Check out our full review of the Nintendo 3DS XL.
Less than a year and a half after the Nintendo 3DS hit shelves in the US with a wet thud, Nintendo is releasing a brand new model, the Nintendo 3DS XL. It’s bigger, much bigger, and has better battery life, but this device may not be the handheld Nintendo needs on shelves this fall.
Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said at E3 2012 that his company didn’t have time to discuss the Nintendo 3DS during its press conference. There was too much Wii U information to cover, so the 3DS would wait for another event later in the week. That event arrived and Nintendo didn’t bother to announce a single new product or accessory for the 3DS beyond some new video content. It was arguably the most boring presentation made by the company in years. E3 is the biggest spotlight on new video games and devices in the western world, so it’s doubly peculiar that Nintendo waited until a Nintendo Direct presentation on Friday to announce it’s brand new version of the Nintendo 3DS.
Unlike the Nintendo DS Lite, which released just over a year and a half after the original DS, the 3DS XL does not make necessary improvements to the look and ergonomics of the 3DS. The Lite made the DS more compact but dramatically improved its screens and comfort. The 3DS XL increases the size of the 3DS’ screens by 90 percent, with a 4.88-inch top screen and a 4.18-inch bottom screen. The battery life has been slightly improved, providing half an hour more play-time of a 3DS-specific game than the original model. These are the only improvements though. The screens are bigger but the resolution is not improved. The 3DS XL also fails to add the most necessary hardware improvements like a second analog slide pad for improved control of the three-dimensional games.
The 3DS XL will release in the US on Aug. 19 and cost $200. It comes in two colors, a version with a red front and black rear as well as a bright blue/black combination. It also comes a 4GB SD card, unlike the 2GB SD card included with the original DS.
The increase in size will certainly make the 3DS a more usable machine for some. With the clamshell unfolded, the device is close to as big as Apple’s iPad. As the old saying goes though, bigger does not equal better. Nintendo continues to release games like the upcoming Kingdom Hearts: Dream, Drop, Distance that use the Circle Pad Pro peripheral, a Nintendo-made add-on that provides a second analog pad for the 3DS. This add-on has repeatedly sold out at GameStop and through Nintendo’s own online retail outlet since it released in February, proving that there’s a clear demand for a second analog pad on the 3DS hardware. That the most significant hardware fault of the 3DS isn’t addressed by this new model makes it a baffling release for the company.