Notice that I'm only talking about the XL variant; North America unfortunately did not receive any of the regular sized New 3DS models. Don't worry though, aside from customizable removable faceplates (which admittedly are pretty cool), there is little to no reason not to go with the XL version.
You can still customize your New 3DS XL without Nintendo's official faceplates though! One great way to do that is to order custom stickers or decals online. If you do opt to do this, my advice to you is to get the matte finish, so that your surfaces aren't shiny and your decals show up more clearly. Onto the review.
Undoubtedly, one of the main draws to purchasing a New 3DS XL is the added C-Stick in the upper right hand corner of your system. This allows you to control the camera in games that support it, like you would with a controller with a second analog stick, say an Xbox 360 controller.
One major difference to this control stick is that is doesn't actually move when you use it. It's just kind of a little stub, that you put pressure on with your thumb. Although this can be a little jarring at first, rest assured that it absolutely works, and you will get used to it in no time.
Also new are the additions of two new trigger buttons; ZR and ZL. These buttons were present on the circle pad pro for the old 3DS, and allow for improved controls in games like Resident Evil: Revelations, Majora's Mask 3D, and Super Smash Bros. 3DS just to name a few. For example, in Smash, you have R as shield like always, but now you can use ZR to grab instead of L, just like a Gamecube controller. This is awesome.
Believe it or not, this is actually my favourite new feature of the New 3DS XL, over the C-stick. I've played countless hours of 3DS, first on my regular edition, then on an XL, and there's an extremely small selection of games where I prefer to play with the 3D on (like Super Mario 3D Land). This is a huge issue for a system that is called the 3DS.
The improved 3D fixes this issue completely. The New 3DS XL adds another camera on the top screen, which tracks your face and its movements, allowing for real-time 3D adjustments. In other words, when you move your 3DS around, which you're bound to do, the 3D will no longer be blurry, and you won't have to spend the time readjusting your eyes to it again.
This feature drastically improves gameplay in games which make abundant use of 3D, such as all three Zeldas on the system, Star Fox 64 3D, and Kirby Triple Deluxe, just to name a very small number of games. You'll find yourself playing with the 3D on almost all the time, as it adds so much to your gaming experience when it is as stable as the New 3DS XL makes it. Trust me, this makes a HUGE difference.
By now, you've probably heard of Nintendo's new products, amiibos. If you haven't, they're little figurines of classic Nintendo characters which can be placed on your Wii U gamepad to access small bits of content, like training a fighter in Smash Bros, and unlocking skins for use in Mario Kart 8. Think Spyro’s Skylanders or Disney’s Infinity, only with less important content locked off (this is a good thing).
Personally, I'm not too crazy about the whole amiibo thing, but it definitely works as intended on the New 3DS XL. If you're a collector of figurines, they're pretty much worth their price already if they did nothing but look cool, but the fact that they can unlock content in games is a pretty sweet bonus feature.
The New 3DS XL boasts a new and improved processor from the previous 3DS models. This actually makes a pretty noticeable difference when playing games which utilize it, like Smash Bros. and Majora's Mask 3D, as you load into these games much faster.
Also improved are download speeds from the 3DS eShop. As a test, I downloaded Kirby Triple Deluxe, which was about 4000-5000 blocks, in about 5 or 6 minutes. Using the same internet connection on my old 3DS', it used to take at least twice that long for games that size.
Another benefit to the improved processor is the ability to play games that will only work on the New 3DS. So far, the only game announced to be New 3DS exclusive is Xenoblade Chronicles. Rest assured, if you pass up the New 3DS XL, Nintendo will not leave you in the dark and start making all of its games only for the New 3DS; the majority of its player base are still on the older systems.
While future proofing your 3DS and getting faster download speeds is nice, the improved processor itself is not really a reason to upgrade. If these four main new features combined interest you, then I highly recommend picking up a New 3DS XL. More on that below.
While not really significant, the New 3DS XL does make some minor changes to the 3DS and 3DS XL's existing software (I have not owned a 2DS, so I can't comment on its differences).
The battery life has been ever so slightly improved from the 3DS XL, which previously had the best battery life of the three variants of 3DS'. Of the minor changes, this is my favourite.
To save space, the New 3DS XL now uses a microSD card, which you will now have to unscrew the back of the system to access. It comes included with a 4GB microSD card, but for digital gamers, this won't be enough. The data transfer process from your old 3DS is somewhat complicated, so here is a guide to help you out with the process.
A minor gripe I have is that the stylus has been relegated back to the bottom of the system, much like its positioning in the original 3DS. This makes it much more difficult to access the stylus, and is kind of a puzzling design choice, considering they fixed this issue with the 3DS XL by putting it on the right side for easy access.
The power button is now on the bottom of the system, so that you don't accidentally push it while playing (although it will still happen if you rest your system on a flat surface). The start and select buttons have also been moved to the right hand side of the front of the system; a welcome design choice from the previous editions' somewhat clunky placements of them at the bottom of the touch screen.
You have a choice of either black or red right now (sorry, the Majora's Mask edition was made in extremely limited quantities; I wish I had one too). The interior colour is red rather than black if you opt to get the red version. Also, the A, B, X, and Y buttons are now coloured, a minor aesthetic change which is very pleasing to the eye.
If you have never owned a 3DS before, buying the New 3DS XL is a no-brainer if you like fantastic games. There are so many amazing games from a wide array of different genres, many of which are exclusively found on the 3DS. The new face tracking 3D is spectacular, and some games were just meant to be played with the C-Stick.
That being said, should you upgrade if you already own a 2DS/3DS/3DS XL? Well, that depends on your gaming habits. If you're a big fan of the 3D effect, you really owe it to yourself to pick up the New 3DS XL. You might not even be a fan of it currently because of its general spotiness in many games, so I recommend coming into the shop to try the New 3DS XL out for yourself.
Also, if games like Resident Evil: Revelations, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, Xenoblade Chronicles, and Majora's Mask 3D interest you (they're all great), I highly recommend picking it up. The C-Stick is literally a must have for some of these games, and Xenoblade Chronicles will not work at all on the older 3DS versions.
All in all, the New 3DS XL is a great step up from its previous versions for most gamers. The face-tracking 3D is slick, the C-stick and added shoulder buttons improve gameplay in games that utilize them, the amiibo support is appreciated, and as a bonus, you get a faster processor and slightly improved battery life. I would recommend the New 3DS XL to any gamer looking to upgrade to the supreme 3DS experience, and would absolutely recommend it as a starting point for gamers who have never tried a 3DS.