Nintendo 3DS XL evaluation: greater is best, nevertheless it’s nonetheless not fairly sufficient

Nintendo 3DS XL review: bigger is better, but it's still not quite enough

When you like your moveable gaming three-dimensional, clam-shelled and large, then Nintendo’s 3DS XL fulfills these broad, unconventional necessities. It is a design refresh that extra intently references each earlier generations of DS hardware (and the incoming Wii U) — all whereas touting a considerably greater, 3D-succesful, parallax-barrier display. Apart from a bigger battery, the XL’s internals rehash what we first noticed over a yr in the past: the controls stay the identical, with no addition of a (mildly) hardcore gamer-courting second analog stick. For what it is value, the gadget does arrive with a 4GB SD card in-field (up from 2GB within the unique), matching the approximate doubling in bodily dimensions. 18 months is a very long time in gaming, particularly nowadays, and though 3DS gross sales have just lately rallied towards Sony’s newest, we reckon the 3DS XL has double the attraction of its forebear. We’ll clarify why proper after the break.

Gallery | forty Pictures
Nintendo 3DS XL evaluation

Gallery | eight Pictures
Nintendo 3DS XL vs. Nintendo 3DS

seventy six

Nintendo 3DS XL


  • Greater display improves the 3D impact considerably
  • Improved battery life beneath some circumstances
  • Extra snug to carry and use


  • Digital content material nonetheless missing
  • No secondary analog stick
  • Not probably the most highly effective of handheld hardware


In case you’ve been holding off from shopping for a 3DS, the enhancements to the screens and battery are sufficient to warrant a purchase order, however some points nonetheless stay.


It is an enormous aid to see Nintendo return to the cleaner, tidier strains of the DS Lite and DSi. Gone are the awkward tri-coloured gloss and the angular, weird form of the 3DS. As an alternative, it is now a easy, softly curved rectangular, which seems extra mature and thought of. Closed, the 3DS XL’s matte end wraps round each halves — and unintentionally reminds us of Sony’s Pill P. Fortuitously, the casing is way extra strong than that Android pill, and feels a lot slimmer. In reality the system’s thickness feels (and measures) roughly equal to the 3DS, regardless of the explosion in display measurement, improved battery life and a forty six % weight improve to 336g (eleven.eighty five ounces).

Nintendo 3DS XL review: bigger is better, but it's still not quite enough

Whereas players with smaller paws might not agree, the 3DS XL feels extra at residence in-hand than the 3DS — to not point out, it seems to be a superb deal classier than what got here earlier than. Because of these rounded corners, the gadget does not dig into your palms like its barely squarish predecessor. The circle pad continues to be supremely snug, simply the correct aspect of tactile, whereas the trustworthy Nintendo button medley and D-pad nonetheless do the trick.

We do not perceive why they could not have embedded one other analog stick into the 3DS XL — definitely, it isn’t for lack of area

Much more than what’s modified, it is what’s nonetheless lacking that baffles us. Provided that the 3DS has been furnished with a secondary analog stick via a barely unwieldy peripheral, we do not perceive why they could not have embedded one into the 3DS XL — definitely, it isn’t for lack of area. Our assessment pattern arrived with Resident Evil: Revelations within the slot — a recreation that is not very forgiving with out that second stick. It is also value including that whereas the plastic stylus on the larger hardware stays practical sufficient, we miss the fashionable, extendable chrome pen that arrived within the unique 3DS. The collar buttons are simply as responsive as Nintendo’s previous handhelds. And when you weren’t a fan of a budget-wanting button trio beneath the secondary display, you will be glad to listen to that the odd bar has been changed by three extra normal-wanting — and feeling — buttons. The SD slot has been repositioned to the fitting edge, which means that Nintendo’s sticking with normal detachable storage. There’s additionally now a horizontal cubby for the aforementioned stylus, referencing the DS Lite and DSi of gaming previous.


Nintendo 3DS XL review: bigger is better, but it's still not quite enough

Greater is best. Perhaps it is our assessment-jaded eyes, however the bigger, four.eight-inch display (simply shy of the width of the PlayStation Vita, though barely taller) appears to make the 3D impact much less taxing, to not point out extra immersive. The equally expanded secondary display additionally provides extra actual property for contact-heavy titles. The pair of screens, nevertheless, nonetheless seems to be somewhat incongruous, every boasting totally different sizes and dimensions. Whereas matching the standard resolutions discovered on the unique, we discovered the screens each had comparable (if common) viewing angles. The primary display could also be 1.eight occasions bigger, nevertheless it packs the identical 800 x 240 decision of final yr’s mannequin — now unfold slightly thinner, with the extra typical ‘flat’ 320 &occasions; 240 show additionally unchanged on the secondary.

Even when the 3DS XL does not win on crispness, nevertheless, Sony’s onyx marvel cannot (and by no means will) output 3D content material

Purely quantity-sensible, it does not sound spectacular to anybody spoiled by Retina shows and the like. The screens on the unique weren’t the sharpest again then, however the jagged edges on fonts and element is noticeably extra pronounced on the larger mannequin. It goes with out saying that the Vita’s display is a stronger performer, each visually and technically (being capacitive and all). We presume for this reason Nintendo imposed filming and images restrictions on its critiques for the 3DS XL, regardless that pixel math dictates that the larger display will not look so scorching shut-up. Even when the 3DS XL does not win on crispness, nevertheless, Sony’s onyx marvel cannot — and by no means will — output 3D content material.

