Logo for Game Boy 3DS

The Game Boy 3DS is the latest iteration in the Game Boy family of handheld video game systems from Nintendo. It was first revealed at E3 2011 and launched worldwide in November 2011.


Nintendo began experimenting with 3D technology in the 1980's, and began the development of a 3D gaming system in the mid-90's. They even developed one game, 2001's Luigi's Mansion, to be played on a 3D television. However, due to the high cost of the technology at the time, it was decided not to include the feature.

Gunpei Yokoi's continued work at Nintendo into 2006 kept enthusiasm for 3D technology alive at Nintendo. Even before his retirement, work began on a new system that would revolutionize how players navigated 3D environments.

Meanwhile, early tests demonstrated that 3D technology interacted poorly with touchscreens, as the smudges on touchscreens interfered with the quality of the 3D. It was therefore proposed that a second screen be added to Nintendo's next system for the sole purpose of providing a 3D image. Therefore, a hinge was added to the nascent design for the system, connecting the main body to the second screen, stereo speakers, and the system's cameras.

Game Boy 3DS

The Game Boy 3DS, as it was called, was first demonstrated to the public at E3 2011. Critics were puzzled by the odd design choice of adding a second screen, but complimented the 3D effect and praised the power and upcoming titles for the system.

The Game Boy 3DS was released worldwide in November 2011, at a launch price of about $200 worldwide. Launch titles included Mario Kart 3D, Donkey Kong 64 3D, Pokemon Rumble Blast, and various other games. The system was an instant success, and proceeded to sell well the rest of the year, especially as new games continued to be released.

As 2012 went on, the Game Boy 3DS continued to get new games. Many titles that came out or were announced during this time were Mario games, including August's New Super Mario Bros 2, December's Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and March's Mario Party 3D. Other notable games included Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate from Capcom, Assassin's Creed: Liberation from Ubisoft, and Konami's Metal Gear Solid 3D. Animal Crossing: New Leaf was a holiday release, but only in Japan, albeit with great success. Also of note was the release of the larger "XL" model, which only further increased sales, especially coinciding with the sytem's first major price cut. By the end of November, the original Game Boy 3DS cost only $170, while the XL cost $200.

As 2013 came, major new games continued to be released for the Game Boy 3DS. The most notable games of Winter 2013 included Dragon Quest 7 from Enix and Mario Party 3D and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon 3 from Nintendo. In June, Animal Crossing: New Leaf was released in the West to general acclaim and sales success.

In August 2013, Nintendo announced the next iteration of the Game Boy 3DS, named the "Game Boy 2DS." It would launch alongisde Pokemon X/Y in October at a reduced price of $150, sacrificing portability and 3D effects for price and durability.


Game Boy 3DS

One of a limited series of "retro" Game Boy 3DS's.

The Game Boy 3DS features a peculiar clam-shell design. The main innovation, of course, is the second 3D screen, which uses a parallax barrier display. The system also houses its speakers on the flanks of the second screen, along with a slider to modify the 3D effect, a microphone, and three cameras, one facing inside and two facing out.

The bottom portion of the system is very similar to the Game Boy Nitro, down to the same number and placement of buttons. Also added, however, is a "Home" button, which allows the Game Boy 3DS to perform limited multitasking.

The Game Boy 3DS has 134 MB of RAM, as well as a CPU clocking in at around 536 MHz. About three quarters of this power is devoted to games, while the rest is devoted to the operating system and multitasking. The bottom screen has the same 320 by 240 resolution as the Nitro. The top screen, however, is 400 by 240, creating a 5:3 widescreen. The Game Boy 3DS has 1.5 GB of internal memory and typically comes with a 2 GB SD Card.

Game Cards for the Game Boy 3DS are up to 4 GB in size. This limit was quickly reached by larger titles such as Resident Evil: Revelations. However, most titles are below 1 GB in size.

The Game Boy 3DS can play all Nitro games on the lower screen, leaving the top screen to display information such as the time, date, and battery life.


Despite its youth, the Game Boy 3DS has a wealth of titles, many created by veteran studios that worked on the Nitro. As the only notable dedicated handheld gaming machine on the market, the Game Boy 3DS has a de facto monopoly on handheld retail titles.

List of Launch Titles

Mario Kart 3D

Mario Kart 3D was the star of the 3DS launch.


  • Donkey Kong 64 3D
  • Mario Kart 3D
  • Pokemon Rumble Blast
  • Asphalt 3D
  • Frogger 3D
  • Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2012
  • Ridge Racer 3D

North America:

  • Donkey Kong 64 3D
  • Mario Kart 3D
  • Pokemon Rumble Blast
  • Asphalt 3D
  • Frogger 3D
  • Madden NFL Football
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2012
  • Ridge Racer 3D


  • Donkey Kong 64 3D
  • Mario Kart 3D
  • Pokemon Rumble Blast
  • Asphalt 3D
  • FIFA 12
  • Pac-Man Party
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2012
  • Ridge Racer 3D


Initially, reception of the Game Boy 3DS was mixed, as many were confused by the use of a second screen, even one with a 3D effect. However, since its release, the Game Boy 3DS has been similarly well received as earlier incarnations of the Game Boy. About 19 million systems and over twice as many games were sold by the end of June 2013.

List of Best-Selling Games

Note: The data is as of late August 2013.

  • Mario Kart 3D - 7.1 million
  • New Super Mario Bros. 2 - 5.1 million
  • Animal Crossing: New Leaf - 4.4 million
  • Monster Hunter Tri Ultimate - 2.2 million
  • Paper Mario: Sticker Star - 1.6 million
  • Friends Collection: New Life - 1.3 million
  • Dragon Quest 7 - 1.2 million
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D - 1.2 million
  • Mario Party 3D - 1.2 million
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising - 1.1 million
  • Civilization V - 1.4 million
  • Spore Adventures - 1.0 million
  • Grand Theft Auto V - 5.3 million

See Also

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