The New 3DS XL Is Not What The 3DS Needed

Nintendo's unveiling of an all-new model of the Nintendo 3DS, the 3DS XL, is strange one. Let the usual excitement over new hardware die down and you're left wondering who, exactly, needs this thing?

Revisions of hardware are usually there for one of two reasons: either you're correcting a clear fault in the original or you're trying to drum up sales when the current model is flagging.

The orginal 3DS has a fault alright: it's only got one thumbstick. Nearly every 3D game released over the past decade has used two thumbsticks, because it's the best and most-employed method of controlling a character and a camera.

It's why Nintendo released the Circle Pad Pro. Because it found out soon after launch that, hey, a lot of these 3D games are going to need the extra thumbstick.

Yet here is an all-new model of the hardware, and again, it only has one thumbstick. Worse, it doesn't look like the existing Circle Pad Pro will fit, since the XL has a new casing (not to mention the fact it's bigger).

Talk about a missed opportunity.

So the other explanation for the XL must be that it's going to kickstart sales of a handheld that isn't taking off like its predecessor, the DS, did. But, um, who exactly is this targeted at?

Let's look at how Nintendo handled it's wildly-successful DS handheld. The DS was weird, but wonderful. The DS Lite was needed because the original DS' exterior design was hideous. The DSi added a camera, a marked improvement over the regular DS. The DSi XL did...well. Let's look at that.

The DSi XL was released in Japan in 2009 and everywhere else in 2010. That's 5-6 years after the launch of the original DS. The DSi XL was a "chaser", the last hurrah of an ageing system that was pitched at a few niche markets still untapped by Nintendo; namely the elderly, those who played DS games at home and those who dug the classier, more adult colour schemes it launched in.

The 3DS XL, however, launches with the original 3DS only a pinch over 12 months old. It offers no major technical or functional enhancements beyond a bigger screen and better battery life (around 6.5 hours). It's even, it can be argued, uglier than the model its replacing/complementing, looking more like a children's toy laptop than the more refined design of the standard 3DS.

In other words, just like with the price-cut the 3DS received last year, this move comes across as a little unnecessary from Nintendo. You might even say it's desperate. So pained are they to light a fire under the 3DS that they've resorted to the company's most tried and tested means of improving sales, something they've been doing since the days of the Game Boy: releasing new versions of existing hardware.

Only this time, they look to have done it without creating much of a reason for existing users to upgrade, or much of an enticement for people who haven't already purchased a 3DS to get onboard.


    My friend got a DS XL because she simply could not see the screen for the normal DS to read the text on the games she wanted to play (Professor Layton). As you might expect she has a vision disability. And I know personally she was not the only person she knows who got this handhold.

      I can definitely see the use of releasing the XL for people with vision difficulties, I think for that reason, it's a great idea. The issue is, it now means that if Nintendo do release a new updated 3DS with the second circle pad, the 3DS XL becomes obsolete. What Nintendo whould have done was release both new systems side-by-side. An updated 3DS seems even further off now. Oh well, I'm still happy enough with my little red gem.

      not to be insensitive here. . . but would the 3DS, which I know hurts my eyes after playing it in 3D mode for extended periods of time (usually about half an hour - 1 hour) be a really good thing to give a person with a vision disability?

        You're assuming that the friend actually uses the 3D mode on the 3DS.
        Perhaps she just likes the control stick, or she bought it for Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask?

          As I said, I'm not trying to be insensitive. But you cannot discount the fact that Nintendo have invested heavily in the 3D element of their handheld here (it's in the consoles name. . .) and many of their titles, especially first party ones, will utilise the feature in some fashion or another to try to ensure that it doesn't become an unused gimmick of the console.

          I can understand if she bought it for the control nub, and even more likely because she wanted to play Professor Layton, but I highly doubt that'll be the only game she will end up buying for the device. However, the 3DS is still technically in it's early days, as time goes on I assume developers will begin to make games which utilise the 3D effect in ways which doesn't make it seem like an unneccessary gimmick, which is essential for the 3DS's long term survival.

          I highly doubt Professor Layton will be the last game this lady will buy for the console, but I also assume that nintendo is going to want to let the 3D function of the 3DS die any time in the near future either and will do everything in their power to try to make the function seem worthwhile, it is more important to them for the gamers to be playing it with the 3D on than it does with the 3D off.

    I would have preferred Animal Crossing 3DS next month instead of a larger screen. SIGH Nintendo. SIGH.

      Uh, how in the world are those two things related to each other?

    It's aimed specifically at no-one. It's just a new form factor for those who might desire something larger or want a larger 2D image. They want to strum up sales because iOS/Android are eating their pie. I see vastly more kids playing with an iPod Touch or their parents' phones, hell, even more DS Lites than 3DS these days.

      Exactly and it's because nintendo is too busy focusing on a useless piece of crap like the XL.

      Instead of getting some more killer apps onto their system.

      Instead of opening up more of the back library to the 3DS.

      I still use my DS lite for 3 reasons. A) There aren't any games that I have found with long term replayability on the 3DS. B) while I can play my DS games on the 3DS, the shortened battery life defeats the point. C) While using the DS I don't need to carry my games around, instead(Like most i assume) I just use my M3 with copies of my own games. I can play any of my 40 games when I want, as opposed to whether I am carrying them with me.(Also provides the safety net that I would only be losing a DSLite which are cheap enough to replace as opposed to a 3DS with whatever value of games I have with me should that occur) actually think that by making the 3DS XL, they'll be losing focus on game development?
        Facepalm to the extreme.
        The people that developed the 3DS XL aren't the same people that develop games.
        The funds allocated to the development of the 3DS XL weren't drained from the game development funds.
        Nintendo have many teams that have different roles. The 3DS XL was from the hardware division.

