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Nintendo 3DS and DS Holiday Gift Recommendation List 2012

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Jing jing jing. It’s the holiday season, and for some lucky folks, that means a chance to receive awesome Nintendo 3DS and DS games as gifts--and a chance to give some games away! (Because giving is always better than receiving, right? Right?)

As far as gift-giving goes, you really can’t go wrong with Nintendo DS/3DS titles and systems. The rise of tablets and smartphones means that gaming is becoming increasingly mobile, and Nintendo is working hard to keep up with Apple. As a result, the 3/DS houses a manner of fun and affordable exclusives. Some are available at retail, but others can be downloaded from the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

This Holiday 2012 Gift Guide will bring you up-to-date with Nintendo DS and 3DS hardware, and it also picks out 2012’s best game offerings for the Nintendo 3DS and DS. Mind each game’s ESRB Rating, and consult How to Buy a Nintendo DS Game as a Gift for more information and advice!

Nintendo DSi XL

DSi XL
Image © Nintendo
How much is it? -- $129.99 USD

What can it do? -- In 2012, the spotlight slowly shifted from the Nintendo DS family to finally settle on its successor, the 3DS. That doesn’t mean the DS is down and out, though: the handheld has left behind a huge game library, and the Nintendo DSi XL’s big screens are your best means of beholding each of those titles. The DSi XL can also download apps and games via the Nintendo DSi Shop, and users can compose their own music, take pictures with the DSi XL’s camera, edit them, and post them to Facebook.

Why does it make a great gift? -- The DSi XL is more affordable than ever, and it’s a beautiful all-in-one system that plays Nintendo DS games and lets the user tinker with (and share) multimedia.

Nintendo 3DS

Image © Nintendo
How much is it? -- $169.99 USD

What can it do? -- The Nintendo 3DS’s biggest claim to fame is its ability to project glasses-free 3D images. Its real strength, however, is its diverse game library (made larger by the fact it can play Nintendo DS games) and attractive price tag. The 3DS is also capable of playing music, taking 3D pictures, recording 3D video, and lots more. It comes pre-loaded with tons of cool software. The 3DS can also download original titles by independent developers, and retro fans will love the Nintendo 3DS eShop’s Virtual Console, which sells classics that were previously released on the NES and Game Boy.

Why does it make a great gift? -- Anyone that loves great games as well as recording/making/drawing cool stuff will be over the moon with a Nintendo 3DS. Moreover, long-time fans of Nintendo’s franchises will find a lot to love about the system. Anyone who’s fond of Mario, Star Fox, Zelda, or Metroid will only find new additions to each series on Nintendo’s systems.

Nintendo DSi XL

Image © Nintendo
How much is it? -- $199.99 USD

What can it do? -- The Nintendo 3DS XL offers all the radical benefits of the Nintendo 3DS, but with a 90% larger screen area compared to its predecessor (the top screen measures 4.88 inches, and the bottom screen is 4.18). The result is a bigger, crisper image and better 3D projection.

Why does it make a great gift? -- The viewing angle for the 3DS XL is slightly improved over the 3DS, which makes it easier for siblings and significant others to get in on some over-the-shoulder action. Otherwise, the 3DS XL’s screens just make DS and 3DS games look very fine. If you’re buying a 3DS for a lucky recipient that doesn’t own one yet, the XL is the model to get.

Nintendo 3DS Prepaid Card

Image © Nintendo
How much is it? -- Cards printed with the Nintendo 3DS’s name and image are available for $20, but new cards that are usable with both the Wii U’s online shop and the Nintendo 3DS eShop can be found in $20, $35, and $50 denominations.

Why does it make a great gift? -- Nintendo’s prepaid cards let you buy and download digital games off Nintendo’s online stores. Not everything worth owning can be bought at retail! This list includes digital gift recommendations, too: Look for the bracketed (eShop) tag if you want to give a friend a prepaid card and a few good ideas.

New Super Mario Bros. 2

Image © Nintendo
(Action/Platforming, Rated E, Nintendo 3DS) (eShop or Retail) -- Mario continues to hop, stomp, and flip his way through the Mushroom Kingdom with New Super Mario Bros 2, a solid side-scrolling action title that should satisfy fans of the series. This time, however, Mario’s quest to rescue Princess Peach from the scaly clutches of Bowser carries an intriguing side-mission: Gather coins. Lots and lots of coins. Can you grab one million of the shiny tokens? More importantly, can you tell the world where the heck Mario keeps all his change? New Super Mario Bros 2 can be bought at retail, or downloaded from the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

Pokemon Black Version 2/White Version 2

Image © Nintendo
(RPG/Monster Collecting, Rated E, Nintendo DS/Nintendo 3DS) -- Pokemon Black/White Version 2 is the direct sequel to 2010’s Pokemon Black/White. You can expect to tread familiar territory and do familiar things (gotta catch ‘em all gotta catch ‘em all etc), but given that Black/White was built on such a solid foundation, it’s no surprise that Black/White Version 2 succeeds as a sequel.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

Image © Square-Enix
(Rhythm/Action, Rated E10+, Nintendo 3DS) -- The Final Fantasy is the most popular role-playing series of all time, and it’s also one of the most divisive titles in its genre. Some folks swear by the retro offerings, while others swear by the new games, but we can all agree that the series’ music is consistently great. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a light-hearted rhythm game that lets you tap your way through dozens of classic and beloved Final Fantasy songs.

Pokemon Conquest

Image © Nintendo
(Strategy/Role-Playing, Rated E, Nintendo DS/Nintendo 3DS) -- Pokemon Conquest is a turn-based strategy game based around Japan’s unifier, Oda Nobunaga. While the theme sounds odd, it’s actually a very popular basis for strategy games. The addition of Pokemon, however, is purely Nintendo’s own touch. Pokemon Conquest might be a little too easy for hardcore strategy fans, but Pokemon fans will get a real kick out of the change of scenery.

Kid Icarus: Uprising

Image © Nintendo
(Action/Shooting, Rated E10+, Nintendo 3DS) – Pit from the Kid Icarus series took a long, long vacation after his NES and Game Boy debuts, so he was in top form when he hit the Nintendo 3DS earlier this year. Kid Icarus: Uprising is an attractive action game with customizable difficulty, tons of items to collect, lots of areas to explore, and a twisted sense of humor.

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

Image © Square-Enix
(Action/Role-Playing, Rated E10+, Nintendo 3DS) – Square-Enix and Disney team up once again to bring us another adventure with the hero Sora and his friend, Riku. Players spend time with both characters as they seek to take down the evil Dream Eaters and go face-to-face with classic Disney villains like Ursula the Witch and Monstro the Whale.
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