Nintendo Announces 3DS XL: Will It Save The Ailing Handheld?

Nintendo took the gaming world by surprise this weekend by announcing a larger replacement for 3DS, called the 3DS XL.

It’s surprising as Nintendo didn’t mention anything about it at their recent E3 presser – although it’s probably a shrewd move by Nintendo who clearly would have struggled to announce a new handheld as well as outlining their plans for their next console, the Wii U.

The move for many isn’t that much of a surprise as it appears to be following the old DSi roadmap which saw quite a few variations of the popular handheld over the course of its life cycle.

What is surprising is the real lack of innovation and change in design – apart from a bigger set of screens nothing else has really changed.

What’s New?

Both screens have been given a significant upgrade, the top screen is now 4.88 inches and the bottom screen now measure 4.18 inches (that’s 1.35 and 1.16 inches larger respectively), along with what looks like a more tactile trio of buttons below the lower screen.

The new XL will come in three different colours  blue, red and silver. It will go on sale August 19 in the US, and rather oddly will be available earlier in the UK as it is expected to go on sale July 28 in Europe.

To try and woo potential up-graders there will be a new Super Mario Bros. 2 which is carrying the same release date, and there’s also likely to be a new bundle that packs both items together.

The Elephant In The Room

Of course, the elephant in the room is the lack of a right analog stick, Nintendo came into massive criticism when they release an add-on 3D stick, much to the distaste of core Ninty fans. Well, it’s not been added again, which surely means it’s likely to come in the form of a rather ugly battery-powered plastic attachment.

Aside from this glaring omission, the 3DS XL’s outer casing looks to have more of a rounded-edge aesthetic that spreads across the entire console, including its hinge.

It’s hard not to feel like it’s a massive oversight by Nintendo – especially if you’re going to release a bigger version, surely they could have made room for another 3D stick. Unfortunately many of the criticisms levelled at the old 3DS haven’t really been addressed; for instance, the battery has only been slightly improved, averaging 3.5 to 6.5 hours, which is up from 3 to 5 hours.

It’s clear that’s the 3DS XL is a fairly straightforward upgrade to the original 3DS hardware, sure, it’s hardly revolutionary – but in many respects bigger is always better in the world of tech.

Other details revealed include the fact that there will be no AC adapter in either the European and Japanese release. The housing for the Stylus pen has been moved to side instead of the back, it’s no longer a “telescoping” model.

There will be a new System Transfer utility to bring all of your games, save data, StreetPass Mii Plaza puzzle pieces and more straight to  the new system. The XL will now come with a 4GB SD card instead of the 3DS’s standard 2GB card.

The new 3DS XL’s 1:1 pixel mapping mode should make original DS, DSi and 3DS Virtual Console titles look crisper and clearer when compared to the older system.

How Much Will It Cost?

ShopTo and have both gone for £179.99, though had cited an RRP of £199.99. Zavvi, meanwhile, is selling the device at about £210, expecting the RRP to come in at £249.99.

Supermarkets are not yet responding to the new console. A spokesperson for Tesco told CVG that it is “too early” to list the handheld.

North America retailers, which will begin selling the new handheld from August 19th, have been set a $199.99 RRP. The 3DS XL will sell in Japan for about 18,900 ($235). On current exchange rates, £179.99 is about $280.

Clearly Nintendo is looking to cement it’s position in the market, and stave off any perceived competition from Sony and their new handheld PS Vita.


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