New Nintendo 3DS XL: Australian Review

I've never been one for mobile gaming. Not on a phone, not on a PS Vita, or on a 3DS. Then the so-called New 3DS from Nintendo came along and showed me just how good it could be.

What Is It?

  • Screen: 3DS - 3.53-inch (top), 3.33-inch (bottom) / 3DS XL - 4.88-inch (top), 4.18-inch (bottom)
  • Memory: microSD
  • Camera: Two outer cameras, one inner camera (0.3-megapixel)
  • Connectivity: 2.4GHz, Wi-Fi

A New 3DS from Nintendo, with better brains, cooler controls, sexier screens and a tweaked design.

The New 3DS packs in two screens: a 3.53-inch on top and 3.33-inch on bottom. The New 3DS XL (the one we tested), features a 4.88-inch screen on top and a 4.18-inch screen on the bottom.

The screens are the same size between the old 3DS XL and the New 3DS, but everything has been turned up to the proverbial 11.

The headline on the New 3DS (in this reviewer's opinion) is the beefed up internals.

It has a beefier battery, promising up to 7 hours of life rather than the old 5 hours from the 3DS XL. There's also a new CPU and refined internal components to make the whole experience smoother.

The dual screens on the 3DS XL have also had a bit of tweaking, with Nintendo promising better colour and less blur.

On the outside, everything has had a spit and polish. The lettered keys, joystick and Start/Select keys have been redesigned to be in line with the old Gamecube design language.

Speaking of the Gamecube, the New 3DS features a new old friend in the form of an analogue stick on the top, right-hand side of the device. It's called the C-Stick, and it's something the old Gamecube controller had.

It's a little thicker and wider than it's predecessor, and it's slightly heavier, too weighing in at 253 grams rather than the old one at 235g. I'd argue that the size and weight gains are offset by the ergonomic improvements that have been made over the old model, simply because you don't need a control pad extension gadget on the New 3DS: the C-Stick has you covered.

Australia is the first market outside of Japan to get the New 3DS, and that's a big deal. Our Amerifriends won't get this until next year, so lap up that exclusivity.

The New 3DS retails for $219, while the New 3DS XL rings up at $249.

What's Good?

I've never been great with lenticular 3D, especially on the portable, handheld 3DS. It always looked a little off to me. A little grainy.

My brain knew it was being tricked, and its reaction was motion sickness. The smoothed screens on the New 3DS, along with better specs and a face tracking system that keeps everything on the up and up as long as you keep your face within 45 degrees of the camera, makes for a great 3D experience. I used to only play my 3DS in 2D mode, but now I'm at 75 per cent 3D strength the whole time, and it's awesome.

As I mentioned earlier, going between an old, first-generation 3DS to the New 3DS XL was a revelation: the specs make for a smoother experience, the screens are gorgeous, the buttons are all smooth and fabulous. It's a great handheld experience.

For what it's worth, I've been playing Super Smash Bros for 3DS and Pokemon Y with a view to getting onto Pokemon Alpha Sapphire for the period of my review, and loving each and every one.

The better battery life on the New 3DS really stands out, too. The done thing is to leave the Wireless antenna on when you aren't using the 3DS. It compromises battery life, meaning you have to charge it once every day-and-a-half or so, but it means you don't miss out on that sweet Streetpass action. The New 3DS doubles standby time, and gives you around 6 hours of play time before you need to scramble for your charger.

The new controls also feel great, and the new C-Stick is a welcome replacement to the bolt on Circle Pad Pro attachment from the last 3DS, which just made everything look a little silly. Despite the fact that the C Stick is stiff when you go to move it around (joysticks on the 3DS have always moved with your finger), it's very responsive. Keep in mind though, if you're not a fan of tiny trackpads (read: those tracking nubs on old Thinkpad laptops, for example), you'll probably be turned off by it as soon as you touch.

The software on the New 3DS is the standard Nintendo 3DS OS, but it's smoother than ever thanks to those beefed up specs. I also never realised how stupidly easy it is to transfer your data from an old 3DS to a new one. Thanks, Nintendo!

What's Bad?

We found in our tests of the new 3D face tracking that it tends to have a bit of a freak out when you're within a 45-degree arc of the camera. From there it starts to freak out, trying to match what's left of your face to the image it's throwing out, but ends up jauntily defaulting back to front-facing 3D when the tracking switches itself off. It's at that point your brain may figure out it's being tricked via the eyes and start to freak out, but mostly it's just a clue to move back into range.

