Review: New Nintendo 3DS
The new Nintendo 3DS and new Nintendo 3DS XL seemingly came out of nowhere, promising improvements over the original, older models, touting a c stick and ZL and ZR buttons, “super-stable 3D”, inbuilt functionality for amiibo, replaceable cover plates, and faster hardware that improves download speeds. How well does it do the things that it promises? Is this upgrade worth your money? Was it worth replacing my 3DS XL?
The one feature that gamers might purchase a new 3DS over a new 3DSXL is cover plates. The new 3DS (and not the new 3DS XL) is able to replace the cover plates from the stock white to various colours, patterns and graphics. With the cover plates, gamers can change the visual appearance of the new 3DS. It’s almost like having a brand new console with every cover plate change.
Other hardware changes include moving the game cart slot to the lower left of the 3DS, moving start and select to the bottom right face, changing the colour of the face ABXY buttons to red, yellow, blue and green (referencing Nintendo’s second console, the SNES) and moving the stylus holder and power button along the front edge. These changes do take a transition period for previous 3DS users to get used to, but I’m sure with time they’ll feel natural.
Nintendo claims that both of the new 3DS variations have “super stable 3D” that works via an infrared sensor can track your face and eyes and maintain seamless 3D. And it works. Using the 3D on the older 3DS or 3DS XL, you have to align the console in a specific manner to enter the “sweet spot”, and it may not always work. The new 3DS and 3DS XL improves the 3D so much, widening the sweet spot. Moving the console around doesn’t ruin the effect unlike the older models of the 3DS. I’m finding I’m leaving on the 3DS longer than with I did with the previous models.
The c stick and ZL and ZR buttons functions exactly as they do on the Circle Pad Pro, an add-on for the older models of 3DS, which contained an extra circle pad, and ZL and ZR buttons. The c stick works differently compared to the circle pad, it’s more of a nub or nipple that doesn’t move; it just sits there, and it registers movement through what side you touch. So far, all games that have Circle Pad Pro functionality use the c stick and two extra triggers, but they don’t double as an extra circle pad, L and R buttons, so when touched or pressed in games that don’t use them, nothing happens.
Under the hood, the new 3DS runs much faster than its predecessors. The Internet download speeds have doubled in any aspect that uses downloads such as using the Internet browser, Miiverse, eShop, and downloading software off the eShop. The load time for games has also been improved, the most noticeable being Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS. On a 3DS XL, the game takes 35 seconds to load, while on the new 3DS, the game only takes about 15 seconds load; more than double the time to load. In addition, exiting the games takes about an extra 15 seconds to reset the 3DS XL, while no reset is needed on the new 3DS. That’s around 50 seconds of loading just to start and stop the game on the 3DS XL as opposed to 15 seconds on the new 3DS. Simply, it runs rings around its older brothers. This is only a taste of what the new 3DS can do with games, with a re-release of Zenoblade Chronicles exclusive to the new 3DS and its improved innards is coming in 2015.
The box also promises functionality with Nintendo’s amiibo figures with NFC technology. As no 3DS game uses amiibo as of current, this particular point can’t really be touched upon. For future games that will use Amiibo, it gives an extra edge over the previous models that will need an extra add-on that promises to be announced in 2015.
Compared to using a 3DS XL, the new 3DS is the upgrade that gamers never knew they wanted. While the 3DS XL has bigger screens, the customisation through face-plates, the improved 3D and hardware are worth the upgrade. If gamers aren’t as fussed about the level of customisation the new 3DS offers and still want that larger screen, the new 3DS XL will suit their needs perfectly.