New 3DS Hands On Impressions

Since early October last year Japan has beNew3DS1en enjoying both the New 3DS along with the New 3DS XL models, with Australia - somewhat bizarrely - being graced with both machines since late November; from just after the start of this year Nintendo have been offering European Club Nintendo members the opportunity to buy a special 'Ambassador Edition' of the regular-sized New 3DS for a 'mere' £179.99 by way of invitation. Though three waves of these invitations were - quite randomly - given out to members who had apparently in Nintendo's words met 'certain conditions' I did not receive one though I was fortunate enough to be kindly offered the chance to buy one thanks to forum member 'Aneres11' who I'm grateful to as it has given me the chance to go 'hands-on' with this machine before its general release which was announced in a recent Nintendo Direct on 14/01/15 and we now know that both systems are coming out on 13/02/15 so without further delay, here we go!

Build quality seems very decent, an improvement even on the 3DS XL on which the casing always seemed a little flimsy as you could feel quite a bit of 'give' in the plastic when gripping it; when I noted that the New 3DS had removable faceplates with a recessed compartment containing the Micro SD card slot I naturally thought that there would be even more flexing to the casing on the new model but thankfully it seems significantly sturdier. The rounded edges make holding the system for long periods of time a lot more comfortable, after incurring significant wear to the circle pad on my XL it's nice to be reminded just how responsive a new one can be, it seems to be the same quality as the very first model 3DS though perhaps slightly better built while the d-pad works just fine, as do the face buttons while the Start/Select have now reverted back to being smaller standalone buttons as opposed to being lumped in with the 'Home' button - which has improved greatly - which is a good thing as it makes more sense; even though they now take more effort to press, as does the relocated power button even if it's for the best, the small stylus is severly lacking though only really serving as a useful tool for removing the faceplates, you can choose to use it but I would advise using a better stylus if you have one to hand as there is barely enough weight to it.

Once you turn the machine oneNew3DS5 we get into the menu functionality, ZL & ZR allow you to flick through the folders quickly if you have that many, in my case it flicks through the empty space quite nicely - no more than twelve items on my screen thanks to folders - displaying a quirky animation from the colourful Game & Watch theme which seems to be taken from Parachute, it's the small things. You can actually use the C-stick within the main menu as well, pressing on it in any direction will allow you to flick through your folders or icons, it's by no means quicker but it is nice to have as an option; things seem largely unchanged on the home menu aside from the fact that it all runs a lot more smoothly and there is no more bothersome waiting up to fifteen seconds or longer for all of your content to appear as the Micro SD card brings everything up in a flash though it must be noted that I am using a Sandisk 32GB SDHC Micro SD card rather than the standard 4GB one which comes in the box.

Performing the system transfer isn't too bad at all, what used to once be over an hour long ordeal can now be completed in less than half an hour providing you have already switched over to your new Micro SD card that you planned to use with your New 3DS or New 3DS XL - assuming you're upgrading - by way of the usually included Micro SD card adapter; this way all that you'll need to do is allow the Pikmin to carry over all of your account information as per usual while all of your game data can simply be swapped out when the New 3DS instructs you to do so. In order to replace the Micro SD card though you will need a small cross-headed screwdriver to remove the bottom face-plate whereas the top one requires just the stylus, as an aside both the Ambassador and Super Smash Bros set of plates are very nice indeed. Once you have your new card installed though you shouldn't ever need to take it out of the machine as you can perform Micro SD card management from most PC's over your home network meaning you can move photos plus other data across; though as always be sure to refer to the relevant guides for either System Transfer or Micro SD Card Management as N-Europe is not responsible for any damage incurred during these processes, we are but the messenger spreading the word about this fantastic Nintendo handheld device.
Battery power has been extended reportedly to around seven hours though from my first charge of the machine which seemed to take nearly three hours to charge, at least four hours until the red light came on, then a further twenty minutes until the red light started flashing, plus a couple of hours being in standby with 3D set to full, wireless on along with the volume set to a reasonable level. After several charges the battery does indeed seem to improve significantly, just about reaching four hours play time on a single charge which is possibly less then advertised, it certainly seems adequate in any case for the amount of power that the New 3DS has, also there's no worry when leaving the machine in standby for most of the day - or longer - if required as it hardly seems to have an effect on the battery at all following a few charges.

When it came to testing the in-game functionality, the conveniently well-timed release of the Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate demo seemed to fit the bill, also it offered a good chance to download the demo which is 1,742 blocks and downloaded in less than two minutes on a fibre-broadband connection but from a less then optimal distance away from the router; being that this is less then a tenth of the size compared to the full game you should still be able to expect full retail titles to download within fifteen to twenty minutes or less which isn't bad at all. The much-touted 'C-stick' is very responsive indeed, more than living up to my own expectations as I was expecting something very similar to those 'nub' devices you used to find on old Laptops, while this seems to use similar technology it feels a lot more refined, perfectly suiting camera control though I'm not sure how it fares within Super Smash Bros. as using it for attacks is something beyond my basic comprehension of the game as I find normal button attacks more than adequate; both of the extra shoulder buttons will surely offer up extra options in games still to come but in the MH4U demo they just offered extra 'run' and 'monster cam' functions which are already mapped to the usual 'L' and 'R' positions but at the very least you could alternate between them to reduce wear on your shiny new system.

