Originally posted March 17th 2015 on the Seafoam Gaming forums
Nintendo New 3DS XL (AKA N3DSXL) Review
Release date: 2/13/2015
So if you’ve been following the 3DS family lineup the past few years, you’ll notice that there’s been some change to the formula every year so far. In 2011 we got the original Nintendo 3DS, with the original small size and 3D effect. Then in 2012 we got the Nintendo 3DS XL, with bigger screens and better shoulder buttons, while in 2013 North America and Europe got the Nintendo 2DS, a low budget version of the Nintendo 3DS without the 3D or a clamshell design.
Japan never got the 2DS, but what they did eventually get would be the best of them all, the New Nintendo 3DS/New Nintendo 3DS XL in 2014. Released in February in the United States and Europe (US only gets the XL model), the N3DSXL seems like a rather odd creation by Nintendo, since the older models are selling just fine. But does this new model have what it takes in order to be worth picking up, or should you just wait?
The first thing you’ll notice when you turn on your New 3DS XL for the first time is the Super-Stable 3D. On the older 3DS models the 3D had a bad habit of getting distorted when you moved very slightly, which caused a lot of players to turn off the 3D after the novelty effect wore off. Luckily on the New 3DS XL that’s no longer the case, as the first test of the super-stable 3D will show how much it has improved, thanks to the handy face-tracking camera. After it adjusts to your face, the 3D effect will be pretty hard to get rid of without turning the slider off, making it better than the 3D effect on the original models.
Older 3DS games such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity and the Sega 3D Classics look even better on the New 3DS XL thanks to the improved 3D effect showing off these games at their full potential, while newer 3DS games get minor graphical enhancements on the N3DSXL, such as Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D. However, by far the best part of these graphical improvements is the extra power of the New 3DS XL. Thanks to added processing power, exclusive games can be developed for the New 3DS XL that take advantage of it, similar to how the Game Boy Color had a bit of extra power enabling it to play exclusive games that could not run on the original Game Boy.
Sadly as of this review none of them are even out yet and the only exclusive currently announced is a port of the Wii game Xenoblade Chronicles, coming in early April. Nintendo definitely missed their chance to show off the power of this new system even more by not having an exclusive game at launch.
While the original 3DS had a good speaker, it was a bit quiet compared to the ones on the DS Lite, and it was even worse on the 3DS XL. Luckily the New 3DS XL offers a better speaker, with louder audio and surround sound support. (Though this may mess up some games not designed with it in mind such as Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call) Stereo and Mono are both alternatives in the system settings if you don’t want to use the default Surround sound option. Overall, only a minor improvement compared to the older models in this category.
The New Nintendo 3DS XL contains one of the most requested additions to a Nintendo Handheld; a built in Circle Pad Pro known as the C-Stick, with the ZL and ZR buttons included as well. Instead of moving around like the ordinary circle pad, however, it actually works like a small nub, only requiring pressure to use. This works great in games with camera control, such as Kingdom Hearts 3D and Majora’s Mask 3D, but at the expense of not working so great in games that used the circle pad pro for other purposes, such as 3D Galaxy Force II, which used the circle pad pro as an alternative way to move your ship, or as the throttle. Using the C-stick on the other hand does not work out well, especially with movement. Luckily there aren’t too many games that suffer that problem with the C-Stick, but it’s still a bit concerning nonetheless.
With the extra controls out of the way, let’s talk about the other minor changes to the system. To start off, the START and SELECT buttons are no longer at the bottom of the 3DS touch screen, instead being moved to a much better position underneath the face buttons, similar to how they are on the 2DS. The power button, stylus and game card slot are now moved to the bottom of the system, which at first made me a bit concerned as I worried it would power off when I put it in my carrying case, but luckily it seems to require a bit of force in order to work, like with the game card slot. Thanks to these changes in the design, the New 3DS XL is much more comfortable to hold compared to it’s predecessors, and I’ve spent many hours at a time playing games on this upgraded model. The internet browser is greatly improved on the New 3DS XL as well, which makes it very easy to go to the browser to look up tips for a game you are having difficulties with in the middle of playing.
The final change to the design I need to state is the switch from SD cards to microSD cards. While the older models did have a minor problem with the SD cards getting loose if you dropped your system, they weren’t that hard to swap out if you need to move data to a bigger one or back it up on your computer. On the New 3DS and New 3DS XL, however the microSD slot is hidden next to the battery on the back of the system. This requires you to now use the back of the New 3DS XL stylus and a special screwdriver just to access it safely. No big deal with patience but it’s definitely longer than it was on the older models. You’ll also need to do this with a microSD to SD converter if you want to do a system transfer via your PC or Mac instead of through the extremely long wireless method, which makes the initial setup a pain.
Once you transfer your data over, you shouldn’t need to worry that much anymore, since you can easily back your data up without removing the microSD card using the new microSD card management option, making it super easy to back up your data, unless you have a Mac like myself, where in that case you can’t use the microSD management due to it only supporting Windows at the moment. Hopefully Nintendo will add Mac computers to the compatibility list for the microSD management in the future.
In conclusion, the New Nintendo 3DS XL has a lot of great improvements over the original models, and is the perfect system for those wanting to pick up their first system in the 3DS family. However, the lack of exclusive games available for this system is really disappointing, making this a system that owners of the original models don’t need to upgrade to for a while, at least until some good exclusive games come out. I consider the New Nintendo 3DS XL to be a Great addition to the 3DS family, thanks to the ability to make the 3D work better than it ever has before. However, in the end I only recommend this to newcomers wanting to pick up their first 3DS, or to Nintendo fans wanting to upgrade to see the 3D improvements for themselves.