iPhone vs 3DS: Why Are We Fighting Again?

iPhone vs 3DS: Why Are We Fighting Again?

Video game and tech fans love declarations and absolutes. We preview a good-looking adventure game and babble about its potential as a “Zelda killer,” or another tablet comes onto the market and instantly it’s an “iPad killer.” With the way the industry is supposedly brimming with shadowy murderers of popular technology, you’d think that there’s only room in this town for one device that does it all.

Key example: Apple versus Nintendo. One of the game community’s favorite discussions is how thoroughly the iPhone, iPad and other iOS devices will grind the Nintendo 3DS into a fine paste–or vice versa. There’s far less discussion on a middle ground, even though past buying trends indicate that people expect their iPhone and Nintendo DS to play very different games.

In honor of the App Store’s 10 billionth download, Apple released a list of the most popular free and paid apps. Indeed, most of the apps downloaded for iPhone are games, with Doodle Jump taking the #1 spot. Other games in the top ten include Angry Birds (of course), Flight Control, Bejeweled 2, and Tap Tap Revenge.

By comparison, the best-selling games on the Nintendo DS include New Super Mario Bros., Mario Kart DS, Animal Crossing: Wild World, Professor Layton, Dragon Quest IX, Brain Age, and several Pokemon games.

There’s a very clear distinction between the App Store’s most popular offerings, and the Nintendo DS’s bestsellers. The iOS games are quick distractions, ideal for anyone who’s in a slow-moving queue at the bank. The object is to rack up the highest score possible and boast about it to your friends, often online via OpenFeint.

The Nintendo DS specializes in long, rambling adventure games and RPGs that are well-suited for a leisurely Sunday on the couch. These are experiences that can’t be duplicated by the iPhone–partially because the most popular games and franchises belong to Nintendo itself.

Conclusion: Why is there any pressure at all to choose between the iPhone and the Nintendo DS? Neither one offers the “one true gaming experience.” Most players like a wide variety of genres. What works on the iPhone might not work as well on the DS or 3DS. The reverse is true as well.

Sure, budgets can be tight, and sometimes there comes a painful choice between one system or the other. But that’s often remedied by waiting. Sooner or later, that little windfall comes, and, when coupled with that one exclusive title that everybody is talking about, a trip to GameStop or the Apple Store suddenly becomes very tempting. In the end, there’s plenty of room for deep, meandering games as well as lightning-quick distractions. Lord knows grocery store line-ups are always going to have that one senior citizen who insists on paying for his or her groceries with a post-dated check.

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About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

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