Tech Up! | New Nintendo 3DS (Hardware Review)

By Flynnie 11.12.2014 5

The Nintendo 3DS has been through an annual hardware revision since its initial release in 2011. However, neither the 3DS XL (released 2012) nor the 2DS (released 2013) had such a wide set of sweeping changes to the machine. Right off the bat it should be said that the New Nintendo 3DS (n3DS) and New Nintendo 3DS XL (n3DS XL) supersede their predecessors in almost every way.
Image for Tech Up! | New Nintendo 3DS (Hardware Review)

The n3DS and n3DS XL were announced back at the end of August 2014 in a Japanese-only Nintendo Direct and then in September 2014 in Australia/New Zealand's first ever exclusive Nintendo Direct. Unfortunately, Europeans and American's alike will have to wait a little longer as there has been no announcement made for the release of the system in those territories so far. The devices boast a variety of new features such as:
  • Clearer and flexible range of 3D viewing;
    [li]Faster downloading speeds in the Nintendo eShop;
    [li]Quicker loading times for the Internet Browser, Miiverse and within games themselves;
    [li]Changes to the aesthetics of the console, such as coloured buttons and additional ones, such as the ZL and ZR, as well as a C-stick nub;
    [li]Near Field Communications functionality, which currently allows for the registering of an amiibo, plus allows for the deletion of data from the amiibo, although at the moment no 3DS game works with these figurines;
    [li]The n3DS also features a customisable cover plate swapping option, which was last seen on the GBA Micro, and it also boasts a slight larger screen than the original 3DS.
A few other minor changes have been made, some for the better but also some for the worse, as will addressed later in this review.

The box contains six AR cards, a 4GB microSD card and an instruction manual, with the n3DS' top cover plate being already removed. The top cover plate now safely protects the system's serial number bar code and system information.

Image for Tech Up! | New Nintendo 3DS (Hardware Review)

New Memory

The back cover plate requires a mini screwdriver (not included) to get into the back of. Unlike the older models, the n3DS uses a microSD instead of a standard SD card. The system already has the 4GB card inserted, so first time users can actually get started straight away. However, those who want to do the System Transfer option from a previous 3DS may want to remove their microSD and connect it up directly to a PC as the wireless transfer option will take up to 30 minutes per Gigabyte. Be wary that once data has been transferred from the old 3DS or 2DS it cannot be swapped back to an older model of the system.

New Cosmetic Changes

The biggest addition to the system is the additional analogue stick, otherwise known as the C-stick. This is a little rubbery nub that doesn't really have much movement at all and resembles the consistency of an eraser at the top of a pencil. While this doesn't give as much freedom as the Circle Pad, it is pleasantly surprising how it handles as secondary function. While not perfect, games like Metal Solid Snake Eater 3D and Resident Evil Revelations are now a lot more playable thanks to addition of the C-stick nub, although it remains to be seen if it will be given many other types of role, other than moving a camera around. Saying that, the C-stick is usable in [ul=http://www.cubed3.com/review/1595]Super Smash Bros. for 3DS to perform quick strikes and charge Smash attacks, yet trying to use it feels like a chore, something forced - an intentional manoeuvre rather than a natural one. Maybe it will take some time to get used to giving a quick flick here and there, but from early testing it is nowhere near as intuitive as on the GameCube controller. Games such as the port of Xenoblade Chronicles and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will also utilise the new C-stick and most likely there are many more games coming that will also use this feature.

The buttons and lights have also changed position on the New Nintendo 3DS models and resemble the 2DS set up with Start/Select moving away from the bottom of the Touch Screen bar and over to the right-hand side where they now have a more GBA-esque button feel. The Home key has been revised to look like the 2DS version, too. The volume bar has been shifted from the top-left of the bottom screen up to the bottom left of the top screen, and is now a sliding bar, similar to the 3D slider, which itself remains in the same position as always.

Image for Tech Up! | New Nintendo 3DS (Hardware Review)

The bottom ridge is where Nintendo has practically moved everything else. The power button, along with the wireless, power, and charge lights are all on the bottom right-hand side of the unit. This is now more beneficial than before as there is no longer a large glaring blue or red light standing out when playing in the dark. The headphone jack has been put in the centre of the unit and now lays flush with the home button. The game card slot has been neatly tucked into the bottom left-hand corner with a little indentation to avoid accidentally popping out the cartridge. In all honesty, there was no real problem with the original placement but Nintendo had to make room for extra buttons along the top ridge…

The ZL and ZR buttons, which first showed up on the on the Circle Pad Pro accessory, now feature as bumper buttons next to the L and R. They are no longer triggers but instead quite small firm buttons.

