In 2011, Nintendo introduced the first glasses-free 3D handheld console with the Nintendo 3DS. A year later, in 2012, Nintendo released the XL counterpart promising larger screens. This was followed by a 3D-less budget model another year later, in 2013, with the 2DS. Now, Nintendo are starting to introduce the newest member of the 3DS family, though this time it isn’t just the aesthetics that have been changed, the whole system has received a hefty update!
We were lucky enough to get our hands on the New Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Edition, which has been offered to select Club Nintendo members within Europe. Today, we will be reviewing the console, giving you a lowdown on what we think. Hopefully this should aid you in the decision of whether or not to upgrade [or to dip into the 3DS pool if you haven’t already]
Without further ado, check out our full review after the break!
For those of you who do not know, the New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL are brand new members to the 3DS family. Both versions include an improved CPU that allow faster download and connection speeds, an improved GPU, compatibility with microSD cards, an in-built NFC reader and writer for use with Amiibo figures, a second Circle Pad named the C-Stick, extra shoulder buttons [ZR and ZL], and a vastly improved viewing range for 3D effects. In addition to these features, the XL models boasts 57% bigger screens than its smaller counterpart and the smaller models allow users customise their consoles with swappable cover plates. The consoles have also been vastly redesigned, the start and select buttons are now under the ABXY buttons [a la Wii U Gamepad], the power button is on the bottom of the console along with the Game Card slot, the volume slider is now situated on the top half of the console and the ABXY buttons are slightly further apart [and have a SNES colour scheme on the smaller model]
As you can see, these should instantly prove that the NN3DS and NN3DS XL are much more than a simple revised model, in fact, I would say it is half a new console! One of the more impressive features present in the NN3DS, and something which really should have been in the original, is the improved 3D viewing angles. This feature has been titled Super Stable 3D. Super Stable 3D puts the inward facing camera to work by using facial recognition. It uses this to see where about your face is positioned compared to the system and uses that to adjust the 3D effect accordingly. I will admit that this actually works far better than what I initially thought it would be like, I have hardly had any problems with it. What about in a dark room? Glad you asked that, luckily there is a little infra-red light which turns on in low-light environments [don’t worry, the light is very dim and mostly unnoticeable] to aid in facial recognition. The only problem was that sometimes it would take several seconds to detect your face at first, but then it would work normally.
If you wear glasses, the Super Stable 3D will still work well, though I find that the angles are much more lenient when you take them off as there are less obstructions of your face. Not to say that wearing glasses will diminish the quality of the effect as it doesn’t, but there are slightly larger viewing angles without glasses. Every once in a while, I did find that the 3D can jitter, though I think this is due to the camera getting confused in certain lighting, but it hasn’t proven to be a problem. I tested it on a short car journey and it seemed to work perfectly fine. Those of you who were hoping this would allow for two people to experience the 3D effect, you will be disappointed as that isn’t possible with the NN3DS, though I don’t fell it would be necessary anyway. This option can be turned off, so if you ever are unlucky enough to experience problems with it you can just switch it off.
Another feature of the NN3DS which should have been in the original [or at least a feature which has been requested for since the original] is the second Circle Pad, or the C-Stick as it is called on the NN3DS. The way that Nintendo has implemented this into the system is slightly odd, yet very space effective. Instead of a Circle Pad it is a little analogue nub that doesn’t really budge that much. This did feel very weird when I first tested the C-Stick out on Resident Evil: Revelations and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, however you get used to it after a while and it works pretty well. It registers to the smallest amount of pressure so you do need to push it hard. Those of you who are used to first-person shooters on home consoles may take a while to get used to it but it works a charm. One thing which should be noted though however is that it can cause some wrist ache after prolonged use, or at least for the smaller model it does. However, by the time my wrist started to ache, my NN3DS ran out of battery!
