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The new Nintendo 3DS XL handles like a dream

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The New Nintendo 3DS XL is launching in about a month, on Feb. 13. At a recent preview event for the new hardware, I was able to get hands-on time with the unit, while playing new builds of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D and Code Name: STEAM.

The most obvious thing about the new unit is its size — it's just a bit bigger than the existing XL unit, and a bit thinner. It has a decent heft to it, so if you're used to the "regular" 3DS, you may be in for a slight surprise. The top screen appears sharper than the existing XL's, however, and the sleek black case is a huge improvement over the cheaper-looking plastic used in the older XL models.

There are new triggers on the back of the unit — ZL and ZR triggers, but the new button that got the biggest workout in my play session was the brand new "c-stick," located just to the top left of the typical face buttons.

In Code Name: STEAM, I was able to use the c-stick to manipulate the camera freely at any time. This was especially useful on battlefields with a vertical element, where the Lion character could utilize the space better. It simply felt good to have full camera control, and helped me to locate enemies faster and more smoothly than I was able to do on an older XL unit, as I had at a previous preview event with STEAM.

I was also able to check out Code Name: STEAM's amiibo support for Marth and Ike. It works just like the Wii U amiibo functionality: You tap the figure to the bottom screen, and voilà, they appear in-game.

Everything about the New 3DS XL feels like a slight improvement over the existing model — except, of course, the much-ballyhooed lack of an AC adapter in the box. As a piece of hardware, however, it may just be the ideal way to take in Code Name: STEAM and Majora's Mask 3D.

The New 3DS XL will launch Feb. 13 alongside Majora's Mask 3D, while Code Name: STEAM will arrive March 13.