The New Nintendo 3DS XL Adds Dimension To Gaming On The Go

February 11, 2015

Nintendo have never been afraid to iterate on their hardware. From the NES to Game Boy Advance, virtually every one of Nintendo's machines has seen multiple versions released to the market. While some of those revisions have fared better than others, updates to their handhelds have always been well received. Most of their portables have seen tweaks to their size and form factors, and occasionally some of them have upgraded their hardware. The Nintendo 3DS XL is the latest in a long line of portables to get improved and rereleased. The New Nintendo 3DS XL (that's the official name) not only makes Nintendo's latest system faster and lighter, but it adds a handful of additional features that should please the portable gaming community.

The Good

Faster CPU

The New Nintendo 3DS XL comes with a new processor that makes it lightning fast... or it's at least noticeably speedier than its predecessor. Games load faster. The web browser loads faster. The eShop updates faster. Everything is just... faster. While it might seem like a minor point, hardcore 3DS fans will instantly notice a difference.

New Controls

One of the things that have been missing from every Nintendo handheld ever has been a second analog stick. Over the years, concessions have been made, like using the DS' touchscreen as a substitute stick, but nothing every really felt right. In the case of the New Nintendo 3DS XL, Nintendo has tried to solve their problem by adding a C-Stick. Similar to the nubs that you might remember from old laptops, the new C-stick can be used as a second thumb stick if implemented into the game. It's a little weird to start with, but after only a little bit of use, it actually feels better than you would expect. It's stiff, but responsive, making it wholly usable, no matter where it's needed. The New Nintendo 3DS XL also comes with new ZL and ZR buttons on the top of the system to compliment the L and R buttons. Obviously these give players and developers more input options for games, and are surprisingly comfortable to use.

Better 3D

The Nintendo 3DS and 3DS XL already had impressive 3D support (for the games that still include this feature), but the New Nintendo 3DS XL offers an even better 3D experience. Using the 3DS' camera, the New Nintendo 3DS XL implements a face tracking feature that allows for better 3D viewing at angles. This means that you no longer have to hold the system directly in front of you at all times to play in 3D.

NFC Support

Integrated NFC support is a small addition, but it could grow into something much bigger as Nintendo starts including amiibo support in more of their games. Just scan the figures on the touch screen, and you've got some cool new features in your game.

The Bad

Platform Specific Games

Don't get me wrong, creating original games to take advantage of the New 3DS XL's hardware is great, but it's going to cause some confusion amongst existing 3DS owners. While any game that is compatible with the 3DS will work on the New 3DS, titles like the upcoming Xenoblade Chronicles 3D will be made specifically for this new hardware. It will brandish a new box art, and specific call outs stating that it is made for the new system, but someone, somewhere, is going to pick it up, and not be able to play it. It would be the DSi all over again, if more than two DSi specific games were released to retail.

No AC Adapter

The New Nintendo 3DS does not come with an AC adapter in the box. The system is backwards compatible with numerous other DS systems, and Nintendo just assumes you already have one. If not, you're going to have to spend an extra few bucks to pick one up.

The Ugly

The Memory Card Situation

The biggest drawback of the New Nintendo 3DS XL is the memory card placement. The system has upgraded its memory card compatibility to only use microSDHC cards, which isn't a huge deal (the system comes with a 4GB one installed), since it's more of the placement that is discouraging. The memory card slot resides under the back cover of the system. That means you're going to need a screwdriver and your stylus to pop off the back cover, and drop in a new card. If you only have to change your card once it isn't a huge deal (but still a bit of a pain), but if you swap them regularly it's going to become a giant hassle.

The Conclusion

The New Nintendo 3DS XL is solid piece of hardware to pick up if you're already a big fan of Nintendo's handheld. If you're the type of person that carries their 3DS everywhere they go, then you should grab the New 3DS XL for a more seamless and faster gaming experience. If you don't have a 3DS at all, then this is also the best time to jump in and grab a system, as the New 3DS Xl is a solid improvement, and you might as well future proof your investment. If you're still playing on an original 3DS, then it's also time to upgrade - the XL experience is far superior, and you should treat yourself to a superior portable. However, if you already have a 3DS XL, and you don’t have to have the latest tech right away, For a casual gamer, upgrading from an XL to a New XL probably isn't worth it, and you might want to wait until there's something that is only compatible with the New 3DS to upgrade. Overall, the system is a great addition to the 3DS line, and a good investment if you like gaming on the go.

The New Nintendo 3DS XL will be available on February 13, 2015 in two colors, New Red and New Black, for a suggested retail price of $199.99.