One of the first stops on my PAX South tour de force was at Nintendo’s relatively meager booth, which featured plenty of New 3DS XLs running some of the soon to be released 2015 titles. Before diving into games like The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D and Monster Hunter 4, I have to touch upon Nintendo’s latest 3DS XL iteration, which really is called the New 3DS XL; I have a t-shirt to prove it.
I have to say that when I first heard of yet another 3DS upgrade I had little interest; I had already upgraded once to the original XL and didn’t see the need to do so once again, but after my hands-on time with the latest build I have to say that Nintendo has changed my mind for me. Let’s just say that we all should be hoping for great trade-in deals, or enough people looking for hand-me-downs on after market sites like Ebay and Craiglist, because this thing is going to be hard to pass up.
Improved 3D and Face Tracking
The New 3DS XL shines in a few key areas that make it worth upgrading to, especially if you’re a power user and a fan of the device’s 3D display. The 3D face tracking and overall improvements to the screen are easily the most noticeable new features of the latest 3DS build. The screen can be viewed at angles that weren’t possible on the old 3DSs without making your brain feel twisted and your eyes feeling like they’re getting crossed. The effect is much more clear and truly provides a sense of depth now, so much so that you will be stunned at how well games look with the 3D jacked up to its highest levels.
Thanks to the face tracking you no longer have to hold it at just the right angle to get the best 3D picture – it will follow your subtle movements – making the effect much more enjoyable while gaming. You no longer have to maintain the perfect angle while playing to get a smooth 3D experience, so if you disliked the effect before I urge you to give it a spin on the New 3DS XL, you’ll be extremely impressed with the improvements, and quite possibly change your mind on 3D gaming in general – yes it’s pretty damn awesome now – hopefully developers will take note and incorporate the effect into future game plans.
The New 3DS XL boasts a noticeable increase in processing power over the current-gen units. According to the reps at the booth the increased power can yield upwards of 5 seconds of timesavings while booting up games, or in between content loads. This improvement was most noticeable in the Monster Hunter 4 demo I played through, which seamlessly transitioned to new areas without more than 1 second of downtime. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to see the menu system and play with settings and transitioning from Home to other apps, which quite frankly is a slow process on the older 3DS units, but I’m anticipating performance gains based on what I saw while playing the various titles on hand.
Like me, I’m sure many of you questioned if a new button could really enhance the gameplay experience on a 3DS XL, but similar to my overall change of heart on the new device, I now see why Nintendo opted to included the C-Stick above the face buttons. It came in handy while playing both Majora’s Mask 3D and Monster Hunter 4 thanks to it allowing you to take full control of the camera. Scanning Link’s surroundings with the C-Stick is much more efficient than relying on the game’s built-in camera, which is still a bit wonky, so navigation is much less frustrating. One can only hope that other developers incorporate the new button into new titles and create useful gameplay mechanics with it.
The last upgrade of the New 3DS XL is Amiibo support, but there were none on hand to test out the feature, so I’ll have to reserve judgment on its merits for the time being. With that being said there’s no downside to this feature, and those gamers who went coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs over the Amiibos will surely appreciate being able to use them with their 3DS.
Let’s face it, Nintendo has made it hard not to want to upgrade to the New 3DS XL, which sucks for your wallet, but if you are a hardcore 3DS user you almost have no choice but to upgrade yet again. Hopefully you weren’t an early adopter like myself and will only go through your second 3DS upgrade when the latest version hits on February 13, 2015, because thanks to the 3D face tracking, more power, the C-Stick, and Amiibo support, upgrading is a no brainer. Now if Nintendo would just give fans what they want and offer a wider release of the Majora’s Mask 3D bundle, the allure would be too hard to pass up, even for the most frugal of gamers.
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