When Nintendo released the 3DS they obviously hoped for more. When they survived the original release though and made some price cuts sales picked up and people started to realise what a good handheld console it was. In an age when smartphones are trying to become the dominant gaming gadget for the handheld gamer Nintendo still keep their dominance but they are struggling.

With the 3DS XL they are looking to make yet another impact by the same technology that was first released in the smaller model. With its autostereoscopic 3D technology and arguably stronger game catalogue than Android and iOS phones can provide Nintendo is looking to strengthen its dominance and with the Sony PS Vita struggling to make an impact this may not be such a hard task.

The first thing to notice about the 3DS XL is simply that it is in fact just a bigger version of the 3DS but with a few little changes for the better, like the upgrade from the 2GB to 4GB SD card for example. The build of the 3DS XL itself is now more rounded and stylish, and the screen is around 90% bigger which obviously gives better viewing for the games.

The change in size and the change in screen has obviously made the unit itself bigger, and this version of the 3DS won’t easily fit in your pocket. This of course is something to be expected when the smaller version was designed for that type of use. This is a version of the 3DS made to concentrate on the gaming, more than the handheld side of things, which is not to say that it does not fit nicely in your hand of course because it still does. If anything it’s actually more comfortable to hold.

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One very strange omission from the box the 3DS XL comes in is the AC Adapter; in fact there are no cables to recharge the unit at all. This is strange and it seems to be assuming that you will already have this adapter available from the previous version of the 3DS; this is a risk and an extra expense as not everybody will have the smaller version or will feel the need to buy a new adapter. This may not be that much of an expense but it does seem strange that you are given a handheld console that needs charging to play it, but no actual charger to do this with. I know for a fact from watching reaction on Twitter to this news it is something that is confusing Nintendo fans and other gamers.

As mentioned the screen for the 3DS XL is 90% bigger than the smaller version. This works well with quite a few of the 3DS games, especially ones like Resident Evil: Revelations. It’s also said that the 3D element of the 3DS works even better now it’s got more screen space to work with, which was an issue with the original 3DS in the past. At a screen size of 4.88 inches this is pushing into Playstation Vita territory but of course it’s not got the same quality as the Vita’s OLED screen. That said the 3DS does not have the game catalogue that really lends itself to the need for high definition graphics.

This does not hold the screen back though, and as the main selling point of the 3DS XL it’s definitely an excellent screen that brings a lot more to the games that are available now, and in the future. It will be interesting to see if Nintendo have more to offer to take advantage of the screen itself in the future.

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Of course with a bigger screen it’s safe to assume that the battery would be hit and usage would go up. Nintendo have said the increased power usage is around 86% but with six and a half hours of 3D and eight hours of 2D promised this is not that bad, and with the size of the unit itself it is unlikely you’ll be playing it for that long anyway.

As always with Nintendo products it’s easy to recommend the 3DS XL, the question is who it is aimed at. With the bigger screen and the already high quality game library available it’s obvious that new fans will be interested but then of course the little signs such as no AC Adapter make you wonder are they aiming at the fans who already own the 3DS? It’s debatable whether fans who already bought the 3DS itself will want this bigger version which is also more expensive, but if they have the money to spend they may just do it.

Personally looking at the 3DS and the 3DS XL it’s questionable whether the extra cost for the new model is really worth it. There are no real “must have” updates to this new version other than the big screen so this is undoubtedly an upgrade few will go for. One good thing of course will be the undoubted lowering of the original 3DS price, so now may be the chance to pick up one of those if you have not got one.

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