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The de­vice is the same size the 3DS XL, and far larger than the stan­dard 3DS, with 90% larger screens. If you’ve not had the plea­sure of up­grad­ing to an XL yet, now is a great time to do so as you cer­tainly won’t look back once you’ve ex­pe­ri­enced new dis­play.

Aes­thet­i­cally, both the old and new mod­els look sim­i­lar at first glance, but once you start look­ing in de­tail, a slew of changes are ap­par­ent. For starters, I’ve never been par­tic­u­larly en­am­oured with the lay­out of the Se­lect/ Home/ Start but­tons on the orig­i­nal 3DS XL. Given the solid build of the de­vice, they felt out of place and far too flimsy, so the fact that they’ve been changed is a great


Rather than be­ing lo­cated un­der the bot­tom screen, Start and Se­lect now live be­low the face but­tons on the right hand side of the con­sole, while the Home but­ton re­tains its cen­tral po­si­tion be­neath the screen, but with a re­duced foot­print and slicker look. The four face but­tons, too, have got­ten a mi­nor lick of paint, lit­er­ally, with the A, B, X and Y let­ter­ing now sport­ing a coloured fin­ish that harks back to the SNES.

The big­gest change at the busi­ness end of the de­vice, how­ever, is the ad­di­tion of a minia­ture ana­log nub, of sorts, just off from the top right hand side of the bot­tom dis­play. Of­fi­cially known as the C- stick, it’s es­sen­tially a built- in Cir­cle Pad Pro, al­low­ing for ana­log cam­era con­trol in com­pat­i­ble games.

For the pur­poses of this re­view I tested it out with a few Cir­cle Pad Pro ti­tles, in­clud­ing the vastly un­der­rated Res­i­dent Evil: Rev­e­la­tions and Kid Icarus: Up­ris­ing, as well as new ti­tle Ma­jora’s Mask 3D ( re­viewed over on page 44, if you’re in­ter­ested), and the re­sults were fan­tas­tic.

Although the nub feels like it’ll be a poor re­place­ment for a full on ana­log pad, it works won­der­fully once you’ve spent a few min­utes get­ting used to the amount of pres­sure nec­es­sary to con­trol things. For such a mi­nor change, it could well mean big things for the fu­ture of the 3DS, with de­vel­op­ers now able to build in ana­log cam­era con­trol as stan­dard.

Get­ting back to the build of the New 3DS XL, fur­ther ex­plo­ration gives rise to the dis­cov­ery of yet more lay­out changes. The game cart slot has been moved from the rear of the de­vice to the front, sit­ting just in from the left hand edge. For me, this is a big deal, as I’ve al­ways had a ten­dency to eject carts accidentally

in mod­els. That’s not a prob­lem here, though, thanks to the fact that the cart face is no longer flush with the edge when in­serted, but re­cessed to pre­vent ac­ci­den­tal re­moval.

The power but­ton and sty­lus re­cep­ta­cle have also been moved to new homes, this time on the front edge, with the head­phone jack mov­ing in to the cen­tre of the unit. The vol­ume rocker has been moved to the left hand side of the top screen, with the 3D slider’s po­si­tion un­changed, while the phys­i­cal WiFi tog­gle has been re­moved com­pletely, re­quir­ing the user to ac­cess the quick op­tions from the home screen in­stead. This might prove a mi­nor in­con­ve­nience for some, but for me, it’s a non- is­sue.

Fi­nally, the rear/ top of the New 3DS XL fea­tures two new but­tons, ZL and ZR, mak­ing it more in line with the stan­dard Wii U GamePad and Pro Con­troller con­fig­u­ra­tion - some­thing that could prove to im­por­tant in the fu­ture as more am­bi­tious games are rolled out to take ad­van­tage of the in­creased power. Yes, that’s right, the New 3DS XL is more than a vis­ual up­grade - it’s also a much more pow­er­ful con­sole than its pre­de­ces­sor.

The orig­i­nal range fea­tured a dual core ARM11 CPU run­ning at 268MHz, with one core re­served for the de­vice’s op­er­at­ing sys­tem, but this lat­est model of­fers a quad core ver­sion of that same pro­ces­sor, es­sen­tially tripling the pro­cess­ing power avail­able from one core to three, with one again re­served for the OS. Sys­tem RAM has also seen a sig­nif­i­cant bump, in­creas­ing from 128MB to 256MB, while the VRAM has in­creased from 6MB to 10MB.

But what does all this mean? Well, to give you the best ex­am­ple I’ve come across so far, Su­per Smash Bros. for 3DS, one of the most re­source in­ten­sive games avail­able on the plat­form, loads around 20 sec­onds faster here. That may not sound like much, but when you’re

wait­ing to play it’s an age.

This in­crease in power does have some po­ten­tially neg­a­tive ef­fects for the tens of mil­lions of orig­i­nal 3DS and 3DS XL own­ers around the world, though, as it’s now a given that games will even­tu­ally be re­leased for the new hard­ware that won’t be com­pat­i­ble with older mod­els.

One thing I haven’t yet men­tioned, and per­haps the most sur­pris­ing im­prove­ment, is the new Su­per- Sta­ble 3D func­tion­al­ity. By adding a small infrared LED be­side the unit’s for­ward­fac­ing cam­era, the con­sole can now track your po­si­tion rel­a­tive to the screen, ad­just­ing how the 3D ef­fect is ex­e­cuted in re­la­tion to your van­tage point. The re­sult is much more ro­bust 3D across a boarder range of view­ing an­gles which might just be enough to en­cour­age play­ers to turn the 3D on once again!

The fi­nal ad­di­tion to the de­vice is one you’re not go­ing to be able to see, or use all that much right now, but which could be in­stru­men­tal to the fu­ture of Nin­tendo’s brand - NFC func­tion­al­ity. The newly launched Ami­ibo have been a huge suc­cess for Nin­tendo, and with NFC com­pat­i­bil­ity the New 3DS XL is now com­pat­i­ble with them right out of the box. Soft­ware sup­port isn’t quite there yet, but with such an em­pha­sis be­ing placed on Ami­ibo, it’s likely that we’ll see an in­flux of com­pat­i­ble ti­tles over the next 12 months and be­yond.

The New 3DS XL’s ar­rival so soon af­ter Christ­mas may irk some, but it’s a wor­thy up­grade to an al­ready great con­sole. If you picked up one of the re­cent 3DS re­vi­sions, there’s no need to worry as you hard­ware has plenty of life in it yet, but with the ad­di­tional power of the new 3DS XL, a user- re­place­able bat­tery, NFC com­pat­i­bil­ity, the C- Stick and sup­port for higher ca­pac­ity mi­croSD cards, it’s an up­grade you’ll want to make at some stage in the fu­ture.

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