Larger Than Life – 3DS XL Review

New console number two out of three for the year!

After a relatively short build-up, Nintendo’s new 3DS XL was released in Australia last Thursday. It retails for $250, which is technically the same RRP as the regular 3DS (although many retailers sell the original model for less). That was the first pleasant surprise it provided me with. The second was how good it felt to hold and play. The third was how good its stereoscopic 3D looked. The fourth was how easily I could recommend it, to anyone, as a system superior to its smaller cousin in almost every way.

Yes, that's a Pokemon sticker.

It’s just a nice-looking piece of tech, really.

The 3DS XL ships in a smaller box than the 3DS, as there is no charging cradle included and the printed documents have been cut down to size. Sliding the console out of its packaging reveals a stylish design that is immediately notable for its curvature and matte finish. There are none of the harsh angles of the original handheld and it won’t show off your fingerprints nearly as brazenly. The XL looks far more like a direct competitor to the Playstation Vita than its predecessor (which continues to trounce Sony’s handheld in sales anyway). The top screen is surprisingly thin and every button is both larger and “clickier” than on the smaller unit. The 3DS XL currently comes in three colours, silver (my choice), red and blue, although these shades just line the system’s top and bottom. Most of the console is black.

Almost the same sized screen!

A comparison with Sony’s latest handheld.

Because the 3DS XL’s screens are larger than those on the 3DS but pack the same resolution, it’s easier to notice the pixels that make up each. This means some games, particularly primarily 2D ones, look a little worse than they do on the 3DS. This may be a legitimate turn-off for some. But slide in a game like Super Mario 3D Land, which is a polygonal 3-dimensional game, and the pixellation not only becomes less noticeable but fades into obscurity next to the sheer intensity of the 3D. Though Nintendo didn’t change the core mechanics of the stereoscopic effect for the XL, the mere fact that its screens are so huge (the top one is 4.88 inches across) amplifies the feeling of being sucked into a game when the (now clickable) 3D slider is pushed up to maximum. Playing Ocarina of Time 3D will make you feel like you’re playing on your Nintendo 64 again, but with sharper graphics and a world that positively comes alive. On the highest in-game 3D setting, Resident Evil Revelations looks absolutely incredible and feels scarier than ever. The flying sections of Kid Icarus: Uprising are an exercise in pure visual chaos, in the best way possible.

Playing regular DS games also feels better on the XL. Although a good old DS Lite is probably still the best way to enjoy those, the XL’s “original resolution” feature looks less ludicrous than it did on the 3DS, which showcased DS images in extremely small dimensions when you held down SELECT to avoid an ugly stretching effect. Holding the button (yes, it’s an actual button this time) on the XL will give you a DSi-esque image size to enjoy. The larger battery on the XL also shows its greatest improvement over the 3DS when playing DS games. A session of Pokemon Conquest will now last around ten hours before needing another charge, as opposed to the six or seven it did on the 2011 model.

Haven't played the Kart in a while actually...

Regular model versus the XL. Both fit in most pockets.

Those with an original 3DS might want to consider trading it in and upgrading to the XL, as it’s comparative downsides are few. Those without a 3DS at all might see the release of the extra large and extra sleek model as a great chance to join in the stereoscopic, street-passing party that is the Nintendo 3DS line. Either way, the system has come on in leaps and bounds since its abysmal launch last year thanks to some quality software releases, developer support, cheaper pricing and now choice of model. With every passing month it gets even harder to find a reason not to recommend the portable.

.

THE VERDICT

-◊-◊-◊-◊-
Good:
Super-sleek new design with many small improvements, better battery life, more immersive 3D display
Bad:
No resolution improvement means some games look uglier
-◊-◊-◊-◊-

515/110A M A Z I N G

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Cameron Barlow on August 30, 2012 at 11:56 am

    How do i live with the original?!

    Reply

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