Reviews// Nintendo 3DS XL

Posted 30 Jul 2012 17:47 by
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 and Pokemon 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.
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kano 30 Jul 2012 20:34
The 3ds xl is better than the 3ds original in every single way
I am upgrading as should everyone

A second stick isnt needed

and everyone owns a battery pack already
cg 31 Jul 2012 01:59
I will be getting the xl and not selling the smaller one because where I live not much people have it and the streetpass is a miss. so i will carry over my stuff to the xl and will use the 3ds to have new miis and collect my puzzle pieces faster.
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MfDoomYesInTermsSausageSauce 31 Jul 2012 13:10

3DS XL FTW!!!!. Vita killer!!!!

GoldenHu 2 Aug 2012 10:00
.... and then there's the option (and room for) a 2nd circle pad plus
the standard buttons. That way the old 3DS users wouldn't have to buy a
new system and game developers could create new games that would do
really well with two circular pads. For a little more money Nintendo
could've made a lot more money. The terrible cameras, the ugly colors,
no charger for the European and Asian communities, the screen
resolution.... All if improved would have made this system an incredible
experience that people would pay extra for. Instead, decisions were
made at Nintendo that show that they are losing touch with their
customer base (decisions that quite frankly are dishonorable), and they
are going to have to fight hard to earn back our trust. One has to
seriously wonder what they were thinking.
elmo 4 Aug 2012 13:12
Totally agree Golden. But it's hard to hate the handheld completely. It's a lovely bit of kit.

I still stand by the fact that adding a second thumb pad would be a PR disaster for Nintendo. Those who opted in early would feel completely cheated.
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