We all like to build up a kind of console war in our heads, in which we practically personify and root for our favorite system to win over all others. It’s a silly notion and pointless rivalry, but when you really love a pasttime, you want to make it more exciting by rooting for your personal favorites. While all of the consoles and handhelds out there have their merits, I’m sorry to tell you that my personal favorite, the 3DS, has won. Yes, the 3DS won 2013, and it’s looking like it could take 2014 too.
Now, I wish I could say this was a case of blatant fangirling, but alas, it is not. It’s a fact. Let’s look at the sales figures. The NPD results for November have come out and the 3DS scored big last month, with almost 770,000 2DS, 3DS, and 3DS XLs sold in North America. Which brings the total number sold in North America up to 10 million. When it comes to the worldwide numbers, there are almost 40 million 3DS systems out there. It has a long way to go to catch up with the worldwide sales figures for the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii, but it’s an impressive number for a system that’s only coming up on its fourth birthday. Especially since it’s also among the top 5 most popular systems in terms of sales.
Even the ridiculous-looking 2DS couldn’t hurt the 3DS. In fact, it probably helped sales. Especially when you consider the 2DS was $99 at Walmart during Black Friday. It may not be the exact 3DS model someone wanted, but a low price like that assuredly convinced many parents, grandparents, and even curious adults to take a chance on the handheld and boost the November 2013 sales figures.
Yet, a console is nothing without a solid library, and that’s another reason why the 3DS “won” in 2013. It was the one system this year with the most consistent, varied, and exceptional lineup of games. Lists are kept, showing the number of million seller games for each system, and this year nine 3DS games released in 2013 sold over 1 million copies. From least successful to most successful, they were Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, Dragon Warrior VII, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Tomodachi Collection: New Life, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Monster Hunter 4, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Pokemon X and Y, and Animal Crossing: New Leaf . Even if we restrict the list of million-sellers to games only released in North America, we still see six games that were huge successes, and, while Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds isn’t a member of that exclusive club yet, there’s no doubt in my mind it soon will be.
But it isn’t even always about sales and money. The 3DS was such a rockstar this year because of the diversity of the library. We had major releases like Pokemon X and Y, Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon, Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and Animal Crossing: New Leaf . Fire Emblem: Awakening became a critical success and fan darling, and introduced many gamers to the strategic RPG. It’s also one of the only systems where people can find cult classic series like Etrian Odyssey, Shin Megami Tensei, Guild01 and 02, Phoenix Wright, Rune Factory, and Scribblenauts .
Not to mention, the 3DS welcomed even more indie developers to its eShop in 2013. SteamWorld Dig made its debut on the handheld. The Mighty Switch Force series is a staple as well, with the second installment debuting back in June. Gunman Clive, Nano Assault EX, Picross e, Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo, The Denpa Men 2: Beyond the Waves, and Witch & Hero were all there to make the eShop a more inviting place. While its indie output doesn’t compare to other systems, Nintendo’s been making the 3DS a more inviting system.
It’s clear that the 3DS is making a name for itself as an incredibly diverse and capable handheld, and its success in 2013 only proves the system’s superiority over its counterparts. From what we know about its 2014 lineup, it seems like it will only keep rocking it out in the weeks and months to come. After all, we’ll be starting next year with games like Bravely Default, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy and, maybe if we’re lucky, we’ll even see Super Smash Bros. too. It’s a good time to be a gamer overall, but it’s especially wonderful if you’re holding a 3DS.