NINTENDO’S NEW 3DS XL REVIEWED!
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.