Customer Review

898 of 938 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, Nintendo delivers on the 3DS' potential (an in-depth look at the improvements and differences over the original 3DS), August 20, 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Nintendo 3DS XL - Blue/Black (Video Game)
If one looks at the 3DS with an unbiased, objective point of view, there is a lot to love. It is basically a next-gen successor to Nintendo's vastly successful DS handheld, with the horse-power of a console somewhere between the Gamecube and the Wii. It utilizes a very cool 3-D effect that, when done right, really adds to the overall immersion of the gaming experiences available on it. Everything about it is an improvement on the original DS. Granted, it also has some caveats and issues as well. The 3DS XL does a very good job delivering the goodness of the original 3DS, while making vast improvements over its smaller brother original. In this review, I will focus on the differences and improvements this model makes on the 3DS line. I'll warn you right now, this is a long review. If you don't like long reviews, then you may want to skip this. :P

Screen Size: With a title that includes "XL," obviously the increase in size is the biggest difference between this and the original 3DS. It may be easy to hear that the screens are 90% bigger than the original, but it really is a stark difference when you take the system out of the package and see it for yourself. The XL's screens are HUGE compared to the original. It's comparable to the jump between the DSi and the DSXL, for those savvy to what that means, but in this case its even bigger because the top screen is in a widescreen format. Despite the size increase, the picture is still crisp and pops with nice detail. I thought that because the screen would be bigger, but with the same resolution as the original, the XL's picture would be distorted and fuzzy, but that's not the case here. I've put the screen detail and quality through rigorous testing since buying the system, playing many different games, and the bigger picture really makes the scenery more detailed than I ever noticed before. It's no exaggeration to say that the games actually feel new due to this greater detail. It's great!

Screen quality: Instead of the top half of the XL having a shiny, glossy finish of the screen and the area around it that the original featured, the 3DSXL features an almost "smoothed over" finish that was meant to lessen glare from the sun or other lights from bothering your eyes. It actually makes quite a difference. The trade-off is that the back-lighting seems just a smidgen less bright, but not much at all. One of the biggest problems I had with the original 3DS was the problem of "ghosting." It was especially frequent in games with areas of high contrast. This was a common issue people had with the original 3DS, but I haven't noticed it much at all yet with the XL. This is a big plus for me, because that ghosting was one of my biggest gripes with the original. I made my peace with it though, because ghosting naturally occurs from time to time with the tech being utilized in the 3DS, but to have it mostly gone here is a real treat. The colors in the XL seem brighter and a bit more vibrant as well. The touch screen is really nicely made, and seems to be a slight improvement on the original, but the difference is negligible. The saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," comes to mind.

DS backwards compatibility: Honestly, this is one of the best things about the 3DXL. If you look up comparison videos of the first 3DS playing original DS games and a DSi playing DS games, the 3DS is surprisingly inferior. The colors are more bland, the resolution is fairly fuzzy, and if you choose to play it in its native resolution to fix that blurry smudginess, the screen becomes so small it's hardly worth doing that. The XL makes drastic improvements in all of these areas. The colors are just as bright and beautiful as playing on a normal DSiXL. Due to the larger screen size, playing in a native resolution still leaves ample room for playtime and is no longer the cramp experience the first 3DS offered. If you choose that route, the screen will be close to a normal DSi. Even if you don't, the picture is still decent at full-size, shockingly. This fantastic backwards compatibility is a real plus in the 3DSXL's favor and should not be understated. Massive improvement here.

Build quality: Much like the new DSi and DSiXL made notable improvements in build quality to their predecessors, so does the XL refine the design of its predecessor. Instead of an outer glossy finish, there is a sleek matte exterior that makes the XL feel more heavy duty and refined. It definitely has a better build quality than the original. My original 3DS' top screen hinge became fairly loose and the lock-in positions a little weak after just one instance where I accidentally jostled it. The hinges on the XL click and lock into one or two set angular positions before locking into the flat position and I know there's no way this thing is going to break easily at all. That's a really nice improvement. The system is surprisingly slick in its form too. It's about the same thickness as the original (which is kind of clunky in comparison, let's be honest), and even weighs less than expected, despite the larger screen and button size, and this size and shape really comes across as a mature, sleek gadget from Nintendo. I felt the same way about their classy DSiXL system too. The buttons are also vastly improved. The home, select, and start buttons are actual separated buttons that have a bit of click to them, which is a vast improvement. The other buttons have more "squish" to them, but still click in a satisfying way. All-in-all, the buttons feel very balanced, if that make sense. They're very similar to the DSiXL's button quality, which is to say, very nice. The 3-D and Volume slider are also different. When all the way off, the 3-D slider clicks into an off position, and when you want to turn the 3-D effect on, you must click it out of position and then slide it to your desired 3-D level. Both the volume and 3-D sliders seem more heavy duty. They stick and stay where you leave them very, very well. A lot of small details add up in this system, to be sure.

