases on the 3DS that are really good. There’s a pretty good eShop available with some good cheap stuff for download - some old 16-bit shooters can be found there. My favorite 3DS games at the moment are the Ocarina of Time 3D release (and if you didn’t play it on the N64 or just wanted to go through it again like me, highly recommended) plus a new Zelda game, Link Between Worlds, which is a more traditional 2D game. Fire Emblem Awakening is a strategy RPG that I’ve been working through slowly, it’s a little like a fantasy RPG version of Advance Wars, if you played those on the GBA. There are some good Mario games as well, Super Mario Land is really fun if you’re into that old school pastel platformer kind of thing. And Resident Evil Revelations is surprisingly fun for a third person shooter in the RE4 mode.

Since you mentioned you never had a DS, you can play all those games on the 3DS as well. Tons of great games still available that you can play, in fact I am right now playing through a DS Zelda game, Phantom Hourglass, on my 3DSXL. You’d probably get better results going through an old review aggregator to find the best DS games then read my list, but there are many.

I haven’t even gotten a whole lot of use out of my 3DS and I still don’t regret it at all. Pretty much everything Pogue Mahone said is spot on. If you haven’t played any DS you’re in for a treat because the library there is pretty huge.

No Metroid for either DS or 3DS, at least not of the specified type (there was a DS Metroid - Metroid Prime - Hunters, but it was a competitive multiplayer FPS on one of the least suited platforms imaginable, using an inappropriate license. fuck that game.)

There are a bunch of Shin Megami Tensei franchise games for DS and 3DS. I consider those must buys.

Shin Megami Tensei games are pretty much the definition of YMMV. They fill a niche, but if you’re not into old-school, punishingly difficult RPGs they may not be your bag.

Barring the Nintendo releases, which I can figure out for myself, what are the must haves that a 3DSXL will play? (Say, top 3.)

Obviously this depends on your overall taste in games, but:

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
Bravely Default
Super Mario 3D Land

Lots of people absolutely adore Fire Emblem Awakening, but it’s not my sort of game.

And I’d definitely put the new Phoenix Wright game in my personal top 3.

Is there any mechanism whereby a WiiU will play the 3DS/XL games?

Don’t be silly, this is Nintendo. You can’t even play your old Wii games on the gamepad (using it as a controller, that is). They’ve only just integrated the 3DS and Wii-U stores in any fashion at all, letting you associate them with a common Nintendo account.

Yes, if you already have a gaming PC, a 3DS would complement it much better than a PS4 or WiiU would, as it has both a much larger library and almost no overlap. I agree with you on the hardware, graphics, and form factor of the 3DS being negatives, but there are enough good games to make up for it in my book.

The first-party Nintendo games are never less than “good”, and the worst that can be said of most of them is that they’re safe and uninspired, even if very competent mechanically. I’d say that Mario 3D Land, Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and Fire Emblem Awakening are legitimately great, among the best of their respective series.

There are a couple shoot-em-ups that I remember seeing with decent reviews (Kokuga and Liberation Maiden), but I wouldn’t call it a strength of the platform. Also, no Metroid, unfortunately. Though if you missed the DS, the Castlevania games on there are good.

As for third-party stuff, I see the main strength as RPGs. These are all high-quality, though somewhat niche in style, so make sure they sound appealing to you first: Etrian Odyssey IV, Shin Megami Tensei IV, SMT: Devil Survivor Overclocked, Bravely Default, Crimson Shroud, and Rune Factory 4. There’s also a pretty deep library of well-regarded puzzle games in the eShop. I can’t vouch for these from personal experience, but I’ve seen a lot of praise for the Mighty ____ series, Pushmo/Crashmo, and the Picross e games.

You say that as if a GBA adapter which fit on the Gamecube didn’t get made!

Well, to be fair, Nintendo did have systems to play Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games on the SNES and GameCube respectively, so it’s not like it’s a new concept for the company. I think it’s more of a technical issue, in that it doesn’t have the right hardware and isn’t powerful enough to run an emulator, and mapping two screens onto one would make for some awkward compromises anyway.

The DS had a huge library, so if you’ve never played any DS games, a 3DS will be great for you.

The World Ends With You is an excellent DS game, in addition to many of the other suggestions in this thread. If you love old-school Final Fantasy-esque RPGs, Bravely Default is a must-have 3DS game. You’ll also have access to four Zelda titles: Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, the Ocarina of Time remake, and Link Between Worlds.

Bravely Default is an old school Final Fantasy game in all but name. Definitely recommended, if you like that sort of thing,

I recently got a 3DSXL and I am really liking it. Bravely Default is pretty great, and I also am enjoying Resident Evil Revelations a good bit too (I have the circle pad pro thingy). And of course there is Monster Hunter TriU and coming soon Monster Hunter 4U, Which I would recommend to pretty much anyone that enjoys a good loot grind or MMO type of game but enjoys real time combat.

I think the best endorsement for the 3DS though it that I can think of a fair few games (Luigi’s Mansion, Zelda, Pokemon, Fire Emblem, etc…) that I would like to play at some point.

The WiiU is pretty meh in my opinion and I would say save the dough unless you just HAVE to get your Mario fix on a big screen. While I still play a good bit of MH, other than that it has been a waste so far. Hopefully Nintendo will eventually develop a decent catalog for it, but by then it will probably have seen a few price drops. I seriously doubt the WiiU will retain it’s price point like the Wii did.

