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Nintendo 3DS XL Review

Published on July 30, 2012 by

Nintendo didn’t exactly get off to the best start with the launch of its 3DS early last year. Amidst huge anticipating and hype, sales started off decent, but quickly dropped within the months that followed. It wasn’t until Nintendo introduced a substantial price drop and handful of big releases including Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land that the console started to see some new life and build momentum. At over eighteen million units sold worldwide and climbing, Nintendo have now released the 3DS XL a console that hopes to continue to build the moment made leading up to the Christmas rush.


Fingerprints are now a thing of the past!


As its new name suggests the Nintendo 3DS XL feels and looks a good size bigger than the original measuring in at 155mm across (versus the original 3DS’s 135mm). While small handed gamers were likely to find no complaints with the original’s size, those of us with bigger mitts probably found playing to often be a tiring, cramping experience after long sessions. Thankfully the extra length on the console and spacing of its buttons make for a much more enjoyable experience. This feels like the perfect size.


The most obvious advantage of this increased size are the screens with the 3D display in particular coming it at a whopping 90% larger than the one on the previous console. It’s worth noting that despite an increase in screen size, the resolution does remain unaltered. It’s nothing particularly noticeable but can bring with it a degree of pixilation in some instances. As you can imagine the 4.88-inch screen definitely makes a difference when playing games especially the graphical powerhouse titles like Resident Evil Revelations, Super Mario 3D Land or the recent Kingdom Hearts 3D. Colours seem more vibrant, bold and generally more pleasing on the bigger screen and to be honest has tempted me to take the leap and upgrade my own console myself.


Starfox has never looked so good


Nintendo has swapped out the 3DS’s shiny casing for a more rounded matte finish – available in a decent variety of silver, red or blue colours. While I appreciate the new feel to the console and the fact I won’t be wiping finger prints off its reflective surface every half hour, the actual look of it doesn’t seem as slick as the original. Whereas the regular console seemed modern in its design, the plastic, smooth edged look here just feels a little tacky. As I said though, this may just be personal preference.


The interior of the console sports the same matte finish as the outside as well as a few changes too, mostly for the better. The ‘Home’, ‘Start’ and ‘Select’ are now physical buttons this time around, feeling much more satisfying to press. The 3D slider also clicks when turning off meaning they’ll be no question as to whether you have actually switched the feature off. The stylus which has now been replaced with a standard plastic affair has been shifted from the top to the right hand side of the device making it far more reachable. Another thankful change is the moving of the headset port from the bottom centre to the left. A small change but one that makes the console that little bit more comfortable.


On the flip side Nintendo have still decided to include just the one slider. Despite countless complaints, forum topics, emails, news articles and just about every other form of method a gamer could vent their anger, Nintendo have opted to stick with the one. It seems like a real missed opportunity especially since we are around sixteen months down the road since the initial’s release with plenty more big titles coming out that would be better suiting to a pair. A special 3DS XL slider pad will be released later in the year, but with the console already bigger in size, the added attachment may make portability in your pocket all the more tougher.


The official comparison shot


In terms of battery (another complaint of the previous version) Nintendo says the device will now last between three and six-and-a-half hours when playing 3DS games, and between five and eight if you’re playing original DS games. Sleep mode also seemed to have improved lasting days after we’d left it on overnight.


Whereas the original 3DS included a 2Gb SD card, here you’ll find double the size proving especially handy for considering Nintendo’s decision to release all first party titles in digital form as well as retail. While you could argue its simple enough to go out and buy a bigger card, having the 4Gb out of the box is convenient.


So is it worth upgrading to the 3DS XL? Well that depends. Those who have yet to join the 3D handheld club should obviously go for the updated, superior version with its bigger screen and longer battery life. For gamers who already have the original however, the outlook is a little less clear. Sure playing games on the larger display looks fantastic, but it’s tough to recommend forking out £180 on a system that doesn’t feel like it really offers enough of an improvement over its ancestor. Throw in the lack of a cradle or charger included with these new systems and things look even more unattractive.


There’s no denying that the 3DS XL is the superior console of the two – despite some problems that still persist it manages to improve on almost every aspect of the original. Newcomers dive right on in. This is the console you want. As for veterans, you may find this to be more of an evolution rather than a revolution.

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1 Comment  comments 

One Response

  1. Man you liked the original design? I think the XL is better in almost every conceivable way. I find the XL less tacky and more modern looking, while the original looks like it came from 2005, or perhaps a funky prototype that should have been rejected.

    Thank goodness the XL has an improved clicky dpad that doesn’t cause me major discomfort like the old 3DS dpad. Also something about the tacky paint job on the old dpad, bits tended to flake off. New one feels solid. Comparison shots with my Vita on my wordpress site.

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