Monday, February 23, 2015

New 3DSXL Hardware Impressions

You don't know what you've got until it's gone. In my case, I was using a 2DS for about a month and a half for two reasons: The hinge on my old XL was cracked so it was off to Nintendo for refurbishment, and I wanted to set up a backup system for Pokemon purposes anyway. So when the XL came back and was immediately traded in, the New 3DS XL became an even bigger Arceus-send.

The biggest changes from the original system are the extra hardware power, C-pointer and extra buttons. The C-pointer is the most immediately obvious change, and the model I have is just loose enough to be very comfortable. The camera movement in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate takes a little getting used given my 3DS Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate experience outtimed the Wii U version 2:1, but the vertical movement is smooth and the New XL makes the target cam extremely easy to use with the extra button (binding it to ZR). Codename STEAM's demo had the camera controls be a bit tight, but that's part of the game's challenge.

The key reason I grabbed the New 3DS was to see the quality of life improvements the faster processor brought. And it did not disappoint - it's clear that the 3DS themes weren't really designed for the older models, as the system menu moves quite a bit faster. The downloads do move at a fair clip - a 2.5GB download (Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate) took about 25 minutes where before it would have taken the system out of commission for an hour or more. Even getting into and out of Super Smash Bros for 3DS, which even on the older model XL would take 45 seconds, is faster. I was able to clear eight games of their Streetpasses, including the aforementioned Smash Bros, in about three minutes.

The process of transferring from the old system was shorter than normal as I was already using a microSD card in an SD adapter. During the process, the system asks "Are you using a regular or miniSD card", and if you say "no" it will act as a typical transfer from say, a original XL to a 2DS. The screwdriver process threw me for a bit as I expected the screw to come out completely, but it only loosened enough to have to use the stylus as a lever to finish popping the back off. This is the same process used to replace the system battery, so if Nintendo elects to release an expanded capacity battery it'll be a simple replacement.

The chief downsides of the system are, for the most part, muscle memory related: the card slot is on the bottom left of the system,  and the stylus in the lower right. The volume control is on the opposite side of the 3D slider as well. The other issue so far is that the fabled "super-stable 3D" is hard to maintain without crossing my eyes and stlll causes me to have headaches  It won't be as big of an issue for me since I play with 3D turned off anyway for battery reasons. Support for the new hardware in older games would be nice, but it will have to come on a case by case basis and it's not likely that Pokemon XY will get a patch to stop running in the 10FPS range during some Horde battles.

At this point, if you've never had a 3DS this is the model to get if only to confirm full game compatibility going forward. Is it worth upgrading an existing model? If you're going to finally play Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, or can get a fair deal in trading or selling the old model (and have an extra charger) then the little things add up to a worthy upgrade.

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