The only other thing we can fault it on — and this isn't necessarily bad thing — is that it's not worth ditching your existing Nintendo 3DS or 3DS XL for the New 3DS or New 3DS XL. It's a great gadget, but you won't get the benefit out of it like people with older 3DS units will.

Should You Buy It?

I already have a 3DS. One of the original ones, mind you, but it's still a 3DS. I love it to bits for playing all of the Pokemon my tiny brain can handle. I've been told that moving from the original 3DS to something like the 3DS XL is a revelation. I held out, though, mostly because I couldn't justify the extra expense when I already had a perfectly good handheld.

Using the New 3DS XL, however, has been a mind-blowing play experience. I really see what people were talking about. To be honest, it's how I felt going from an old, small iPhone to the new, super-sized iPhone 6 Plus. People with big Android devices looked at me like "told you so", but I loved it all the same.

And that got me thinking. What if this new handheld is like the new, big iPhone?

If you've already got a bigger iPhone in the iPhone 6, you probably won't get a huge amount of benefit going to the 6 Plus. But, if you're coming off an iPhone 5 or below, you'll adore the 6 Plus for its larger screen and smoother experience.

The same goes for the New 3DS and 3DS XL.

If you have an old 3DS XL, you probably won't get how excellent this New 3DS really is. Sure it might be a bit smoother, a bit nicer to look at and certainly newer than yours, but flogging your old 3DS XL for the new 3DS XL isn't the best value.

But if you're upgrading from an original 3DS, the experience is night and day. You'll wonder how you ever put up with tiny screens, slow games and bad 3D. And to top it off, it's only $249.

Put this on your Christmas lists, folks.


    The only thing that is stopping me purchasing a new 3DS is potentially missing out on a special edition Majora's Mask 3DS.

      Get a 2DS then transfer to the possible special edition 3ds when it comes out.

      how would this make you miss out? dont all games work on the new 3DS console?

        he means the special edition 3DS, the actual hardware. They released a special 3DS unit for Link Between Worlds. Might do the same for Majora's.

    I went from the original 3DS to the New 3DS XL and it is quite the upgrade. I can actually use the 3D now and my hands don't get as crampy as they would on the smaller unit.

      Same. I got the 3DS XL in metallic blue (god its beautiful) from the wife for xmas (what a gal!).

      Its a great upgrade. It really is a superb machine. Replaying OOT 3D as we speak. What an adventure. Just perfect.

    I love the stable 3D effect, but I'm a bit miffed they went with an awkward nipple instead of a second analogue stick like

    Is this likely to be the last 3DS revision? If there's is a Majora's Mask special edition bundle I think I'll bite.

      They went with the nub because they are idiots. There is no logical explanation. It's also a shitty nipple - smooth, flat, slippery rubber. As soon as you get slightly excited your thumb slips off.

        Must resist obvious replies.... Arrrgh!

        I think I have quite a firm grip with a nipple. Rarely slips off my thumb or my fingers. Do you by any chance have sweaty palms? It might be why your thumb slips off since sweat are natural lubricant.

        @poita ;)

        Last edited 29/12/14 1:31 pm

    Can you confirm that C-stick is actually analogue? I haven't seen a single game where it is.

      I don't have any games that use it, but I've used it to scroll up and down menus at different speeds depending on how much pressure I put on it, so I think it's analogue.

    I'll buy one, as long as they don't bring back the amputee kiosks...

    I was considering dropping down to a regular sized unit. But after having a go of Pow's, I'm not so sure. That d-pad isn't so great :( WHICH IS STUPID, because they'd finally returned to form with the XL's one! Need to get my hands on an nXL.

      They did the same thing going from the ds phat to the lite. It was better in every way, but utterly screwed the dpad!

      I haven't found the new 3ds to be appreciably worse, though.


        You're like... the first person I've ever found who agrees with me about the Lite! WORST D-PAD! Wasn't too fond of the Start and Select buttons either. Nor their placement on the right side of the screen. Or... *old rant redux*

          Snaking in mkds was pretty much eliminated by that crappy dpad!

          Screens were great, though. Metroid hunters looked like a new game.

          Last edited 12/12/14 2:28 pm

            Hell, even regular powerslide boosting.

            Damn thing lost me an MKDS leg of a tournament! I don't even snake, I just couldn't race at all.

