Got a blue 3DS XL as my first 3DS back in 2013 from a friend who claimed he got it off of someone working at a GameStop for a reduced price, due to having ordered both a red one and a blue one, but they canceled the red one at the last minute and had surplus funds as a result. He also lent me his copy of Ocarina of Time 3D and Kid Icarus: Uprising to start me off; definitely a much stronger start for me than those stuck with Steel Diver at launch. I did envy those Ambassador owners though and that same friend (Who had a black original 3DS from launch) always made it a point to rub that boon in my face.
Later on I upgraded to a black New 3DS (standard size) with the Mario faceplates around 2016 for Black Friday for an absolute steal of a bargain (It was $99 I believe?). Before that though I had given away my blue 3DS XL in 2015 since it got damaged back to the same friend, so he could Frankenstein the back-plate onto his red one to now have a "Red and Blue" XL. Bit of a funny coincidence considering what originally happened in procuring the blue one... It was like a reincarnation of sorts.
In that brief lull where I had no 3DS between the XL and the New however, I decided to try out a 2DS out of curiosity, and got a blue and black one refurbished from that same GameStop for around $70. Needless to say I didn't like it one bit, and it eventually broke on me too after something went loose inside and it shook like a maraca, to a point where whatever was dislodged inside would bump into the nodule that turned it on. So it would shut off at the slightest shake, until it just gave out eventually to never turn on again. It was also scuffed all over since I assume a child had previously owned it, not surprising considering the demographic it was aimed at.
Anyways, I was initially pessimistic about the 3DS from the 2010 reveal right up to that pathetic 2011 launch, and I was adamant on waiting for a revision because by this point after the DS, GBA and GB one ought to have known better than to immediately get the launch model since a better model was usually coming soon after. Thankfully my patience paid off, and by the time of the XL in 2012 the lineup was starting to coalesce into something... More desirable than just Steel Diver and Swapnote. I have a lot of fond memories playing Mario Kart 7 and Kid Icarus: Uprising online with friends, always seeing the blue notification light turn on every few hours or so, and discovering great eShop gems like Pushmo and Dillon's Rolling Western.
I still much prefer the DS overall as the best Nintendo handheld due to having a more robust library, but the 3DS is pretty darn good in and of itself. I daresay it's strongest years were between 2011-2014. It was weird how it petered out around 2017-2019 with remakes, but there were still good games to get a hold of and sink one's teeth into. I will miss the days of true handheld gaming with more smaller budgets and more diverse selections, assuming we never go back to this style ever again. But if it really is the last time we see it, then hell I wouldn't have asked for a better send-off than this.
And lastly, while I'm at it, I may as well list my personal top 5 3DS games (By release order):
- Mario Kart 7
- Dillon's Rolling Western
- Kid Icarus: Uprising
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
- Kirby: Planet Robobot