The DS for me, and it's not even close. I have significantly more games for DS than any other handheld.
DS was cutting edge when it came to touch screens in particular. It broke with the first major casual game with Brain Age - which would later become a major genre on mobile. It resurrected point and click games and brought them to new heights with Ace Attorney and Professor Layton - speaking of Ace Attorney, in the European market there was a shortage that drove the resell price of the original game up as high as 20 times the retail price. It was the first handheld to feature the original release of a major RPG with Dragon Quest 9. And it had some really creative and interesting types of titles like Elite Beat Agents and The World Ends with You.
I do agree that the 3DS was underrated, and a lot of that had to do with a combination of factors, most notable being the original 3DS hardware wasn't particularly great, the broken glasses free 3D, 1/10th the battery life of the DS, and high retail price, combined with iOS driving into the portable marketplace like a snowplow through a crowd, made it less appealing to consumers... new3DS fixed two of those issues, but it was too little too late to recreate anything like the DS success. I think the library had a lot of interesting things on it, but I didn't find they were as interesting as the DS releases outside of maybe Street Pass games, which I actually liked quite a lot, and Mario Kart 7 which fixed the connection issues of Mario Kart DS as well as some of the floaty controls and snaking exploit. Other than that, I think the major experience for 3DS was Monster Hunter... while I'd played the game on home consoles before, like Animal Crossing, I felt it was much more at home on handheld.
But anyway, my vote goes to DS simply because it did so much more on the software front. 3DS felt like it smoothed out some of the existing games that appeared first on DS - such as the aforementioned Mario Kart, but the jump was MUCH greater from 3DS to Switch than it was from DS to 3DS. Animal Crossing New Horizons is WAAAAY further ahead of New Leaf as New Leaf was from Wild World, and the time gap is about the same (about 7.5 years). The Switch has also made handhelds obsolete... at least, put them into obsolescence.
I think DS's weak spot, for games I play, was probably Fire Emblem. GBA and 3DS Fire Emblem games destroyed the DS game. Granted, I liked the GBA ones better than the 3DS ones, I'm definitely in the minority on that.Last edited by Jumpin - on 07 July 2021
I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.