            But yeah, the brighter screens were pretty good. I also liked the idea that the smaller unit size would mean it was less of a stretch to get the thumb over to the touch screen with the thumbstrap (again, for playing Hunters :P)

            Last edited 12/12/14 2:30 pm

              Omg, you know about thumbstrapping in hunters! Only way to play.

              Not the greatest adventure game, but it's the closest thing to quake ever put on a console. Played so fast compared to the crap we have now, and the touch screen was perfect at keeping up.

              How good was the vapourising animation?!

              Edit: I just picked up a new 3ds and am keen for kid icarus. I've heard people struggled with the controls, but I suspect they were using a stock stylus instead of a thumb stylus. You tried it?

              Last edited 12/12/14 3:12 pm

                Omg, you know about thumbstrapping in hunters! Only way to play.Are you me? Seriously. That's my line. You got the thumbstrap back out again to play Kid Icarus on 3DS, right?
                (...And then I got to the edit part :P Not sure I ever tried it with the stylus, always played with the thumb strap. If I did, then I've forgotten about it. It was a long time ago though. Definitely worth picking up though, game's got top production values.)

                Funny you say it played so fast though. I hopped back on for a few final matches before WFC got shut down and man it was slow. I don't remember it being that slow at all, but it sure seems it now :P

                  @cubits @mrtaco I know EXACTLY what you mean. I used to play Hunters with a stylus (I always thought it was an amazingly responsive way to play) and, so, it honestly never struck me to try it with the thumb strap.
                  I did, however, use it to collect all 125 stars in Mario 64 and by the time I'd done that I was just as good with it as with an analog stick.
                  PS Metroid Prime Hunters was THE SHIT, no matter how you played it. Shrunk-down AAA done right.

                  Did I just accidentally witness you meeting the love of your life?

            Nah man, after a few hours to adjust I was just as fast as ever :)
            I'd love to race a duplicate version of myself on both systems to put the issue to rest, but I've seen a movie or two and that sort of thing rarely works out.

    I have a 2DS I picked up last year to play Pokemon X on. Do you think it's worth upgrading to a New Nintendo 3DS XL? I've been hesitant to buy Smash Bros for 3DS because of the 2DS's small screen

      I've got one and as much as I love it I don't think it'll be worth buying until the North American release when things start coming out that actually use the new features. That said, it's a great upgrade over a 2DS and price drops probably aren't going to happen too soon or be that major. The only real risk is that you'll miss out on some limited edition version if you buy the regular New 3DS XL now.

        Thanks man, lots of useful info there. I'm not too concerned about limited editions - though of course one would be nice!. I might wait a little while then

    I'm in the same group as the Author here - I have a 3DS (with the Ambassador Program installed) been looking at the New 3DS XL and I'm very tempted to pick one up for myself for Chrissy.

    But still its another $250 I have to drop on it so that will always pull on the old heartstrings..

    Not seeing anything to get rid of this for...

    Everytime I open it does this....

    Not really but in my head it does....

      Sif you don't keep your Zelda 3ds in one of these:


      Does anyone know if any of the LoZ themes on the 3DS do the treasure chest opening sound when you open the 3DS yet?

    Can anyone please tell me if it's actually and already possible to use amiibos on the New Nintendo 3Ds XL with Super Smash Bros or ANY game (Given the fact of the newest software update)? I only have demos in "my" NN3DSXL, it's not mine it's actually my Xmas gift to my (very young) son and the fact that the games are super expensive, I have to play and check everything to see what games would suit him in the sense he won't get so frustrated that he throws "my" NN3DSXL. Super Smash Bros might not be suitable but I was thinking if we play together using 2 devices it won't be as "violent" as it should be, and, I already got a Mario amiibo it's so adorable!

    Bought a New 3DS(It's my first portable console) during Boxing Day and I'm enjoying it. Played demo for Resident Evil Revelations and the C stick nub thing works fine for me and it's reconised as the circle pad pro.

      Same, bought New 3DS XL Metallic Black and Fantasy Life on Boxing Day. Its awesome.

      Also, side note, Mad Dog McCree is avialable on the Nintendo Eshop on the 3DS, bought it, wow, what a nostalgia trip.

        How nice is that metallic black. I got the metallic blue and both of them are beautiful pieces of hardware. Take that sucker outside and marvel at the shiny details of the metalicness.

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