Yesterday was the North American launch for Nintendo’s latest handheld, the 3DS XL. I’ve long been on the fence about the device, I just couldn’t decide whether or not the XL was worthy enough to justify the upgrade. However, I gave into temptation, headed to my local game store, and brought home a sleek red 3DS XL, and now that I’ve spent some serious time with the device, I can happily say that 3DS XL is a fantastic piece of gaming hardware. This is the definitive Nintendo 3DS, and it improves upon the original in almost every way.
Bigger is Better
The 3DS XL is, as its name implies, simply a larger version of the original 3DS – the screens are about 90% larger than those on the original 3DS. How much of a difference does 90% make? A big one. The first time I powered on the device I was blown away by the wall of light that fit between my thumbs, afterwards there was no going back to the old 3DS, the added screen space feels so right. The added width also makes the 3DS XL more comfortable to hold – no longer would my hands cramp and grow tired while grasping the thin edge of the original 3DS.
The Third Dimension
Lets talk 3D. Either you love it, or you hate it, or you don’t really care. That said, the 3D effect does get a bit of a boost on the XL, simply because the larger screen means less squinting. Many have raised concern of the 3DS XL sharing the same resolution as the original 3DS, and that the XL stretches the image, making games look ugly. I’m here to dispel this talk. I’ve used the XL for hours, and have no resolution complaints to speak of. Most of my playtime was spent in Kingdom Hearts 3D, a game full of detail, and it looked stunning on the XL’s display.
All the Little Things
Nintendo has listened to its fans, and has tweaked the 3DS in countless ways that you may not notice at first glance. The “Start/Select” buttons have been redone, and are much easier to press. The 3D depth slider no longer contains a distracting LED indicator. The Stylus has been moved to a more reachable location, and is larger in size. The fingerprint heavy gloss finish has been replaced with a nice matte finish, and as a result the device has more grip. The sharp corners of the original 3DS have been rounded, further adding to the comfort of the device.
The list goes on, and on. Believe me, this handheld feels like holding a home console controller with an on board display. Unfortunately, there is no second analog stick. Is it a deal breaker? No. Most of the popular 3DS games can be played without a second stick. Additionally, the Circle Pad Pro accessory will no longer work with the XL, and Nintendo has not yet released the larger circle pad in the US.
Worth the upgrade?
The million dollar question. Is the 3DS XL worthy of your hard earned dollars? The answer depends on what you want from a portable console. If you are looking to buy a 3DS for the first time, I highly recommend the XL, it just feels better, and that new display makes all the difference. If you’re looking to save a little money, the original 3DS is still a solid purchase, and is a bit more travel friendly than its super sized counterpart. I personally play my 3DS most often at home, and to me, the XL is the best way to play.