The Handheld Console Debate: Nintendo 3DS XL vs. Playstation Vita — Who Wins?

I’ve been meaning to do an entry on this for a while, but I just never had the time to get around to it.  I recently purchased a Nintendo 3DS XL and a Playstation Vita this year, and after playing with each of them for a couple months, here’s my thoughts on the two systems.

Long story short, the PS Vita has a lot of potential.  I think its greatest follies at the moment are the lack of a strong game library and the hefty price tag.  It does have a few cool things going for it though, especially if Square Enix would just go on and release Final Fantasy X HD for the Vita already.  Anyway, below is a quick pros and cons breakdown that I came up with for each system.


Nintendo’s 3DS XL


  • The 3D effects are much more bearable on the larger screen than it is on the smaller 3DS.
  • While the launch games weren’t all that great, the game selection has been steadily improving, and I imagine it will continue to do so.  (One thing I’m definitely looking forward to is Fire Emblem: Awakening, which is releasing in pretty soon in February!)
  • The larger screens for the most part make use of the stylus almost unnecessary, which is fantastic for gamers like myself who prefer not to use a stylus if we don’t have to—it can get a little annoying to take out and put back the stylus every time.
  • The 3DS line in general has a lot of a lot of nice extras already installed in its system.  If more people used the StreetPass and SpotPass functions, it would probably make using the system a lot more fun.
  • The Nintendo eShop is really easy to navigate and pretty well organized.  It’s also nice that they’re allowing you to download games instead of buying the cartridges.  Saves the hassle of going to the store.  The games also don’t appear to take up a lot of space, so even with the pre-packaged 4GB SD card, you’ll probably be able to fit a fair amount.
  • The AR games are actually pretty nifty.  On the one hand it is a bit of a hassle to set up, but I still had a lot of fun with them.
  • The 3DS gyroscopic technology is actually pretty convenient in certain games as well.  You can actually just tilt the system and you can look left and right without the use of a joystick.
  • As far as I know, once you download a game, it’s just like you bought the hard copy.  You can download it again and again, which is good, because otherwise you might as well purchase the hard copy.


  • The graphics are not as crisp as they are on the smaller 3DS because they never upped the resolution for the games.  Why they didn’t bother to do so is beyond me.
  • This is a minor detail, but they won’t let you delete certain things from a Mii’s profile without deleting the entire Mii, which is unfortunate, especially if you like the Mii you created.  Some of the questions they ask for the Mii card can be considered privacy concerns.
  • While the larger screen is great, it can also get smudged up pretty easily.  Also, depending on whether or not you prefer to use a stylus, the larger screen might make utilizing the stylus a bit more of a hassle.
  • It’s kind of a bulky handheld, and a bit heavy too.  Maybe not a big deal for adults, but the device might be a bit difficult for a smaller child to handle.
  • The overall casing is very pretty and nicely done, but for those who are irked by even the smallest scuff or sign of wear, this is a device that will easily get nicked.
  • Nintendo Zone, while a nice idea, is also a great way to become an easy target for thieves looking to swipe people’s expensive gadgets.  Nintendo should really just allow people to be able to access it from home as well.
  • Depending on what you’re doing with it, the battery can drain pretty fast.
  • The regular camera is so-so.  The 3D camera is a bit of a toss-up as well.

Game Recommendations: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (Amazon | GameStop | Target), Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance (Amazon | GameStop | Target), Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (Amazon | GameStop | Target)

Accessory Recommendations: Black Silicone Skin Case Compatible with Nintendo 3DS XL* | HORI Nintendo 3DS XL Screen Protective Filter**

*I am normally not a fan of silicone cases, especially for gaming systems, but from what I’ve read from reviews, the silicone is probably the better option.  All the hardcase reviews I’ve read complain that after a while people notice some discoloration occur on the 3DS shell.
**If you purchase this, make sure you don’t make the same mistake I did and peel everything out of order before sticking it onto the 3DS.  If you do, you’re going to capture a lot of unnecessary air bubbles which will probably make you want to pull your hair out and shake your fist.  If you do it right though, you shouldn’t get any trapped air bubbles.  How do I know?  I did the top screen right and totally messed up the bottom screen.


Sony’s Playstation Vita


  • This is actually my first upgrade from the very first PSP model, the PSP-1000.  The Vita has crisper graphics and you can even transfer content using their Wi-Fi content manager.  (You can also connect with a USB cable if the Wi-Fi isn’t being cooperative.  Regardless, I think this is a convenient function.)
  • Games downloaded from the store can be downloaded an unlimited number of times.  While the selection for Vita-specific games are kind of slim pickings right now, I think they have a fair amount of games for download that were PSP UMD titles and of course there’s also the PS-One classics.
  • You can organize different pages for all your games and apps, and you can also customize the background for each individual page.
  • Everything is touch screen, which is pretty cool.  There’s also two joysticks, which some people consider to be a plus.
  • The system is not very heavy, which is nice, especially if you plan to play on it for a long period of time.


