Bigger Nintendo 3DS Hits Shelves Next Month: Should You Care?
Nintendo is releasing a larger 3DS XL model August 19, but does bigger really make it better?
Nintendo’s 3DS had problems right out of the gate. Faced with sales that were below those hoped for, a one-third price drop was instituted merely a few months after its launch; to placate those who’d paid full price during the initial month of sales, they created an Ambassador’s Program that gave away free games.
Now, roughly a year after the price drop, Nintendo has decided to do what they’ve tended to do with their handhelds several times over—re-release their inaugural 3D system in a larger package called the 3DS XL.
The big selling point is the much larger screen sizes. Both the top and bottom screens now cover about 90% more real estate (they’re now 4.88” and 4.18” diagonals, respectively).
The battery life has been extended a bit. The original system is typically good for 3–5 hours of 3DS gameplay; the XL will be able to give 3.5–6.5 hours (6–10 for playing older DS games). The XL will also include a 4GB memory stick, doubling the size of the original model’s offering.
There will be, of course, a bit more money needing to be outlaid for all this. The $200 for the XL version is a $30 premium over the $170 currently being charged for the regular 3DS.
So how much does all this matter? If you want a 3DS, but hadn’t gotten around to purchasing it yet, it’s probably a no-brainer to shell out the extra $30 for the upgraded system.
But if you’ve already got a 3DS, is this really worth spending $200 on top of the $170 or $250 you already spent?
If you’re heavily into viewing video media on your system, such as using Netflix, the bigger screen may be a justification to upgrade, especially if you can do a trade-in or sell it on eBay.
But otherwise, is it really something you need? And was it really the right thing for Nintendo to do to goose sales?
Many gamers are fuming that it doesn’t incorporate a second thumb stick/circle pad. You can currently get one as a Circle Pad Pro attachment, but it seems as though if you have one already, it won’t fit the XL. As gbrading on GameSpot put it, “They make it than [sic] much bigger and they *still* don't put on a second analogue stick?!?”
However, other people feel it was best for Nintendo to keep the controls the same, as adding a new dedicated control could put programmers on the hook to account for both flavors of system when creating games. (I happen to agree with this logic.)
Others say that without a more robust lineup of games and third-party support, a bigger screen doesn’t really matter. If you want to watch TV, but there’s nothing good on, having a 27” screen instead of a 21” screen really isn’t going to make a difference.
I think Nintendo may be hoping one of the simplest reasons of all gets people to trade up: good old fashioned peer pressure. If I buy a shiny new 3DS XL, but my friend ‘only’ has the original 3DS, he may feel like he wants to keep up with me… even if he’d otherwise have no inclination to get this newer, better system.
So if you’re looking at the 3DS as a potential first time purchase of a 3D handheld system, you should probably go ahead and get the 3DS XL; if you’re just looking to enjoy the games you have on an existing 3DS unit, you can probably let it slide right by you and save the money. Besides, there’ll probably be yet another iteration of the 3DS sometime in 2013.
Jeff is currently playing Dragon Quest IX: Sentinel of the Starry Skies; follow him on Twitter at JKLugar.