It’s likely the iPhone owner in me manifesting himself in the gaming world, but I’m not really comfortable leaving my gadgets unprotected. Moreso than falls and water exposure, I worry about the damage I know will happen: scuffs and scratches, and those annoying smudges you can’t seem to wipe clean.
On my iPhone, a case is fine; it’s slim enough that the extra bulk is often welcome. The Nintendo 3DS XL, however, is already large enough, thanks. So, when it comes to protect it from general use, GelaSkins will do the trick.
The immediate benefit to applying a skin to your 3DS is that won’t have to worry about fingerprints. That metallic finish is pretty slick, but smudges will appear and stick around, especially if you have kids (or are one) who frequently tear through their fried chicken dinners to get in some Mario Kart 7 before homework. Depending on the skin design you choose, it can do a better job of hiding the smudges, meaning you’ll be wiping it clean much less often.
But the big benefit is that your 3DS XL can slide around in backpack or on a tabletop and not suffer permanent scratch damage. This not only keeps your device looking good while you use, but it can increase the resale value when it comes time to trade it in for your next gaming system.
GelaSkins laminated vinyl decals are made from a patented 3M material that can be applied, removed, and reapplied until you get it right. This isn’t really an issue on the top and bottom cover of the Nintendo 3DS XL, as the device gives you plenty of alignment starting points on each side. When applying my skin, I hit both of these on the first try (although I’ve done this a lot over the years, so I developed a pretty good system for it. It helps that GelaSkins are so precisely cut that a near perfect fit is almost impossible to not achieve once you’ve got the alignment right.
GelaSkins also provides protection for the two screen frames, and these are a bit harder to get into place. First of all, you have to deal with the tiny speaker holes, which are über-annoying. I used toothpicks in an attempt to keep the hole cutouts on the skin backing when lifting it off, but still had to use tweezers to pry some strays off the adhesive side of the skin itself.
And although you can pull the skin away from the device after it’s applied, this works better when there’s plenty of skin to pull. Doing so on the top screen skin stretched the top portion of the frame, causing an unavoidable wrinkle in the final product (you can detect it in the photos above and below just at the left nub above the screen).
Thankfully, the screen frames aren’t as necessary as the exterior, so you don’t have to actually use them if you don’t like the way they turned out. If you do use them, though, it’s worth noting that the cuts are just as precise and don’t interfere at all with your button and movement pad use.
GelaSkins makes some of the finest quality device skins available. They’re sturdy, they’re strong, and they’ve got something for just about every taste. The company focuses almost entirely on art prints (both classic and contemporary), so you’re not going to find any movie- or game-themed skins. With their wide assortment, however, it’s not hard to find something appropriate in a color that matches your DS.
Many of the skins are already set up to work with the 3DS XL layout, but if not, you can create your own layout at the GelaSkins website. Some designs, however, simply aren’t conducive to this particular device, and you’ll have a hard time getting them to work (which is why I didn’t go with the Blue Robot or the numerous Mars Attacks designs).
But no matter what you pick, pick something, and you can rest assured that your Nintendo 3DS XL will look as good when you take the skin off as it did when you put it on.