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New Nintendo 3DS XL: Hands-On Preview from PAX South 2015

by Kyle Hanson

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Within the first minute of picking up and trying the New Nintendo 3DS XL at PAX South 2015 I was convinced that the upgrade was definitely worthwhile, at least for those who really enjoy 3DS games. The main benefit of the New 3DS is that it finally takes the main feature of the system, the 3D, and makes it functional. Of course you could always use the 3D feature on your 3DS, but due to the finicky nature of the technology, it always felt like a better move to just turn it off and never look back. With the New Nintendo 3DS, and its face-tracking technology, the 3D can finally realize its full potential, allowing players to enjoy their favorite 3DS games in their intended manner.

I had my doubts going in, as I’m sure others did when they first heard about the technology. “Sure,” I said, “it might widen the area in which you can view 3D games, but it won’t make it good enough to make me leave it on.” However, a good five minutes into my first game on the New Nintendo 3DS XL, I realized that I had left the 3D on and hardly noticed. The face-tracking allowed me to move the system to almost any normally used angle without causing the usual blurry image that the current model has. As I moved the system around to test its limits I saw it shifting to match my movement. It all added up to a stable and enjoyable image that enhanced the overall game presentation without the usual drawbacks associated with the 3D.

After a few minutes with the New Nintendo 3DS XL I felt like it was a worthy successor and upgrade to the 3DS XL

Along with this comes a few other improvements that might take a back seat, but are no less important for those that might be looking at an upgrade. The next biggest change for the New 3DS is the addition of the C-stick. This analog nub might not offer the same level of control that one might get from a full-blown analog stick, or circle-pad, but it adds an extra bit of control that players will surely enjoy. Being able to nudge the camera around my character was surprisingly natural, and helped make the handheld experience feel more like a full-console game. It took a few tries to get my head around how the C-stick worked, I kept trying to use it more like a touchpad for some reason, but once it all clicked I found myself relying on the feature more than I had anticipated.

Other changes include additional shoulder buttons and reworked button placements. Shifting the Start and Select buttons over is certainly better, but not really enough to cause anyone to take much notice. The additional shoulder buttons likewise offer an improvement, but not much at this time. The games I tested didn’t really use the new buttons to full effect, leaving me wondering how they’ll be used in the future. No doubt the few New 3DS exclusive titles will use the buttons more, so we’ll have to see how they help those gaming experiences.

After a few minutes with the New Nintendo 3DS XL I felt like it was a worthy successor and upgrade to the 3DS XL that I had enjoyed so much for the last few years. Some features, like the face-tracking 3D, bring the system to a new level, while others simply offer minor improvements over past experiences. The more time you spend with the system, the more it makes sense and sells itself to you. Whether or not it will be worthwhile for you is really determined by how much time you spend playing games on your 3DS. If you don’t have a 3DS though, it is certainly the definitive version at the moment.

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