Now boasting improved hardNew3DS4ware over the regular 3DS models the New 3DS will eventually have its own software library but of more immediate interest will be the improved load times on existing titles such as Super Smash Bros. which now loads a lot quicker whereas before it would seem to take a very long time indeed, so this is an obviously welcome improvement. Posting to Miiverse is no longer a chore either as it now loads even faster than on an original 3DS plus it's even speedier than the Wii U by a whole three seconds! This is especially impressive seeing as it always takes those extra couple of seconds to sign in to your Nintendo Network ID on portable consoles whereas on the home console it's already signed-in and yet this marvelous new machine can get you there quicker still which will make life easier for a lot of Miiverse enthusiasts who can't get enough of the gaming focused social media platform; it's already making my life a lot easier in terms of posting review screen shots as I must admit that using the service before was moderately off-putting due to the time required just to gain access to it.

Perhaps the most obvious improvement though is to the actual 3D effect on the system itself which is now the most stable it has ever been - perhaps ever - thanks to some clever new technology which is able to physically track your eye movement so that the illusion is no longer shattered by simply moving either your head or the unit slightly to the left or right; this keeps you immersed in the game world for longer which can only be a good thing. I've been very impressed with this feature as it's something that you can really see working quite literally before your very eyes, if you deliberately move your head significantly away from the tracking distance then you'll see the screeen noticably darken, then when you come back into range the unit will sense that you're within 'viewable' range at which point the screen goes back to its normal brightness level and the 3D simply returns, this all happens within around a second working almost like magic; it's bound to be a huge selling point for the system which means that if you already loved the 3D then prepare to love it more but if you didn't get on with it for whatever reason then it may just convert you.
As for the Ambassador Edition system itself, can I honestly say that it's worth the money being that it's now no longer available and the only places you're likely to find it are on certain online acution sites for a slight mark-up? Well if you were considering going for the New 3DS console in White anyway then I suppose if you feel that the exclusive packaging, plus the unique faceplate with 'Nintendo' on the underside plus the company name in Japanese on the top - also meaning Entrust, Sky, Company - in addition to the Super Smash Bros. faceplate and a charging cradle is worth an extra fifty pounds or so over a standard unit then it is indeed the console for you; the value will surely only rise in the future unless the promotion ever happens again but that remains to be seen after the recent news about Club Nintendo being discontinued so for now at least you would have a fairly limited collectable machine. If you use it or not, that's up to you but I've quite enjoyed having the privilege of owning and using the machine for the best part of a month before the general release, though at this time of publishing there is only another three weeks to go until the proper launch of the system in both sizes, plus the tempting prospect of both the Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and Majora's Mask 3DS XL limited editions if you're lucky enough to get a pre-order in, a good time to be a Nintendo gamer even if it is a turbulent time for gamers wallets. Lest we forget that there's an NFC reader stashed away under the touch-screen as well giving you more reason to keep buying Amiibo figures being that you can use them on not just one console now but two.

Ultimately after spending time with the New 3DS I can safely say that I am completely sold on the hardware even if it does mean double-dipping - or perhaps even triple or quadruple dipping for serial upgraders - in order to once again get the most out of one of the most loved generations of portable games consoles ever to be released. To compare I would say that upgrading from even a 3DS XL to a new 3DS is quite a leap even if you'll notice the screen size difference - but then that's why there's the XL model coming out too - so you'll still be impressed by it but if you're upgrading from an original 3DS to a New 3DS or the XL then prepare to have your mind blown as it will make an astonishing amount of difference to the amount of time you spend with the machine and most importantly to the games you play on it; if anything else it's surely a statement of intent from Nintendo that the 3DS is here to stay for a good few years yet.
If you have yet to even invest in a Nintendo 3DS in all the years that it has been on the market then now is surely the time to jump in, with games such as The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate launching on the same day as the new machines - also with their respective limited editions - it's clear that there is definitely something available for both the long-term or even recently converted Nintendo fan alike; this isn't even taking into account all over the copious amount of titles already available for you to enjoy in the form of 3DS, DS and even past portable consoles including many Game Boy classics plus more besides. It's harder to think of any reasons why NOT to buy into the 3DS or to upgrade as there really aren't that many down-sides at all because purely portable gaming has just got a whole lot better, boding very well for both Nintendo and indeed the larger gaming community.

While the Wii U might not be everyone's cup of tea for whatever reason, the New 3DS is more akin to water as every being on this planet needs it, just that we choose how much to drink; for players who like their portable gaming then you'll likely persuade yourself to get one of these fine machines as well all know that many gamers aren't happy unless their drowning in games. But whatever you decide, the 3DS is very much dripping with quality software, hopefully there will be no more droughts of old in sight so that the New 3DS can flourish; just how much though is up to you.

Let us know if you're considering upgrading or buying a New 3DS/XL on or before the release date in the comments section below.

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