So, I decided that the PS4 wasn’t going to be necessary this year at least, and that I didn’t really want a WiiU to sit under my telivision and not get turned on, so went with the 3DS. I picked up the following games:

Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations
Kid Icarus: Uprising
Dragon Quest IX
Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box
Mario & Luigi Dream Team (came with the 3DS XL)
Bravely Default
Kirby’s Triple Deluxe (the game whose video started this whole thing!)
Elite Beat Agents

Other things I was looking at that I’ll likely eventually look into getting:

A Castlevania game for the original DS (likely the Ecclisias one?)
Yoshi’s New Island
Super Mario 3D Land
New Super Mario Bros (2 too)
Kingdom Hearts (likely the 3DS version unless the DS version is supposed to be significantly better)

If you like Elite Beat Agents, try to pick up import copies of the two Ouendan games it’s based on (I assume the 3DS region lock only applies to 3DS games - I haven’t actually tried out Ouendan on it yet).

I’ve been debating for months over whether I want a 3DS or not. Every now and then I go and see what new games are out and I think it’s finally hit critical mass for me. I thought about just trying to share my sons but it barely ever leaves his hands when he’s home. It just amazes me how the price fluctuates on Amazon. At lunch yesterday they had some for $155 and by the time I finished dinner they were up to $187.

Alright, mouselock, so, from your list:

-Kid Icarus: Uprising is excellent, and sadly overlooked. I should get back to replaying it sometime. Hit me up if you want to try multiplayer; I know enough people with the game that it shouldn’t be too hard to get a versus match going.

-If you want a straightforward JRPG that doesn’t try to be anything other than “the most polished game ever,” the Dragon Quest series is for you, and DQ9 is no exception. While it isn’t as beautiful as Dragon Quest VIII (and, really, what is?), DQ9 is still a great entry in the series, and I easily put fifty hours into completing it and a small amount of the extensive post-game content.

-Elite Beat Agents is good, though how much you enjoy these games depends partially on how you feel about the music in them. As Ginger Yellow says, it may be worth looking into the Ouendan games, which are the same gameplay, but with J-rock and J-pop and stuff. Note that the 3DS region lock does not apply to DS games, unless they’re newer ones that have DSi-enhanced features; Ouendan predates the DSi by a few years, so no issues there.

-I personally would say Order of Ecclesia is your best choice for one of the DS Castlevania games, but note that it’s a touch difficult compared to the various other post-Symphony of the Night entries in the series. One of its primary gameplay mechanics involves using your MP gauge for basic attacks, and while it recharges fast, the resource-management metagame it adds was enough to give it a reputation for being harder than the average modern Castlevania. As for the other DS Castlevania games, Dawn of Sorrow has an annoying touchscreen gimmick that adds nothing to the game, and Portrait of Ruin is alright, but kind of forgettable.

-Avoid Yoshi’s Island DS and Yoshi’s New Island like the plague. I have no idea why Nintendo keeps outsourcing these Yoshi games to Artoon (or the remnants thereof, in YNI’s case), because they seemingly have no idea how to make a good video game. Or a good soundtrack.

-Super Mario 3D Land is top-notch and probably should’ve been part of your initial purchases.

-Since the Kingdom Hearts games are story-based, I normally wouldn’t be able to recommend skipping certain ones to play others…except I couldn’t care less about the story in Kingdom Hearts, so there’s no problem. Get Dream Drop Distance if you want to play one of these games; it includes all the massive gameplay improvements that came with Birth by Sleep on PSP, and adds the new “Flowmotion” system, which is basically hyper-parkour that can be chained into attacks. It also has the drop system, which is kind of silly. You have two separate playable characters, and a meter that runs down while you’re playing the game; once the gauge is empty, you have a limited amount of time to finish up what you’re doing, and then you automatically switch to the other character. It’s less annoying than it sounds, until it happens during a boss fight.

Aww man… the Yoshi games aren’t good? I’m so, so saddened by that! :(

Otherwise good advice, though, thanks. I take it that DS games aren’t region locked, but 3DS are? That’s… odd…

Another great 3DS game that is often overlooked is Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars. If you can find it, pick it up. Some people involved in XCOM had a hand in making it, is my understanding. Anyway it’s fun top down, turn based strategy game with classes, much like XCOM.

How are the shoulder buttons on the 3DS/XL? I adored my DS Lites, but the shoulder buttons on both crapped out pretty early, and it seems I read that it was a design flaw. Super, super annoying when critical actions are mapped to them.

mouselock: The 3DS region lock is one of the most baffling decisions of the generation, up there with Microsoft’s TV push with the Xbone. It’s not as big a deal for the US, since most worthwhile games get brought over here sooner or later, but Europe keeps getting screwed on localized Japanese games. I feel sorry for all the Europeans who wanted Rune Factory 4.

Speaking of, Rune Factory 4 is excellent, and doesn’t require any prior knowledge of the series; a few characters from previous games make cameo appearances, but it’s nothing critical for enjoying the game. Great choice if you want an action RPG, and it’s even 60fps.

wusoldjr: Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars was designed by Julian Gollop, so there you go.

Justin Fletcher: The shoulder buttons on the standard 3DS (can’t speak for the XL) are fine, and feel better to me than the ones on the DS Lite did, but the shoulder buttons on my 3DS did finally start to crap out after about two years; I blame Rune Factory 4.