One of the first things 3DS XL owners will notice is just how drastic of an impact the screen size and system design really is. It simply isn’t enough to look at pictures for comparison. The only true way to understand the XL’s true purpose is hands on.
The 3DS XL fixes many of the known issues of its former self. When holding the XL in your hands you’ll instantly notice the rounded curves in the redesign give the system a much needed boost in comfort level.
With the screen size increased to 4.8 inches the XL now allows for more space with the button layout. 3DS fans can finely say goodbye to the dreaded hand cramp often experienced in Kid Icarus.
When navigating around the circle pad and D pad, the extra space allows for a much less cramped experience making it easy to switch from the classic D pad to the circle pad on the fly. The D pad has an increased cushion feel while still maintaining a slight click sensation for a more comfortable retro gaming experience.
Perhaps one major notable change to the button layout is the start, select and home button. No longer is the membrane style button control present. This time around Nintendo has chosen a more tactile approach by separating each button for more accurate precision.
The left and right triggers have also received a much needed overhaul. While the triggers are still digital they have recieved an increase in size and feel less clicky and more cushioned.
Some more noticeable changes are the placement of the stylus and SD card slot. The SD card slot has been moved from the orginal left side to right side. The stylus is now placed on the right side making it much easier to remove during gameplay or basic use.
The stylus has returned to the original plastic pen in favor of the original teluscopic stylus. The headphone jack is now located on the left front side. Originally the headphone jack was placed in the front center of the 3DS making headphone cords get in the way.
Perhaps the biggest improvement comes in screen size and battery life. The 3DS XL boosts a massive screen increase to a 4.8 inch widescreen upper display. The larger display actually creates a much more immersive gaming experience with a 3D effect that seems to “pop” more on the larger display. The XL has an increased battery of up to 6.5 hours in 3D games and 10 hours in more basic 2D DSi games.
The bottom screen has also recieved a significant boost in size at 4.18 inches. Apps like Swapnote benifit from the touch screens size increase allowing for a more comfortable writting experience.
The XL also feature a two click positioning of the upper screen for better viewing angles. The 3D depth slider now has added resistance to let the user know when 3D is on and off.
While there are many positive aspects to the XL’s redesign, it’s not without a few noticeable flaws. Perhaps the most notable flaw is the fact the XL’s screens have not recieved a pixel increase. The XL maintains the original 3DS resolution while blowing out the image making pixels more noticeable then ever.
While this doesn’t take away from gameplay and in some cases can easily be over looked in games like The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time which really shine on the larger screen it may still bother those who are used to high definition screens like the iPhone 4S.
Another noteworthy missing feature is the lack of an additional circle pad. Nintendo claims this is due to the increase in battery life and that adding a second analog stick would make the XL to large.
Many 3DS games are now supporting console style controls and while the increase in battery life is welcome it would have been nice to see Nintendo focus on a way to implement dual analog sticks.
For those on the fence about making the plunge, it is worth the purchase if your a huge 3DS fan looking for a more refined and comfortable portable gaming experience. If you haven’t purchased a 3DS then the XL is without question the definitive iteration to own.
– Larger display screens
– Rounded edges create a comfortable feel with less hand cramps
– Longer battery life
– Larger L/R triggers
– Matte finish eliminates messy fingerprints
– Screen image blown creating lower resulotion due to maintaining original pixel count
– Lacks a second circle pad
– Bottom plastic battery cover feels flimsy