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.
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!
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.