    Seriously? Who is this targeted at? Try me! I have yet to get a 3DS and the larger screen has sold me! Can't freaking wait.

      im with you on that one, looking forward to playing resident evil on a bigger screen. Hope EB does a good trade in deal

        just one problem with any potential trade in deal. . . EB games will most likely require the charging cable for the 3DS be included with any trade in of the console. Which means unless you have a DSi or DSiXL (not too sure about DS lite just yet) and use their charging cables, you're going to have to buy one, which'll most likely cut deeply into any savings you may make from selling the console.

          Also to expand on this, I've just rang up 4 places regarding the trade in price for the 3DS.

          EB Games will buy a 3DS for $100 store credit, if you request cash it goes down to $80. They have a policy however that requires all trade in's of 3DS to include both the stylus and charging cable with the console, so you'll need to buy a charging cable for the 3DS XL

          JB Hifi does not buy used consoles

          Gametraders told me that prices vary depending on the condition of the console, however a mint condition 3DS will pay around about $100 - $120. However they did state that omitting the charging cable would cost about $20-30 bucks. (this was just one store, I'm assuming the answer might be different elsewhere)

          Cash Converters: apparently a complete mint condition 3DS will pay $60-70 at Cash Converters, however as with Gametraders this was just one store and the amount might vary elsewhere)

          Out of the four of them Gametraders is clearly the best option, however it should be noted that these prices I asked about tonight when I'm fairly certain most of them aren't aware of the 3DS XL's existence yet, because of this I fully expect the price of the 3DS to fall even more in the next few weeks.

          Then again you could try selling the console online, but considering the 3DS XL coming out soon I highly doubt you'll be the only one.

            Guys. Nintendo says it comes with a charger for every country except for Japan.

    This is not what I needed. Just bought a 3ds yesterday :(

      i know right!! i just bought one today!!! the battery life was the thing that annoyed me the most. ill probs have to buy one of those nyko battery/circle pad extension things... in october... or mayber pay to trade up...

        Still waiting on mine in the mail, damn toy sales...also, am I the only one who likes the new design?

    I can see the market they're going for here - the DSI XL's market - but that second thumbstick has to be addressed. I opened Kotaku just now and was excited to see "new 3DS unveiled" - one look at the screen cap though, and I was immediately disappointed.
    What, are they going to release a newer model next year in the 3DS' size, with better screens, and a second goddamn thumbstick? I'm wondering why they're bothering, at this stage, enlarging their base hardware - which has a pretty serious deficiency.

    I've said it before, I'll say it again.
    I LIKE the design of the original DS. It is NOT ugly.

    A second analogue stick would be, in my opinion, more of a pain to integrate than you think. The Circle Pad Pro uses infrared to send input. I can't imagine a seamless way that it could be integrated into a console without losing backwards compatibility with previous CPP compatible games. This would further split consumer controls into three different configurations.

    This is just an un-educated assumption, however.

    I love my DS, but was holding out for an updated hardware model after seeing the crazy thumbstick addon for the stock 3DS. I'm very disappointed about this news and won't be grabbing the updated model.

    Perhaps this "reboot" is actually a controller in disguise. The WiiU couldn't handle two of the touch screen pads at once, initially, so perhaps this new 3DSXL is going to be able to be an additional controller, similar to the GBA and Gamecube. This would explain the, seemingly, lack of dev time on any new handheld system, the lack of innovation and the omission of a charger. The larger screen could be an indicator of this. It would also explain the strange timing, if they release if after the WiiU and say you need the 3DSXL as opposed to the regular 3DS people would complain it's just a $250 controller, but since it's being released before WiiU has an announced release date (unless I missed that) it's long enough beforehand that most people will likely forget they ever owned the thing.

    Also omitting a second thumbstick may relate to it still being a 3DS, by having the thumbstick, it could alienate consumers who don't upgrade if they go to play a 3DS game released in November and need to buy a GamePad Pro to get the full experience.

    Ahh Nintendo, have to admit I like this. Wh o is this targeted at? Males in their 30s with money, people who travel and want more than 3 hours of battery life, people who want a bigger screen, fanboys that buy anything that Nintendo releases

    "The DSi XL was a “chaser”, the last hurrah of an ageing system that was pitched at a few niche markets still untapped by Nintendo"

    Maybe this 3DS XL is the last hurrah of the 3DS too, a swan song for a system that is going nowhere?

    You can all say you want a second thumbstick, but the thing is, that there is only a very small number of games that actually even support it. None of their first party games use it, so it makes sense to not include it.

    I find it quite absurd that after about 12 months on the market there is already a new model available, which i don't really expect from console manufacturers, rather it's more of a trend with mobile phone companies and Apple.
    I think it's quite possible, as Zac pointed out, this new model may have something to do with the wii u when it comes out, and by selling this now, gives people to purchase both the wii u and 3DS XL which of course would benefit Nintendo. Also it is a coincidence this was announced the same week as Microsoft announced their new Surface tablet, which may be used for the "Smart Glass" feature on the 360.

    NINTENDO you claim these are portable nearly TWICE the size WHY? indeed
    in the days where there was no dsi xl now 3ds xl you could actually fit the dam thing s in your POCKET
    can NOT actually call them PORTABLE anymore you have to carry it or take a bag now
    the point is its SMALL because is PORTABLE there is really no point in making it bigger even if you do have vision disabilities them you shouldn't use the 3d anyway !!!!!! NINTENDO STOP MAKING POINTLESS COPIES OF GOOD GAMES CONSOLES NEXT WILL BE 3DS I
    original DS (fat)
    DS XL
    what more do i have to say ???

    I bought a red original 3ds while the xl was out because i like the smaller screens. i like the fact. that its smaller. and its prettier. and the screens are sharper and more vivid

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