Nintendo 3DS XL Short Impressions & Review

I haven’t posted in a long while. Mainly, I have been busy with work at FedEx and WUMR-FM so very little time has been afforded to me. Whenever spare time is available, some of it has been spent on gaming, mostly on-the-go or trying to finish Assassin’s Creed III.

A couple of weeks ago, I traded in some old, unplayed games and upgraded to a Nintendo 3DS XL (Flame Red) at GameStop. I am not a stranger to 3DS gaming since I used to have the original that released March 2011, so everything is familiar.

Off the bat, the portable device has some tweaks that make the XL the system of choice between the two. The big difference is screen size, which is 90% larger than the original 3DS but keeps the same resolution. One may think that games look crappy, but I honestly couldn’t tell the difference in quality. Both seem to be the same and games look great on the 3DS XL, especially with 3D turned on.

Speaking of, the larger 4.88 in. top screen makes 3D gaming much more bearable. The eyes do not get as strained and it is much more easier to focus the effect.

The bottom, touchscreen is also bigger (4.18 in.) and makes it easier to interact with games like signing a name, choosing items, menu navigation, etc. Also, it is noted that the stylus has been moved to the right side (as opposed to the top) for easier access.

Other little tweaks include slimmer size (in terms of thickness), heavier but matte plastic finish (less prone to scratches and fingerprints), more responsive analog nub and buttons, and actual physical menu buttons (Start, Select, and Home). Everything that was included in the first 3DS is still present in the XL version. Sadly, there is no second analog stick, but most 3DS games don’t need it and Nintendo has an attachment to remedy that problem.

Also, customers would be glad to know that the 3DS XL comes with a 4 GB SD Card (in addition to the 2GB built into the system), instead of 2 GB. The memory should be more than enough, but the handheld can be expanded to 32 GB SD cards which can be purchased for roughly $30.

Anyone who knows Nintendo is aware of some quality titles and the 3DS offerings are not disappointing. At last year’s launch, the company failed to bringing worthwhile games (the high price point of $250 didn’t help either). Since then, that promise has been fulfilled. Super Mario 3D Land, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Kid Icarus Uprising, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Mario Kart 7, and Paper Mario are just a few great first-party titles. Third-party companies like Square-Enix, Capcom, and Konami have brought triple A franchises like Kingdom Hearts, Resident Evil, and Metal Gear Solid to the 3DS as well. Even more game series like Super Smash Bros., Castlevania, Dragon Quest, and Monster Hunter are on the horizon. Then there are classic and current games available on the eShop.

If that doesn’t satisfy, the 3DS and 3DS XL are compatible with DS titles. For example, Pokemon Black & White 2 work well and even having the system opening more options if one downloads the Pokemon Radar App.

I could go on-and-on, but I must compare it with its rivalry…the PlayStation Vita. Even though the Vita has many elements that could make it successful, it lacks great games. Granted it has some, but 3DS has more…possibly because it has been out a year longer. With that said, the Vita is the best handheld I’ve owned from a hardware side, but lacks a huge library to keep most people interested.

Plus, price is a big factor. Even with the XL, the Nintendo 3DS is a much cheaper alternative to the PlayStation Vita. The lowest entry for Vita is $250, while the highest for Nintendo handhelds is $200. Also, you don’t have to buy a separate memory card for the 3DS. Nearly all 3DS games save directly onto the game card. It even comes with system memory and and SD card. For all those features, the Vita lacks memory and even a 4 GB stick will cost $20. Should anyone need to expand 3DS memory, 16 and 32 GB SD cards are widely available and very cheap. While it cost nearly $100 for the max amount of memory for Vita, it is about $70 cheaper for 3DS owners to upgrade.

I am not suggesting either system is perfect or completely flawed. Both 3DS and Vita offer some unique  and wonderful experiences. However when it comes to price, the 3DS has a better deal. There are some truly great games, which Nintendo has always been successful with when it comes to portable gaming.

If I would have to suggest between 3DS and Vita, it depends on what you’re looking for. For better graphics, hardcore games, and better controls, the Vita is a good system but expect to spend a lot of money and possibly wait a while for more good titles. For those on a budget who want quality games that play well and look decent, the 3DS has plenty to offer for all different types of gamers. Those who think it is too kiddy might be right, but the games are still pretty enjoyable.

Anyone looking to get a 3DS this holiday season should consider a 3DS XL. The bigger size actually makes the system much better. Those who already own a 3DS wouldn’t need to upgrade, but newcomers may want to look into the XL, especially since it is slightly more expensive ($30 more) than the original 3DS at $170.

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