Here are my initial thoughts on the New Nintendo 3DS, as well as my first couple hours with The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D.

I’ll keep this brief, because honestly all I want to do it hop back into some Majora’s Mask 3D. Needless to say, Nintendo had a pretty big day with the release of their latest handheld console, the New Nintendo 3DS XL, as well as a couple of games utilizing the new systems features, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.

While the new device has quite possibly the worst name in Nintendo’s history, it’s also, thus far, a much welcomed improvement to the 3DS hardware family. From a strictly aesthetics based view, it’s only a small shift in design. It’s a little more “boxy” than the original 3DS XL, which makes it look a little cleaner overall. I picked up the “New Black” color, which is a dark gray color, similar to that of a Space Gray iPhone, with a discreet carbon fiber patter on it. It looks really neat, although I do wish they went for a matte finish – mine is already covered in fingerprints. The hardware also has some tweaks in layout, with the power button, cartridge slot, and stylus now being found on the base of the system. Start and Select have drifted away from the row beneath the lower screen, and now have a dedicated space under the face buttons.

Internally, the hardware is also much better. The system boots up and loads games almost instantly, completely blowing away my old 3DS XL. The dragging menus on the 3DS operating system quite honestly kept me from using it sometimes, and this seems to completely alleviate it. There is also face tracking integrated, which allows for better 3D functionality. And when I say better, I mean incredible. Traditionally I would check out the 3D on a game, and then disable it. If you weren’t at just the right angle, shit would go totally haywire. Now with the face tracking addition, you have to hold the system at a pretty odd angle before the 3D breaks. It’s a huge addition, that left me leaving my 3D slider cranked to the max, letting me enjoy the visuals rather than just notice them.

Of course one of the biggest changes on the New Nintendo 3DS XL is the addition of the “c-stick” – a small nub on the right side of the system that acts as a right thumbstick. If you remember having an old laptop with a mouse that reminded you of a pencil eraser, this is totally the same concept. It looks weird, but performs wonderfully. In Super Smash Bros. you can use it like you would on gamecube, allowing you to execute smash attacks with a quick thumb flick. In Majora’s Mask it acts like it would in any modern 3rd-person game, controlling the camera. It creates a new sense of freedom for anyone who ever played this title or Majora’s Mask.

Speaking of Majora’s Mask – Wow. What a title this is so far. While I’ve only ever played Ocarina of Time from the N64 era of Zelda games, I did watch my brother play Majora’s Mask from start to finish. That’s been well over a decade though, so it’s been really refreshing to dive in and play the game myself. It’s a gorgeous game, and having played every other Zelda title, I think I can honestly say that this iteration controls the best ever, much in part to the new 3D effects and “c-stick”. I can’t wait to get further into it.

Well that’s it for now. So far I’m really impressed with the system. The hardware improvements make it a worthwhile upgrade, and being able to enjoy games with their 3D effects and fluid camera systems makes me really excited for the next season of Nintendo products.

Also, go buy a Wii U!