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If you’re looking for a decent hand-held gaming system this Christmas but are unsure whether to grab Nintendo’s 3DS XL or Sony’s PS Vita then this (hopefully) non-biased article will help you decide which one to ask Santa for this Christmas.

Both consoles have had a pretty good run since their releases with a handful of games to keep even the most distracted player occupied, but with a huge library of titles under their belts this often leaves some players pondering which console is best for them? I’m going to give a run down of each console to hopefully give you a better idea as to which device you’ll want under your tree. So let’s get started shall we?

Nintendo 3DS XL

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Games

Nintendo consoles are probably best known for their huge array of first party games from Mario Kart to Pokemon to Zelda, if you’re a fan of either of these franchises then without a doubt the Nintendo 3DS is for you. The XL version of Nintendo’s latest handheld is a device that boasts a much larger screen over its predecessor and it’s my preferred console over the original 3DS. This larger screen does however make the console a little chunkier and in come cases fairly awkward to hold.

As for games, the Nintendo 3DS benefits from the likes of Mario Kart 7, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Tomodachi Life, Super Smash Bros, and about 6 different Pokemon titles both for 3DS and the original DS. There’s a also a decent selection of indie titles on the Nintendo eShop such as Shovel Knight, Steamworld Digg, and Mighty Switch Force 2, to name a few. If you’re a fan of classic Nintendo titles like Excite Bike, they’re also on there too. To put it simply, the Nintendo 3DS XL is a prefect console to anyone who’s a fan of Nintendo titles.

Form Factor

Because the 3DS XL is a little larger than the 3DS as well as boasting two screens and 3D capabilities the console is much, much larger than the PS Vita, it’s not ideal if you’re planning to play in a tiny tiny cupboard and can become a little awkward to hold at times, but overall the larger form factor is rarely ever a problem for me.

Value for Money

As for value for money the Nintendo 3DS XL costs around £179.99 which is a fairly decent price for the console itself. My only niggle with the 3DS is that graphically, most games don’t quite match up to the AAA quality we’ve come to expect from games nowadays, though the 3D function is a pretty neat gimmic, graphically the PS Vita excels ten fold.

Unique Features

The main unique feature of the Nintendo 3DS is of course the 3D. Personally I never use it as I’m a fairly active player and I move the console around a lot, which isn’t ideal when you’ve got the 3D on as you need to be sitting perfectly in front of it for it to work best. The console also comes with a 3D camera so you can take 3D snaps of you, your friends, and anything else you want to take pictures of all of which can be viewed on the 3DS.

Sony PS Vita

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Games

Sony has come under fire recently by players who feel that the company has left the Vita by the wayside, unlike the Nintendo 3DS, the PS Vita has very few first party titles from Sony such as Killzone Mercenary, LittleBigPlanet, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss, but where the PS Vita really excels is its huge support from indie developers such as Roll7 (OlliOlli), Curve Digital (The Swapper), Project Siren (Gravity Rush), and many many more. It’s safe to say that the PS Vita is being kept alive courtesy of indie game developers.

The PS Vita also has a huge array of JRPG’s under its belt, something which the Nintendo 3DS has a handful off, and some like Bravely Default are exceptional, but the PS Vita has so many more. There’s also the benefits of cross-buy which if you already own a PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4, you may already have a handful of titles ready to download and play.

What the PS Vita lacks however is storage space for all of these PlayStation Network titles. Because the PS Vita relies heavily on the devices proprietary SD card you’ll find that if you want to keep a lot of digital games handy you’ll need to purchase a high capacity card and they’re not cheap – a 64GB card will set you back around £65, that’s almost £1 per GB. This isn’t something the Nintendo 3DS struggles with as the device comes with a 4GB memory card that’s a standard SD card too so it can be easily and cheaply replaced if you need more memory and the 3DS has support for upto 128GB.

If you’re someone that likes to game but rarely have the cash to purchase any, for £5.99 per month you can grab yourself a PS Plus Subscription which not only knocks the price off of games from the PlayStation Network, but each month a brand new selection of games are made available absolutely free. Some notable games which have been released through PS Plus recently are Dragon’s Crown, LEGO Batman 2, Metrico, and PlayStation All-starts Battle Royale. Once downloaded all of these games are yours to keep and play as long as your subscription remains in tact, so if you rarely have the cash, but have £6 to spare each month, you can quickly build up a decent collection of titles.

Oh and did I forget to mention the huge library of PSOne games available on the PlayStation Network?

Form Factor

In terms of form factor, the new PS Vita Slim is a much slimmer and compact design with the same functionality as the original, it also has a much better touch screen display which makes games look gorgeous, there’s also a little more processing power behind the PS Vita too which allows developers to make games look a lot better.

