Nintendo have shown how to evolve the 3DS design while maintaining its winning features
New Nintendo 3DS XL
IF ever there was a temptation to christen this new handheld the 3DS XXL, Nintendo deserve credit for resisting it. It makes sense, too - the latest device is not bigger, but it certainly is better. From its exterior shell, it may appear practically identical to the previous XL, but although the appearance and heft of the XL has not changed significantly, its latest iteration feels notably more robust and durable. The central hinge feels stronger while the construction of the overall unit suggests this a much hardier handheld. It fits into the carry case for an old XL but even without added protection, this is a machine that is built to last.
3D effects are more stable in the new model
The most obvious in-game enhancements come in the form of the handheld’s flagship feature - the 3D. Images feel much more stable when you move your head up and down or to the side and whereas we usually turned the slider to a low setting (if not off altogether) on the inaugural model, this one invites you experiment more in the knowledge that the 3D effects will complement your gaming session rather than hinder it.
The new XL also supports use of Nintendo’s Amiibo figurines, while ew rear trigger buttons will hopefully expand the possibilities for developers to give players greater control over future titles. These are among the most impressive new features on the revamped XL and demonstrate well executed design - they serve a purpose and aesthetically, look like a natural, intuitive fit. In fact, pick up an old XL and the absence of the extra set of triggers feels odd.
A second analogue stick allows for greater control
Elsewhere, Nintendo have acceded to the demands of players by adding a second analogue stick, a small unobtrusive means of granting users more agency over proceedings. Its most obvious application is to allow control over a game’s camera - the reworked version of Majora’s Mask does this - and while it not be the most earth shattering innovation, it comes in very useful.
The considered design is let down somewhat by changes to the back case of the 3DS which mean that if you want to replace the microSD card used for save data and downloaded titles, you will have to use a size 00 screwdriver to access the slot. Granted, these can be picked up for a few pounds from most hardware shops, but it is a grating inconvenience and jars with an otherwise user friendly layout on the best handheld gaming console available.