Earlier last week, legendary Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto all but told gamers not to expect a major revision of the company’s 3DS system. This was a surprise change of pace for a company known for their handheld revisions. In recent years they’ve consistently replaced the first version of their handhelds with a superior model. The original clunky Game Boy Advance was caste aside in favor of the sleek Game boy Advance SP and the DS Lite took the place of its long forgotten predecessor. After such a long pattern of portable reworks, many jaded consumers assumed the same would be so for the 3DS. Many postponed their purchase, hoping to hop on the train when the new version inevitably hit the market.
Such predictions have proven partially correct, at least. Today Nintendo revealed a new version of the 3DS. The 3DS XL. Like the DSi XL before it, the main draw of the 3DS XL is its larger screens. These are almost twice as large as the originals screens. Design-wise, the system isn’t just a rescaled 3DS, but offers a softer aesthetic, with rounded corners and what appears to be a less glossy surface. Along with its upscale in size, the 3DS XL will also offer a longer battery life and increased memory card size. The new handheld is scheduled to be released on August 19 for North Americans. Europeans and Japanese gamers will be able to purchase it on July 28.
The most notable aspect of the 3DS XL however, is its lack of a second circle pad. Ever since Nintendo announced the Circle Pad Plus add-on, people have assumed that an additional circle pad would be a part of any 3DS redesign. It is odd that the 3DS XL lacks what many see as an essential upgrade. For now the original 3DS is ahead of the 3DS XL in this department, because I doubt the second circle pad peripheral add-on for the 3DS will be compatible with the 3DS XL.
While the 3DS XL certainly improves upon the 3DS, I don’t see any reason to trade in for this model. A larger screen doesn’t necessarily mean the games will look better. They might even look worse if the visuals are stretched to fit the larger screen. Longer battery life, while always a plus, definitely isn’t a dealmaker. Seemingly, Nintendo isn’t interested in making major changes to its 3DS platform for now. Overall the 3DS XL feels like an incremental upgrade. It doesn’t bring anything fundamentally new to the table and seems more like a rushed decision on Nintendo’s part.