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From the moment it was announced, I knew the New Nintendo 3DS would be the handheld system I had always wanted. Seeing special edition after special edition release for the original 3DS never made me regret having the Aqua Blue system, but it always tempted me to replace it. That said, I never did, having gotten attached to my original system after years of StreetPassing, taking it with me on trolley rides, and having it at my side during between-class breaks. With the New 3DS, however, I could justify the purchase. After all, I’d be able to swap cover plates on a whim and not worry about damaging a system I considered a collectable in its own right. It’s been about four months since the Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer New 3DS bundle (with the standard console) was released, and while I absolutely adore the system itself, I find myself irked by what I thought would be its saving grace: cover plates.


Nintendo may have packed in two sets of plates with the bundle itself, but there isn’t a readily available way to acquire more. Shortly after the release, a small selection of plates went up on Nintendo’s own online shop, some of which are still available as of this writing. Beyond this, no major retailers have had cover plates in-store or online, making importing the go-to option.

This can be chalked up to, statistically, the scarcity of the New 3DS in consumer hands compared to other varieties. When we see sales figures they are generally for the 3DS family of systems rather than a single iteration, and while the line is a clear success, the small timeframe with which the New 3DS (even compared to its XL design) has been available points to it being poorly distributed. That said, with 3DS home themes and Badge Arcade being available on all systems, cover plates are the natural and tangible extension of this increasing focus on customization.

Looking through our own New 3DS Cover Plate Database, I see several designs I wish I could just pick up at a local store and have on my system within half an hour, or even order from Amazon at a standardized price. As has been the case with amiibo, some plates will simply be more desirable than others, with the likes of the Fire Emblem Fates and Super Mario Maker plates currently selling for more than some 3DS games. While I can understand why some plates, such as those designed by Japanese singer and fashion model Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, would be harder sells in America, the likes of Mario and Zelda would be appealing enough to warrant wider releases. Even if these were exclusively sold through Nintendo’s online shop they are easy upsells for fans of the titles and encourage future purchases, especially with titles that don’t see much merchandise otherwise such as the above mentioned Fire Emblem.


With the recent announcement of the Pokémon 151 original sprites cover plates, it’s only fitting I’m reminded why I love collecting in the first place. While the releases of the games will be digital, I can only hope Nintendo will use the opportunity to release this design and other plates in stores eventually, driving that “Gotta catch ‘em all” mentality to the fullest.

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Written by Ricky Berg

When he isn’t writing for Nintendo Wire, Ricky’s anticipating the next Kirby, Fire Emblem, or if the stars ever align, Mother 3 to be released. Till then he’ll have the warm comfort of Super Smash Bros. to keep him going.