New Nintendo 3DS and 3DS XLNintendo has given its hand-held console roster a bit of a shake up with the launch of a new Nintendo 3DS and 3DS XL, giving it a bit of a style makeover, better 3D visuals, bolting in a little extra functionality and throwing in an updated power system for improved processing. However, the most eye catching update is the addition of cool new interchangeable cover plates that you can add to dress up your new 3DS with everything from camouflage to Super Mario graphics.

The move is probably about as exciting as things are going to get this year in terms hardware and while it’s a long way away from being a full new hand-held console to write about, it does look like a nice refresh of what was already a lot of fun. The only downside for us is that Nintendo have clearly been so distracted delivering the new versions of the 3DS and 3DS XL that they haven’t had the time to focus on new game development for the first half of 2015, with little other than The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D on the horizon.

The new devices will be launching in the UK on the 13th February 2015, but the bad news for US fans is that only the XL version will be released in North America, so you’ll only be able to go large. Either way, we’ll be glad when the launch is completed and the big N can get back to new titles for the system, which we’re craving for at the moment. We’ve got big expectations for the little device’s upcoming games roster now that an updated console package is upon us.

Customisable cover plates

The bad news for US gamers continues with the first of the big feature updates for the new 3DS, customisable cover plates, which aren’t available on the XL version of the console update, so you won’t be able to flip designs unfortunately. However, for UK, EU, Australian, New Zealand and Japanese gamers, you’ll be able to buy a range of different cover plate designs to dress up your little hand-held console.

There’s a different selection to choose from depending on whether you go for the black or white new 3DS, and you can check out the image above to get an idea of what to expect from each. However, we expect Nintendo to produce a steady stream of new designs throughout the life of the console with everything from game tie-ins to retro designs.

Improved 3D view

Both the new 3DS and XL have been equipped with improved 3D imaging stability that operates by tracking your face using the inner camera and automatically adjusting the angle of the stereoscopic effect. The means that instead of having to keep your head still to maintain the position for the 3D view sweat spot, you’ll be able to tilt, twist and gyrate your noggin and you’ll still have a good chance of clarity.

Updated layout

The new layout sees the little device being spun in parts as the cartridge slot has been moved from the back to the front, along with the stylus and the power button. The home button is now the only one below the 2nd screen with the select and start buttons moving to the right beneath the ABYX buttons, which have been given a brilliant lick of paint to look like the amazing wonder that was the SNES controller buttons.

The new Micro SD card, which replaces the previous standard size SD Card, has been tucked away behind the battery plate on the back, and the sound slider has been moved to the top screen area on the opposite side to the 3D effect slider. The wireless toggle has been stripped away entirely and moved to be controllable from the Home menu area.

New controls

In addition to the rejig, it’s also been infused with a few new controls, including ZL and ZR shoulder triggers just to the inside of the existing L and R buttons, and the majesty of a new analogue nudge controller called the C-Stick. This will allow for much more easy functionality within games likeĀ Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D and The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, where you’ll be able to use the C-Stick to look in different directions.

Processing power

Improved CPU processing power has been build into both systems too, which will allow for quicker application loading times, which has been a bit of a bug bear of ours since the system was first released back in 2011. The added power will also mean quicker software download times, as well as opening up the opportunity for dedicated software to be released that takes advantage of the improved CPU to deliver better graphics and gameplay.

Battery life

The battery life has also been given a bit of a boost with the Nintendo 3DS’ old 1300 mAh lithium-ion battery being replaced by a 1400 mAh update, taking the 3DS gaming time from 3-5 hours up to 3.5-6 hours and DS gaming from 5-8 hours to 6.5-10.5 hours. It’s not quite as impressive a story for the new XL, which has been given just an extra 50 mAh taking it to 1750. This only results in improved potential gaming time for DS title taking it from 7-10 hours to 7-12 hours, while the 3DS gaming time remains at 3.5-7 hours.

Amiibo support

Finally, the new Nintendo 3DS and 3DS XL have both been packaged up with near-field communication (NFC) functionality to interact with Amiibo figurines, so you’ll now be able to port your favourites into compatible games on your hand-held as well as on the Wii U.

More new features

Nintendo has clearly been working hard on the new hand-held devices, because there are pretty much as many new features as there would be with a full console launch. As well as everything above, there’s also an improved camera that takes better pictures in dim light, you can transfer music and pictures directly to the Micro SD card from your PC using wireless LAN and watch videos online. They’ve even added in an automatic brightness adjustment sensor that changes your brightness depending on your surroundings.

First impressions

The new Nintendo 3DS and 3DS XL have got a lot packed under the hood and for anyone in the market for the hand-held system would be pretty foolish to go for the old systems over the new ones. There’s certainly enough to warrant considering trading up too, but we’re not sure current owners will be swayed enough to shell out for the improved consoles straight away. However, if games start to come out that take advantage of better graphics and gameplay over the old 3DS then we can see this being a big reason to make the switch.

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