This brings me onto the next point, battery life. The original could keep your system alive before you had to charge it up for around 3 to 5 hours and the XL for around 3.5 to 6.5. When I tested out the NN3DS with 3D on full, Volume on full, Super Stable 3D on, network functions on, power-saving off, auto-brightness off while playing Resident Evil: Revelations and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate with a bit of internet browsing, the system died at just under 4 hours. Nintendo promises that you should be able to get up to 6 hours of play from the NN3DS [longer if you are playing DS games]. This isn’t too bad to be honest, definitely a step up from the original and very close to matching the original XL too.
Connecting to the internet is an absolute breeze with the NN3DS. Going through the initial internet test [to make sure the network is configured correctly] took no longer than 30 seconds for me. I decided to get Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate today [am up for a hunt sometime soon] and the download only took 18 minutes, considering the game is just under 2 GB and my internet is average, that’s actually pretty quick. When browsing the web, it takes no time to load up a website [obviously how good the website’s host is can affect this]. While I am on the subject, let us talk briefly about the internet browser built-in to the system. The browser has also been updated, it’s almost as good as the Wii U browser [which is probably the best browser on a game console]. You can now open up different tabs to easily access multiple websites at once, you can now manually turn on and off text wrapping, the C-Stick can be used to zoom in and out the webpage and you can now view videos in-browser thanks to HTML5 support. Obviously a lot of the above can be dependent on your own internet speeds, though considering that I have an average internet connection, I wouldn’t have thought that most of you would have any problems!
The internet isn’t the only thing which is speedier on the NN3DS, the entire system is speedier overall. It powers on quickly, launching software is quicker, it takes less time to suspend a game and more. I can also see the difference in Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS!
The NN3DS is packed with a neat new tool which can be found in the Data Management section of the System Settings. It’s called the microSD Data Management. This allows you to easily transfer most data from your NN3DS to you computer and vice-versa, this includes photos and music. It is a relatively simple process, first you need to choose a network, create a one-shot login username and password, and give your NN3DS a name. Once you have done that, you then go onto your computer and click Networks on the sidebar of the File Manager and your NN3DS should appear. Once you enter your login details you set up on the console, you then have nearly full access to your files, it’s as simple as that. One problem I find with this however, is the fact that it is only compatible with Windows [according to the documentation, it is only compatible with Windows 7 and 8 at the moment]. So if you are running a different operating system on your computer, such as Mac OS X, you will not be able to use this tool unless you can dual-boot your computer with Windows. When I called up customer support, the person on the phone mentioned that they could consider expanding compatibility and that it would be more likely for them to do so if they receive several requests about it. So if you want the tool to be compatible with other OS’, then feel free to ring up their customer support or pop them a message.
Though I have said very positive things about the console, there are also a couple of negative things. The NN3DS include a new power-saving mode called Auto-Brightness. With this feature on, the system will automatically change the screen’s brightness depending on the brightness of the environment, darker when in low-light areas and lighter when in high-light areas. In theory this is a neat feature. In reality? It is annoying! The system seems to have a hard time to determine the brightness of the environment so it will tend to continually alternate between different brightnesses. Not only does it constantly change the brightness level, but these changes aren’t subtle either. With something like an iPhone or computer, these changes are usually very subtle, but they are very obvious on the NN3DS and can get to the point where the brightness is flickering, though at least you can turn the option off altogether.
Now that we have talked all about how the NN3DS performs, let us take a look on how this beastie… well, looks. First of all, the first thing you may notice is that the game card slot and the power button is now situated on the bottom of the console. I know what you are thinking, it must be easy to accidentally remove the game card or turn the system off and to be honest, I thought that too, in fact I still do. However I have had plenty of hours of play time on the NN3DS as well as plenty of time in my pocket and I have never accidentally removed the game card or turned the console off. Even if you think it is easy to turn off the system with it closed, I can tell you that it requires a bit more force to push the power button on the NN3DS compared to the older models, plus just pushing it once in sleep mode won’t cause any harm.