Battery life: In my personal experience, the original 3DS had battery life that lasted about 3-5 hours with the 3-D slid up, 4-6 without 3-D, and roughly 6-8 hours with DS games. The 3DS XL is supposed to last 4-6 hours with 3D, 6-8 without, and 8-10 with DS games. It's not a HUGE improvement, but every bit counts. If you're like me and play a lot of the time with the system plugged into the wall, it won't really matter all that much anyway, but for those who want to play on the go, this is a really nice improvement over the original. Of course, battery performance will vary depending on how bright you have the screen and how many power-draining features like wifi that you choose to use at any given time. Still, I really like the battery life of the 3DS XL.

Sound: Supposedly, the sound tech in the 3DSXL is pretty close to the original, but I (and others, I've checked) have noticed some differences. The speakers on the XL seem a bit quieter than the original. Not a ton, mind you, but it's noticeable. The speaker volume level seems to depend on which game you're playing too. 3D Classics: Kirby's Adventure seems just as loud as before, but better now. I tend to play my 3DS with these amazing headphones on, and the difference becomes really noticeable then. The sound from the XL with headphones seems a lot more detailed and ambient than before, and the volume level is fine. The highs, mids, and lows are distinctive with no aspect overpowering or distorting the others. Much like the visuals, I'm hearing things in games I never heard before, and it has enhanced my experience even further. Games with amazing soundtracks are a real delight to listen to on the XL. Great stuff here, and a very pleasant surprise!

Memory: The 3DSXL comes with a 4 GB SD card, making for a much bigger space for storage than the 2 GB SD card included with the first models. This is nice. I almost filled my first one up and still had a lot more games to get. Granted, you can buy any sized SD to use with the 3DS after some formatting, but having more space right off the bat is nice.

Any issues?: In many ways, the 3DSXL is what the 3DS should have been from the beginning, and it's a fantastic little handheld. It's not quite perfect though. For one, where's the second analog slider? There's ample room under the right-hand face buttons for it, but alas, no slider. It's not a problem that bothers me much, but I must note it because there are many who will view it as an issue. Imagining the boat-peripheral they're making for this system makes me giggle a bit. It conjures up visions of Nintendo releasing a laptop-sized 3DS with trigger buttons, lol. I understand they kept it out due to tech/power/space optimization, which makes sense. Personally, I never cared much for a second slider, and not having one has pushed developers to come up with some really creative things in the past on the DS and 3DS alike. I also find the design of the XL to be, like the original, cramped and painful to hold after a while, especially in high-action games. It's definitely better, don't get me wrong, but the cramping is still there a bit. To fix this issue, I highly recommend purhasing this comfort grip, as it is worth its weight in gold in this area. :D Perhaps the most annoying thing about this handheld is the d-pad. It works just as well as the one before, but now it's extremely "clicky." I don't mean the button clicks when you use it; that has always been the case with the 3DS. What I mean is, now the d-pad seems to be looser in its area, and so makes this "clickety" sound against the bracket if you lift your thumb off of it even if only for a split-second. It can be really annoying. One more personal gripe: the color choices. Really Nintendo? Bright blue and red? The DSiXL had really mature, fetching color options that made the system feel like an adult's gadget. These slick red and blue colors are a lot less subtle and elegant. Don't get me wrong, I own a teal 3DS (not exactly the most "mature" color choice) and love it, but I wish there had been a more subdued teal, gold, or forest/jade green finish to choose from. Just you wait, as soon as I post this review, that option will become available, knowing my luck. lol

(Update: Nintendo has since released two more models with different color schemes. My wife has a lovely Pink/White model and it is very pleasing to the eye, and I say that without shame or feeling like a wussy. There's also an all-black XL which seems like more of an "adult" choice. Nintendo also releases limited edition models from time to time that gives more variety if your timing is good. Being a massive fan of the Legend of Zelda series, I ended up buying the gorgeous golden LE 3DSXL commemorating A Link Between Worlds, with no regrets. It looks amazing. So there are better color options now, thankfully, even though I grew to love my blue XL. Just thought I'd throw this update in there.)