Value for Money

You can buy a PS Vita either on its own or in a bundle for around £149.99 which is much cheaper than the 3DS, also paired up with a PS Plus subscription the PS Vita definitely gives you your money’s worth. There is the problem of storage space which does require you to fork out for a decent sized memory card, but other than that, the PS Vita is well worth the reasonable asking price.

Unique Features

The PS Vita is packed with unique features such as the devices touch screen as well as a rear facing touch sensitive pad. It also boasts two thumb sticks so playing first person shooters on the device is a doddle. The only real issue I have with the PS Vita’s rear touchpad is that hardly any developers make the most of its functionality which is a shame. If you want to make the most out of everything the PS Vita has to offer I’d recommend trying out Tearaway.

The PS Vita can also be used to play PlayStation 4 games remotely, so if you want to play Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare but your wife or mother wants to watch the TV, leave your PS4 on, and play the game remotely on the PS Vita.

Overall

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It’s difficult for me to say “Hey, get this console over the other,” because I love both my 3DS and Vita in different ways, but if you don’t have the luxury of owning both, it purely comes down to what experience you yourself, or the person you’re purchasing the device for, wants – which goes without saying, really. If you’re a fan of Pokemon and various other staple Nintendo titles and the odd indie game, the 3DS is a great little device, albeit a little pricey. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of indie titles, free games, and have owned a PlayStation console at some point in your life, then the PS Vita is certainly a great device too.

Hopefully I’ve added enough pros and cons from each console to help you decide between the two.

If you happen to own either console and think I’ve missed something out, add your thoughts in the comments!

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dcj91x
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dcj91x

Maybe unbiased but very opinionated. “3DS is that most games don’t quite match up to the AAA quality we’ve come to expect.” Persona Q, SMT4, Fire Emblem, Mario 3D land, to name a few. “the console is much, much larger than the PS Vita” I own both systems, I can fir the 3DSxl in my pocket, I can’t the Vita. “3D function is a pretty neat gimmick” Is this statement not Biased? Instead of just stating the 3D function you call it a gimmick than proceed to explain how you NEVER use it. Just because you don’t use it doesn’t… Read more »

Aaron Richardson
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Thanks for your comment! You’re right, though it’s not biased, it is a little opinionated, but I’m trying to be more critical than anything in the hopes to help people decide between the two. Just to let you know, LittleBigPlanet 3 is only available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. Also, your point about PlayStation Plus games, they’re yours to own as long as you have an active PlayStation Plus subscription. I have many games acquired through PlayStation Plus that I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled even when they’re no longer PS Plus titles. I wouldn’t necessarily call them “rentals” as you… Read more »

noodle
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noodle

As a Psvita owner, this is a pretty accurate description of both systems and after that is just your preference.

Brandon
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Brandon

The only thing I’d add about the vita: region free

davidlowe
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davidlowe

this looks like it came from a magazine from the 90’s, the whole argument is that these are the only two alternatives for playing games on and for the fact that games on these devices are very expensive i think it is a very shallow discussion, you have two devices that are shrinking in sales due to the fact they are a one trick pony, who really wants a one trick pont when that trick is very expensive and with a small screen, both will have been withdrawn with a couple of years and all these games will be available… Read more »

Kaihaku
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Kaihaku

“why would anyone really buy their kids or themselves one of these unless they hated smartphones,”

Because a dedicated gaming device offers higher quality gaming experiences. There’s nothing on the mobile platforms that can compete with titles like Fire Emblem: Awakening, Persona 4 Golden, Super Mario 3D World, or Rayman Origins. Sure, I like playing mobile games but until they offer a comparable experience dedicated gaming devices are going to continue have a market.

Kaihaku
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Kaihaku

While the Vita has a incredible library of JPRGs, the 3DS has more than a handful of JRPGs and they include the absolutely fantastic Fire Emblem: Awakening, Etrian Odyssey: The Millennium Girl, and Shin Megami Tensei IV. I’m a big JRPG fan but when it comes down to it I’d take Fire Emblem: Awakening over anything in the Vita’s very impressive library of JRPGs. As for Bravely Default, personally I thought it was very overrated considering the repetitive second half. On the unique features note, Miiverse and Streetpass should have been noted for the 3DS. I thought streetpass was gimmicky… Read more »

RocksRightBicep
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RocksRightBicep

I have both the Vita and the 3DS XL. My opinions are pretty much right in line with yours, although I prefer the Vita because I’m a HUGE JRPG fan. The size of the 3DS isn’t a problem for me at all because of the smooth rounded edges when closed. The Vita, while smaller, is actually an issue because of the analog sticks poking out from the rest of the system. I always keep my Vita inside a case when not in use to avoid that problem. For the average parent looking for a gift for their kids, the 3DS… Read more »