by Brian Booher

3DS XL Controls

As a gamer, I decided to make the jump into modern portable gaming and bought the Nintendo 3DS XL gaming system.  The last time I bought any kind of Nintendo system was back in 2007 with the purchase of my Nintendo DS lite.

The model that I purchased was the “Mario and Luigi Dream Team” package released during Christmas 2013 season.  As of this writing, it retails for $200, though I was able to get it from Amazon for $180.



As compared to basic models, this particular model has a silver aluminum shell on the top and bottom.  The top has a graphic of Mario and Luigi in pose as if they are about to jump onto something.  The two dots on the bottom are the dual cameras that are used to take 3D photos with the 3DS XL.


The back shows the serial number, power requirements, and a “The Year of Luigi” logo on the left celebrating 30 years of the character.  The stylus is on the left side as well as an SD card slot to store games and saves.  The 3DS XL comes with a 4GB SD card in the box.



That’s basically a rough overview of this particular model.  Now it’s time to get into the good, bad, and ugly (G.B.U.) parts of the 3DS XL as a whole.

The Good


The 3DS XL is an affordable way to get into portable gaming if you do not want to spend $500+ on that fancy Apple iOS device.

As compared to the previous 3DS model, the screens are 90% larger.  This is a big feature for me as I had a hard time trying to play games on my small DS lite.  The DS lite and the 3DS are basically the same size, so I show a size comparison between the 3DS and 3DS XL below.



The 3DS XL is compatible with both 3DS and DS games.  The DS games may not be able to be seen in 3D, but bigger screen makes them easier to see when playing and much more exciting.

Nintendo also has an eShop where you can purchase digital copies of NES and orginal Game Boy games for as little as $4 each.  Playing the Game Boy version of Tetris is fantastic as the resolution is bigger than what the original Game Boy system had.



One of the neatest features of the 3DS XL is that it has access to “Netflix” and “Hulu Plus”.  You do have to have a paid subscription with those, but it’s nice to have a decent screen to watch movies and TV shows and you don’t have to lean it against anything to hold up the screen like a smartphone or tablet.

“YouTube” is also available and you don’t need to pay anything. That could change sometime in the future, but that’s another story.  The only downside with this is that it is the mobile version, so some videos may not be played as demanded by the video creator.


The Bad

It’s really hard to find anything that makes it a bad purchase, other than having to buy Game Boy games again.

With a starting price of $200, it is good for those who do not want to invest the $500+ for an Android phone or iOS device like the iPhone or iPad.

The Ugly


Nintendo has been in trouble lately because of the huge explosion in popularity of Android and iOS devices.  People do not want to carry around multiple devices with them if they can have one that does everything.

Nintendo has been very stubborn in resisting the move to mobile.  They want to control the whole experience, much like what Apple does.  The only difference is that Nintendo does not want to go down the path that Sega did in licensing their games like Sonic the Hedgehog.  Nintendo feels that putting Mario on Android or iOS will cheapen the value of them.  I would have to disagree because I have bought several copies of “Sonic the Hedgehog” on different devices, including the 3DS XL.


It will be only a matter of time until Nintendo feels the pressure to license or they manage to release a new mobile system that works like a phone, but is completely made by Nintendo.

Digital Games

Nintendo’s eShop is a wonderful place to be able to find old games at very affordable prices.  I can’t see anything wrong with paying $4 for Tetris on Game Boy.

The big issue I do have is that Nintendo does not have a system like Apple, Android, Xbox, etc. where if you buy a digital game, you can put it on all the systems that you own.  When you buy a game, the license you are actually buying locks to the particular system you bought it on.  That means you cannot download it onto another system and play it like you can on Android and iOS.

If you lose your 3DS XL.  You lose all the games you bought on that system.

Nintendo does have a policy of being able to transfer games from one system to another, but you cannot have them on both.  It’s the same idea as having a physical copy, only with physical copies I can store some place else and can play them on other systems without any issues.

You can buy digital copies of current 3DS games, but do realize they sell at retail price of about $40.  Prices of digital games tend to not drop in price as fast as the physical copies sold in stores.  As of this writing, New Super Mario Bros. 2 digital copy is being sold for $40, while the physical copy sold on is currently $30.

Nintendo HAS to change this policy to compete with Android and iOS.  People are not going to buy games multiple times if the system they have is lost or stolen or breaks down.


The resolution of the 3DS XL screens are the same as found in the 3DS.  Therefore you get the same number of pixels, but the images are blown up.  This can result in games looking messy around the edges, but eventually you should be able to get used to it, unless you are part of the Apple crowd and demand retina display graphics.  Hey!  The thing costs $200, so you get what you paid for.


The 3DS xL has a front facing camera and dual rear facing cameras used to make 3D photos.  Don’t expect the same kind of quality you might find on Android and iOS.  The cameras are barely even 1 megapixel resolution, so pictures don’t look as good.  They are more of a gimmick than being a functional addition to game play.  I hardly ever use them.  It’s the games that I am interested in.

Multiplayer DS Games

The 3DS XL does have wireless access and is able to connect to modern wireless networks like WPA2 encryption.  Unfortunately if you have original DS games, like I do, and want to play the multiplayer features on those games, you have to play on the DS network settings which uses the easily breakable WEP encryption.  To me, I don’t even bother with that.


The Nintendo 3DS XL system is a fun system at a very affordable price.  It might not compare to the power and capabilities as what Android and iOS devices are able to do, but it’s a decent piece of hardware.

If you enjoyed playing Nintendo games of the past and want to play them again, this is a great way to play them on a portable device.

It’s a lot more risky taking this device around since if you lose it, you lose all your digital games as well.  Think of it as bringing a carrying case of games and losing them and the system at the same time.  Hopefully Nintendo will change their eShop that will link games to your account and not on the device itself.

As an Android and iOS user, I enjoy the 3DS XL as it has physical buttons to press.  I am not a fan of games that are controller based and you play on a touch screen, like “Sonic the Hedgehog”.

Have fun and geek out!

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