Nintendo's latest handheld device has been out almost a month and should be easily available. Surely that is enough time for impressions but should you be rushing out to grab the latest handheld?
To get this out of the way, I won't be touching on the fact that Nintendo of America has not released the New 3DS in America (yet). While the faceplates are a cool idea, I'm not sure I could "downgrade" to a regular size after using an XL anyways. Now on with the show!
Upon removing my device from its small box, I was actually impressed with its sleek design and smoke-black color. That's my description of the color, it seems to fit really well. My next immediate thoughts go to...where is everything? If you are someone like me and don't want to overanalyze your future toys before you get them in videos, you will be looking quite thoroughly.
"Where is everything?" was a thought that first came to me but most of it makes sense now. I won't being to tell you how long it took for me to find the volume. I looked everyone but on the top of the machine. Moving the volume to the top screen balances the 3D slider in a purely visual way and actually makes it easier to adjust volume.
The buttons seem to be positioned nicely and the new analog nub has a slight carve out in the upper screen hinge to ensure ease of movement. It actually fits almost like a dream in my hand. Smooth and nice to hold, even if the Z buttons are a little hard to reach for my hands and how I hold it.
Overall, I am very pleased with the design except for a few concerns; the stylus being the first. The original 3DS XL stylus placement was just perfect (for a righty). My right hand could easily get to it and touch and write with it no problem. I find myself struggling to grab it and replace it now. It even seems like the stylus does not want to go into its home. Just swirls around in the slot, not wanting to align its back-end and becomes quite annoying.
The wifi switch has been removed, much to my dismay. It was so handy and kind of annoying that now you have to go to the home screen, press the theme button, and then scroll down to turn it off and on. This is the same way you use the NFC but the wifi is the bigger concern at the moment. It was so nice to easily access it but it isn't too bad.
I thought the memory card slot and game card slot were going to be a big issue but for right now it isn't. I upgraded to a 32GB card so I should be fine for a good while but I was worried about unscrewing the back panel. Be careful with that cause the screws seem very fragile. The game card slot seems so oddly placed. It is right where the base of your palm would be and seems like it is just asking to pop the game out of the system. It has yet to happen in my 20+ hours of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate but I am still worried it will happen one of these days in spite of the indent.
Speaking of MH4U, the new analog nub works nicely. Some of the more strenuous gaming moments, I feel like it will "rip" like those awful, old, laptop nubs. It feels pretty similar but more sturdy and doesn't move around. Moon Chronicles and IronFall: Invasion played well enough but I wouldn't say a full-on solution for dual stick action. It will satisfy the job of a low-level action FPS but work wonders as a 3rd person camera; that is where it will shine.
The inner workings are probably the bigger updates. Accessing the internet/eShop store is quite faster with the new hardware. It just moves and loads quicker. Makes you wonder if they bloated their eShop store with a lot of behind the scenes stuff so the old device just had to take longer to process it. I don't know the reasoning behind it but I just know that the spinning dots will not haunt me anymore.
The 3D was the other big change but I am hesitant to claim it was a huge one. Don't get me wrong, the head tracker works quite well. You can even see when it is working by the dull red light right next to the camera. But when people said the 3D was better and more vibrant, I had to take a step back. I am curious if these people had never held a 3DS XL before. More so, were they holding it right? The 3D in the 3DS only works if you are in the sweet spot. Gamers can get restless so they might move around a bit and wander out of place. The XL made the sweet spot bigger and now the n3DSXL makes the sweet spot move slightly. The 3D still looks good but I'd argue to say that people were just not holding the device in the right place.
In the end, is the New 3DS XL worth your precious dollars? You have to ask yourself two questions: how much do you play your 3DS and do you want Xenoblade Chronicles 3D? Avid 3DS players might want to make the jump cause of the faster processing power. You will get quicker connections to the store and load your games faster (Smash Bros loads over 30 seconds faster). Whereas casual 3DS gamers probably wouldn't get a lot out of it. And obviously if you want Xenoblade, you got to get it. I am happy with my purchase and am not looking back.