Saturday, 14 February 2015

New Nintendo 3DS Hands-On Review: The Good, The Bad, The Indifferent...Is It really 'New' after all?

The latest edition to Nintendo's 3DS family was launched in the UK yesterday and Mini Gamers could not wait to get our hands on this impressive successor to the 3DS. However, are the New Nintendo 3DS and New 3DS XL consoles really as good as all the hype suggests? What exactly is so 'new' about them, and are they really worth the cash?

At first glance, the New 3DS looks pretty similar to the original 3DS console, but there are a surprising number of small aesthetic and functional changes, which we here at Mini Gamers HQ have decided to separate into three distinct categories called 'The Good' - all those changes that are a marked improvement on the old 3DS console, 'The Bad' - those things which are worse about the New 3DS than its predecessor, and 'The Indifferent', which are those additions or changes which don't really add or worsen anything from the previous model.

The Good:

  • The Volume Control: This has been moved from the bottom left-side of the console to the top left-side of the console, which is great for anyone who used to find that their fingers would sometimes accidentally push the volume slider on the original 3DS/3DS XL models when they were holding or moving the console.
  • The Sound: In addition to the change of position for the volume control slider, the speakers now seem louder and clearer than on the older 3DS models, and the volume can actually be set far lower than before in order to produce a good  level of sound.
  • Faster Operating System: Thanks to a faster and improved Operating System than the original 3DS, loading screens now load up much more quickly than before, and menu screens and download times have become a lot faster too.   
  • Larger screens and sharper 3D images: The 3D images on the New 3DS and New 3DS XL do seem a lot sharper and impressive than before. Furthermore, although this change will not be noticed by those gamers who have opted for the XL model of the New 3DS, (as both the new and the former and newer XL models have almost the same screen size,) there is a marked  difference in screen size between the original standard 3DS and the standard New 3DS, as the diagram below shows:

  • Face-Tracking and Stable 3D Software: As anyone who has previously owned a 3DS or a 3DS XL will know, trying to watch 3D images without glasses is difficult. On previous 3DS models, images would often become blurry when viewed at a slightly 'off-centre' angle or if the console was not held at a specific distance, which would often cause headaches, dizzy spells or tired eyes if viewed for an extended period. Not anymore! The New 3DS comes with some nifty 'Face-Tracking' software, which actually helps users to keep the 3D images at an optimised distance and angle at all times.The effect is called 'Stable 3D' by Nintendo and it definitely lives up to it's name. Blurry images and broken 3D effects are now a thing of the past!

  • Price: Actually, at £149.99 for the standard New 3DS model and £179.99 for the larger XL model, the New 3DS isn't actually too expensive considering its enhanced features, but Mini Gamers was slightly surprised at the 'Bundle' price for the Special Edition Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask console. This console is an XL-sized console with a special limited edition cover design, (as shown below,) which currently retails for £224.99 in the UK. It comes with a special pre-loaded version of the Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask game. However, Mini Gamers discovered that we could buy the standard New 3DS XL console and a separate copy of the game for almost £14 cheaper than the advertised bundle price, which does seem a bit unfair, even with its limited edition status!

The Bad:

