The Big Scoop On The New Nintendo 3DS
Last year was a great success for Nintendo. After the disastrous launch of the Wii U, the Big N finally got back to basics and made a huge fourth quarter push that brought their home console back on the scene. With the release of several first-party games, Nintendo's bread and butter, and its new Amiibo line of NFC enabled figures, Nintendo has reaffirmed its place in the console market.
It's handheld division though didn't see much in the way of innovation last quarter and Nintendo 3DS fans may be wondering what Nintendo's next move will be. Last fall Nintendo released a new version of the 3DS, the "New 3DS", in Asian and Australian markets. Unfortunately, they decided the European and North American markets had not yet reached target saturation and delayed releases to those regions until it deemed the time was right.
Well folks, the wait is over. Nintendo's tradition of hardware with confusing names will continue with the February 13 release of the New Nintendo 3DS XL.
Well what's so "New" about the New Nintendo 3DS XL?
Here's where Nintendo always loses me. They're very good at weaving a picture of creative new games featuring Mario, Link, Samus, Fox, and the gang, and how much fun you'll have with all your old friends. I absolutely love those ideas, and Miyamoto is so adorable, but after it's all over, what makes this system worth buying physically? I mean, at first appearance the thing looks almost just like a regular Nintendo 3DS XL. Why should anyone buy it over the cheaper model?
Well, although it's not a huge departure from the original hardware, the New Nintendo 3DS XL has quite a few upgrades and added features to make a person think really hard about replacing their current model.
It features an improved CPU with additional cores, which I assume is probably a quad-core version of its original ARM11 MPcore processor. It's been touted to improve download speeds and to allow for more graphical capacity.
This is probably the coolest and the most disappointing new feature. It's awesome to have even better looking and more complex games coming, but they won't be backwards compatible, which is kinda unfair for those who just got their 3DS XLs to play Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. It's unlikely that Nintendo will produce all their new 3DS games with this improved CPU in mind, but it can assured that those who don't move up to the new model will be missing out on some great games.
- The features of the Circle Pad Pro have been integrated into the console itself. The New 3DS features two additional shoulder buttons and a tiny nubbin "C-Stick" on the right side of the console. More buttons are always a good thing.
- Improved face tracking will allow for better display of Steroscopic 3D. This is a huge one for me as I found the 3DS XL's 3D lacking in comparison to the original device.
- NFC support will finally be here, with an integrated NFC chip so that all those Amiibos can make their way to the small screen.
A host of minor features have also been included:
- Micro-SD Support
- Automatic brightness
- An improved web browser
- A slight color re-design, paying homage to the Super Famicom and European Super Nintendo
HAPPY GAME TIME
There hasn't been a ton of info on which games will utilize the new features of the New Nintendo 3DS XL, but it's known that there will be two special packages in the U.S. along with the standard version. One will be Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate with the game pre-installed on the 3DS, and the other will be a Majora's Mask edition, that unlike the European version, doesn't even come with the game. The remake of Xenoblade Chronicles is the most high-profile game that utilizes the new features, and I find it incredible that a game of that scope and graphical prowess is going to be able to be played on a handheld. Code Name: STEAM is also slated to support at least the new controls, if not the added power of the new CPU.
Why no little guy?
One of the big controversies (along with the decision to exclude an AC adapter from the package, is that Nintendo has decided to release only the XL version of the new design. Nintendo has been somewhat vague on the decision, but rumor has it that it comes down to numbers, and the original 3DS XL has far outsold the original 3DS and 2DS since its release. While it would have been nice to have something more portable, the biggest disappointment of the decision not to release the New Nintendo 3DS here, is that we lose out on the cool covers that are designed to fit on it. Hopefully, Nintendo will release the same style of covers for the New 3DS XL, because Japan has a host of cute, cool ones that really add a lot of personal style to the handheld.
But, is it worth it?
I for one have gotten a ton of use out of my 3DS. In fact I love the handheld so much, that over the years I have purchased a 3DS, a 3DS XL, and finally a 2DS. However, Nintendo's vague marketing strategy for the New 3DS has left me a little skeptical. One one hand, I love Nintendo for all their timeless characters and high quality designs of both hardware and software, but on the other, it would have been nice to get more than a months heads-up. Many fans bought themselves or loved ones a 3DS this holiday season and it's kind of thoughtless to not have at least hinted that it may be a good idea to wait. I'm a sucker though, and no matter how much I'd like to think, "Oh I can wait, I have so many games to play anyway," February 13th I'll probably be first in line.
If you're thinking about taking the plunge, Nintendo's guide on how to transfer your content from one 3DS to another is super helpful!