In the days after my review of the original 3DS I fell more and more in love with the console. As re-releases surprised and Nintendo started to release new titles that warranted critical acclaim, the reasons for owning one multiplied.
Many say that the 3D gimmick was no longer needed to sell the machine and that they were happy to play the new Mario
games without even turning the setting on. Personally, I still think that the 3D effects offered by the console add to my experience of the games I play on it.
I continued to wow friends and family when showing off the device and was pleased to see it selling well, but the machine was far from perfect. This is why I was a little disappointed that a revised design wasn't shown at E3.
What confused me the most, though, was Nintendo's choice to announce its refined handheld two weeks after the iconic gaming event via its own website. It made no sense. Why keep it under wraps while the gaming world is watching in favour of sneaking the news out so shortly after? When questioned Nintendo released this statement:
“At E3 we had very specific announcements that we wanted to focus on. We had a lot of things to talk about, and we had to decide which things were most appropriate for each method of announcement. E3 is just one of the many opportunities for companies to make announcements, and we’re always looking for the most appropriate ways to both inform and surprise consumers.”
If Nintendo had too much to talk about to announce their new hardware release, then why didn't they talk about all that stuff? Their E3 conference was a massive let down and this could have seen them be the talk of the show.
One thing that rings true in that statement, however, is that they wanted to surprise their consumers, and that they did. Although a re-design was expected everyone had given up hope after the lack of news at E3. So their announcement was indeed a surprise and a very pleasant one at that.
Hey, Good Looking
If you have read my review of the original 3DS
you would have noticed that I was less than keen on the design. In fact it was a mess. It felt bulky yet feeble. It looked worse. Three slices of plastic seemed to be cobbled together to hold the wonder inside and it gave an overall feel of a prototype rather than a designed unit.
What a difference a year makes. The 3DS XL is a lesson in simplistic beauty. Curved edges made smooth with matted plastic offer a nice-to-the-touch playing surface as well as a visually pleasing finish. The casing packs in its technology tightly, and makes the console feel robust and solid.
The hinge has been tightened holding the top screen in place more firmly than in its predecessor, and snaps the unit closed tightly to add an overall quality feel. The Silver unit is a little disappointing as it looks a little dark but the Blue and Red versions pop without looking like kids' toys.
Controls are pretty similar to the original. The Circle Thumb Pad is still a great way to control your protagonists and the buttons are as rigid and user-friendly as they were before. The Home, Start and Select buttons look less cheap than they did and the D-pad is slightly further up the device now, making D-pad controlled games less awkward to use.
The one glaring omission is the second thumb pad. Although I understand why fans are calling for it, I think it's clear that Nintendo doesn't want to split its consumer base. A second thumb pad would mean that more games would be designed to use it, and the original 3DS would become increasingly redundant. Is it needed? No. But it would have been nice if it were added, especially considering there is an XL Circle Pad Pro on its way.