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The New 3DS XL [Hardware Review]

Overall Feeling: 

If you're someone who puts a lot of time into their 3DS library as is, the New 3DS XL is a pretty worthwhile upgrade. While the differences between the new console and the 3DS XL are pretty minimal, they are super handy. The face-tracking 3D makes a huge difference. I'm sure that when New 3DS-specific software comes out we'll see some good use from the additional shoulder buttons and right thumbstick. If you're like me and still rocking the original 3DS regularly though, I wholly advise you to go and get one right now and then maybe play some Mario Kart with me.

The Pros: 

+ Massively improved face-tracking 3D makes slight movement during gameplay a reality
+ New right thumbstick-nipple for sexy romps and additional controls
+ Improved battery life means you can play with the thumbstick-nipple for even longer during those lonely nights
+ Additional shoulder buttons that might be implemented in a game someday
+ Amiibo support
+ Did I mention nipples

The Cons: 

- Due to comparable specs, might not be a worthwhile investment for current 3DS XL owners
- It is not packaged with a charger, which is a detriment to new owners
- SD card slot not super easily accessible Rating : 

The eternal burning question: should you upgrade your console hardware? What if the new system isn’t really even “next-gen”? What upgrades do you get? What new games are immediately available for it? Has the string of questions become annoying yet? Should I stop? I’ll stop.

They’re fair questions, though. There’s always a level of apprehension jumping into a full console generation upgrade, so when a company like, I don’t know – let’s say Nintendo – unleashes yet another full system in an already expansive line of handheld consoles, you always have to look at what you’re getting with it.

New 3DS XL Box Art
I’ll fully admit, when the New 3DS XL was announced I rolled my eyes so hard I think I saw my own retinas. After the 3DS XL was announced with no upgrades save for size, and the 2DS was announced as a freaking downgraded system of all things. The news of yet another more different 3DS within the span of four years was pretty ridiculous. I didn’t bother spending any time hands-on with it when the stores threw it out on display, but after finally succumbing to some enticing (albeit few) system upgrades I caved pretty quickly; I’ve got to say, I love the hell out of this thing.

Since my opinion on the differences are quite biased, seeing as how I upgraded from a day-one 3DS, I’m going to be comparing the bulk of it to the 3DS XL, since it’s the closest comparison at the moment. So, 3DS XL users, should you upgrade? Perhaps! It’s really not up to me; I’m not your boss.

New 3DS XL vs 3DS XL
Let’s look at the basics: between the XL and New XL, there is little to no size difference. The screens are the exact same size – 4.88” upper and 4.18” lower – so you’re not going to be hauling around some massive device.  Actually, the physical dimensions of the New XL are only very slightly bigger, but also a tiny bit lighter. Hurray for offset! It’s still got the same number of cameras, same stereo sound, and it’s also packaged with a 4GB microSD card. Oh yeah, it uses microSD now, but I’ll get to that in a sec.

They’ve also beefed up the battery life on the New XL from a maximum average 5.5 hour battery life in 3D to 7, which is good, because they’ve finally included a reason to keep your system in 3D for more than a few minutes.

Before I get to the things I loved about it, I’m going to touch briefly on what I’ll call annoyances.

For starters, the system isn’t packaged with a charger. Nintendo says that it’s to keep the cost down, but really? The piece costs like a dollar TOPS to manufacture, they can include a charger. You’re paying full-price for a brand new system and then another $20 on top of that ($10-15 if you go aftermarket) so you can keep using it after you burn through the half charge it comes with. That’s pretty cheap, guys.

As for the memory, the SD slot has been moved to beside the battery, underneath the battery panel on the bottom. It’s about the same as changing out the SD card on your phone, except that you have to get in there with a screwdriver to gain access. It’s a pretty minor annoyance because after you change out the included 4GB microSD for something with a more useful capacity, you’ll feasibly only need to do it the once.

To flip it over, I’m going to list why I think this was a really great purchase.

New 3DS C-Stick
First of all, it has a second thumbstick. We’ve been waiting for this ever since rumours about the 3DS XL abounded, and the Circle Pad Pro in all its clumsy bulkiness just didn’t cut it. So now we finally get something else for our right thumbs to do. Granted, it’s basically one of those old-style laptop mouse nipples, but I like playing with nipples while I’m gaming, so Nintendo scores again. They’ve also included secondary shoulder buttons but since standard 3DS titles don’t have any use for them, they’re sort of moot. There’s also now Amiibo support, so I was able to immediately throw my brand-new Amiibos into some Smash Bros. and watch them get beat all to hell.

Now, I did touch earlier on the 3D, and that’s one feature that seems small but really is a massive difference in gameplay: the face-tracking 3D. It’s really a huge improvement over the (now) old-style 3D used in the previous iterations, because you don’t have to worry about accidentally tilting it maybe an nth of a degree to the right and now you completely lose the image. That was always my biggest annoyance playing things like Starfox 64 3D or the re-releases of the N64 Zelda games; for titles that want you to try using the motion control to do things like steer or aim, it doesn’t mention that fact that you basically have to twist your torso around on a swivel in order to keep the screen in that sweet spot.

Zelda Edition New 3DS XL
With the face-tracking 3D, you can watch the system at almost any angle without losing the picture. There are still some limitations, like holding it too close to your face – I tried last night while I was lying on my stomach with the system propped in front of me playing some Phoenix Wright – and the image kept getting kind of shifty, like it was trying to register where my face is, but simply couldn’t. Other than that, if you actually want to play your 3DS games on your 3DS console in 3D like God intended, there’s a valid excuse to actually do so.

If you’ve already got a 3DS XL, there might not be a solid idea to upgrade your system unless you’re really keen on the new 3D and Amiibo support, and that’s just fine. If you’re still using your day-one 3DS like I was, however, it is absolutely and solidly well worth the purchase. Why don’t you have one right now? We could be playing Smash Bros!