With the release of its latest handheld system, the Nintendo 3DS XL, the company once again updates it to a degree that more people will appreciate it. The 3DS in itself was a pretty good system, especially when top-tier games like StarFox 64, Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 were coming out for it. But you could still tell that there were some shortcomings that came with the hardware, you know? Those little things that held it back from greatness.
But with the Nintendo 3DS XL, it appears that Nintendo has made the improvements needed to really make it stand out over the original. Sure, you might be thinking “But it’s $200! Do I really need to upgrade?” Depending on how your budget is right now, we’d definitely say yes. And why just provide you with a single reason why, when in fact we have five that break down the greatest improvements made to the hardware. As Mario would say, “Here we gooooo!”
The bigger screens
Obviously the “big” thing that Nintendo is talking about here are the enlarged screens that come with the 3DS XL. Now, we aren’t able to technically assess if the “90 percent bigger” equation is correct or not, even with the systems sitting side by side. However, there is a noticeable difference between the two when it comes to seeing the display better. And that will mean the world to some gamers who had to squint with the last system.
Case in point – the bigger screen helps some games look even better. Racing through Mario Kart 7, for instance, we saw a lot more detail that we missed the first time around, whether it was shooting through a canyon or maneuvering through the game’s older, more classic courses. (You guys remember Rainbow Road, yes?) Super Mario 3D Land also looks incredibly better, with its huge 3D world to explore and better detail on the levels, particularly the sand one in the earlier portion of the game, where you have to aim with precision as you’re fired out of a cannon. (What is it with cannons lately?!)
Even the downloadable games look good for it. True, the Game Boy games are a little too pixel-y for their own good, but the NES and other classic DSi games are outstanding, just as they were on the DSi XL. This reason alone should definitely be enough for some of you to move on up.
The better battery life
Okay, so the battery life is only marginally better than the original Nintendo 3DS model. That said, it’s still a step in the right direction, rather than turning the machine into a power-sucking device. Compared to the 3 to 5 hours you could play the original 3DS, the 3DS XL comes with around 3.5 to 6 hours, a nice step up – especially if you’re playing something on the road like Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance or The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. Just make sure you have it fully charged before you leave the house. The fuller the battery, the better the life.
The original 3DS is a cool little system, but we can’t help but feel some slight discomfort holding it around the edges, as the sharp corners can really dig into bigger hands. This problem is all but vanished with the 3DS XL, as Nintendo went with a more rounded case, one similar to a clamshell build. While it does take a little bit of adjusting to when it comes to opening it (you can either go partially or all the way with opening), the system just feels better overall. What’s more, it’s great to have the stylus ready to grab on the side of the system, instead of having to reach around back to pull it out. That’s just a real pain in the neck for us…and another problem that Nintendo has resolved.
This could just be a default reason, as you can easily expand the memory in the original 3DS, as well as the 3DS XL, by using a higher-up memory card. But for those who can’t invest right away, the 3DS XL comes with a 4 GB card built right in, so you can have double the storage space of the original. If you’ve got a lot of games on your 3DS, or you want to make room for an all-digital copy of New Super Mario Bros. 2 (which, by the way, is available in the eShop now), then you’ll want as much room as possible. The 4 GB goes a long way in this department, though nothing stopped us from upping to a more powerful 32 GB card. We’ve got room for an entire Game Boy library here. Now Nintendo just needs to release it.
The transfer process is painless
You know how you have to jump through hoops on certain systems when it comes to transferring over your game saves and data? Well, the Nintendo 3DS XL doesn’t really have that problem. True, there are some games you need to redownload, and if you don’t have your memory card properly put into place, you’ll lose your saves. But aside from that, transferring data from your older 3DS to the newer 3DS XL is a piece of cake.
In fact, it’s rather cute. When you first kick off the process, little Pikmin come running out and carry over all your data virtually, from one system to another. While some games do take a little time to transfer (an hour or two, depending on size), it certainly beats looking at a blank screen the whole time. And hey, it might just hint at the Pikmin coming to the 3DS soon enough. Eh?
Overall, if you’ve got the extra money, the Nintendo 3DS XL provides more than enough positives to make it worth the upgrade. And besides, you don’t want to really keep playing StarFox 64 on that dinky little screen, do you? Nah.