Incoming! They’re arriving just in time for your last summer trip (and just before school begins). The 3DS XL and New Super Mario Bros. 2 have been released at the same time.
|NINTENDO 3DS XL
Pros: Bigger 3D screen; slightly better viewing angle; longer battery life.
Cons: Plastic shell looks cheesy; viewing angle could be wider; price is high.
Is Nintendo’s reimagining of the 3D system worth saving up $199 for?
On the surface, the 3DS XL doesn’t look as cool as its smaller sibling, the 3DS. My red XL case doesn’t shine with the same metallic sheen as my blue 3DS. And the buttons under the hood are plastic and cheaper looking. The same goes for the plastic stylus, which no longer retracts.
But don’t judge a book by its cover. The 3DS XL has about a 90 percent bigger screen. Now, the screen is nearly 5 inches when you measure it diagonally.
And that makes so much difference with the effect of 3D without glasses. Bigger is better when it come to seeing the lushness within, say, The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time in three dimensions.
You might think that magnifying the size of the 3DS graphics for a bigger XL screen would result in games with jaggies. But that’s rarely the case. The graphics aren’t perfect, but they border on being excellent.
Also, the speakers sound clearer and crisper on the XL. Maybe that’s just because they are placed wider apart for better stereo. Whatever the case, I like it.
You’ll be happy about the extra battery life. One charge gives you six to eight hours of play, a definite plus.
More good news: When you play the 3DS, you have to look at the top screen head on — without moving — if you don’t want to lose the 3D effect. With the XL, there’s a slightly wider viewing angle. That cuts down on the neck- and headaches you might have experienced with the 3DS.
While I like my 3DS, the XL will be my platform of choice to review Nintendo DS games on. In this case, bigger is better — most of the time.
|NEW SUPER MARIO BROS. 2
(Nintendo for 3DS, 3DS XL)
Replay Value: 9.0
Pros: Raccoon Mario; tons of coins to collect; smart level design.
Cons: Could use better story; backgrounds need more detail; not enough varied powerups.
NEW SUPER MARIO BROS. 2
New Super Mario Bros. 2 might not have been the best choice to release in tandem with the 3DS XL. The graphics on the side-scrolling platform game are sharp enough. Mario is detailed, right down to the mustache, and so are his friends.
But when you try to enhance the 3D effect with the depth slider on the right of the XL, the clearest 3D comes at about a third of the way up. If you move it to full 3D, the backgrounds get all fuzzy.
And while the backgrounds are always good in the Mario games, they never have been as rich and detailed as those in, say, the Zelda games.
CHARMING AND CHALLENGING
Other than that, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a charming, challenging game that will often delight you with its details. Sure, it’s the same deal you see within all the Mario games: Princess Peach has been abducted, this time by Koopalings in a weird kind of balloon that has a propeller stuck in the bottom.
But within the first five minutes, you know this is a special game. As the catchy Mario music plays in the background, one of the turtles takes a moment from coming at you. He hears the music, and he likes it. So he pulls off a dance move — exactly in rhythm to the music that’s playing. It’s just one moment in the 80-stage game that is really very cool.
COOL RACCOON AND MODES
You’ll also enjoy the new flying Raccoon Mario powerup. His bushy tail whacks into bricks to open up areas you can’t get into without this new suit. And when you find a hidden leaf, you’ll get a White Raccoon Mario, which makes you invincible for the rest of the level.
As for different ways to play, there’s co-op mode, which lets your pal play as Luigi. And there’s Coin Rush, which asks you to collect as many gold ducats as you can in a short period of time. It’s frantic!
Yet I think there should be a more well-rounded story here, some really engaging narrative. And those background graphics should be better detailed.
However, the gameplay is balanced, tough to win and creative. It ramps up in difficulty smoothly. And if you think about the puzzles you encounter and the different ways you can solve them, you’ll feel awe. The gamemakers aren’t only smart, they’re really imaginative.
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