  • The current selection of games for the Vita is actually pretty pathetic.  Hopefully Sony decides to do a lot of ports.  I think ported games are pretty awesome, especially for gamers like me who would rather play on a handheld that you can take anywhere rather than be forced to stay in one room the whole time.
  • The system is actually pretty fragile.  There’s a lot that can get scratched up and scuffed.
  • I actually didn’t mind the UMD discs.  In fact, I think using them were a lot better than the Vita cartridges, especially since the slot you need to open to put them in is so flimsy.  It’s actually kind of worrisome; I can see it being a part of the Vita that gets easily broken off.  If you own one or if you’ve seen a demo in a store, you probably know what I’m talking about.
  • The pre-installed apps aren’t nearly as entertaining as they are in the 3DS XL.  The “Welcome Park” especially gets old real fast.  In fact, I kind of can’t help but wonder why it’s even there…
  • Memory gets eaten up pretty fast, which is rather unfortunate.  As far as I know, there’s no internal memory available like there is on the 3DS, so everything needs to go on a memory card.  The largest size available is 32GB, and unfortunately, unless you get lucky on an auction site like eBay or something, those retail for about $99.99 (not including tax) just about everywhere.  It’s ridiculous, especially since that’s on top of the already outrageous price for the product.
  • Just like in older PSP models, even if you purchase a movie from the store to keep, you’re not allowed to download it an infinite amount of times like you can with a game.  Fortunately, you can transfer everything out with the Wi-Fi content manager, which is a lot more convenient than what you used to have to do with one of the older PSP models to make sure you didn’t have to buy the same license twice.  Unfortunately, movies take up a lot of space, and you will probably have to utilize the content manager constantly.  Either that, or just rent the movies if you don’t think you want to keep them.  And if you’d rather just stick to buying regular DVDs or stream movies online, well, I wouldn’t blame you one bit.
  • There’s no backwards compatibility.  Meaning, if you purchased a movie through your old PSP model, you’re going to have to buy another license to be able to watch that same movie on the Vita.  My guess is they changed the file format for that as well.

Game Recommendations: Sadly, nothing has caught my eye just yet.

Accessory Recommendations: ArmorSuit MilitaryShield – Sony PlayStation Vita Skin Protector Shield Full Body with Lifetime Replacements | DreamGEAR Playstation Vita 4 in 1 Case Bundle | PlayStation Vita Memory Card

My recommendation is to just purchase these pricey systems off of auction sites like eBay rather than pay full price for them.  For the most part, if you’re patient and tactful, you can get anywhere from 30%-50% off of the list price for these consoles, and most of them are in pretty new condition too, from the looks of the photos.  I’m thinking a lot of people are just disappointed with how little the Vita has to offer right now, and so those are being sold like hot cakes because there’s really nothing to do on them right now.  As I’ve said before, the 3DS shows a little more promise.  However, please do be careful and make sure you read all the fine print and research carefully before placing a bid.  You don’t want to get cheated/scammed, as is always the risk with that kind of marketing experience.

For now, I think the 3DS wins, and my Vita is currently in a drawer collecting dust.  However, I can tell you that once Square Enix releases FFX HD (and I really hope they don’t back out on that project), you’d better believe I’m going to be stuck to my Vita like glue.

6 responses to “The Handheld Console Debate: Nintendo 3DS XL vs. Playstation Vita — Who Wins?

  1. nice article! I can say N3DS XL has kept my eyes on it since I ever saw it at retail. I think that’s the best option for me.

    • Thanks! Yeah, if you don’t mind that the graphic resolution is the same as the smaller 3DS and that the console is quite a lot heavier than its smaller sibling, then I’d definitely recommend it because in my opinion the additional real estate is actually worth it. It’s easier on the eyes, or on my eyes, at least, haha.

  2. I’m so tired of the “P4G” comments. It’s a decent game, not mind blowing. Repetitive, boring dungeons, and repetitive game in general, all the female characters “vying” to be emotionally saved by the male lead, stereotypical portrayals, who you choose to pair up with doesn’t matter and seldom comes into it as far as the story is concerned… meh.

    • Haven’t played it yet, so I can’t comment on it, but I’ll take your word for it. The graphics seem better than the screenshots I’ve seen for earlier installments though, at least.

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