August 15, 2012

Upsizing – Hands On with The 3DS XL

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 9:15 am

Hardware revisions don’t typically excite me, insofar as I could care less about what a console looks like whilst collecting dust beneath my television.

The intimate nature of handheld devices makes changes to design more interesting however, after all, this is something you’re going to carry around and clutch in your hands, giving a bit more to chew on in the balance of features and aesthetics.

For what it’s worth, spending the last week with the 3DS XL has left me resolute that if anyone wants this one, they’ll have to claw it from my cold dead hands.

The focus is the increased screen size here of course, with 90% more viewing. The first instinct is to look through a stack of games to see how the stretching affects the visuals, but this is outweighed by the sheer volume of screen now available. Perhaps my eyes are getting older, but more screen is immediately delightful here.

Grabbing for titles like Star Fox, Super Mario Bros. 3D Land, and even that troublesome Kid Icarus: Uprising, everything seems immediately brighter, and of course bigger, so I found myself finally free to lean back further whilst revisiting such titles. I’m not really one for noticing if the increased image size is adding a slight fuzz to objects, so I can’t really help you there.

There are a few slight aesthetic changes to note – the microphone port has moved to the edge of the 3DS XL rather than the center, and the stylus now hides in the side pocket of the machine. As much as a folding stylus was fun for five minutes, I’m rather enthusiastic about having a larger one ready for work at the drop of a hat.

The one small change that really stuck out was a bump that gently latches the 3DS slider into the off position, because on many occasions I have accidentally nudged the 3D Slider on my original 3DS.

The 300 pound gorilla in the room is the lack of a second analog circle pad – fair enough since an add-on circle pad for this puppy is going to be huge. I’m not in the camp that considers the move a devastating oversight however. At present there are two games I’ve purposefully used the circle pad add-on for, and I find myself less and less inclined to believe that Nintendo has to oblige the wanting when both they and third party developers haven’t suffered much for the absence to date. If you disagree, I get that, we can just agree to disagree.

The lasting impression this week has been the design, which feels far more rugged that the original 3DS, particularly with the more defined start/select/home buttons running along the bottom touchscreen. I’ve also sat on a mountain top briefly, holding both systems in either hand, and can’t say that the weight of the device has noticeably changed for the upsizing.

When I came down from the mountain, the most frequent question I was asked was about the system transfer that allows data to be moved from your existing 3DS to the 3DS XL. The process is incredibly simple, accessible from the “other settings” of the “system settings” menu. Starting the process on your original 3DS, the handheld will prompt you to do the same on the 3DS XL, and after warning you about a limit on the amount of times you can transfer between devices, a herd of energetic Pikmin will begin moving data across the digital bridge created between both devices.

The process took about thirty minutes for me, at which point I was asked to insert the SD card from my original 3DS and all my downloaded titles were immediately available. Of course, if one wants to use the new 4GB SD card of the 3DS XL, there’s one more crucial step involved – if you have a larger SD card already, than you can just ignore me here.

In order to transfer downloaded games rather than redownloading them to the 4GB SD card, using a PC equipped with an SD card becomes ideal. You can copy all data from the 2GB card to the PC, and then move said data to the 4GB SD card. The only catch is that you have to make sure not to overwrite the one folder already present on the 4GB SD card – figuring that out took me an extra ten foolish minutes.

Got more questions about the 3DS XL I didn’t answer? Feel more than free to hit me up in the comments.


  1. How’s the 3D effect in comparison with the original console? Better? Worse? More or less depth of field? Still has much ghosting?


    Comment by Gabriel T.D. — August 15, 2012 @ 10:04 am

  2. See this is why I asked, I knew I was skipping over something.

    The margin isn’t very wide, but I find the 3D effect better here. That said, I very rarely play games with the 3D on. I kicked it on for Star Fox and Mario again on the XL and found it wasn’t bothering my eyes as much, or moreover that I wasn’t repositioning my glance because I’d fallen out of the sweet spot as often.

    The 3D does look deeper and wider, even if you’re just staring at the two systems while the settings wrench is twirling around. I still find switching between some views off-putting, particularly just flipping through the 3D title screens for eShop titles, so take my 3D opinion with a grain of salt in that it seems to work as fine as ever and a little better but still isn’t something I plan to use a lot.

    Comment by Jamie Love — August 15, 2012 @ 11:47 am

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