Getting my hands on the New Nintendo 3DS XL before launch has been quite the treat, as I’m able to try out nearly all the new features of the upgraded system.
Best of all I can let you, the readers, know all the “ins-and-outs” about the handheld and whether it’s truly worth your time and money.
In terms of size, the N3DS XL is slightly larger and thinner than the regular 3DS XL, while the screen sizes are roughly the same. The stylus, game port and power button are all located at the bottom instead of their previous positions.
The portable also comes with a 4GB micro-SD card and, naturally, you’ll be able to swap them out with new ones as the need arises. It doesn’t hurt that the cards are incredibly cheap as well.
Battery life has been improved from the previous iterations, but only by two-three hours since it merely upgraded from a 1300mAh pack to a 1400mAh pack. While I noticed the battery power lasting a bit longer for normal 3DS games, I do wonder if the difference in battery life will remain constant once the more hardware intensive games hit the market.
One of the first features you’ll notice when booting up the N3DS for the first time is the improved 3D. In the original 3DS and XL models, the effect was clearly in early stages and thereby caused a strong reaction with those sensitive to 3D. Furthermore, the 3D was inconsistent and would lose intensity depending on the position of your eyes and the system.
With the N3DS, the effect is much smoother as the face-tracking 3D works to great effect in making sure that the 3D stays uniform no matter which direction you face, without the negative strain. As someone who is normally very sensitive to 3D (burning, watery eyes and worse) I was able to maintain full 3D myself without any adverse effects.
Moving on to button layout, the power buttons move from next to the lower screen to the bottom of the system is a refreshing on, as players will no longer have to worry about accidentally pressing power.
Then there’s the C-stick, which is a small analog numb at the top right of the bottom screen. Using it effectively takes some getting used to, as the C-stick moves more like the mouse numb seen in some laptops. It operates the same as well, by simply tilting your thumb in the direction you wish to move the camera.
It works quite well and allows for some precision camera-control. I can’t wait to see how future titles take advantage of this.
Another new addition to the button layout are the ZR and ZL triggers, similar to the ones found on most console controllers but located next to the shoulder buttons rather than behind. While they have no set purpose, their main purpose is for customization. For instance, In Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate you can customize the additional triggers to perform any command, potentially simplifying gameplay.
Processing power has also been improved from the original 3DS and XL, as it starts and loads titles and apps much faster that before (this includes the normally “slow as snails” eShop). Titles also download from the eShop at much higher speeds; a title that would normally take several hours to fully download will now only take an hour at the most, as I found was the case with The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D.
Upgraded processing power also means better graphics, improved textures and other such improvements. A good example of this is the upcoming Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, which features better textures than on the current 3DS and XL.
The internet browser is actually functional now; not only is the overall layout much easier to see (without the need to constantly zoom in and out), but sites load much faster than before.
On a side note, it seems that the 3D camera is of slightly higher quality than before.
The N3DS XL features NFC capabilities, which means that Amiibos can be scanned into the system through the bottom touch screen and used for compatible titles such as Super Smash Bros. for 3DS or the upcoming Project S.T.E.A.M. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try out this feature because the system update unlocking it won’t be released until launch.
Lastly, there’s the issue of the system not coming with a charger, meaning that you’ll either be using a charger from an older Nintendo 3DS/DSi model or, barring that, you’ll be purchasing one. I personally used my original 3DS charger but if you need one yourself, they’re pretty cheap on Amazon now. For the price of the system Nintendo could have easily included a charger, which would have prevented such a situation in the first place.
The New Nintendo 3DS XL is honestly how the 3DS should have released to begin with. It’s the ideal portable with stronger hardware, better battery life, the addition of the C-stick and Z-triggers, better button layout, faster download speeds and more.
That being said, while a newcomer would have ample reasons to purchase a N3DS XL, it would be quite difficult to convince those who already invested in a previously released 3DS model to buy an upgraded one for $200. I believe the strength of any argument for said purchase would be dependent on the quality of any future exclusive titles.
I believe the New 3DS is a system worth getting but, depending on your situation, may not be worth getting just yet.