Nintendo gave the 3DS a whole hour-long presentation during E3 in the first week of June, but apparently they were holding back the most exciting news for their Nintendo Direct press conference last Friday.
Nintendo played it safe during E3 week with the Nintendo 3DS announcements. In fact they didn’t make any new announcements at all, rather, focusing on games that had already been announced before E3 and confirming some release dates. What the press and public did not know was that some of the biggest 3DS announcements were being held back for last week.
Maybe Nintendo though announcing a new 3DS in the same week as their Wii U blow-out would have taken wind out of the new console’s sails, but there is a new 3DS coming, it will be available in North America on August 19, for $199.99.
Here is a break down on what is included with the new portable. First, the most obvious change, the 3DS XL features a shocking 90% increases in both of the screens size. While the original 3DS featured a 3.53 inch stereoscopic 3D top screen with a slightly smaller 3.02 inch lower touch screen, the XL model features a 4.88 inch 3D screen, rivaling the PS Vita’s own 5 inch OLED touch display. Unfortunately, like the DSi XL before it, the 3DS XL has the same number of pixels in the new larger display, so do not expect a higher resolution image compared to the current 3DS model.
Thankfully, the 3DS XL has a more powerful battery, so even with the larger screens, it still manages to give a marginal boost in battery performance. While playing 3DS games, Nintendo promises the XL model will last 3.5-6.5 hours, outclassing the original 3DS battery life of 3-5 hours.
Aside from the technical improvements, the 3DS XL will have a few aesthetic changes as well. The most obvious will be that the interior of the new hardware will be outfitted with a matte finish rather than the current model’s fingerprint magnet gloss. The stylus has also been moved to the more accessible right side of the system, rather than the top. As for the stylus itself, the metal telescopic stylus is being replaced by a longer, solid plastic stylus, more akin to the DSi stylus. And the strange touch panel start, select and home buttons are being redesigned as more traditional buttons.
But ignoring, for a moment, what is in the package, maybe the most surprising aspect of the 3DS XL is actually what is not included on the hardware. When Nintendo released the Circle Pad Pro last February, a peripheral that added a second analog pad and an extra set of triggers, it was expected that this was preparations for a hardware revision with these inputs built-in. Maybe the most shocking design choice is the fact that these additions have been ignored. The 3DS XL still features only a left circle pad and one set of shoulder buttons. What this means for the 3DS XL is that it will not be a necessary upgrade for current 3DS owners, which was likely Nintendo’s intention. Rather it will be just another option, on top of the current 3DS colours.