Handheld systems have brought entertainment to gamers on the go for decades, since the launch of the Gameboy in 1989. But of course, family-friendly video game giant, Nintendo, has come a long way since the days of 8-bit, and with the New Nintendo 3DS XL, portable gaming is leveling up like never before.

As you can imagine from the not-so-creative name of Nintendo’s latest handheld console, this upgrade is sort of like the iPhone “S” of Nintendo systems. The device itself is extremely familiar in design and capabilities, but there are new features and functionality that users will go crazy for.

New 3DS XL BlackFirst Things First

Nintendo found a way to make 3-D make sense—what a perfect way to ring in 2015. The New 3DS XL features facial tracking technology, which means gamers will no longer feel like they are wearing beer goggles when they are trying to KO Charizard on a bumpy train ride. You can clearly see the screen adjust when you move your head or the console itself around, and it only takes about a second to realign, allowing for a more seamless game play experience. With the New 3DS, users will feel comfortable leaving the 3-D functionality on for the entire duration of game play, enjoying the pop-out fun it has to offer, without any distractions.

Where Is Everything?!

Move aside, stylus slot, cartridge port, and power button—make room for the ZL and ZR buttons. With the addition of these new buttons for enhanced game functionality, things have shifted a bit on the New 3DS XL. While it may take users a quick second to get used to where everything is on their new limb extension, all of the changes make complete sense.

The ABXY buttons are colored and clearly marked, an obvious update from the previous portable console. The volume slider has also been relocated from the bottom left of the console to the top left, now sitting directly across from the 3D slider. The WiFi button is gone, and now users can simply select WiFi settings within the software from the homepage. And, there’s a C Stick. However, it’s a really small C-Stick, just a fraction of the size of the Circle Pad—so it’ll take some getting used to. But once you get the hang of it, it’s amazing.

The Home, Start, and Select buttons have also been updated, giving the console a more modern look by abandoning the bulky rectangular buttons in favor of small, rounded ones, which are more in-line with the design of the console itself.

Holy Load Times, Batman!

The wait is over—literally. The New 3DS loads games exponentially faster than its predecessor, with Super Smash Bros. getting to the title screen about twice as fast as before—a huge perk for, well, everyone. On the original 3DS XL, it takes about 35 seconds to arrive at the title screen and begin gameplay—doesn’t sound like a long time, but in the eyes of a kid (or manchild), it’s basically an eternity. This process takes 13 seconds on the New 3DS. 13. Seconds. Excuse me, while I weep tears of joy and take up knitting so I have something to do with all of my newfound free time.

New 3ds XL In Box
Oh, The Charger…

The New 3DS has about four to seven hours of battery life per charge. One of the most notable things, however, is that the New 3DS does not include a charging cable. While the device is compatible with DSi, 2DS, 3DS, and 3DS XL adapters, if this is your first foray into Nintendo’s portable gaming world, be prepared to shell out a few extra bucks for a charger. However, if you’ve been around the DS block before, Nintendo claims excluding the charger from the package saves you money in the end.

Additional new features include a better camera, a new and improved Internet Bowser (oops– I mean, browser*), built-in amiibo support for existing and soon-to-release figures, and easy data sharing thanks to an included 4G micro SDHC card (which, you never need to remove).

The Bottom Line

The upgrades to the New 3DS XL are significant enough to warrant buying a new device even if you already own the original 3DS XL, thanks in large part to the advanced 3-D functionality. Consumers will love that they finally get to comfortably utilize the console’s most prominent feature, which now truly enhances game-play, rather than hindering it. Best of all, the price of the New 3DS XL is the same as the original at its launch, weighing in at $199. Nintendo’s ability to churn out more advanced technology year after year without gouging consumers’ pockets is truly unmatched, and with the video game giant churning out new game titles at Warp speed, the entertainment value of the newest handheld console seems endless.

About the author

Marissa Silva

Marissa Silva

Marissa Silva, AKA That Toy Girl, is the editor-in-chief at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider. With more than a decade of experience in the toy industry, Marissa is a trusted toy expert, providing parents, gift-givers, retailers, manufacturers, and licensors with information on the latest news related to toys, games, kids’ products, pop culture collectibles, and licensed merchandise for adults. A board game pro and puzzle queen, Marissa spends most of her free time shopping for superhero T-shirts, dominating at Mario Kart, and anxiously awaiting her Hogwarts acceptance letter. She is also a new mom to her baby girl Lucy Jo and has quickly become an expert in high-contrast cards, wooden toys, and plush. Marissa has been featured on the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, the Tamron Hall Show, Access Hollywood, Fox & Friends, ABC World News Now, MSNBC, CBS, NY1, WPIX, and more. You can follow her on Instagram @thattoygirl.