Release Date: 2/13/15
Colors: Black, Red, Silver (Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate), Gold (The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D)
MSRP: $199.99, $229.99 (bundles)
Nintendo is one for constant hardware iterations, and they finally got the 3DS right with the New XL. Despite the confusing name, it actually does feel all new. The entire system is streamlined and it feels like Nintendo finally wrapped their minds around how they want the 3DS to be, and this is the final (hopefully) result. All of the features implemented into the 3DS up until now are present on the 3DS from hardware changes to software.
The first thing you will notice, obviously, is how big the unit is. I had a DSi XL and while it as bigger the larger screen made games look pixelated. The New 3DS XL isn’t just a 3DS on steroids like the 3DS XL, it has all new features. Secondly, is just how sleek it looks. This is probably Nintendo’s sexiest handheld since the GBA SP. The rounds edge accompanied by the slim form factor just made it look sleek and impressive. Once you flip it open you will notice something…what the hell is that rubber nubby thing on the top right corner? It’s the “C-Stick” and I put quotes there because it’s not a stick but a nub, hell not even that. It’s like a rubber nipple. The addition of a second stick is an absolute #1 must have on the 3DS…I can’t make this point any clearer. Nintendo pretty much took the Circle Pad Pro and melted it onto the New 3DS XL as it includes the ZR and ZL buttons as well. The first handheld with two shoulder buttons built in…now we just need more games that support them! More on that later.
Everything else is pretty much in its proper place button wise except there is no longer a WiFi switch on the side. WiFi is a software toggle now and the power, wifi, and charging lights are all grouped up in a row on the bottom right corner. You can see them easily with the lid flipped down. One of my favorite features is the SpotPass LED located on top of the right hinge. It lights up green when a SpotPass notification is available and is also your low battery light. The Game Card slot is tucked away on the bottom of the device along with the stylus and power button. The power button is a small button under the LED lights so you don’t accidentally hit it.
I actually like the new 3D slider on the right of the screen. It’s symmetrical to the volume slider, like older models, but is more flush with the system and doesn’t feel so cheap. One minor gripe is that the New 3DS XL does not use a standard SD card so the one in your older system is useless here, instead, it comes with a 4GB microSD card and it is not accessible from the outside. You must unscrew the bottom plate to get to it near the battery. That part I don’t really care about as most people will either never need to upgrade because they buy physical games, or you will upgrade once with a 32 or 64GB card if you are a digital person. There is also an NFC battery in this thing for the amiibos, but everyone will use that feature. That’s pretty much all there is to the new hardware…well it’s actually a complete 90% overhaul but for the better.
Let’s talk about the screens. They look great, while not as high resolution as you think, they work fine for 3DS games. For people with bigger hands the XL size is perfect and honestly, the 3D is much easier on your eyes as it’s a bigger target. The 3D effect is much-improved thanks to the head tracking built into the system via IR sensor. Now it’s not flawless, it doesn’t work well when you are laying down and gets finicky in the dark if you move around too much. The hardware has a faster CPU, mainly doubled that of the original model, as well as double the RAM and 1GB internal memory. The CPU is clocked at 268Mhz and is dual-core with one core reserved for OS operation. It also has 256MB of RAM and 10MB VRAM. You may laugh at this compared to say the Vita, but Nintendo is known to keep older hardware for cheaper prices. That’s not to say the New 3DS could have benefited from an entirely new chipset as seen in newer phones, which makes this the biggest downfall of the New 3DS.
Playing games on the system using the C-Stick is weird at first. It doesn’t move around as it reacts to pressure. You just push it…mush it? You move your thumb around on it and the camera turns, it’s hard to explain but it works well and after an hour you forget it’s not a moveable stick. Playing games like Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and Resident Evil Revelations with it make the games that much more enjoyable. The extra shoulder buttons are a little hard to get to as they aren’t contoured into the system, but rather just sit on top and are rather small. The other complaint is that this system does not come with a charger. Yeah, you heard me. Nintendo banked on previous 3DS owners buying this system, so you’re going to have to throw down $10 or so for a generic charger if you have never owned a 3DS before. Stupid move on Nintendo’s part, but there’s nothing we can do.
With all that said the New 3DS XL is what the 3DS should have been in the beginning. The larger screens look crisp and bright, the battery lasts a whopping 7.5 hours (with WiFi off and power save mode on) during most games, the faster CPU will bring in better-looking games, and the entire form factor is sleek and gorgeous.