As an outsider looking in on Nintendo, sometimes it can feel like you’re the victim of an increasingly bizarre and unfunny joke. If it’s not the confusingly named and branded Wii U, then its the baffling decision to name the latest 3DS iteration the New3DS.
Yet for all their oddities, there is something reassuringly predictable about Nintendo. Ever since the Gameboy, the Japanese games company have regularly released new updates to each of their portable games machines, and with sales of the 3DS starting to decline across the globe, it was only a matter of time before Nintendo released another 3DS revision.
Sure enough the New3DS has arrived right on cue, but with a 2DS and a 3DS XL already out there does this poorly named third iteration do enough to warrant a purchase? Well, Nintendo fans we’re pleased to say that it does – and then some, as this latest 3DS offering is one of the most featured packed handheld upgrades we’ve seen in a long while.
On first inspection the New 3DS doesn’t look much different than your bog standard 3DS, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find there are actually a surprising amount of new hardware and software additions on offer here. While upgrades like the completely new CPU and vastly improved button layout are welcome additions, there is one new feature here, that stands head and shoulders above the others: the new head tracking 3D tech.
When the 3DS was first unveiled, many were left salivating at the prospect of a glasses-free 3D gaming experience. Yet sadly, when the much-anticipated DS successor finally landed in our hands, the disappointingly small viewing angle meant that the system’s 3D never really lived up to the technology’s potential. The main problem with the 3DS and 3DS XL’s 3D, was that the smallest of bumps or head movements quickly reduced the effect to little more than a blurry mess, causing many gamers to ignore the system’s main selling point entirely.
Thankfully, The New 3DS make these woes a thing of the past.
Using the New 3DS’ front facing camera, the system tracks your head movements in order to keep that immersive stereoscopic depth squarely in focus. We tested this out on several train and bus journeys and found that the 3D held up very well, only really breaking if you lean your head drastically away from the camera. Unsurprisingly, no longer being dragged out of the 3D effect constantly works wonders for games on the system, giving titles like the brilliant Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D a newly immersive lease of life.
In fact the head tracking tech is so good, that we no longer play without the 3D slider turned up to full – and that’s something that we definitely couldn’t say about our time with the old 3DS.
The brilliant new 3D implementation isn’t the only gameplay improving addition however, with this new system finally giving us a right analogue stick…well, almost. The new right analogue nub – officially called the C Stick – allows you more traditional camera control than using the touch screen did previously, making third person games less of a challenge to navigate. Unlike an analogue stick however, the C Stick doesn’t actually move. Like the laptop nubs of old, it instead responds to your touch and makes small movements based on the position of your thumb. The downside to this is that you don’t quite get the sense of control that you might have from a traditional analogue stick.
Still, having a dedicated nub devoted to camera control is a welcome addition regardless, even if its not quite implemented in the way we would have wanted. The C stick also works with every title that supported the circle pad pro previously, meaning that your current library will most likely support the stick right off the bat, which is a nice touch.
As well as blessing us with a C Stick, the kind folks at Nintendo have also decided to treat us with two new extra shoulder buttons – the ZL and ZR buttons. While extra buttons are always welcome, initially these can feel a little awkward to use on the New 3DS, with their adjacent placement being notably less comfortable than they were on the circle pad pro attachment. After a few play sessions however, we gradually got used to them, and when we booted up Resident Evil: Revelations we were soon killing zombies with the best of them.
As well as significant external changes, there are some new additions whirring away under the hood. The new and improved CPU means games boot up significantly faster, with several titles we tested loading up to ten seconds quicker than on the original 3DS. The improved chip also means that downloading games from the eshop and browsing the web are now far less painful experiences, even if perusing the eshop is still a fairly slow and sluggish process.
If like us, you’re a big kid at heart then this next new feature will be right up your alley. With Nintendo’s unique take on the toy to life genre proving absurdly popular, it was inevitable that The New 3DS would be compatible with Amiibo and we’re pleased to say that their transition to handheld is as smooth as you would expect. The new built in NFC reader allows users to scan in the sought after figurines and edit and customize them on the fly, which is sure to please all the devoted Amiibo owners out there.
The New 3DS also makes data transfer a bit easier, by letting gamers wirelessly connect to their home PC and easily transfer photos, music and video straight from your desktop to your handheld. While not a major addition, anything that makes file transfer less of a chore is always welcome in our books, and its an appreciated inclusion.
As you have probably already noticed, aesthetically speaking, The New 3DS is very sleek. Its SNES inspired buttons add a welcome hint of colour and personality to what otherwise could have been a dull generic DS interior, and speaking of personality, one of The New 3DS’main selling points is that it offers something to please even the most fickle of Nintendo fanboys – removable faceplates. Instead of having to constantly shell out hundreds of pounds for the latest limited edition 3DS, you can now buy Faceplates featuring various different designs for around £7 – giving you the chance to pimp your New 3DS at will. While the full range hasn’t been revealed as of yet, the Smash Bros plates that are included in the Ambassador edition give a good idea of what is to come.
Sadly, for those who are holding out for the New 3DS XL, the faceplates are exclusive to the standard sized New 3DS, which is a baffling decision bound to annoy those who prefer the former’s larger screen. Even more depressing is that for our American Readers, this New 3DS won’t be released in the US at all, which seems like an incredibly odd move on Nintendo Of America’s behalf.
With Nintendo’s true 3DS successor inevitably only a couple of years away, many may choose to wait it out and ignore this latest iteration entirely, but doing so would mean missing out on arguably Nintendo’s finest ever handheld. While 2013’s 2DS seemed liked Nintendo’s reluctant admission that they had failed with 3D gaming, the New 3DS sees Nintendo triumphantly bring stereoscopic 3d back into focus. The new system uses its 3D effect gloriously, giving a new lease of life to the handheld’s increasingly impressive games library. While the C Stick isn’t perfect, this is the ideal time for prospective 3DS owners to jump in, and also well worth the upgrade for those who carry their 3DS with them wherever they go.