Chris: The New 3DS (as it is known) is yet another revamp of the 3DS line of consoles. It features a faster processor, improved 3D capabilities, additional shoulder buttons, and a second analog stick. For the majority of people, the New 3DS is essentially an earlier generation 3DS with the Circle Pad Pro accessory built into the device. Together, Dave and I are going to analyse the console, take it for a test drive, and see if it’s worth upgrading. Dave purchased the base New 3DS model, while I opted for the XL option.
Dave : When Chris first suggested this review, I was a little hesitant. I’d owned both an original 3DS and the XL, and didn’t feel there was anything particularly ground-breaking in the new one. So what made me change my mind? Well, at PAX this year, I was lucky enough to test drive Monster Hunter 4 on both the New 3DS and New 3DS XL. I was instantly sold. The tactile feedback from the buttons, coupled with dual shoulder bumpers and a second analogue stick were all solid enhancements I felt were long overdue. Other enhancements, such as the repositioned cartridge slot, improved 3D, and aesthetic improvements played their part as well, and secured the unit as “changed enough” to warrant purchase. To be honest, the faster processor didn’t even factor into my decision. Nintendo games have always run so well that improved load times or menu navigation weren’t a concern.
As Chris mentioned, I opted for the New 3DS non-XL version. The reasons for this were simple. First and foremost was that I wasn’t happy with the appearance of the XL screen. A larger screen is nice, but when image sharpness and perceived detail are sacrificed, I didn’t feel it was worth it. My second and third reasons are purely aesthetic, and make me feel a little shallow: coloured face buttons and interchangeable cases. I’m not sure why neither of these featured on the XL, and I feel it was a missed opportunity. That said, it’s not something you couldn’t remedy yourself. After all, my 3DS XL was a custom HIVE: Not By Design unit courtesy of DecalGirl. I did like the idea of interchangeable hard covers in place of decals though, and coloured face buttons – whilst not integral to game experience – certainly look nicer. What made you choose the XL over the standard, Chris?
Chris: To be honest, my reasons are less about aesthetics and more about comfort, convenience, and functionality. See, I have rather large hands, and my launch date 3DS made my hands cramp up with extended play sessions. I was considering upgrading to the standard XL, and a week later the New 3DS was announced, complete with an XL version. I immediately set upon grabbing this XL variant, so I decided to bide my time.
I have heard that with the increased screen size, the overall image is stretched, causing a loss of sharpness and detail. And I agree, it’s definitely there. However, I don’t feel it’s too much of an issue. For example, I played Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on my launch 3DS with the Circle Pad Pro accessory. As mentioned before, this is basically the accessory they’ve baked right into the New 3DS. The screen on the launch 3DS is rather small (3.53 inches), and in Monster Hunter, there’s a lot going on. Upon receiving my New 3DS XL, I immediately threw Monster Hunter in for a comparison. The control is VASTLY improved. The addition of an extra analog stick makes controlling the camera incredibly easy. The increased screen size (now 4.88 inches) means that it’s a lot easier to see what’s going on. Well, at least for me. Playing Monster Hunter with the launch 3DS and the New 3DS is as different as night and day. The controls feel natural. Even with the Circle Pad Pro, the controls on the launch 3DS were serviceable, at best.
As for the aesthetics of the interchangeable cover plates, I agree that they were a missed opportunity. However, I’m not too fussed that I don’t have them. The way I see it, I spend the majority of my time with the console looking at the screen. I’m not too fussed with the outer appearance of the console. Overall though, the increased size of the console is perfect for my gorilla-sized hands. The improved 3D feature is something glorious to behold. How have you found it, Dave?
Dave: That was actually my main factor when choosing to upgrade. The improved viewing angle meant I no longer needed to hold the unit in a “sweet spot” in order to play comfortably, and my kids could watch without me having to turn off the 3D. I’m not sure if this is a result of developers learning how to properly use 3D or the new unit itself, but the quality of the image seems better and the eye strain significantly reduced as well. It’s now what I’d hoped it would be when first released.
Another important factor for me was the new position of the cartridge slot. Due to the curved casing of the XL, I often found my games would eject when the unit was carried in my pocket. The new location on the front, flush to the unit, voids this problem for me completely.
Just to sidetrack for a moment, but am I the only one annoyed by the stupid name? New 3DS? Really? It’s such a short-lived name and is void as soon as they release a successor! I didn’t like when they were doing it with games, and it annoys me even more this time around. Stupid gripe to have, I know, but there it is.
Going back a sec, I wanted to respond to what you said about the second analogue stick. I’m very happy they decided to include one in the core unit and void the need for a peripheral, but I’m bemused as to why they made it a track point instead of an additional analogue stick. For those of us old enough to remember (or if you still have a ThinkPad), track points were those small rubber joysticks used to move the cursor around the screen. They were a stop-gap solution between mice and trackpads and were pretty average to use. Unlike an analogue stick, the amount of pressure you exert determines the strength of your action – analogue sticks have consistent resistance and use distance from the centre to determine strength. To add insult to injury, it’s also located in a strange position above the face keys. These means you need to change grip every time you want to rotate camera. It’s not a huge issue but, considering all other consoles have already made these mistakes and addressed them, I’m surprised Nintendo made the move.
Chris: See, you find it strange, I find it perfect. I don’t need to change my grip to reach it and that slight indent just above the nub means my thumb isn’t pushing into the console and is perfectly comfortable.
There are a lot of reasons here to upgrade. Everyone is going to have a different reason. In my case, the extra nub and buttons for increased control, as well as the increased screen size, are what sold me. In your case, the changeable face plates and the improved 3D are what hooked you. This upgrade is not for everyone. It is, after all, a LOT of money to drop on an upgrade. However, if you’re a first-time 3DS owner, the New 3DS is a no-brainer. Aside from the cheaper price, there is no real reason to purchase an earlier model over the newest iteration. Unless you’re looking into the 2DS, which is a different beast altogether.
Also, everyone agrees that the new naming scheme is terrible and confusing.
Dave : With the currently library, I’m not sure it’s worth upgrading to the New 3DS just yet. Once more games utilise the extra buttons then it might be worth it, but the New Super New 3DS 2 will probably be out by then, so you can just purchase that. I disagree with Chris about the high price for an upgrade. I paid $190 AUD for mine and was offered $120 as trade in for my XL. To me a $70 changeover for an upgrade isn’t too shabby. A great unit to have, but potentially not worth upgrading unless you specifically need it.