The New 3DS XL Is Nice, But Not A Must-Have Yet

The New 3DS XL Is Nice, But Not A Must-Have Yet

For a couple of years we at Kotaku have deemed Nintendo’s 3DS as an essential piece of gaming hardware. And for decades, new iterations of Nintendo hardware have immediately rendered older units obsolete. Things are different this time around.

Get it if you don’t have one.

We still think you should have a 3DS in your gaming collection. There are tons of great games for the system (these are our top 12, with the caveat that we haven’t decided whether the brand-new Monster Hunter 4 and Majora’s Mask remake should get added to that list). More 3DS games are being made all the time, primarily by Nintendo themselves, with key contributions from Atlus, Capcom and some others.

If you don’t have a 3DS yet and are willing to spend $US200, the New 3DS XL is a pretty good option. (The non-new 3DS XL costs $US175; the smaller 3DS goes for about $US160). You’re future-proofing a bit, and you’re getting some better control options and stereoscopic 3D tech than you would if you got the older models.

But, if you do have a 3DS, you don’t need to upgrade yet.

The New 3DS XL has a faster processor and will eventually have games that only run on it and not older 3DS/2DS models. Not yet, though. You don’t even need to think about that in North America until the first New 3DS-exclusive game, the port of Wii role-playing game Xenoblade Chronicles, comes out in April (Check out this Wii-New3DS Xenoblade graphics comparison, if you’d like to see how close the boosted 3DS hardware can match Wii/PS2-level tech).

Sure, the New 3DS will speed up the system’s load times. But there aren’t even any games out yet that use the New 3DS’ two extra shoulder buttons.

Above: Nintendo promotional imagery highlighting the new control inputs.

The new nub is not quite the second circle pad we were hoping for, but it helps.

The New 3DS’ new c-stick allows for dual-analogue controls and surely will be programmed for that by developers who believe there are enough New 3DS owners to justify a control scheme that wouldn’t work on a standard 3DS. For the moment, though, the c-stick nub can pretend to be a “circle pad pro,” which was an add-on that put a second analogue circle-pad input on the right of the 3DS. There aren’t many games that supported the circle pad pro (here’s a short list), but it’s nice that the New 3DS will at least let players play those games’ alternate control schemes without an added peripheral.

The main problem with the c-stick nub is that it doesn’t have much give. You can’t flick it as you could the c-stick, which has made it less than ideal for, say, the circle pad pro control scheme in Kid Icarus Uprising. It works, but it’s not a 1:1 substitute.

It is promising to see that the developers of Majora’s Mask 3D programmed free camera controls to the c-stick, which makes tracking enemies in that game a lot easier. In this regard, at least, New 3DS players will have a better experience with the game than non-new 3DS players will.

We do love the improved 3D.

The New 3DS tracks the position of your mouth and eyes in order to calculate the proper angle at which to display the system’s glasses-free stereoscopic 3D. It can do this constantly and on the fly, which means that it will transmit a clear 3D image to you even if you begin to rock your head or the system. This results in more stable 3D effects that are only occasionally baffled if a second person’s face gets close to yours or if you’re moving your head while wearing glasses. Even then, the system figures things out quickly. It’s a lovely improvement.

The much-improved 3D effect on the New 3DS has even elicited this odd remark from Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata:

“It looked so good that it made me want to apologise for not having the 3D functions work this greatly when we first released the Nintendo 3DS system. Of course, such technology was not available when we released the original Nintendo 3DS, so it was impossible to integrate it at the time. I hope people will forget their expectations of 3D from the past, and replay on the New Nintendo 3DS systems the 3DS games they played before.

We don’t love that they left out a power cable.

For reasons that reek of Nintendo cost-cutting (from the company that eliminated the headphone jack from their second Game Boy Advance!), the New 3DS XL does not come with a power cable. The new handheld is compatible with the AC adaptor cable from the 3DS and 3DS XL, but if you don’t have one of those, then you’ve got to buy a $US10 cable. Nintendo has been leaving power cables out of their hardware packages outside of North America for some time, but that doesn’t make it any less strange or annoying.

It’s oddly difficult to buy an official Nintendo AC adaptor, but our friends on the Gawker Media Commerce team have some power cord suggestions.

You should be aware of some other possible hidden costs.

The New 3DS XL uses micro SD cards. It comes with a decent-sized 4GB one, but if you want more storage, or if you had more storage on a standard SD card on your 3DS, you’ll need to buy a bigger micro SD for your New 3DS XL. The new Nintendo portable doesn’t support the SD card. Data transfer is easy, though, and you’ll be able to bring all your games and save files from an older 3DS to the new one. Just make sure you have a small screwdriver to open the new unit up.

The New 3DS XL has a pretty short stylus, too, shorter than the 3DS XL’s. You might want to think about getting a larger stylus.

Oh, if you want the non-XL, smaller New 3DS? Sorry, America.

It’s not coming to North America, and any overseas models will be region-locked. Maybe Nintendo will bring it here in the future. After all, our main guy in Japan really likes it. To be fair, our main guy in the U.S. is pretty happy with the New 3DS XL!

Bottom line: it’s still a good system, though, and the best 3DS yet.

(For a second opinion, check out the New 3DS XL review from our friends at Gizmodo.)


  • Doing the final data copy now and mine will be up and running, as someone who already owned a 3ds XL and is replacing it with the gorgeous MH4 limited edition some thoughts.

    -The opening and closing of the screen is silky smooth and nigh on silent. How long this will last remains to be seen but the previous 3ds made a hell of a lot of noise that the new version doesn’t.

    -Positioning of the power button will take some getting used to, might be a result of muscle memory however.

    -positioning of the start/select buttons and redesign of the home button are all positives.

    -The MH4 edition silvered faux brushed aluminium doesn’t noticeably pick up fingerprints. They are still there but unless you look at them in the correct light, you can’t see them

    -C Stick is fine. No it’s not a 2nd analogue stick but as it will primarily be used to control the camera in game, it serves its purpose.

    -The Z triggers are nice and don’t require any sort of contortion to reach comfortably.

    • Also, PC Copy steps when moving from SD on current 3DS to a purchased MicroSD >4GB
      -Format new SD card with SDFormatter Full(OverWrite) settings
      -Copy contents of Nintendo 3DS folder on SD card to your computer
      -Turn on New 3DS and perform setup, do not add a Nintendo Network ID
      -remove backplate of new 3DS and replace MicroSD card with recently formatted one
      -Turn on both systems, perform system update on both, then go to system settings -> other settings -> system transfer on both systems
      -Follow prompts
      Answer “OK” to transfer the data and delete all data on old system
      Choose “Delete” on the New 3DS XL to overwrite the data on the New 3DS microSD card.
      Choose “No” when asked if you’ve used any other microSD cards in your system.
      Choose SD card when asked to confirm which card you are currently using
      Choose PC-Based transfer, will copy only factory default programs
      Follow any remaining prompts
      -Watch pikmin go to work, follow prompts until you are asked to switch off your system
      -remove MicroSD card again, hook up to PC, delete existing Nintendo 3DS folder from MicroSD card, copy previously backed up old Nintendo 3DS folder onto MicroSD.
      -Insert back into N3DS and turn on.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!