The infrared beam and charge port are now more central along the top ridge. Anyone wanting to add a strap to the system will now find the 'loop' also at the top. Any left-handers who still use the 10-year-old thumb strap from the original DS may have a lot less slack on the strap, though, due to the new position of the loop hole.  The wireless switch has been inconveniently removed completely and has actually now been moved into the "Home Menu" settings.

The stylus has not only moved to the bottom of the unit but has now also changed in size. It feels like 'Goldilocks' when playing with the three stylus' from the different models. The n3DS stylus feels tiny and too small to use, but the head of the new stylus can also be used to pry open the cover plates as illustrated in the Nintendo Direct.

Image for Tech Up! | New Nintendo 3DS (Hardware Review)

The inner buttons feature a colour scheme that most retro Nintendo users will be familiar with, replicating the European Super Nintendo-styled coloured buttons. American users may not have been familiar with this colour scheme until the N64, but make no mistake about it, there is definitely a little nostalgia when looking at a the diamond coloured formation on the n3DS.

The buttons are ever so slightly larger and more distanced apart, which hasn't really helped or hindered any game experience as of yet. The D-pad and the Circle Pad remain unchanged.

The outer casing features the default white cover plates, which are a smooth matted texture compared to the shiny glossed XL. Unlike its bigger brother, the n3DS features interchangeable cover plates that can be purchased at an extra cost. At launch there were a wide range of basic designs but also a few Mario-themed ones. This is absolutely ideal for gamers who love to customise their portable - so expect a barrage of both First and Third Party plates as everyone will attempt to cash in.

New 3D Viewing Experience

Once turning on the system, it prompts a new setup process, mainly detailing the Super Stable 3D feature. The 3D calibration tool teaches how to use the 3D depth slider and check the viewing range for 3D images. It shows on-screen how the tracking system keeps the owner in sight by tracking their eyes. Thanks to this new process of head/eye tracking the 3D is now vastly improved enabling the system to be moved more freely without breaking the all-important sweet spot. Sudden and fast movements will cause the 3D to still break, though, but it will only take a millisecond to catch up with where the new head position is. Gamers would really have to be intentionally doing this to break the 3D effect properly, and casual movement, such as on a train or even gyro controls, will keep the 3D in focus and on the action. Trialling this specifically with Star Fox 64 3D and The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D's shooting gallery, both of which feature gyro controls. While the Super 3D stabiliser works with keeping the 3D image constant, the new oomph from the upgraded innards of the machine doesn't help with the frame-rate in past games. Perhaps it was a bit too much to ask as this power wasn't available during the initial development of past games, but knowing that the machine has a little extra juice means that there is a little voice at the back of gamers' minds that will be hoping that this would help with games like Pokémon X/Y, which had a few frame-rate issues when the 3D was turned up.

New Screens

The n3DS possesses a slightly larger screen than the original (1.2 x larger) making it 3.88inches wide. Opening the screens is a little softer than before and the resistance feels softer, rather than the hard clicky feel that was previously present.
Image for Tech Up! | New Nintendo 3DS (Hardware Review)

New Screen Brightness

'Auto Brightness' is a new option that has been added to the "Home Menu Settings." This feature uses the inner-facing camera to detect the brightness of the current environment and will change the brightness of the screen accordingly, which is something that has been available on most smartphones for quite some time now.

New Operating System

The new Operating System (9.0) released in October 2014 is already pre-installed, so no need for a System Update if an early adopter. There is a stark difference when comparing this to the original OS released back in 2011, which shows the vast improvements that Nintendo has made in the last three-to-four years with the system. Those unfamiliar with the new OS should know that the theme of the 3DS can now be customised by purchasing backgrounds from various legendary Nintendo franchises, which will then decorate the background of the Home screen. In addition to this, the Home menu can be navigated using the C-stick and ZR and ZL buttons, if so desired.

Jumping in and out of games is also a tad faster than before and feels a lot slicker, too, especially when playing a game like Super Smash Bros. for 3DS. The extra processing speed is also utilised by jumping into applications such a Miiverse (Nintendo's social network and forum) and the eShop a marginally faster. Miiverse now loads quicker than it did before, which may encourage more users to get jumping back into the network to post about their latest adventures, whereas download speeds in the eShop have also been moderately improved.

