The New 3DS XL is here and so we decided to do what we normally do and tell you all about it.
First impressions of the system are fairly impressive, especially when lined up against my old 3DS XL, which is starting to show it's age in the looks department. There's not a great deal between the systems in terms of size, but there are immediate differences even before you open the New 3DS XL up to look at the screen.
What you'll notice when comparing the two while the lids are closed is that the New 3DS XL has had its ports moved to the front just under the home button. This section now houses the port for your game card, headphones, stylus and power button. Looking around the system you'll notice that the power port has moved to the middle at the back of the system, while the 'L' and 'R' bumpers are now a little smaller, while leaves room for two new buttons, 'ZL' and 'ZR'. All of this before you even open up the system.
Once you finally lift the lid you'll begin to notice a few other differences, for one, there's the new 'C Stick,' which doesn't seem to have a lot of give and in fact feels more like a button, however once you use it you'll be impressed by its functionality (more on that in a bit). Other differences include the coloured letters on the face buttons and the fact that that the 'start' and 'select' buttons have been removed from under the screen to the side of the system, just under the face buttons. They are also smaller and round now, making for a better look. The screens are also slightly bigger, while amiibo functionality has been integrated into the bottom screen, which is obviously something you won't see with the naked eye.
Next up was actually turning on the system. If you already own a 3DS XL or 3DS then it's at this point that things can get a little tricky. First off you'll set up the date, time, internet and activate the new super stable 3D, the latter of which looks quite impressive on first impressions. Then it's time to transfer your data from the old system to the new, something which Nintendo seems to have made more complicated than perhaps it should be. There are a few reasons for this. First up is the fact that the New 3DS XL takes a Micro SD card compared to the XL's support for the standard SD card. This is all well and good if you were already using a Micro SD within an adapter, however I wasn't so it took some messing around before I was able to transfer over all of my data. Another complication, which I can't get my head around the reasons why, is that you now need to unscrew the backplate in order to access the memory card slot. There are two small screws which you loosen, before clipping the plate upwards using the stylus, which generally gives a feeling of dread as it sounds like something is going to snap (I've had quite a few people tell me they felt the same way). It's not an ideal way to get into your memory card and all I can think is that perhaps later down the line Nintendo plans to release optional backplates, just like with the smaller, New Nintendo 3DS. Otherwise what possible reason could there be for making access to the memory card slot so difficult?
With my data finally transferred I was able to test out some games. A review of Majora's Mask will follow, but for now let's just stick to what makes the New Nintendo 3DS XL better. One of the main things I noticed straight away is that the 3D is much better, this was considerably noticeable in Majora's Mask and other titles. It also seems to be more stable, saving you from a huge headache as the screen seems avoid going blurry should you move it around, which is something I had a big problem with on the last system, so much so that I stopped using the 3D.
The colours on the screen also seemed to be more vivid, making for a much better experience. Best of all though is the controls. I love the new C Stick, especially in Majora's Mask as it adds in a much easier way to control the camera. All of a sudden a game that was quite awkward to control at times was improved no end, making it much better to play in the process. The same can be said of other titles too, especially those without a fixed camera. If you don't own a 3DS at all yet then for these reasons alone the New 3DS XL is the way to go.
Having been hands on with both the New 3DS and the New 3DS XL, I would definitely go with the latter. The larger screen estate is a much better option and once you go XL you can never go back. In fact having owned the old 3DS XL, I'd probably prefer that to the New, smaller 3DS, despite the improvements, all because I like the size of the screen. The New 3DS XL is the best of them all though. If you had to choose one 3DS system then, in my opinion, this is the one you should choose. The screen size, improvements to the 3D, the new button layout and all the other improvements make this a great upgrade. There are a few minor issues, as I have mentioned, but despite this, what Nintendo has done here is take the best handheld around and make it even better.
Word by Joe Anderson
Twitter: @_wotta | PSN/XBLA: wotta
+ Great new button layout
+ Additional buttons make a big difference
+ Improvements to screen
+ Improvements to 3D
+ Built in amiibo support
- System transfer is an awkward process
- Screwing the backplate off to get to the memory card is hardly ideal