Nintendo’s ‘New 3DS’ and What it Means for the Handheld
THERE’S A NEW 3DS CALLED THE NEW 3DS AND IT’S NEW.
In a Japan-only Nintendo Direct video yesterday, The Big N showed off a few normal things: a new Smash Bros. character (Shulk), a few JRPGs, including a new Final Fantasy spin-off, and a new One Piece game. They then revealed a new model of their 3DS handheld, which is nothing new considering they refresh the line every so often with new features or bundles with upcoming games. But this is where it gets interesting. Nintendo’s New 3DS is not just a simple new color or bundle: it’s a complete update of the system, inside and out.
The new model, ironically called the “New Nintendo 3DS,” will add in many features that change the system in a big way. Whereas the titular 3D effect once required you to hold the system at a certain angle to see it, the New 3DS is equipped with a front-facing camera that adjusts the image according to how far your face is from the screen, thus making the 3D effect work from any angle. The system’s gotten an upgrade under the hood as well, with an upgraded CPU that will allow for faster downloads and bigger, more detailed games (the formerly Wii-exclusive Xenoblade Chronicles was given as an example.) To top it off, Nintendo revealed that it would also have a feature fans have been requesting since the 3DS came out: a second analog stick. The new “C-stick” will function just as its predecessor on the GameCube controller did, with the player being able to flick it in any direction to control gameplay. And if all that wasn’t enough, the New 3DS has built-in NFC support (likely to accommodate the upcoming Amiibo figurines), and the top and bottom of the system are now removable, swappable plates that will come in a variety of colors and designs.
Finally, the New 3DS will come in two sizes: Normal and XL. The normal one is roughly the size of the regular 3DS, albeit with a slightly larger screen. The XL model will sport larger screens than even the current 3DS XL (good luck fitting it into your pocket now). Nintendo also revealed that a remake of Xenoblade Chronicles is in the works for the system, but due to its use of the increased processing power it wouldn’t work on older 3DS models. The reveal ended with the surprising revelation that would release very soon in Japan, October to be exact, just in time for the new Smash Bros. which will have it’s own bundle.
But what does this all mean for the 3DS line? Overall, it should be a good thing. For one, Nintendo seems to be doubling down on their strategy of targeting hardcore players rather than casual ones. (I mean, who else would care about a second control stick and better hardware specs?) It’s a wise move, as these are the people who are driving console sales in the age of the smartphone and will go a long way in convincing holdouts to the new system. Not to mention the fact that the upgraded 3D and C-stick will eliminate the need for current 3DS owners to strain their eyes to see the 3D and use the bulky Circle Pad Pro if they need a second analog stick. However, Nintendo should handle the marketing for this delicately, because this “New 3DS” entering the line alongside the 3DS, 3DS XL, and 2DS means the potential for consumer confusion is at an all-time high. Now not only do the systems differ in size, there will also be games that can only be played on specific models. Unless Nintendo is clear about the differences between each model, it’ll become a lot for the average person to keep track of. (And the mere fact that it’s simply called the “New 3DS” isn’t exactly the clearest way to brand a new console).
That said, the New 3DS brings some great improvements to Nintendo’s handheld, with the new controls and increased power allowing the potential for even more great games on a system that already has a pretty stellar library. (Although, I do hope Nintendo itself has more up its sleeve than remasters of games from older consoles). Of course, despite the fact that fans in Nintendo’s home country will get their own in a few short months, North American players will have to wait until Winter 2015, which should hopefully be plenty of time to see new games for this hardware and truly see how far it can push Nintendo’s flagship portable.
What are you guys’ thoughts on yet another model? A necessary move on The Big N’s part, or is it overkill at this point? Let us know in the comments below.
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