Do We Really Need a 3DS XL?

nintendo 3ds xlFor the past few weeks there have been multiple rumors about Nintendo releasing a redesigned version of the 3DS, but as the Japanese-based company didn’t make any announcements at this year’s E3, everyone thought that a new version of the portable wasn’t going to be coming out any time soon. In the end, that assumption was totally and utterly wrong.

Nintendo recently unveiled a new model of the 3DS, the 3DS XL, and as its name indicates it’s a super-sized version of the regular portable console. This new model was announced at the latest Nintendo Direct broadcast and it has been confirmed that the handheld is coming to North America on August 19 and it’ll be available for $200. In Japan and Europe, the console is launching on July 28. Basically, the 3DS XL will have bigger screens, longer battery life and a 4GB memory card. It’s worth pointing out that for some reason, the handheld will be called 3DS XL in the West and LL in Japan which is already confusing me as I write this article.

Regarding the more technical specifications the body of the XL will be 46% bigger than the regular one and the screens will be 90% larger (the top screen is 4.88 inches and the bottom screen 4.18 inches.) In addition, the battery will last between 3.5 to 6.5 hours (as compared to 3 to 5 hours for the 3DS,) while running 3DS games. If the player decides to play regular DS titles, the battery will run between 6 to 10 hours (as compared to 5 to 8 hours for the 3DS.)

Apart from the hardware itself, new games were announced and some others were shown, including an upcoming Super Smash Bros. (a collaboration between Namco Bandai and Project Sora,) Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is coming in November, Fire Emblem: Awakening is coming in 2013, DLC for New Super Mario Bros. 2 was confirmed, Animal Crossing for the 3DS was shown, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance has a demo available on the eShop and finally, The Legend of Zelda, Kirby Pinball Land and Wario Land are coming to the Virtual Console.

nintendo 3ds xl screenshot

Now that we know what this new console is all about and now that we’ve mentioned all the major games that are coming to the 3DS a question keeps popping into my head: do we really need a 3DS XL? Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the DSi XL as I though it didn’t add anything meaningful to the experience of playing games. The console was quite uncomfortable to carry, it was expensive, it didn’t look like an improved system in any meaningful way and the idea of carrying a thing that looked like a 14-inch TV didn’t seem that appealing. Then again, people can argue that these types of revised consoles aren’t for people like me. But who are they for?

Honestly, I have no idea. The XL brand was marketed to those players who like playing with people around. But who does that? Who places their portable console on a table and is surrounded by family members watching him or her playing Pokémon? I have absolutely no idea. In Japan, where people are used to playing on the train with their friends, this practice is probably much more common. To us though, it seems unlikely and quite creepy to be honest.

Additionally, there is something in particular that has been bothering me. If Nintendo was going to make a new version of the 3DS, why not including the circle pad pro? At least that would have added something meaningful to it. Releasing a revision of a console that has absolutely no technical advancements of any kind seems really conspicuous and definitely feels like a huge missed opportunity. The inclusion of the circle pad pro would have been a great incentive to those who have a 3DS and don’t want to carry that stupid peripheral around. In the end, I don’t believe existing users will upgrade to this uglier and woefully inadequate version and those who haven’t bought a 3DS aren’t likely to get this version in particular.