After a day with the New 3DS, my most important impression is that it’s about damn time. The 3DS family finally has hardware deserving of its library and lineage.
While the original 3DS has a nice, sturdy housing (comparisons to a hamburger merely an issue of aesthetics), its interior was lacking. I took issue with the odd membrane-esque Home/Start/Select buttons, as they never felt good to push. My purchase of the XL wasn’t due to its increased screen size (I found the original perfectly sized for portability), but because of a general dissatisfaction with the feel of its inputs, as well as how easily the top screen could be scratched by the bottom’s ridges. However, that happiness was short lived. The XL’s build quality was lacking, and the system would squeak and creak as I held it. And those scratches on the top screen persisted in this form as well.
In holding the New 3DS XL, I could breathe a sigh of relief. Not since the DSi XL has Nintendo built such a wonderful handheld.
Paramount is that it doesn’t feel like a big chunk of weak plastic. It’s beefy, and has a nice heft to it. It’s still no Vita (which feels as if it was forged, not manufactured), but it’s close. Button placement is great, with Start and Select found just below the face buttons , just as they were on the DSi. The new ZL and ZR buttons are very accessible, something that I was concerned about initially. My only issue with these buttons isn’t with, but their use in older titles that offered Circle Pad Pro support. Resident Evil Revelations was one such title, and with the CCP controls on, the aiming and firing commands are mapped to ZL and ZR which feels pretty awful on the New 3DS. Others, like Kid Icarus Uprising and Super Smash Bros., feel pretty great. While the C-Stick can’t replace the ease of the additional Circle Pad the CCP offered, it works well. Uprising‘s use of the CPP was for lefties like myself, so it’s nice that the New 3DS still allows for that same accessibility.
Not enough can be said of the handheld’s more stable stereoscopic 3D. It works as promised, and despite months of being happy with a 2DS, I’m excited to dip back into these 3D waters. I’ve actually been using it quite a bit, realizing that losing the 3D effect in previous years was the biggest reason behind my decisions to do without it.
System performance is as significant as Nintendo said it would be. As highlighted by Super Smash Bros. dramatically reduced load times, the extra bit of power the New 3DS offers is put to good use. Applications like the eShop and Miiverse load very quickly, and the internet browser is very much worthwhile now (I used it for some Majora’s Mask help and never felt like I should have just used my phone instead).
Is it a necessary upgrade? No, I’m sure plenty will do just fine with whatever variation of the 3DS they own. The New 3DS is a suitable name for the hardware, as it’s a nice bump for Nintendo’s latest portable. It’s a collection of little things that add up to a great handheld.