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If you asked me what my most anticipated piece of gaming hardware for 2015 was, I’d tell you without fail that it was the new Nintendo 3DS.  Reason being: Nintendo’s really found their stride with the 3DS over the past couple of years. Things weren’t the strongest at the outset of the launch of the console, and in my opinion, it took a couple years to right the ship altogether. I think around the time that Animal Crossing: New Leaf came out was probably when I’d say things took a turn for the better. Now, it’s been great title after great title, and even then, it’s time to take things to the next level. The only question now is: Japan and Australia have their New Nintendo 3DS systems, so when are we getting ours?

3DS Box.jpgWait no further. Today, we’re going to be taking a look at the new Nintendo 3DS in its XL form, which is scheduled to be released on February 13th.  The New Nintendo 3DS will ONLY be available at a 3DS XL in North America, which was a business decision by Nintendo.  The original 3DS sort of went away quietly after the 2DS came out, and the latter became the entry level version.

What makes this Nintendo 3DS “New” exactly?  There are a few enhancements you should know about that makes this console feel new again.

Everything has been re-shuffled

Compared to the original Nintendo 3DS, everything’s in different places, so if you’re going from that to this, get ready for some different looks. The cart slot is at the bottom, as is the stylus (which is much beefier and sturdier than its predecessor.) The 3D controls are in the same place, but the volume controls are parallel to them instead of on the bottom half.  In addition, the power button is also at the bottom lip  rather than on the face of the bottom half. Where that power button was, the start and select buttons have been moved from the strip underneath the bottom screen. That strip only houses the Home button now, which is much smaller.

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Faster Processing

Colour me skeptical. I’m never one for the claims of faster processing or load times for anything, but, well, the New 3DS wins me over on it right away. Super Smash Bros, for example, loads in almost no time flat compared to the original system. It’s night and day compared to the predecessor. The system also promises faster downloads to boot.

“Super Stable” 3D

The idea of super stability is just a shortened version of saying “Nintendo does camera-based facial recognition in real time to hold the 3D picture on-screen steady to however you’re viewing it.”  Fantastic. One of the things that I imagine would have caused you all headaches would have been the odd scoping of the 3D picture on the old console. Unfortunately, I’ve commented in the past that my eyesight restricts me from seeing things in 3D so this isn’t of any benefit. I’ve got it on good authority, however, that the comparable 3D effects across both consoles are a definite win for the new 3DS XL and you won’t be seeing double or triple anymore.

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New C-Stick

Located right up above the A/B/X/Y buttons is a new C-Stick.  This stick will be for use with newer games that come out, as well as Smash Bros. You’ll be able to use it right away on titles like The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D.  In Smash Bros, holding down the stick allows you to charge a Smash Attack. The C-Stick should also provide some good extra functionalities like camera pans in RPG or open world games.  I hope developers take advantage of it, and it doesn’t become an afterthought like the Z button on the Nintendo 64 controller felt like at times.

Near Field Communication

This is a big addition.  Much like the Wii U Pro Controller, the new 3DS comes armed with an NFC device, allowing you to do things like bring your amiibo to life in Super Smash Bros. It’s not very obvious from first glance (unlike the Wii U which has a printed icon on it) but the NFC touchpoint is on the top half of the bottom screen.

New ZR/ZL buttons

There are a couple other new buttons on the New 3DS. On the top part of the console, the L and R buttons are shorter, and have been joined by ZR/ZL buttons. These buttons will add a little more depth to the controls of your gameplay. Right now on the master menu, they take the scrolling function of the existing L and R buttons.

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A couple other handy changes include the stability of the D-Pad.  While my wife’s 3DS’ D-Pad was fixed in place, the cutout area in mine must have been a bit odd or something because it was prone to sliding, which I know a lot of other users had too. Lastly, the sliders for the 3D and volume are much stiffer (compared to the loose sliders on the old system which could flick 3D on and off at a moment’s notice.)

If you’re also curious about how the old 3DS looks sitting next to the new Nintendo 3DS XL, this should tell the tale.  The new system is on the left, while a launch era Nintendo 3DS sits on the right side.

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One thing that you’re going to notice is that the console will not come bundled with an AC Adapter. It’s not necessarily new ground for Nintendo, as they’ve been doing this in Japan for quite some time with newer versions of older consoles.  What existing users get is up front savings in lieu of forgoing additional hardware. In essence, if you have a Nintendo 3DS or 3DS XL, you have the AC Adapter you need already.  If you don’t, and you’re going to be buying the new console, you can buy a standalone adapter, and together, the bundle will cost you about as much as it cost the early adopters to buy a regular 3DS back in 2011.

We’ll revisit the console again in February once a couple of the launch games (like Majora’s Mask 3D and Monster Hunter 4) have been released so that I can give you more of a hands-on look at the way it works with the new games.

In the meantime, you can now pre-order your New Nintendo 3DS XL in a couple of color choices

Pre-Order New Nintendo 3DS XL in Red

Pre-Order New Nintendo 3DS XL in Black

Here’s a video of how the system looks coming out of the box