The New 3DS XL has finally hit stores in the U.S. and I have come up with the highest highs and lowest lows for the system after about a week of play. Check out the pros and cons of Nintendo’s newest handheld.
The system is faster. This may be a small boost on paper, but it saves a lot of time, especially when you bounce around from Friends List to game to notifications to settings, etc. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is probably the game that takes longest to load and I would always have to ask myself “am I sure this is the game I want to play and commit to for the rest of my commute, because the 20-30 second loading is such a burden?” Heck, sometimes I open and close Smash Bros. just for fun. Also, pressing the Home button during a game session would always have a second or two delay on the old 3DS systems and that’s not a problem anymore.
Better Volume Controls
The volume slider is positioned in a much better place. The old 3DS XL slider was placed right where you would keep your left hand while playing and this led to the slider being pushed up and down by mistake a number of times. I still think that the DSi’s volume controls were best with actual buttons and the option to toggle the brightness of the system while holding select, but having this change is still very welcomed.
Stable 3D is really a pleasant addition. Like most of the other upgrades to the New 3DS, I wrote “Super Stable 3D” as a throwaway feature that wouldn’t impress. Boy was I wrong, because my 3D slider is up about 90% of the time since I’ve gotten this system. On my old 3DS and 3DS XL, the 3D slider was turned up maybe once or twice during a game session just to see how a cutscene or certain action sequence looked. But the feature was never good for long strides, especially on a rocky train where the system is moving about constantly. Now, I’ve been playing gorgeous games like Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D and Super Mario 3D Land with the notch turned up and it’s made these great games that much more amazing. This is how the 3D feature should have launched.
I think they got this completely right on the DS Lite, but Nintendo seems to keep messing this up every other handheld launch. The stylus on the right-hand side, in my opinion, is the most ideal and that has changed on the New 3DS XL. The stylus position felt natural and in good reaching distance on the right side and this time the stylus is located at the bottom. Being at the bottom of the system is still a step up from it being by the top middle of the system that was horrendously revisited by the original 3DS, but why fix something that isn’t broke?
Even Worse Cartridge Slot
Another uncomfortable relocation that took place in this iteration is the game cartridge slot. The top middle is the most out of reach spot, which is not good for where the stylus should be, but perfect for the cartridge slot. Once you pop a game in, you don’t want to think about it or see it again, but this time, it’s constantly felt on the left palm of any New 3DS XL wielder. This also adds the danger of accidentally popping the game out during a sitting, which is probably one of the biggest gaming nightmares.
Lastly and probably the most publicized downgrade for the system is the microSD card slot. The Nintendo handhelds have used SD cards for downloadable games since DSi, but the change to microSD isn’t the problem, it’s the location of it. The SD card was always changeable on the fly, but now it’ll take a few steps to access. It’s not a huge hassle, but the uncalled for change is mindboggling. The microSD card slot is located at the back of the system, underneath the panel and right next to the battery. That means you need to use actual tools (Phillips #00 Screwdriver) to pop in a new memory card. I took the stock 4GB card out and replaced it with my own 32GB card (the maximum limit) the moment I got the system, so I don’t ever have to mess with it again, but even doing it once is enough to leave a bad taste. Why make something that has been so readily available for years become a tool using experience? Knowing Nintendo, we’ll never know.