Bullet-Point Impressions: Nintendo 3DS XL

Sections: 3DS, Features, Handhelds, Opinions, Originals

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Nintendo 3DS XL

When Nintendo announced the 3DS XL, I read quite a few columns and forum posts asking, “Who’s this for?” The answer is me. I like big screens. I upgraded to the DSi XL from the DSi and never felt the need to go back despite the blocky graphics. I never play a game on the iPhone if it’s compatible with the iPad. And who wishes we were still playing console games on 21″ 4:3 TVs?

Nintendo 3DS XL

No one. So I had no problem paying $200 today for a blue 3DS XL when I’d paid $250 for Nintendo 3DS only a year-and-a-half ago. (Of course, numerous trade-ins helped to cushion the blow). Now that I’m home from church and shoe shopping for the kids, caught up on Seahawks highlights, have the data transferred from the 3DS, and have played a few games, here are my initial thoughts on Nintendo’s newest system:

  1. I much prefer the styling of the XL over the 3DS. The larger size and curved edges make it more comfortable for my big hands to hold, although that won’t be the case for everyone. Even the stylus is more comfortable, although I miss the really big one from the DSi XL.
  2. The colors look sharper in person than they do in photos. My model is a rich, deep blue with a subtle metallic sheen that still attracts fingerprints, although not nearly as badly as the 3DS. This won’t much for long, though, as I’ll soon have a skin on it to keep it in shape for a future trade-in. Along those lines, the curved edges will make for poor skin fittings.
  3. The 3DS XL feels like it’s more solidly made. Tougher. It’s certainly heavier (likely due to the larger battery more than anything else). It has a solid click when snapping the screen into place, and I worry that it’ll loose that after repeated use.
  4. Although I shouldn’t complain since some countries don’t even get a power cord, I miss the charging base of the original 3DS. I liked having a station where I could put it every night to charge up. I’m sure someone will release a similar accessory before too long.
Nintendo 3DS XL
  1. The WiFi, volume and 3D sliders feel more substantial, but I miss the 3D notification light. It’s been replaced a noticeable click when you’ve slid it past the point of 3D.
  2. Nintendo has done a great job of transferring your personal content from and old DS to a new one (it’s quite OS X-like in its simplicity), but it was annoying that I had to re-download my eShop games instead of just transferring them from the SD card.
Nintendo 3DS XL
  1. The screen appears huge, especially next to the original 3DS. And although it is blockier, the difference isn’t nearly as bad as it was between the DSi and the DSi XL. I’m spoiled by the Retina displays of the iPad and the iPhone, but the 3DS XL display is much better than I expected, especially in 3D.
  2. The 3D feels deeper and more useful. I kind of wish I hadn’t traded in some of the games I’ve completed, as I’d really like to see what they look like now. My son’s copy of Mario Kart 7 gets the message across just fine, however.
  3. Standard DS games look much better here than on the 3DS, and even better than on the DSi XL.
  4. The buttons seem to have more spring to them. More responsive. Rhythm games should be easier to play now.
  5. The speakers suck. Get a good pair of headphones.

That’ll do it for now. I’ll have more details in my full 3DS XL review, which will come within a week or so. I just wish I had some new games to help me put through system through its paces, with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Mirror of Fate and Luigi’s Mansion 2 now waiting to join Fire Emblem: Awakening in 2013, it could be a slow fall/winter.

Until I’m back with my bullet-point impressions for the Wii-U, anyway.

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  • Al

    Thanks for your review. But I wanted to confirm, you can’t just put your current SD card in the new machine after the transfer? You have to download all your games? I have a 16 gig card, and re-downloading isn’t a problem, I just don’t understand if this is the case, why I can’t just put my card into the new machine? I probably won’t be getting one till they release a new color. The plain red and blue just don’t turn me on. I hope they come out with a clear one. Thanks again.

    • Kirk Hiner

      You use the previous card after transferring your settings from the previous DS. I didn’t because my old card was 2GB, and I wanted the newer 4GB that comes with the 3DS XL.