Demo stations of the New Nintendo 3DS XL are cropping up around town in Canada and the United States just under 3 weeks before the release date. A few small events are occurring as well with Nintendo representatives handing out Majora’s Mask keychains to people who try the game. The stations are pretty simple and are embedded in the shelving at retailers like Best Buy and EB Games. With just a single New Nintendo 3DS XL and a demo copy of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, you can get a good feel for the next iteration of the 3DS family.
3D and the New Buttons
We’ve seen the New Nintendo 3DS XL before. The North American version is obviously no different from the Japanese models that were released earlier last year. For a short recap of the changes, the biggest is the new self-adjusting 3D screen that uses head tracking technology to continually adjust the screen for the user. Every time I see it, it is still amazing because it is such a huge jump from my daily driver which I have to selectively use the 3D effect. The effect isn’t perfect, if you view the screen from almost a 180 degree, it still breaks the 3D effect, but no longer are you limited to just a narrow sweet spot. Playing Majora’s Mask was a joy and being able to keep the beautiful immersive 3D world even while consciously shaking the device and tilting it oddly is the single most important reason why I am upgrading my device the day of release.
Something I hadn’t noticed before is that the screen colors seem deeper and more saturated than my regular 3DS XL. This could be because I was playing Majora’s Mask, with a noticeably darker color palette and unfortunately I wasn’t able to go out of the game into the system menu for a controlled test.
The other changes to the new 3DS (asides from speed which can’t truly be tested at a demo station) are physical changes. The clamps made sure I couldn’t eject the cartridge by accident, as is the concern of many players, but I didn’t hit the power button during my play session. The buttons feel very similar. My personal worry is that the placement of the ZL and ZR buttons beside rather than below the traditional L and R button makes it very challenging to press them alone without hitting the L and R. There is also an additional c-stick which is far from a circle pad, instead it is a stiff nub. It is well calibrated and sensitive enough for camera angles and quite a few general uses, but for those who expect it to run as a second circle pad for a shooter like Resident Evil Revelations, prepare to be disappointed, it just won’t work, and even if it did, it wouldn’t work very well.
Unlike the New 3DS XL, this was the first time I saw Majora’s Mask. It is a very crippled version of the game that limited travel to a few specific areas, but the most important, Clock Town, was available in its entirety. In fact you can go and try and collect all the fairy pieces just like the start of the game. Majora’s Mask has been a sore point for me. It doesn’t command the same level of respect and nostalgia as Ocarina of Time for me, but being a part of my childhood I was still happy to see a remake. The problem was that the screenshots that were released in the past months have been a little underwhelming for me. The screenshots looked like the game I remembered, and I wasn’t as intimately familiar with the game as Ocarina of Time. I wasn’t able to spot the many enhancements.
In the short time I was able to pick up the game and wander, I was struck by how elegant the remake was. It is beautiful, especially with the 3D effect running full throttle and not having to worry about a slight tilt here and there. But the game itself seems to be incredibly faithful to the original in keeping the same atmosphere and playing on what sticks out in my memories. The game looks good, and don’t let a few bad screenshots fool you like it did to me. February 13th is going to be a date to mark on the calendar.