  • The Name: Yes, it is terrible. Adding the prefix 'New' to the start of a product may have indeed worked for Apple with their New iPad, but it doesn't really work in the case of Nintendo's latest console. Try typing in "new 3DS" or "New 3DS XL" into any search engine and you will instantly see advertisements for brand new original 3DS consoles, as well as the brand new New 3DS consoles, which actually look suspiciously similar to each other at first glance. So how has Nintendo made the difference between these consoles clear? Well, they haven't really, except to have 'Amiibo'-style sparks coming off of the word 'new' on the packaging. Not very helpful to a gamer who has never seen either 3DS consoles before.
  • Standard SD Card now replaced with a Micro SD card: Another potential downside to Nintendo's New 3DS console is that it can no longer take the standard SD cards, which is a pain when using the 'Data Transfer' function between an old 3DS and the New 3DS console. Previously, if one wanted to move saved data between 3DS systems, they would simply launch the 'Data Transfer' tool, wait for files to transfer from one system to another, and then swap the SD cards. Simple! However, the change to a Micro SD card means that this simple transfer is no longer possible. Nintendo have now offered 3 alternative ways to transfer saved data onto the New 3DS console, but one involves having to copy your saved data to a PC first, another involves the laborious task of re-downloading all of your games one-by-one from the online Nintendo eShop, or a 'wireless transfer' that can take several hours to complete. 
  • No Charger: As with the original 3DS, Nintendo have deemed the New 3DS charging adapter to be an 'optional' extra. This won't make a lot of difference to previous owners of the Nintendo DS, as its adapter will work with any 3DS or New 3DS system, but gamers who have never owned a Nintendo DS or 3DS system before, will now be forced to pay an extortionate £6.99 on top of the cost of the console for a charging adapter in order to charge the battery on their New 3DS system.
  • Battery: Despite hopes that a faster processor would help to improve the battery life of the New 3DS console, a side-by-side comparison with the original 3DS actually showed that the battery life was slightly shorter on the new system by just under an hour. 
  • Cartridge Slot and Power Button: The game cartridge slot is now situated at the bottom of the New 3DS. It looks odd and out of place there and it feels quite tricky to swap cartridges with it in this position. The power button's position on the New 3DS console has also been changed to the front edge of the console. Again, it is in an odd place and it doesn't feel as natural and easy to use as it did on the original 3DS.

The Indifferent:

  • C-Stick: The New 3DS now comes with an extra analog stick in the form of a small, round, grey C-Stick (shown above). This button is very useful in certain games like Super Smash Bros. 4, where certain attack moves are handled specifically by the C-stick, but in other games, such as The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, it becomes barely noticeable at times.

  •  Extra Shoulder Buttons:  As with the C-stick, the two small extra shoulder buttons on the back of the console, don't seem to do very much at present, as none of the software we tried with the console even required them. However, there is nothing to say that their function won't be important in future 3DS titles, of course.
  • Amiibo Support: One great feature of the New 3DS console is that it now enables 3DS users to interact with its NFC toy range, called Amiibo. However, whilst these toys are an interesting way to unlock special content in certain 3DS titles such as  Super Smash Bros. 4, or Mario Kart 8, there are very few 3DS titles currently available to support the use of Amiibo. If you already use them with your Wii U console however, the same toys will now be compatible with the New 3DS system, it's just that it would be nicer to see a wider range of compatible software than currently exists at present. However, this could again be developed in the future.

The Verdict: Is the New 3DS Worth Buying?

It could be argued that the New 3DS console is actually an improved version of the original 3DS with all the extra buttons and functions that fans have been asking for. If you have not tried a 3DS console, then the New 3DS is definitely a great purchase with lots to offer its gamers.

If you are the proud owner of an original 3DS or 3DS XL console, then the New 3DS does offer many enhanced features as mentioned above, but with very few 3DS software titles currently optimised for the special New 3DS functions such as: Amiibo compatibility, or the C-stick and extra shoulder button controls, it may be worth waiting a little longer before you trade in your old 3DS. Overall Mini Gamers rating: 8/10.


  1. selling plugs and power packs etc separately, as described in your post, must be against the law which states that all goods sold must be fit for purpose and these consoles cannot be fit for purpose if they cannot be operated after the batteries have depleted power. the fact that the power packs are necessary to make the nintendo operative suggests that this product is not worth purchasing as it will be rendered useless without the means to recharge it. thus the conclusion here is that these items must not be sold separately as this breaks the law. people should be informed of this before purchase so they can make the right choice and refuse to buy this product. Sony has got it wrong again, what idiots.

  2. Well, actually it's Nintendo that are responsible, and many owners of the old 3DS or DS consoles would not want to have more than one charger, which has probably contributed to Nintendo's decision not to supply the charger with the console.