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The buzz around Nintendo’s Wii U has been rather lackluster. Much like the Wii, people seem confused by the new controller that is looking to revolutionize gaming, as we know it. In an effort to add to consumer confusion, Nintendo is rolling out a new handheld system called the 3DS XL.
What is the 3DS XL? Quite simply, it is a bigger version of the 3DS with marginally improved battery life. The 3DS, which is still fairly new to the market at a year and a half old, started with relatively poor sales, and quite possibly was a large contributor to Nintendo posting their first loss in years.
Why Make the 3DS XL?
So why release a larger version so close to the launch of a major home console and only a year and a half after their first iteration hit the market? After all, sales have picked up on the original 3DS once Nintendo lowered the price. In fact, sales rebounded so strongly that the 3DS is actually outpacing the ultra successful Nintendo DS. In the first year, the original DS sold 2.3 million units in the United States. Even with a slow start, the smaller version of the 3DS has already sold a staggering 4.5 million.
Presumably, Nintendo is trying to appeal to the casual market, much like the 3DSi XL. The issue is that Nintendo is trying to make a bigger screen for a market of gamers who are lacking in terms of eyesight. Is looking at a stereoscopic 3D display really the best choice for someone with eye issues?
All of that said, who is the 3DS for? Does the average portable gamer want to carry around an extra large device? Do the elderly want to look at a 3D screen? It’s a cool device, and larger screens can be a good thing for certain types of hardware, but I find myself having a hard time figuring out exactly whom Nintendo is targeting with this piece of hardware.
What Would Make Me Want One?
Nintendo recently launched a peripheral with a second joystick called the Circle Pad Pro. If Nintendo wanted to make the 3DS XL a device worth owning, including that in the hardware seems like a no brainer. However, Nintendo decided not to include a second stick, so the console is literally just a larger version of the previous iteration with slightly better battery life. I would be at my local video game retailer on launch day if it had a second stick.
The 3DS XL launches on July 28th in Europe, August 19th in North America and August 23rd in Australia and New Zealand. Oddly, the system will not include an AC power adaptor. Nintendo claims this is in an effort to keep the price down. However, if the target demographic is the elderly, forcing them to charge the device through USB seems like it could be confusing and a possible oversight by the powers-that-be at Nintendo. I know I prefer to charge my electronics with a wall outlet, and leaving this out of the box will certainly annoy me.
How Much Is It?
Nintendo certainly smartened up in terms of pricing, launching this console at $200. That’s $50 less than the 3DS’s launch price, and only $30 more than the current price of the regular 3DS. It’s certainly not a bad value for 4.88 inches of screen and better battery life (the original 3DS has a 3.02 inch screen).
Should You Get One?
The original 3DS is a fantastic device, and if you do not already own one, and want a bigger screen, this might be worth grabbing. Just remember that you will be sacrificing a great deal of portability in order to gain these bigger screens. Personally, I prefer to have a smaller device that is easy to carry around.
I doubted Nintendo when they launched the Wii and I doubted them when they launched the 3DS. They have proven me wrong time and time again. Their track record of success is impeccable in recent years. It seems as if they have the Midas touch; making it hard to question any move they make.
What do you think of the 3DS XL? A smart move or one doomed to failure? Will you be buying an XL?