Nestled neatly in the box, between little air filled cushions, was a black and purple box with the “New Nintendo 3DS XL” on one side and “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask” splashed across the other. Beneath this box, was another, slightly taller than its box-buddy. So what was inside you ask? Well it was Skullkid of course. The tragic figure that donned the ancient tribal mask. The poor soul that was quickly consumed by an all pervading evil.
Setting this gorgeous statue to the side, I moved onto the main event. The New 3DS: Majora’s Mask Edition. A beautifully realised piece of collectors memorabilia that just so happens to be the latest and greatest iteration of Nintendo’s beloved handheld.
Straight off the bat, I regretted touching it. The highly stylised, gold on black glossy finish is a magnet for fingerprints. If you so much as brush your fingertips against it, there will be a horrible big streak down our system. Now this can, of course, be easily cleaned. But who wants to do that? I have countless little screen wipes scattered around my desk, but I would rather not need them. The high gloss finish really is a thing of beauty, but a matte finish would have been preferable, though we would have lost that incredible sheen that makes the system shine.
"I've tested the C-stick in Majora's Mask, Monster Hunter 3U & 4U as well as Super Smash Bros and Resident Evil Revelations. I've found that it was perfectly suited to camera controls in the first 3 games and that it was handy for quick firing Smash Attacks, but in Resident Evil Revelations, I found traditional aiming preferable to the somewhat imprecise C-stick."
Flipping it open and going through the usual process of a system transfer, I got to grips with The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D in earnest. But alas, we’re not here to talk about the game, we’re discussing the unit itself! You can come back and read the review, very soon.
The first thing I want to address is the newly added C-stick, which has been a point of many heated conversations recently. There seems to be a great deal of confusion regarding the C-sticks functionality because people are referring to it as a second analogue stick. I personally see that as a bit of a misnomer, the C-stick reacts more to pressure than it does movement. Countless forum users are reporting “broken” C-sticks because they are expecting something more akin to the circle pad.
I’ve tested the C-stick in Majora’s Mask, Monster Hunter 3U & 4U as well as Super Smash Bros and Resident Evil Revelations. I’ve found that it was perfectly suited to camera controls in the first 3 games and that it was handy for quick firing Smash Attacks, but in Resident Evil Revelations, I found traditional aiming preferable to the somewhat imprecise C-stick. It does an admirable job of trying to line up headshots, but it lacked the total precision I was hoping for.
I have rather small hands and so I found it exceptionally comfortable to use, but I worry that users with larger hands may struggle a bit with its size.
"You'll probably be a little disappointed to learn that little, if not nothing, has been changed with the directional pad. The Dpad on my unit is a little stiff, but that's to be expected given that it's freshly out of the box."
The face buttons, coloured text on a black base, are perfectly spaced and require just the right amount of pressure to fully depress. They also have a satisfying “click” to them, though it’s not loud or squeaky, just barely noticeable in fact, but it’s enough to register as a definite button press. It’s the little things in life, like this, that make gameplay feel nice.
The “Start” and “Select” buttons are definite weak points in the overall design of the new handheld. While they feel similar to the other face buttons, their location on the inner lower right portion of the handheld make them particularly uncomfortable to reach if you’re frequently cycling back and forth.
You’ll probably be a little disappointed to learn that little, if not nothing, has been changed with the directional pad. The Dpad on my unit is a little stiff, but that’s to be expected given that it’s freshly out of the box.
The circle pad too seems largely unchanged, which isn’t really a bad thing, were you to ask me. I’m quite a fan of it in fact. I will say this though, I do think it needs a redesign. Games like Super Smash Bros are the perfect example of the hardware not holding up under extreme use.
Now let’s talk about that Super Stable 3D.
"On the base of the unit, you'll find the recently relocated Game Card Slot, Power Switch and Stylus housing. The stylus is sturdy and thicker than before, and unlike it's skinny predecessor, I like it."
This Super Stable 3D stuff…it’s nothing but witchcraft and skulduggery. For the life of me, I just don’t understand how this works as well as it does. This stuff is incredible. On my original 3DS, I used 3D less than a quarter of the time because I like to move about. But I’ve been playing the Super Stable 3D turned on constantly and, thus far, I haven’t turned that slider down once. Playing a game is one thing, playing it in 3D is another. But playing it in 3D that doesn’t break and that actually works? Well for that, you’ll need to experience it yourself.
It’s a thing of beauty and it has to be seen to be believed.
On the top end of the unit, you’ll find the newly centre aligned charger connection, don’t forget that there’s no charger included upon purchase, make sure you have one. You will also find your usual L & R shoulder buttons, but next to them you’ll find another new addition to the button family. Here we have the ZL & ZR buttons that add some extra functionality to some games. If, for example, you’re playing Monster Hunter, the ZL & ZR buttons will rotate the camera quickly left and right respectively.
These buttons have that nice soft clicky feeling that their bigger shoulder mounted counterparts have. They feel good to press, they aren’t stiff and they will most certainly be put to good use in the coming months.
On the top end, you will also find a lanyard loop, in case that’s your thing.
On the base of the unit, you’ll find the recently relocated Game Card Slot, Power Switch and Stylus housing. The stylus is sturdy and thicker than before, and unlike it’s skinny predecessor, I like it. The card slot is recessed and easy to reach without closing the unit, it’s such a strange thing to consider, but it’s just extremely handy to just slide cards in and out with little effort. You see, I’m a retail gamer and I don’t much care for digital downloads, so this almost feels like it was a tweak made for people like me.
"This is, without any doubt whatsoever, the best build of the Nintendo 3DS to date and I can't strongly enough recommend that you buy one if gaming on the go is your jam."
The earphone socket is bearable, I would rather it was behind the screen or coming out the side, but that’s a personal want. The power switch is…well, it’s a little bothersome really. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m absolutely certain that I will accidently turn the system off at one point. There’s little to no feedback on the button, so if you press it and you didn’t mean it, then it’s already too late.
Last, but by no means least, is the redone home button. Tied into the game’s faster processor which allows for snappy menu navigation, is the new home button. It’s smoother, far easier to press, and it doesn’t have that weird rubber-ish cover on it that makes it hard to tell if you’re even pressing the button. What’s better though, is that the reaction is instantaneous. Press the button and snap. You’re back at the home screen.
This is, without any doubt whatsoever, the best build of the Nintendo 3DS till date and I can’t strongly enough recommend that you buy one if gaming on the go is your jam. With the already potent 3DS library of games growing ever larger, there has never been a better time to get in on the action.
A truly beautiful looking device with powerful internals. Innovative new additions such as new shoulder buttons that have very few drawbacks. These new buttons can in fact improve already existing games. The updated internals will pave the way for exclusive New 3DS titles, whilst maintaining the back catalogue. Super Stable 3D works better than I would have thought possible.
The low mounted power button can be a potential problem for those that like to rest the handheld on something, the comfort issue is further compounded by the earphone jack which also stops players from resting the handheld comfortably.
The New 3DS and New 3DS XL models are the products of choice if you’re interested in both gaming on the go and owning a dedicated portable gaming machine with online multiplayer capabilities. The peerless bounds forward in innovation may be small when viewed on paper, but the impact of adding a C-stick and some extra shoulder buttons cannot be overstated. The super stable 3D is a clear breakthrough in bringing a new format of gaming to gamers the world over, and when you couple this with the beefed up internals and the vast reserve of games already exist for the platform, you won’t find a better portable gaming system on the market.
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