I realize this review is very long, but when considering tech purchases that are this pricey, these kind of reviews always helped me make informed decisions better. I have both the original and now the XL, and I must say the 3DSXL feels like the "true" 3DS. The system should have been like this from the start, honestly, and when it was originally announced, I, along with many others, hoped for an XL edition. Now we get it and it has been well worth the wait. For those who don't own a 3DS yet, this is the perfect time to get it. This system finally delivers on the promise of the original 3DS, and now there's an excellent library of titles for newcomers to joyously embrace. At a mere 30$ more than the original for practically double the space and a big jump in hardware quality, it's more than worth it. This is a great value. I'm glad I got the original a year ago, but I am absolutely thrilled to get this version, and heartily recommend it to all gamers with a heart container for Nintendo or great gaming in general. It's not a choice you'll regret. I hope you enjoyed this review and found it helpful. Have a good day. Toodles.
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Tracked by 10 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 92 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 21, 2012 12:18:33 PM PDT
Yada says:
Thank you for this review, yours has been the most helpfull one since only you mentioned the backwards compatibility with previous DS games, which is something I was looking forward, also all the information is pretty good, thanks, I am looking forward buying it when it comes to America

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2012 7:43:01 PM PDT
Relytia says:
Thanks Yada. I'm glad you found my review so helpful. DS Backwards compatibility was one of the things I was most excited about when they announced the XL. A few preview articles even talked about it excitedly. It's a great feature, to be sure.

Posted on Aug 21, 2012 9:16:18 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 27, 2012 2:31:29 PM PDT]

Posted on Sep 11, 2012 6:14:11 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 11, 2012 12:05:53 PM PDT
T. Lemelin says:
Incredible review. I was on the fence about spending $200 on a held held system, but after reading this I'm heading to Best Buy on my lunch (or maybe even before then) and picking one up.

(Purchase secured, along with Zelda: OoT. Absolutely cannot wait to be off work now!)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 23, 2012 8:19:42 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Dec 13, 2012 4:43:22 PM PST]

Posted on Sep 25, 2012 1:03:34 PM PDT
GamerInHeart says:
@ Peragulator

?

Not sure what you mean, but I do like the review.

Posted on Oct 2, 2012 11:42:39 AM PDT
M1900 says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 2, 2012 1:57:36 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 2, 2012 2:25:41 PM PDT
Relytia says:
T. Lemelin, thanks for the kind words. I hope you enjoy OoT3D, it's awesome.

M1900, I was paid nothing to write this review good sir. I am a lowly janitor by profession and write reviews as a hobby. Thanks for the rude question though, and for putting me in my place. Glad you think my honest assessment of this system over the original was somehow bought off by Nintendo. By my estimate and your standard, I must work for many companies, any who made something I rated five star really. I must make so much moolah as these peoples' PR monkey! lol. Seriously though, I write reviews purely as an intellectual hobby with no benefit to myself whatsoever. I'm not even part of the vine program, so any review I write is a purely honest assessment by myself and for fun, nothing more. It's moderately insulting when people say I'm paid off to write reviews like these simply because my review is TOO positive (this one isn't at all, which is mystifying to me as to why I got this garbage claim here of all places) and TOO well-written/spoken/expressed/whatever. That's stupid. Compared to the four-star original 3DS, the XL is a five-star, in my opinion anyway. Good day to you sir. Sorry my review for the 3DSXL was so annoying to you.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 3, 2012 3:05:08 PM PDT
GamerInHeart says:
I found it to be quite good.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 17, 2012 6:00:25 PM PDT
C. Magrabi says:
Thanks for this wonderful and in-depth review. I'll still hold off of buying it until that second stick is added. I would've bought this if it had included it and thought it was going to when it was first announced. Your review made it a lot more tempting for me! Maybe if the price goes down and once I'm absolutely sure they won't release one with a second stick included.
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