Handheld Console Showdown: PS Vita vs. Nintendo 3DS

The PlayStation Vita finally made it to store shelves last month, and while it has already sold about 1.5 million units worldwide, some people are still hesitant to choose it over the Nintendo 3DS. So just how well does Sony’s new flagship handheld stack up against Nintendo’s? Let’s take a look.


The Display(s)

One of the 3DS’ biggest selling points is its glasses-free 3D display – more of a marketing gimmick, really. There are only a small handful of 3D-ready titles available, and of those, Super Mario 3D Land is the only one worth playing in 3D. Many people don’t actually like the 3D affects.

The Vita, however, has a 5-inch, fully touch-enabled OLED display which outshines the 3DS in nearly every aspect. The only downside is that its large screen might make the overall size a bit large to fit comfortably in your pocket. Score one for the Vita.



Like the previous DS systems, the 3DS has a D-pad, bumpers, a touch screen, and various buttons. Unlike its predecessors, it also has a single joystick and gyroscope/accelerometer.

Not to be outdone, the Vita has all of this, plus an additional joystick, an electronic compass, and a touch pad on the rear of the device. If anything, the Vita might have too many inputs, since they do lead to some complicated game play; nonetheless, we have to side with the Vita in this category as well.



As a significantly newer device, it should come as no surprise that the Vita has far superior graphics capabilities than the 3DS. The Vita features an extremely high-performance quad-core CPU and quad-core GPU, capable of outputting 150 million Tri/s. The 3DS can only manage about 30 million. This is another clear win for the Vita.


Game Library

Launched with 25 titles (all of about two were very good), the Vita has a small selection. That number is very quickly growing, and thankfully, the Vita is compatible with all PSP and PS Mini titles on the PlayStation Network. Unfortunately, for anyone hoping to migrate from a PSP, you’ll have to repurchase your games.

The 3DS doesn’t have a lot of worthy 3D titles, but it does have the HUGE Nintendo DS library at its disposal. Plus many of the greatest franchises, like Mario and Zelda. The 3DS takes this category…for now.



Both the 3DS and Vita have WiFi, but only the Vita has Bluetooth and a 3G version available. Both have built-in web browsers and even Netflix streaming, but the Vita’s larger screen makes a big difference. The PlayStation Network also offers a wide selection of movies and TV shows to rent or purchase. Mark another win for the Vita.



The WiFi-only version of the Vita weighs in at $249, a full $80 more expensive than the 3DS. The Vita also uses Sony’s proprietary Memory Stick storage, which is an additional $20 purchase at minimum (that’s just the 4GB card). 3DS games are, on average, about $10 cheaper than Vita titles as well. Considering the extra performance and features the Vita has, it’s still a good value, but the 3DS is easier on your wallet.



The Vita dominates in just about every category except Game Library and Price (arguably the two most important). The Vita game library will definitely improve over time, but we expect it won’t get much cheaper for a while. If all you’re after is a solid portable gaming experience, go for the 3DS (or DSi XL if you like a bigger screen). For premium graphics and features, the Vita is amazing.


What remains to be seen is whether the Vita can hold its own against the growing smartphone gaming trend.

Editor in Chief : Arie Struik

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