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Do you want/have a 3DS, but you are also on a budget, eh? No problems! Sure, the 3DS has been out for less than two years, but there are already options for the more financially conservative gamer. So long as you're willing to buy online.

1. Systems

Currently, there are two versions of the 3DS out: the $170 regular version, which comes with a 2 GB SD Card, and the $200 XL version, which comes with a 4 GB SD Card. All things considered, unless you have a strong preference otherwise, you should probably get the regular version. BUT, there's a catch. You see, Nintendo has prepared a few bundles for the regular 3DS at various points, which allow you to get one of several games. I recommend either the Ocarina of Time bundle or the Fire Emblem or 3D Land bundle, depending on whether you've played Ocarina before. Either way, you'll be getting a high quality portable game for $10 off the regular price.

Alternatively, some of the new XL systems come with a game preloaded, such as Mario Kart 7. These bundles also cost $200. If you are more interested in an XL system, you certianly won't regret picking up a MK7 bundle.

2. Retail Games

Not all games on the 3DS cost $40. Here are some of the less expensive choices that, for $20 or less, will still be worth your time, based on both personal experiences and general review scores.

 

Some games that cost over $20 new can be bought for cheaper used. If you think used games benefit the industry, consider these cheap used games.

 

Title MetaScore GameStop Price (New) GameStop Price (Used) Amazon Price Last Updated
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy 71 20 15 12 3/05/2012
Bit Trip Saga 75 20 18 11 3/05/2012
Dead or Alive: Dimensions 79 30 15 28 3/05/2012
Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars 77 20 13 16 3/05/2012
Lego Pirates of the Carribean 71 20 15 16 3/05/2012
Nintendogs+cats 71 20 18 14 3/05/2012
PES 2012 73 20 15 16 3/05/2012
Pilotwings Resort 71 20 15 24 3/05/2012
Resident Evil: Revelations 82 20 18 22 3/05/2012
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D 65 40 18 18 3/05/2012
Ridge Racer 3D 75 15 10 34 3/05/2012
Shinobi 69 20 18 10 3/05/2012
Steel Diver 58 20 10 12 3/05/2012
Super Street Fighter 4: 3D Edition 85 30 15 15 3/05/2012
Tetris Axis 74 15 13 15 3/05/2012

3. eShop Goodies

Yes, eShop games are pricy compared to iPhone apps. But a lot of them are actually worth the investment. Besides, you have at least 2GB of free memory on your 3DS. Why not use some of it?

 

Title MetaScore Price
Art of Balance Touch! 82 7
Cave Story 93 10
Fractured Soul 73 12
Gunman Clive 85 2
Ketzal's Corridors 76 7
Marvel Pinball 3D 74 8
Mighty Switch Force! 79 6
Mutant Mudds 80 9
Nightsky 79 10
Order Up!! 72 10
Pushmo 90 7
Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword 73 7
The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave 80 10
VVVVVV 83 8
Zen Pinball 3D 79 7

4. Virtual Console

Once again, yes these games are overpriced, but they are still worth a few dollars.

5. Game Lengths

Okay, so maybe price isn't your primary concern. But what about value? How long will it these games last? Well, based on info from howlongtobeat.com, we can get some rough estimates on how many hours you can expect to pour into 3DS games.

Game Main Campaign 100% Completion
Fire Emblem Awakening 36 100
Kid icarus: Uprising 11 130
Kingdom Hearts 3D 22 43
The Legend of Zleda: Ocarina of Time 23 35
Mario kart 7 10 39
New Super Mario Bros 2 5 19
Paper Mario: Sticker Star 18 30
Resident Evil: Revelations 9 40
Super Mario 3D Land 6 20
Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy 5 23
VVVVVV 2 4

Conclusion:

Now, let's see what you can get for, say, $300, and for fun, let's buy nothing used.

*A brand new 3DS ($200 w/Super Mario 3D Land)

*Super Mario 3D Land/Ocarina of Time 3D (Free with 3DS)

*Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars ($20)

*Pilotwings Resort ($20)

*Bit Trip Saga ($20)

*Tetris Axis ($15)

*Mutant Mudds ($9)

*Pushmo ($7)

*Link's Awakening DX ($6)

 

Sources

Amazon

Gamestop

Gamerankings

Nintendo Wiki

How Long To Beat

 

Equivalent Vita Thread



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