The placement of the ZL and ZR button is actually quite a smart move. I was afraid that it would be easy to accidentally press the L and R buttons, though this isn’t the case. The ZL and ZR buttons are the perfect distance away from L and R, if they were too close or too far, it would be easy to accidentally press the wrong button and I could imagine it may become uncomfortable for our precious gaming fingers. The ZL and ZR buttons are also slightly raised just to decrease the likelihood of accidentally pressing L or R.
One fantastic new feature which may put to rest buyer’s remorse for special edition designs, is the fact that the NN3DS [not XL] has interchangeable cover plates allowing you to customise your system to your heart’s content… or at least until you purchase all the designs or run out of money! Changing the top plate is a pretty simple task, all you need to do it to just lift the plate up from near the hinge and slide it up [almost like the battery cover for the Wii Remote]. The bottom plate is done in the same manner, however you will require a small posi screwdriver. To be honest, this can be very inconvenient. As the the screws are very small, it can be difficult to unscrew them if you do not have the correct tools, and if you thread them, then you are screwed… excuse the pun. This doesn’t help that the microSD card is situated under here, though you can transfer your data using the microSD Data Management tool I mentioned earlier.
As for the cover plates I have right now, they are pretty good looking. the Ambassador set has the Nintendo logo printed on the bottom cover and Nintendo in Japanese on the top one. These characters roughly mean Entrusted Sky Company, quite a nice touch if you ask me. The other set are the same as the top design for the Super Smash Bros. Edition 3DS XL, however the design is much sleeker as it is white with silver strokes. One small thing which really gets on my nerves is the stylus for the regular model, it is just too small and poorly designed to be honest. If it were a bit longer and thicker I wouldn’t have a problem with I. Luckily I do have spare styli and they are very easy and cheap to come by so I’m not going to hold a grudge!
The charging cradle [sold separately] has also received a nice upgrade. The cradle now takes up far less space than the original as it now holds the NN3DS up-right. I find that it is a very nice and sleek design. It’s very stable so it will not fall down and there is slight friction when inserting and removing the system, this means that it won’t fall out easily either. There is also a dip on the front so you can easily see the notification light. You can even wrap the cable to the charger around the bottom if it is a tad long. I may be a bit silly, but one thing I will miss is being able to play my NN3DS when it is using the charging cradle, though that is just me being lazy as you can easily remove the charger from the cradle and plug it into the back of the system! One thing which is still a bit disappointing however is the fact that it doesn’t come bundled with a charger. This was understandable with the original 3DS XL, but if this will eventually replace the original line of 3DS systems, it could cause a bit of a problem, especially for those who are purchasing a 3DS family console for the first time. Then again, you can find 3DS chargers for a low amount a money nowadays so I think we can live with it for now.
Overall, the New Nintendo 3DS is a fantastic upgrade of the 3DS family and is the console that the original 3DS always should have been and more The ZL and ZR buttons and the C-Stick are excellent additions for gameplay and are placed perfectly to without adding extra bulk, the boosted speed makes launching software, loading webpages and downloading games a breeze, the Super Stable 3D increases the viewing range of 3D images dramatically, and the ability to change the cover plates to customise your system is an awesome touch. Unfortunately there are no games out yet which take advantage of the New Nintendo 3DS’ improved GPU, but it will definitely be interesting to see how developers will take advantage of this.
The only points which bring the system down is how the C-Stick may cause wrist ache after prolonged use and could be impractical for games like first-person shooters, the auto-brightness can be quite temperamental and the fact that changing the bottom cover plate can be a bit fiddly. Other than those small issues, I would easily recommend the New Nintendo 3DS to anyone, whether they are new to the 3DS family of consoles or not.
Overall, on a scale from 1 to 10 [1 being absolute crap and 10 being godly], I give the New Nintendo 3DS an 8! The New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS is already out in Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and will be released in the US and Europe sometime in 2015.
Will you be getting a New Nintendo 3DS? Do you already have one? If so, do you agree with our score? Tell us in the comments below!