Software program

Nintendo 3DS XL review: bigger is better, but it's still not quite enough

So aside from measurement, the hardware hasn’t modified that a lot. The identical might be stated for the software program, nevertheless it’s a great probability to see how Nintendo’s embraced on-line content material and gaming within the midst of robust smartphone contenders. Since launching final March, Nintendo’s baked-in software program, together with eShop, Spot Move, Mii Plaza and on-line features, have had time to develop and it is notably noticeable when it comes time to work together with different customers. Through the first few months of use, you were not going to select up many Mii guests — not until you have been hanging round gaming writers, tech bloggers and importers, anyway.

Now, whether or not we flit throughout the nation by practice or park someplace in middle metropolis, we decide up new Miis — and equipment — within the course of. Admittedly, the video games that tie into this social element actually aren’t value your time, however the easy strategy of connecting with different customers — and being notified of it — nonetheless makes us smile. The uncomplicated strategy makes on-line gaming a cinch. With entry to WiFi, we might join in-recreation with a single choice choice and would quickly be battling strangers with far higher expertise than we might ever muster. The pal PIN system additionally permits you to join with actual-life rivals.

The augmented actuality video games are nonetheless baked into Nintendo’s latest moveable, though they have not moved on in any method. In case you’ve performed with them on the unique, you are getting the identical deal once more right here. The Nintendo eShop has expanded its choices since we final opened our on-line wallets for the 3DS launch, with its wares separated out for ease of navigation. “In Shops” homes demos of incoming 3DS titles, and is presumably the place the complete-size video games can be housed within the close to future. Subsequent is the Digital Console, wrapping up NES, GameBoy, GameBoy Shade and (gasp) Recreation Gear titles for anybody over 20 to replay once more. It is joined by software program and mini-recreation channels and a advisable movies assortment. Sadly, the likes of Netflix and Hulu weren’t obtainable on our evaluate mannequin right here within the UK and general it is nonetheless inferior to it might be. Whereas it does give style of how content material shall be bought by means of Nintendo sooner or later, we might like these to be obtainable now, not in one other two months.

Battery life

Nintendo 3DS XL review: bigger is better, but it's still not quite enough

Nintendo reckons you will see round three to 6 and a half hours of gameplay from 3DS titles, and between 5 and eight for less complicated DS video games. In our expertise, we managed a mean of 4 hours of playtime in full-fats gamer mode, with the 3D change and brightness cranked as much as most, WiFi related and round two hours of on-line play folded into our check. As even Nintendo forewarns on the console, how the 3DS XL is used has a huge effect on complete runtime. Change off the 3D mode, dabble with older DS titles and retro hits, and you will see a considerable enchancment in battery life. We did simply that, additionally switching on battery saver mode and dropping brightness right down to the center setting, and obtained nearer to 9 hours of playtime — it is a substantial enchancment however clearly means limiting your gamer habits to some extent.


Nintendo 3DS XL review: bigger is better, but it's still not quite enough

Nintendo’s rationalization for the shortage of an AC adapter in each European and (some) Asian nations is that the majority consumers might be coming from older hardware — naturally. Thus, buried within the settings menu, is the choice to switch your content material — like your digital purchases — throughout from unique 3DS consoles and the DSi. You will want each units and an SD card to get it carried out, and it looks like an train in frustration in comparison with the easy methods in place for different gaming challengers like Google Play, which lets you home your purchases on a number of units with out a lot problem.


Nintendo 3DS XL review: bigger is better, but it's still not quite enough

After enjoying with the 3DS XL, we returned to the unique solely to seek out it troublesome and awkward to make use of as compared. The brand new measurement is an enchancment in so some ways, together with ergonomics and playability. The larger display makes 3D gaming much less tiring, and presents a bigger candy spot for Nintendo’s all-essential gaming impact, whereas the curved edges merely suit your palms higher. Competitors stays robust, nevertheless. The Vita stays clearly forward technically, whereas Nintendo banks on its robust in-home software program staff to usher in the purchasers. Pitch Resident Evil: Revelations towards Uncharted, or Tremendous Road Fighter IV 3D towards Marvel Vs. Capcom three, and it is clear to see on these massive ole’ moveable screens which has probably the most potent hardware. However for those who’ve been ready out for a 3DS Lite earlier than taking the plunge into 3D waters, then we will not assist however advocate Nintendo’s newest. We simply hope the corporate may give its on-line content material providing a shot within the arm quickly, because it’s actually beginning to age the hardware.

 Feedback Disabled

<a href=””> Nintendo 3DS XL </a>

  • Key specs
  • <a href=”” title=”Nintendo 3DS XL critiques” goal=”_blank”> Critiques 34 </a>
  • Costs
  • Discussions
  • Recreation format Downloadable, Cartridge
  • Display measurement four.88 inches
  • On-line options Multiplayer, Retailer, Browser
  • Path management D-pad, Thumb stick (1)
  • Movement controls Accelerometer, Digital camera / optical
  • Dimensions zero.87 x 6.14 x three.sixty six in
  • Weight 12 oz
  • Launched 2012-08-19

see all specs →

eight.2common consumer score
  • Recreation library 9.three
  • Graphics 7.three
  • Battery life 7.9
  • Portability (measurement / weight) 7.5
  • Sturdiness eight.three

Get higher evaluations from individuals who even have this product!

write a evaluationsee all evaluations →

Displaying costs for mannequin:

BluePurpleMario Kart Bundle-Blue

  • Nintendo 3DS XL review: bigger is better, but it's still not quite enough + tax & delivery Purchase now
  • Nintendo 3DS XL review: bigger is better, but it's still not quite enough + tax & delivery Purchase now