Hands-On: New Nintendo 3DS XL Arrives at GameStop

We in North America have expressed our disappointment, time and again, that the small New Nintendo 3DS is not heading stateside come February 13th. For reasons ranging from lesser sales to the hardship of distribution across this land made for you and me, we are only getting the extra large New Nintendo 3DS XL. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be excited about this upgrade. Ahead of it’s February 13th release, select GameStop locations have seen demo stations for the system go up as early as today, the 1st. And I finally got my own paws on the system. Based on my brief time with the system, it’s an upgrade you’ve got to see to believe.

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Step into GameStop, and you’ll see the swankiest 3DS demo station ever displayed by man. The demo station featured the New Black XL, loaded with a special demo of the equally-anticipated Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D. The demo offered three vertical slices of the final game, and each one looked great on the New 3DS XL. They controlled just like 2011’s Ocarina of Time 3D, with one major addition: free camera control.

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Odds are, the first thing you’ll notice when you look at the New 3DS XL isn’t the large screens, but the new controls. The C-Stick juts out above the face buttons, and works in mysterious ways. It barely moves, and yet it responded to my thumb’s pressure: I touched it, and I fondled it. The good news is that Majora’s Mask 3D‘s camera responded to every erratic twitch of the C-Stick. This brings promise for using it on the older 3DS games that use the Circle Pad Pro accessory. I believe in the power of the C-Stick with Kid Icarus: Uprising.

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So, how’s the system’s most signature feature: the Super Stable 3D(tm)? Well, it’s interesting, for sure. Right off the bat, it works exactly as advertised: through laser-pointing tech beside the inner camera above the screen, your face is kept track of through every tilt and deliberate turn. The way the effect looks in person is of note.

When you shift the view of the screen, you notice that the 3D image is tilting, similar to the effect of a diorama shoe box. So, the volume of the 3D isn’t kept 1:1 on an angle but rather keeps unbroken should your head move. Also impressive, if you back your head away from the screen, it’s much harder for the 3D to break, another affliction of the regular 3DS screen. I daresay many people will find it harder to turn the 3D effect off this time, as it enhances new releases in 2015 and brings new life to the many older classics on the platform.

It should be noted, I was unable to test the faster CPU of the system, as the demo unit was squarely locked to the MM3D demo. Given the circumstances, you’ll have to wait until February 13th to really see the effects of application hopping on the New 3DS XL for yourself. The same goes for the general weight and feel of the system, as (surprise, surprise) it was bolted to the station with a thick wire.

The New 3DS XL is the equivalent to a church’s revival service: it serves to get people excited and re-invigorated in the ways of Nintendo’s handheld ways. If you weren’t a believer in the 3DS before, the New 3DS XL will make you see the stereo-3D platform in a new light. And if you were still upset that North America isn’t getting the smaller New 3DS, a little hands-on time with the XL version may help ease the pain, for it’s a very cool machine, size notwithstanding.

How many of you have gotten an early taste of the New 3DS XL, or perhaps live in a territory where one has released already? Does the above preview match up with your own experiences? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Editor-in-Chief (Former)

A man with a plan. My favorite video game franchise is Pokemon, but his favorite video game is Resident Evil 4. I can also tell you trivial cartoon factoids.