[Review] New Nintendo 3DS XL

This review is regarding all New Nintendo 3DS XL handheld systems, but a couple minor comments will be regarding the Majora’s Mask limited edition version, because that is the one I own.  I would have reviewed this system sooner, but I like to spend a long time toying with new devices before I post anything about them, in the case my opinion changes over time from first impressions.

Limited Edition New Nintendo 3DS XL - Majora's MaskGot the Majora’s Mask version through Best Buy, and I actually got lucky too, because apparently there was some sort of “Great Purge,” and a lot of pre-orders were canceled.  The representative I called later to check on whether or not my order would ship was actually surprised that my order survived.  Definitely glad it did though, it’s a beautiful system.

Unlike the previous 3DS XL I owned, which had a matte outer shell, the New Nintendo 3DS has a glossy finish, which makes it very finger print heavy.  This wasn’t a huge problem for me, because I ordered a Skinomi full body skin to put on it, like I do with just about any other electronic I own, to make sure they always stay in as great a condition as possible.  A warning about this though—unlike the previous 3DS (and maybe because it uses an LCD screen instead of an LED?), the top screen of the New Nintendo 3DS in particular is oddly sensitive to the adhesive chemical that Skinomi or ZAGG provides with its products, even though I sprayed only on the skin and not on the device itself.  I had to ask Nintendo to replace my screen at least 4 times before I finally got it right.  So initially, I didn’t really get a chance to sit down and play the device for an extended period of time until maybe about two months after first purchasing it..  Now, after having had the opportunity to play a few games on it and playing around with most of the features, here are my thoughts on the device.

Things the New Nintendo 3DS does well:
  • Color – I haven’t taken a good look at a spec list, but the color does seem more vibrant than the previous 3DS system; although I don’t think the sharpness of the resolution was ever changed.
  • 3D Stability – Like most other reviews I read, I was incredibly skeptical; however, after fiddling with it, the improved 3D stability is definitely worth the upgrade.  While the previous system required finding a “sweet spot,” this system?  Not so much.  At certain angles the images will still get shaky, so it’s not perfect, but I was surprised to find that I can go much longer now before needing to shut the 3D off and give my eyes a break.  I have personally been a fan of the 3D function since the first version of the system came out, and I appreciate that I can spend longer periods in 3D-mode because it allows me to feel more immersed in the game.  Even more exciting for a gamer like myself is the fact that 3D stability even works in the dark.  There are times that I like playing a game before bedtime, so that makes it even more perfect.
  • Volume Control and 3D Sliders – They feel a lot more sturdy, and my finger is less likely to accidentally move them.
  • Extra Control Stick – The small nub is a little awkward to use, but I like how it lets you explore your surroundings in games like Xenoblade 3DS.
  • Additional Buttons – The addition of the X and Y buttons are great for accessing other menus in certain games.  Haven’t really had the chance to use the ZL and ZR buttons at the top much, so I can’t really comment on those.
  • Location of the Stylus – Why this was changed, I don’t know.  Maybe some people kept pulling the stylus out on accident when it used to be placed on the side, but I personally find the placement of the stylus at the bottom of the system to be awkward.
  • Memory Card Changes – I liked the old way better, where you can more easily access and replace external memory.  The way it is now, you need screwdrivers to open up the back plate and slide in your new memory card.  This can be a problem if you don’t own said type of screwdriver.  (I had to go and borrow a neighbor’s myself.)  Also, the conversion from SD to micro SD meant that my previous memory card almost felt like a wasted investment.  Good thing I can still use it with my DSLR.
  • Location of the Cartridge Input – I much preferred putting a game card at the top of the device rather than in the bottom left corner, where it is now.  Now I am far more likely to accidentally pop out my game, which is incredibly annoying.  (It’s happened several times already, in fact, causing me to lose a lot of progress.  Now I save even more frequently than before, which can be a pain.)
  • Cannot Use Old Charging Cradles – What I loved about the old 3DS charging cradles was that it was very convenient to charge your device.  All you had to do was drop it on the cradle, eliminating the need to fumble around when trying to connect the device to a charger in the dark, for example.  The New Nintendo 3DS is a little too big for the old charging cradles, unfortunately.  You can, however, purchase the new charging cradle meant for the New Nintendo 3DS XL from Nintendo, although I’m not necessarily a fan of the upright look.
One Other Issue:
  • Streetpass Functionality – I’m placing this under this subheading because I can’t seem to determine if the problem is with the system itself, or it’s more like Nintendo needs to get its act together.  I went from getting a ton of Streetpass hits a day to almost nothing, and my system won’t even collect from those Streetpass hotspots anymore, which is incredibly annoying.  I’m a big fan of collecting all the puzzle pieces in Mii Plaza, so for Streetpass to no longer work is a huge letdown for someone like me.  Spotpass works fine though.

While I was hesitant at first (the Majora’s Mask edition eventually sucking me in, haha), I do think it was worth the upgrade.  If you haven’t previously owned a 3DS system, I would say now is not a bad time to jump on.  It might not be worth the upgrade for owners of the previous iteration, but I’m personally glad I made the switch.

I’ve got plans to post some reviews for games I’ve played recently; hopefully I’ll have them up within the next few days.  Stay tuned!

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