The restrictions that came with the Japanese Internet Browser are non-existent on the Australian model of the n3DS so perusing the World Wide Web at leisure without having to pay for the browser is possible. Furthermore, the new and improved Internet Browser also now allows users to watch 3D videos from YouTube and any other website that supports HTML5, which is a handy bonus.

Image for Tech Up! | New Nintendo 3DS (Hardware Review)

New Games

Nintendo has been careful to announce game system exclusivity for the n3ds and 3DS XL, but there is already one game revealed - Xenoblade Chronicles. The remake of the Wii RPG will need all the processing power it can get and surely Nintendo won't stop there. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask remake, while not exclusive to the 'New' system, will also benefit from the newly gained power, although Nintendo has stopped short of announcing what that actually is. Time will tell if Nintendo starts to make more and more exclusive content for this hardware upgrade, yet it must acknowledge that there is a strong userbase already that it must be careful to not ostracise.

However, the system is fully compatible with Nintendo DS, DSi and 3DS games, although the box art states that Nintendo DS games from other regions may not function - yet trying EU, AU, JPN, USA and Korean region Nintendo DS games, all of them work fine.

[score=9]The New Nintendo 3DS feels like how the system should have been done from launch. A 3D function that works, speakers that actually make some real noise, a second analogue stick and a faster, friendlier user-interface. Finally, games are now being seen as the developers intended them to be seen thanks to the Super Stable 3D function, so much so that it will encourage gamers to go back to back through their library of games to see the improved effect. The added C-stick has now made games such as Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D and Resident Evil Revelations more user-friendly by not having to attach a huge Circle Pad Pro accessory. The look and feel of the systems is fantastic, fitting comfortably in big hands and not resulting in any hand cramping during play.
 
Unfortunately, some sacrifices were made with the stylus and shoulder buttons, yet these are minor issues and, realistically, the stylus is not used as a primary control for many of the games most people play anymore.
 
Overall, the systems feel well polished, and if there is some spare cash lying around and a 3DS has never been owned before, now is the time to jump on-board. For current 3DS owners it is well worth the upgrade, especially if still using the original model.

Box art for New Nintendo 3DS
Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Other

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date 2015   North America release date 2015   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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Comments

Ace review Neil Smilie I would probably get one, had I the cash spare! I don't play 3DS too much day, to day, actually - but the better viewing angle would be great!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Excellent and very detailed review.

Your the only site on the web I found that actually detailed the headtracking - few even mentioned it. Other times I wasnt confident the site knew what headtracking actually did.
This confirms it well, and its especially nice too see it improve older games, wasn't sure that was possible.
I am guessing its flipping the left/right channels as you move.

Very glade too se YouTube now supports 3D...that was a no brainer. I still think the normal 3DS should handle it too mind. I cant believe something that can run RE:R struggles even with two 320p channels at once. (worst case it could just download it - we had 3d vids from Nintendo after all).

Still, great review and its good too see Nintendo improved some meaningful stuff rather then just upping specs.

Only one question left; What about the camera?

Previously the 3DS camera was terrible in low-light making AR stuff a bit hard. Has this improved at all?



( Edited 13.12.2014 13:48 by Darkflame )

http://www.fanficmaker.com <-- Tells some truly terrible tales.
Last update; Mice,Plumbers,Animatronics and Airbenders. We also have the socials; Facebook & G+

Thanks JB! Any chance you can change the review to say it's from me??

Darkflame - as for the cameras I can't honestly say that I really used the one on the original but I've noticed that it still feels as grainy as it did as last time. I feel like the internal one looks a little better than I remember but now I've got rid of my old 3DS so I can't do a comparrison. All I would say is that I still won't be taking pictures on it! 

Its ts a shame really becuase if they had improved the camera it would have been a good option to have custom themes based on your pictures. Nevermind!

Thanks JB! Any chance you can change the review to say it's from me??

Ah - I see what's happened, you need to change your "Full Name" in your user profile Smilie
 

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Ah, pity about the camera.

http://www.fanficmaker.com <-- Tells some truly terrible tales.
Last update; Mice,Plumbers,Animatronics and Airbenders. We also have the socials; Facebook & G+

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