Sleek, sexy, stunning. These are all words brought to you by the letter “S”. They also summarise my tantalising 30 minutes with Nintendo’s new beefed up handheld: the 3DS XL.
Glasses free 3D was always a cool novelty, but I’ve never been a big fan. It lacks lasting appeal and I always struggled to maintain the perfect sweet spot. In that sense, the 3DS XL is a revelation. Once you find the crux of 3D, it works without a hitch.
I dominated Mario Kart 7 and allowed myself to get lost in the experience with full 3D turned on. That would never have happened on the original DS, as the display is too taxing on my eyes and it would always distort into a useless double-vision blur at the crucial moment.
I forgot I was playing in 3D on the 3DS XL.
The 4.8” screen, much closer to that of the PlayStation Vita, is also noticeably less vulnerable to glare, not that it was ever a huge problem, and the touch screen benefits from enhanced real estate for those of us without child-like fingers. The awkward screen size discrepancy that plagued the original model in the eyes of aesthetic perfectionists is less noticeable; although, I’m oblivious as to why Nintendo settled on different dimensions to begin with.
With improved 3D capabilities, at least for my eyes, and a more comfortable design, the 3DS XL is the Nintendo handheld that you want to play.
Aside from being significantly larger, the XL feels like the premium 3DS. It’s more comfortable to hold -- especially for adults -- and resonates with a higher build quality. The L and R buttons feel more natural and the redesigned Home, Start and Select buttons have more durability to them.
It culminates in a sleek black and silver design, with added curves to the edges for maximum comfort. It’s even marginally slimmer than the original 3DS, but the expanded proportions come with a 46 percent gain in weight. As I said, it’s curvy.
The added weight may sound considerable, but in practice it was hardly noticeable. The only cause for possible alarm is portability if you’re restricted to a pocket or very limited bag space. It’s no chance of covertly sitting in your school blazer.
That’s not the market the 3DS XL is targeting. It’s designed for anyone who wants to enjoy the expanding library of 3DS titles on a larger, more comfortable device. Gamers who enjoy using their handheld at home or on holidays, not on the train every morning -- but even they shouldn’t have too many issues.
Perhaps best of all, the 3DS XL will retail for the same price of $249.95 as the current model when it hits Australian retailers on August 23. Unless portability is of the utmost importance, you’d be daft to settle on a standard 3DS once the XL has been released, unless Nintendo is planning a sizable price cut for the soon-to-be fun-size model.
It’s a little perplexing to see the lack of inbuilt second Circle Pad Pro, considering there’s plenty of space under the face buttons. We’re assured that Nintendo is working on a new peripheral for the XL, but is obviously still far from convinced that two analogue nubs is the right decision. It also mightn’t be the best choice for Pokemon Black and White Version 2, as the original 3DS already has screens bigger than the DS. The 3DS XL will either mutilate the pixels or leave you with sizable black boxes; although, that’s simply conjecture, as I have yet to see a DS game in action on the 3DS XL.
We didn’t get a chance to try out any of its other software or functionality -- such as its cameras -- but in terms of downright gameplay, it’s clearly the definitive model of the 3DS. With improved 3D capabilities, at least for my eyes, and a more comfortable design, the 3DS XL is the Nintendo handheld that you want to play.
By Ben Salter