The Nintendo 3DS in 2020 – worth it?


While we are in lockdown, I wondered what would be a good console to buy for cheap that can get the whole family involved, I pretty much instantly ruled out an XBOX, or PlayStation, as their games tend to be less family friendly and they don’t have the conveniece of being handheld consoles. In fact, the only other handhelds that are modern are the Nintendo Switch and the PS Vita. The PlayStation Vita was quite unpopular, and therefore doesn’t have many titles available. While the switch has a very good following and game library, it is very expensive as it is a fairly new console. So, the 3DS seemed the way to go, for a very low price on eBay I picked up a 3DS in Flame Red with charger, carrying case, 1GB SD Card (not great, but better than nothing), and a moshi monsters game (again, not my thing but someone might like it.)

Out of the box

The 3DS came packaged very well, and it had a few scratches but nothing major and the functionality is perfect. Now, I only own a handful of 3DS games, so I didn’t have lots to play with out of the box in terms of 3DS games (you’ll see how I got around this below) but what I do have lots of are original DS games (for the DS, DS Lite and DSi. And with the built in backwards compatibility these all worked perfectly.


Thanks to an amazing tutorial at, I was able to hack my 3DS so that I was able to install games in .cia format on the 3DS. This was incredibly useful, as I could now play some of the 3DS games that I have wanted to play for a while, such as Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land for example. This makes the 3DS a lot of fun, and you can also upload any of your own “homebrew” apps to the 3DS if you hack it, which makes it excellent as a development tool.

The 3DS running the Homebrew channel, an app that allows install of your own game files.

Playing games with others

Thanks to Nintendo’s fantastic DS Download Play, I was able to have lots of fun multiplayer games, such as Mario Kart 7 with my sister on her 3DS, and Mario Party DS thanks to the backwards compatibility, this meant our whole family enjoyed the Mario Party game.


To conclude, I think that the 3DS is definitely worth it in 2020, if you are prepared to hack it and install the custom firmware to play homebrew games and .cia games, then it makes the whole experience a lot more fun with lots of customisation that you can do to the 3DS system. The DS Download Play function is excellent, especially during this lockdown because it allows the whole family to get involved, with Nintendo’s family oriented games, it’s similar to the Wii in that regard.

Overall, I think the Nintendo 3DS is the best DS system from Nintendo to buy in 2020, because it can play every single DS game, gameboy games with an emulator (hacked devices only) and it can be hacked to play your own games and apps. It’s very customisable.

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