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Top 6 Nintendo 3DS Design Variants



Top 6 Nintendo 3DS Design Variants

What is the best Nintendo 3DS Design?

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on October 3, 2017.


The Nintendo 3DS has had a lot, and I mean a lot, of design variations and special editions within its 6-year lifespan.

There’s a lot that I’m not a big fan of, but some that I think are pretty cool. Barring simple color variations, here are six designs that I think are the cream of the crop. 

6. Yoshi (Lime-Green) (3DS XL)

Who doesn’t like Yoshi?

Get out.

The remaining lot of you will probably love this simple, clean and sweet Yoshi-themed 3DS XL that I think really captures the kinda childish innocence of Yoshi games with its lime-green color and decals of Yoshi and his eggs.

There’s just something very friendly about this particular design that I think really shines.

A black and lime-green variation without the decals was put out at one point, as well, but it simply lacks the charm we see here.

5. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS)

With the Ocarina of Time 3D edition of the regular ol’ 3DS, Nintendo spared us from the kind of gold overload that is usually prominent with Zelda-themed editions of their consoles.

Instead, he gets a nice little simple black 3DS with yellow/gold decals on the back that represent the game without slapping an off-brand-sticker-from-eBay picture of Link, and the gold accents on the inside, on the D-pad, buttons etc. are pretty sweet.

Personally, if there was a version of this console available without decals on the back (maybe just the Triforce, in a minimalist way), I’d want to snatch one.


4. New Super Mario Bros. 2 (Red) (3DS XL)

Red. I like red. I also like 8-bit and 16-bit era Super Mario games. Therefore, I like this one.

This special edition (only released in Japan, once again) uses the Red and Black version of the 3DS XL (or “LL” in Japan) as its base, but adds a nice and simple pattern of Mario power-ups and bricks as decals on the back, on top of some dashing looking (get it?) stripes. Inside, though, it’s just standard black.

Man, if this was available in the US, I would have grabbed it instead of the Mario & Luigi: Dream Team one I got instead, which I ended up not even including on this list.

3. Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D (3DS)

Someday you go through the rain, and someday, you feed on a tree frog. Someday, you want a cute little black 3DS with a snakeskin back. Well, here you go.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), the back is regular 3DS plastic, just textured to feel like snakeskin.

Part of me is a bit upset that it isn’t real leather, considering that it was a very limited, hard to get, Japan-only edition of the 3DS when it came out. Another part of me is glad we got a really unique 3DS despite the confusing port of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater responsible for its existence.

(There aren’t that many great photos of this thing, so here’s a video)

2. Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS XL)

I’ve never been a big fan of the all-white color models of the 3DS, or any console really. But, this design really completes it all.

Animal Crossing games are calm, sweet little packages, and this design with its iconographic pattern on the back really emulates just that. It reminds me of packaging you would get from an artisan bakery or a designer handbag.

The more you look at, the more pleasant it appears to be.

Though, honestly, I’d feel a bit ashamed playing something like Resident Evil: The Mercenaries on a system like this. It’s just wrong.

Honorable Mention:

Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire (Crystal Red/Blue) (2DS)

I’m a sucker for colored, transparent gaming consoles and controllers. And these ones really remind me of my favorite red and blue clear PS2 controllers.

The downside is that you are using a slate-style 2DS instead of the new clam-shell ones. While it’s not the worst design, it’s not one that I prefer.

1. Super Famicom/Super Nintendo (New 3DS XL)

No surprise here.

I find this variation of the 3DS to be probably the best-realized one that exists. Instead of being just a basic throwback, this design actually gets the general feeling of the Super Famicom/Super Nintendo down pretty well, and keeps it simple and understated just like the console it is based on.

The grey that matches the console reminds me of the PS4 “classic grey” variation of the Dualshock 4, (which I own and cherish, I’ll have you know) in that it takes a prominent element of the original’s design and re-uses it beyond just a simple reference (a big gripe I have with the NES- inspired 3DS). The back of the console actually doesn’t look cheesy, to boot!

This Super Famicom variation of the New 3DS XL was only available in Japan, but a SNES-inspired variation is coming soon to Europe.

Well, that’s it for my list. What are your favorites? Any ones I missed? Upset at my choices? Well, you can always leave a comment!

Immensely fascinated by the arts and interactive media, Maxwell N's views and opinions are backed by a vast knowledge of and passion for film, music, literature and video game history. His other endeavors and hobbies include fiction writing, creating experimental soundscapes, and photography. A Los Angeles, CA local, he currently lives with his wife and two pet potatoes/parrots in Austin, TX. He can mostly be found hanging around Twitter as @maxn_



  1. Kyle Rogacion

    October 3, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    I liked the Fire Emblem: Awakening variant, but I’m also a fan of light blue and Fire Emblem. The glossy sheen of the first wave 3DS never really appealed to me.

    I’ve enjoyed most of the 3DSXL variants because they tend to be more minimalistic. The solid colors and simple shapes work well with the subdued texture and tactile feel of the plastic shell.

    • Maxwell N

      October 9, 2017 at 11:47 pm

      Honestly, I personally tend to go for solid colors. Most designs are a bit too cluttered for me.

  2. mojack411

    October 3, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    I’m in love with pretty much all the Monster Hunter 3DS’s. The metallic silver one that MH4G got is probably my personal favorite.

  3. Ricky D

    October 3, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Well at least you got the #1 pick. I would have included the NES version and I would replace the Ocarina of Time version with Marjora’s Mask.

    • Maxwell N

      October 9, 2017 at 11:47 pm

      Not a fan of designs that have too much going on, which is why those ones were left out. And I only wanted to include one “retro” themed 3DS, and I don’t like how the NES one just has a controller on the back, and that it’s silver.

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