Gadget review: Nintendo 3DS XL

22 August 2012 - 13:51 By Bruce Gorton
The Nintendo 3DS side by side with the Nintnedo 3DS XL
The Nintendo 3DS side by side with the Nintnedo 3DS XL
Image: Nintendo

Bruce Gorton takes a look at the new Nintendo 3DS XL - and finds it is an improvement on its littler big brother.

When the Nintendo 3DS came out, it sold brilliantly for about a week.

It then promptly stopped selling so well as people began to notice how much it cost, the eye strain involved in actually using the 3D feature, and that there just weren’t that many games for the system.

A price cut, an aggressive campaign to get more downloadable content and third party developer support solved two of those issues, and now the new 3DS XL is set to solve the third one with a 90% larger screen.

And the larger screen really does help – though there are a few issues with the system that struck me as being, well, not great.

The first is that if you are buying this new – and I would recommend the XL over the normal 3DS for user comfort – it doesn’t come with a charger. You have to buy that separate.

It isn’t exactly expensive, and if you already have a 3DS that charger will work with the XL version, but it is a nuisance. When I buy a handheld device, I don’t expect to have to get a charger for it.

The second issue is that it still comes with pretty much the same control scheme as the vanilla 3DS – it does not have the Circle Pad Pro controls built into it, and because of its larger size it isn’t compatible with the Circle Pad Pro right now.

That said, the plusses to this system aren’t all simply the bigger screen.

The more rounded corners on this model mean it is a bit more ergonomic, and your hands won’t feel quite as cramped quite as quickly. I prefer the matt finish to the back as well – because while the vanilla 3DS looks nice new, it doesn’t take long to get it positively covered in finger prints.

I tested it using the New Super Mario Brothers 2 and found the rounded corners made for a more comfortable gaming experience, while the bigger screen definitely reduced the strain on my eyes from the 3D effect. It didn’t feel like I was squinting quite as much.

A bigger system means more room for the battery – so the XL also boasts a longer battery life than its older sibling. It is slightly heavier – but if an extra 100 grams isn’t going to kill you.

The hinge on the screen comes with a second lock point, which is a welcome plus for the end user, but I would still prefer a slightly tighter hinge in general for more control over my viewing angle.

Overall the system itself is a huge improvement – but the lack of a charger just bugs me.

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