New Nintendo 3DS XL review

Nintendo's already excellent handheld device receives some long-awaited upgrades

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Yes, this is the best handheld Nintendo has ever made

Our Verdict

The New Nintendo 3DS XL makes some small, much-needed changes to the product line, but isn't worth an immediate upgrade if you already own a previous model.

For

  • Second directional stick added
  • Face-tracking increases 3D viewing angles
  • Faster processor

Against

  • C-stick feels overly firm and inaccurate
  • No charger included in the box
  • No games utilise the extra power
3DS Family

Since the first Nintendo DS model released in 2004, there have been various iterations on the dual-screen console. The New Nintendo 3DS XL here is the flagship model, with both 3D capabilities and a superior clamshell design. However, you can also join the family with the 2D-only New Nintendo 2DS XL, or even cheaper sibling, the wedge-shaped Nintendo 2DS.

For those after a single-screen handheld that can truly play AAA games, head to our Nintendo Switch review.

When Nintendo announced the latest 3DS handheld, it delivered two big surprises: one, that it planned to release a new iteration of the market leading Nintendo 3DS handheld by the end of the year, and two, that it would release in Australia before Europe and North America.

The first is surprising because no one expected it. A 3DS with a more powerful CPU and better 3D support isn't something the masses have been baying for.

The second is surprising because traditionally, Australia is usually among the last major regions to receive hardware releases.

Nintendo 3DS XL (2014) review

Releasing a new 3DS is a typically opaque business decision for Nintendo: the 3DS, 3DS XL and 2DS models all have a substantial user base and all operate the same software.

The New Nintendo 3DS line up seems to commit the same messaging error as the Wii U: casual customers may be confused by the subtle rebrand, or not realise it's a new product at all. While previous 3DS iterations have served only to expand Nintendo's audience, this one threatens to divide and confuse it.

3DS XL

Additionally, the New Nintendo 3DS range exhibits no substantial leap over its predecessors – none that can be discerned with the naked eye, at least.

Whether Nintendo's audience is prepared to pay for a system which seems to offer as much evolution as a smartphone generation is yet to be seen.

Nintendo 3DS XL (2014) review

Cosmetically the New Nintendo 3DS XL does not alter the series' core design. The laptop-aping dual screen setup is intact, though the screens are marginally larger than those on the vanilla 3DS XL.

The biggest change is the addition of a second analog stick on the right hand side of the console: a small nub absent on earlier devices unless you owned the CirclePad Pro peripheral.