With Nintendo making a habit of revising their handhelds ever since the arrival of the Game Boy Pocket – a smaller, slinkier version of the original and vintage Game Boy – it’s perhaps no surprise to see a new version of the 3DS arrive on to store shelves.
What is slightly surprising however is just how quickly it’s been delivered; perhaps confirming just how the 3DS has struggled amid complaints from users who question just how easy on the eye the device’s unique “glasses free” 3D effect really is.
The 3DS XL looks to finally respond to such criticism by offering a markedly improved display, the XL’s screens a good 90% larger than those offered by the original 3DS. Not only good for super-sizing the onscreen action, but also providing extra touchscreen space to make stylus intensive games that much more comfortable to play.
Some early users have claimed that the boost to the size of the system’s screens causes a jagged outline to graphics, and while it almost certainly does (in the way expanding a jpg beyond its original resolution does) it’s really not the issue people are making it out to be and personally I didn’t once notice anything untoward.
The XL also feels better contoured to the shape of your hands too meaning it a more comfortable device to hold and so perfect for extended bouts of play. Sure there’s a little more weight to the system but nothing that ever caused any discomfort at any time during my considerable usage of the new system.
It isn’t all good news though; the ongoing issue of the 3D “sweet spot” – that limited viewing angle at which the 3D effect can be appreciated – hasn’t really been expanded much at all. With the 3D switched off someone sitting at your side can get involved, as was the case with the similarly large DSi XL, but turn the 3D on and prepare to experience headache inducing dizziness.
The addition of a second analogue stick, so negating the need to head out and buy a bigger version of the Circle Pad Pro, would have been nice too; but as Satoru Iwata explained, it was a matter of battery life or extra stick and Nintendo went for the extra play time. Understandable enough, though highlighting the extra battery life before taking the decision to not put a charger in the box as standard seems a little off.
Regardless, the 3DS XL is an excellent piece of kit for those looking to breathe new life into their portfolio of 3DS titles, while that extra battery life certainly makes a difference on longer commutes.