Well, I held out as long as I could. I finally purchased my 3DSXL Yoshi Edition some three years after the 3DS came out in Japan. With the number of systems I had, I probably didn’t ‘need’ another, especially with the limited time I had to play them, but it was getting to the point where I wasted more time browsing and waiting for a decent 3DSXL price, then actually buying the damn thing and in the end I gave in.
To go back a little, my Nintendo DS Lite was awesome, I still love the form factor and while Nintendo’s systems are always more toy like than their competitors, when you compare it to all their other systems, there is something timeless about the beautifully crafted clamshell design. It’s the best looking piece of hardware Nintendo has released. I say best looking, because my hinge (like many other DS Lite owners) has cracked and its only a matter of time before it conks out. As awesome as the design was though, I don’t actually have that many games for it. The number one reason I got the system was New Super Mario Bros. which I purchased with the system because I was a big fan of 2D Marios, but while it was good at the time, that game in hindsight is a bit of a disappointment. No power ups of any real use and it was too easy to boot, its probably the worst Super Mario game. I also played a bunch of Professor Layton, Final Fantasy III, Phoenix Wright and Trauma Center, but that’s probably about it. Even though it did have a massive library, a lot of it was aimed at a younger generation.
Now with the 3DS, there’s finally now enough to make me want to get the system. The main reason was Fire Emblem: Awakening, that game looks amazing and as someone who hasn’t played any Fire Emblem before, it looks like its going to be something fresh. Along with that I wanted to get Senran Kagura: Burst (for the story) because I’m such a big beat ’em up fan. Animal Crossing is a really interesting one because while I played the Gamecube one I almost hated it by the time I finished with it, but the new Animal Crossing for 3DS looks like there’s a lot more to do apart from digging for bones and fishing for random fish. It’d be something I could pick up and play anytime. I’m also looking forward to Inazuma Eleven as I never got to playing that on the DS. I want to get Zelda: A Link Between Worlds as it seems like a faithful sequel to the SNES game Zelda: A Link to the Past. Finally everyone raves about Kid Icarus: Uprising so I wouldn’t mind having a go at that, if I can actually find a physical copy. As I also have a Wii U, I’m probably going to hold off on New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario 3D Land, as I have similar titles on the home console.
So what about the system then, how does it hold up? The 3DSXL sports 90% bigger screens than the original 3DS, and as long as you’re able to hold the thing, I would recommend the bigger cousin. Think of the kids first (or not). Its about US$30 difference between the two, so the larger screens are definitely worth the extra money. The resolution is pretty good on the 3DSXL and while I don’t have an original 3DS to compare its not pixely in game. The hardware design is pretty with nice curves, but I do have gripes when comparing this to the DS Lite. Number 1, the top screen is asymmetrical and bigger than the bottom screen, a bizarre choice. It really feels like the 3DS games are made with the action on the top screen and the bottom screen is used for inventories or maps. Whatever happened to the donkey kong design of old where both screens were action oriented. Perhaps it was a technical limitation for 3D as its only on the top screen. Reason number 2 – when the lid was closed on the DS Lite, the finish around the edge left no gap between the top and bottom part of the system. On the 3DS, there’s a gap right around the system which I don’t like as much.
Setting up the system, I encountered a big bug where the system would keep freezing when updating. After resetting for like the fifth time and getting worried about having to call support (not an easy thing when you’re in South East Asia), I finally found a solution online by holding a few buttons and bypassing the bug and then was able to properly update the system. Phew, crisis averted. But seriously, Nintendo should be called out for a bug like that, especially when many less technical savvy people buy these things. It was definitely something you could not fix on your own.
I should also mention that Nintendo still does not have an account system when it comes to making online purchases, so purchases are still tied to the system itself, so if you do end up losing your system, your digital games are gone as well. For me, its not so much losing the system, but the lack of any possible chance of backwards compatibility on future systems and digital downloads. Its a major reason, I will be going hard copies for most of 3DS purchases.
Despite the number of criticisms so far, the system is pretty good to play, the buttons and dpad all feel great. Its a little heavy, so extended play time upwards of 3 hours is probably going to be tiring for many people. The 3D is fun, but I mainly have it off as its a little easier on the eyes. By the way, the Yoshi edition of the 3DSXL while cute and all does not contain the Yoshi 3DS game unlike other 3DSXL themed systems like the Mario and Luigi 3DSXL which does have the game preinstalled. Why they omitted the game and still charge the same price, I don’t know, and I’m pretty disappointed too. If you like the Yoshi art on the front, buy it, if not there’s no other reason to own this version of the 3DSXL. (I had originally wanted the Mario and Luigi version but the online store ran out.)
Finally if you have to choose between the two handheld systems the Vita or the 3DSXL, which one is the one to get? That’s a really tough decision, and to be perfectly honest the real answer is you can’t go wrong with either system. Buy the system that has more of the games you want to play. But let’s not sit on the fence here, if I could only have one system, I would probably go with the Vita by a hair. Yes the Vita that is probably going to die out within a year’s time due to Sony’s lack of support for the thing. I’d choose the Vita because firstly it has PS+, two Vita games for the price of $5-6 per month is great value. You could buy just the Vita itself a small 16gb memory card for $30 and a $50 subscription and have played 24 games by the end of the year. A lot of the games released so far this year have been great, including Dragon’s Crown, Muramasa Rebirth and Everybody’s Golf. There’s also a great bunch of sales on PSN most months whereas Nintendo doesn’t discount that often. Another reason I’d go with the Vita is because its a great compliment to either the Wii U or the PS3/PS4. With the Wii U you can get all your Mario and Zelda titles and then your Vita gets you JRPGs and other Sony games fix, OR with the PS3/PS4 and Vita combo you can get the one PS+ subscription and probably have enough games to last you the whole year. But again like I said, you can’t go wrong with either system.