In a market under threat, Nintendo attempts to prove size does matter
1 October 2012
Summary: Unless larger screens are what you've been wanting from your 3DS all along, you probably don't need to upgrade to the XL — you won't be missing out on much beyond its form factor. It's understandable that Nintendo didn't stray too far from its existing formula, but the need to avoid platform fragmentation simply highlights one of the main advantages that mobile phone manufacturers hold over traditional game companies.
Summary: Three years in, the Nintendo 3DS handheld has become a seriously good game device -- especially for fans of Nintendo's classic gaming franchises -- and the XL is the one you should buy.
Pros: The Nintendo 3DS XL has a two big screens, tons of great games, feels sturdy, and is the most kid-friendly gaming platform currently available.
Cons: Battery life is fair but still not great; the graphics are starting to look dated compared to other game platforms, and the 3D is largely an afterthought; only one analog pad; downloaded game management still a huge headache.
Conclusion: The Nintendo 3DS XL is a large, fun handheld with a big backwards-compatible game library and a bigger screen, but if you're upgrading from an original 3DS, you'll have to leave your downloaded games behind.
Pros: Big, beautiful screen. Solid build. Comfortable to hold.
Cons: Glasses-free 3D still has issues. System transfer process is convoluted.
Conclusion: The 3DS XL is an improvement to the original Nintendo 3DS without question. The larger screen is much easier on your eyes, and the lower screen’s increased girth makes things like touch commands easier. The ergonomic redesign is also much easier on your hands, even with the overall increase in mass. The two problems this new model introduces are that it costs more (a relative problem, since it’s still $50 less than the Vita), and that it doesn’t add a right thumb stick.
Pros: Much bigger 3D display, Larger touchscreen is easier to use, Better, more ergonomic design
Cons: Adding a right thumb stick would have made sense, $30 more than original 3DS, Software library is still weak
Summary: Despite a handful of missed opportunities, the 3DS XL is still the superior version of Nintendo’s 3D-enabled handheld. It fits more comfortably in the hand, its 3D effect is more pronounced thanks the larger screens employed, battery life is improved and the whole unit is sturdier overall. However, we’re incredibly disappointed by Nintendo’s decision to leave out a charger, and we can’t help but pine for a second control stick.
Conclusion: Perhaps as expected, the 3DS XL is an evolutionary step rather than a revolutionary one, and while there's no denying the benefits offered by the larger screens in providing a more immersive and enjoyable gaming experience, the lower resolution makes its success a rather qualified one.
Conclusion: Handheld gaming devices are up in the air at the moment: the smartphone and tablet world has turned gaming on its head in recent years, while the release of the Playstation Vita had the potential to really shake things up. But irrelevant of those points the only way to play the likes of Super Mario Land 3D is via a Nintendo 3DS (whether the XL or original version). It’s the spate of new games that really makes the 3DS XL a fun handheld console.
Pros: Better battery life than original 3DS, large 4.88-inch screen, can be used as a 2D device, enough decent games now available, more affordable than original 3DS was at launch
Cons: No power charger included!, same resolution as 3DS, the 3D mode won’t be for everyone, is the age of the handheld console and pricey games challenged by smartphones and tablets?