Nintendo 3DS XL - Bigger, but is it Better?


It’s hard to believe that the 3DS has been around for four years now but that means it’s time for a mid life update and that’s exactly what we’ve got with the New Nintendo 3DSXL.  Take a look at the New 3DS and you’ll see it’s the same size as the last 3DS XL meaning this is no small handheld. It’s got a similar footprint to an iPhone 6 Plus but it’s nearly twice as thick making it tricky to fit in most pockets. Personally I always preferred the normal sized DS models but this time around Nintendo decided to go 3DS XL only here in North America.

They also brought back a glossy finish which looks good out of the box but makes it hard to keep it clean of fingerprints. One thing about the new 3DS XL is that the bottom screen is incredibly reflective. Now the top screen isn’t quite so bad but because the bottom screen has a resistive touchscreen layer that means that if you’re trying to play this thing outside it’s almost unusable, even with the screen brightness all the way up. There’s now a MicroSD card which makes sense however it’s hidden behind the rear panel which you’ll need a tiny Phillips screwdriver to open. Inside there’s a four gigabyte card included but for around $10 you can pick up a sixteen gig MicroSD to giveyou a bit more room for things like digital downloads.

Speaking of, if you’re upgrading from an older 3DS the transfer process is a serious chore. After going through menus for about five minutes I was able to transfer a single 3DS game and a couple Virtual Console titles over to the New 3DS in about 30 minutes over Wi-Fi so if you have a serious collection this could take quite a while. It’s not all bad though, there are some solid upgrades here. There’s now a new second directional stick which can come in handy for games like Super Smash Brothers to quickly use your Smash attacks. It’s an interesting design, the stick really doesn’t move very much but after a few minutes I was able to get the hang of it. There are also an extra set of shoulder buttons to give the New 3DS basically all of the controls from the old Circle Pad Pro.

There’s also been a big internal upgrade,the New 3DS XL is sporting twice as much memory and a quad core processor which supports Fifa 17 cheats. Menus are just as snappy as before but the real difference is in loading times, for optimized games like Smash it gets into the game in 17 seconds compared to a very slow 36 seconds on the2DS. The key here though is optimized, normal 3DS games aren’t any faster that I could tell but most newer games should load faster or even show improved graphics. We’ve also got support for Amiibo on the New 3DS. It works just as you would expect, drop the figure on the touchscreen and it brings it right into the game. Again this is mostly geared toward Smash right now but I imagine this will be popular with a lot of upcoming games.

One of the biggest upgrades for me is actually the 3D screen. It now tracks your face to adjust the 3D effect depending on where you’re sitting which is a huge improvement over earlier3DS’s which made you sit in a very narrow field of view. Before I never really used 3D but now it finally delivers on the promise of the original model back in 2011. If you’ve never owned a 3DS your choices really come down to the 2DS and New 3DS XL. For the extra $70 you’re getting better specs, extra controls and proper 3D which is going to make it worth it for a lot of people. If you already have an earlier 3DS though it’s a not such an obvious upgrade. Until games really start being optimized for the New 3DS you’re not getting a massively better experience and if you’re still holding onto an original small 3DS the added size might be a hassle.