final rating

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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Game library Many wonderful Nintendo titles, but not as many as I would have hoped. good
  • Graphics The graphics are good. The screen could be a higher resolution, but the 3D is nice for some game play. good
  • Battery life Can play for 2 or 3 several hour game sessions before battery dies. But in sleep mode, it seems to die faster than it should. so-so
  • Portability (size / weight) Larger than older 3DS and DS systems, but it doesn't feel heavy or uncomfortable to hold for longer gaming sessions. Can easily fit in a bag or purse. good
  • Durability No comments good
Detailed review
Game library: When I decided to get a 3DS XL (or rather ask for one for Christmas), I wanted to relive my childhood in a way, by playing many of the games that I did back then on my Game Boy Color. Nostalgia was a primary reason for wanting this particular portable console. So, of course I got some of those types of games, that were from when I grew up, but there are many others that weren't around then that are now, that are very enjoyable.
I'm looking forward to what Nintendo had to offer for 2013, but I am a little worried that games aren't being released quickly enough for this system to grow as it should. And more games should be offered through the Nintendo eShop, that are as of now, retail only. The upside of the 3DS is that you can play all those older DS games on it as well, that maybe haven't released a 3D version yet, such as Pokemon. You can also purchase many games on the Nintendo eShop that are from older consoles, such as the original NES, SNES, Game Boy, and so on. Those might be fun to try since they're only a few dollars each.

Here are some of the games I've purchased and would recommend:
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
  • Pokemon Black 2
  • Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask
  • Crashmo (available on Nintendo eShop)
  • The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave (also on Nintendo eShop)
Here are some games I've got on my wish list that I've heard good things about:
  • Cave Story 3D (there's also the older, regular 2D version available on the Nintendo eShop)
  • 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (2D game) and sequel
  • Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward (999 sequel)
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising
  • New Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Paper Mario Sticker Star
Graphics: Now, if I wanted top-notch graphics I would have chosen a PS Vita, but the Vita doesn't offer enough games. The 3DS XL has pretty good graphics, the 3D is fun, sometimes a headache, but overall it's sufficient.

Battery Life: Owning mostly Apple devices, I realized I'm pretty spoiled when it comes to battery life on my devices. The 3DS has about the battery life that Nintendo advertises, I can get a few gaming sessions in before the battery life dies. If I leave it in sleep mode when I'm not gaming though, the sleep mode seems to drain the battery faster than it should. I can put it in sleep, after already draining the battery some, and when I come back, the battery is dead. It doesn't hold it's charge in sleep mode as well as my other devices.

Portability: It's a fairly small portable console, and if you wanted to, it can easily fit in a bag or purse. I found a fairly compact case, that I can fit the console, battery charger, several styluses, and many games, and the case still fits in my purse. The console itself is fairly easy to hold while gaming, but sometimes can be a strain if laying down, holding with one hand, and using the stylus in the other.

Durability: It seems pretty sturdy, I don't drop my devices so I couldn't say how it would do in a fall. But, the plastic seems to be of pretty high quality. I do have one small complaint about the buttons on the bottom of the screen 'Home', 'Select' and 'Start', they don't quite depress the way that I wish they would, and you can't always tell that they've been pushed. They don't make a click or give any feedback that they're buttons really.

Overall, I really like my 3DS XL, and would highly recommend to kids who want a portable console, or even older folks like me, who just want to play some classic Nintendo games from their childhood. It's a good system, and I think because of Nintendo's staying power as a gaming brand, people will want their games and consoles over the PS Vita, which doesn't have as many classic game characters or titles. My only worry is that I'll consume the games faster than they make them!
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Updated detailed review