REVIEW: New Nintendo 3DS XL

Image: nintendo.com

Image: nintendo.com

The New Nintendo 3DS XL is out, and even though the name can throw you off at first, it is indeed a successor to the prior generation of Nintendo 3DS. Released to the public on February 13, 2015, one would have to ask, “Is it truly worth upgrading if you have a prior generation unit?How about those who do not have a Nintendo handheld and are curious?” Keep reading to get the answers you’re looking for.

Build Quality

The first thing you notice when you pick up the handheld is how solid it feels in the hands. The exterior has a nice, smooth, plastic shell that feels great when held. The internal control surface is a rougher, matte plastic, but is still soft to the touch when running your fingers across them. When you pick up the unit and  grab or squeeze it little sound is made. Even the hinge assembly, when opening the display, feels smooth and crisp, definitely showing an excellent level of quality built into the handheld. It opens smoothly with no issues, and snaps into place at three preset points to make sure the display doesn’t flop back down when slightly opened. The buttons have a positive click when pressed feel evenly spaced for even a larger handed person.  

System Layout

Starting from when the handheld is open and facing you, up top there is the front facing camera and a little black dot to the right of it that is used for the facial tracking. This will allow you to see in 3D while moving the unit about instead of having to find the sweet spot and maintain that position. Below those lies the upgraded 3D display. On each side is a small speaker, and below the speakers on the edge of the display assembly is a slider on each side.

The left is your volume control while the right covers the depth of 3D and also turns it off. Next is the bottom of the unit where the controls and second display are located. The secondary display is in the center and the controls are around it. On the left side we have the analog slide pad and directional pad. On the right we have the new analog nub and the four standard face buttons. Below them is the standard Start and Select buttons. Below the screen is a home button. To the right of the home button is a tiny microphone.  Flipping the unit over and up at the top we have dual cameras for 3D photography.  Along the spine of the hinge we have a charging port and four shoulder buttons as well an infrared port. Now the lower back is a bit different than the older units. The SD card slot is now a microSD slot and it has been moved to the inside of the unit next to the battery. The game cartridge slot, headphones, and stylus have all been moved to the bottom edge of the unit. No more ports on the sides to be accidentally ejected while playing games, which can definitely be considered a plus.

System Software

The system software has not changed as far as layout and function goes since the 3DS launched, and it continues to feel the same on the new 3DS XL. The latest changes are available for all 3DS hardware. The software now supports themes and custom colors, which is nice for personalization It is also easier than ever to create folders and organize your apps and games. Nintendo does not have many apps available for the unit, but the large media companies are present (ie Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube) There are a few smaller Nintendo apps that allow calculators and metronome functionality, as an example.

The unit is quite a bit faster at loading 3DS and DS titles. Face tracking makes the 3D usable, where it was a nice gimmick in the previous model. The software is stable, games are coming out frequently, and the monstrous DS library still provides additional support.

Nintendo breaks down the included software into nine parts. First is the Mii Maker, where you will make your avatar for the Nintendo world. Second, we have the Miiverse, an online community for fans of the games on the Nintendo 3DS. Third is the Streetpass Mii Plaza. This is where the puzzle piece collecting and dungeon adventuring happens using your friends Miis as allies. Next, is the Theme Shop. As the name states you can pick up new custom skins for operating system of your 3DS. Some of them are free, but we do have some paid skins as well. Fifth part is the eShop. Nintendo’s app store if you will. Games and game demos are available through this portal. Sixth is a basic web browser. If you have a tablet or smartphone stick with those devices for your mobile browsing as this browser can be quite slow. Seventh is out two augmented reality games that come included on the device. Number one is A.R. Games which uses the external 3D cameras and A.R. cards included with the system. Number two the Face Raiders. simply you take a picture of a face and you then have to shoot these little robotic faces out of the air all around you. Eighth part is the Nintendo 3DS Sound. Here is where you can load some MP3s or record sounds and play with them. Ninth and final part is the Activity Log, as you can guess this will track time spent on games as well as walking around with the device on your person.

There is no power cable included with the unit, so if this is a gift or your first 3DS or a gift for someone, you will need to grab a power adapter as well. This will add about twenty dollars to your purchase before you even buy games for the handheld, like Super Smash Brothers and The Legend of Zelda.

Game Library

Thanks to Nintendo still supporting Nintendo DS cartridges, and regular 3DS cartridges the unit has launched with an absolutely monstrous library. Not including the DSi Ware, which was digitally distributed, the Nintendo DS contributed over two thousand games. The 3DS has contributed over six hundred and fifty games. Currently the only game that requires the new Nintendo 3DS at this time is Xenoblade Chronicles 3D.  There will be more reviews on some of the more notable games and hidden gems to come.

Wrap Up

Even with the negative of having to pick up an adapter, if this is the first 3DS for you, the software library more than makes up for it. Games like Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. keep the entertainment flowing and Nintendo has  been working with more indie developers to get their content into the eShop. For those who want a mobile device that actually has great controls and Nintendo games, this is the best you will get for the next few years.

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ReviewWill Ter Keurst IV