Usually, when Nintendo announce new hardware I wait for the inevitable Legend of Zelda edition before committing to buy, and my purchase of a new system often coincides with a new game in that series because for me it’s Nintendo’s “killer-app” for their systems (see my Zelda series special). Recently I was invited to pick up the Ambassador Edition New 3DS and I really had to force myself to wait, because I *knew* there would likely be Majora’s Mask 3D edition console coming, especially considering that it was officially launching on the same day. Luckily my hunch was right, and as soon as the limited edition console became available on the Nintendo store, I pre-ordered it, and decided to replace my A Link Between Worlds 3DS XL with it once it arrived. I’ve currently still got both the 3DS XL and New 3DS XL in my position, and after a system transfer (which took about an hour) I’m finishing up playing A Link Between Worlds on the new machine, which has given me a good feel for the improved console and I thought I would share my initial thoughts.
Firstly the finish of the new console, which looked underwhelming in the stock photos from Nintendo, looks *gorgeous* and way better than I expected. The plastic on the original 3DS XLs was a matte plastic, and the Zelda edition matched perfectly with the gold Wiimote from Skyward Sword, so if you have that it’s the same material and light gold colour. By contrast, the Majora’s Mask New 3DS XL is a deeper burnished metallic gold, with a glossy finish and which seems to subtly change colour in the light depending on the angle you’re looking at it. The designs on the surface are printed on from what I can tell, as opposed to a subtly different style of brush/matte like the older model. The New 3DS XL also feels more solidly built, with higher quality thicker plastic and a more rounded and sleek looking design, especially around things like the outward facing 3D cameras. Initial impressions are very good.
Opening both consoles up and you immediately notice some more differences between older and newer models. The start and select buttons are no longer large flat buttons beneath the lower touch screen but are instead round little buttons off to the side underneath ABXY, which are also now colour coded in the original Nintendo colours. The home button is still below the screen, but is now a little round thing. The power button has been moved from the front to the side (not pictured on the new model), which I actually don’t like as much, and have already accidentally turned the unit on whilst taking it out of my carry case. The upper screen still houses the 3D slider but also now has the volume control, which is a better placement, and the WiFi toggle has been removed completely in favour of a software solution, something that doesn’t bother me at all, as I usually never turn it off. The 3.5mm headphone jack has been moved into the middle at the bottom of the console, which is a *very* good change, as on the older XL it was positioned where I needed to put my hands! The cartridge slot has been moved from the top to the bottom too, and this makes no difference really. One other big change that is also apparent between the two Zelda models is that while the older XL has a full-gold body, it’s actually just the faceplates that are different with the New 3DS XL, and I actually think the older model is more special and unique. It’s a shame the new model isn’t a deep burnished gold inside too.
Cosmetic improvements aside, the New 3DS XL is obviously a more powerful model of hardware, and at the moment this really only shows in terms of the operating system being more responsive and the eShop being quicker. It’s very nice but nothing major until Xenoblade Chronicles 3D comes out. I’ve tried out registering an Amiibo on the system and this all seems to work nicely through the reader located under the bottom touch screen. The most *dramatic* difference is the super-steady 3D using the additional infrared camera housed above the 3D screen, it’s absolutely wonderful and flawless. The viewing angle afforded by the new technology is actually very wide and when sitting playing with 3D enabled, not once does it loose the effect or strain your eyes as much. Playing games, like A Link Between Worlds, that make heavy use of the 3D you’ll definitely appreciate the New 3DS. I’ve not fired up any game that uses the “c-stick” nipple but I’ve used it to navigate around the operating system and it seems alright, a bit like the red nubbins you used to find on IBM Thinkpads. Overall, I really like the design of the New 3DS XL, and the Majora’s Mask 3D edition in particular, especially the solid construction and improved 3D experience. This (hopefully final revision) feels like the definitive version of the 3DS hardware.