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On August 29th, Nintendo announced that it would be bringing a new 3DS console to Japan this October. More than just the size and style redesign of the 3DS XL, the New 3DS (and larger New 3DS LL model) is a half step toward being a new generation of handheld, with a faster CPU, more buttons, and even an exclusive game already announced. Learn more about the features of this new system, and appreciate all of the new possibilities it opens up for gaming on the go.
The Next Generation Of 3DS
Though we don’t have a release date for western markets yet, it’s not too early to look over the New 3DS feature set announced in the Japanese Nintendo Direct stream. Here’s what we know about the new console so far:
- More Buttons – The system has secondary shoulder buttons – the ZL and ZR buttons – slightly further in from the existing L and R buttons.
- Right Analog Nub – At long last, this iteration of the 3DS will have a right analog input standard. A nub that looks similar the pointing stick input you may have seen on laptop keyboards sits just above the four face buttons.
- Wider Angle 3D Viewing – While 3D viewing is turned on, the system will use the player-facing camera to track your head, and adjust the image so that it doesn’t blur and distort. The games with the best 3D implementation will look even better!
- Near Field Communication – NFC capability will allow the system to interface with compatible devices and chips, including Nintendo’s upcoming Amiibo figurines. The best example of this feature in video games so far has been the Skylanders series, with its statues that become playable characters when in contact with the game’s Portal of Power accessory.
- Better Specs – The New 3DS has a faster CPU and boasts faster download speeds than any of its predecessors.
- HTML5 Video Support – While your 3DS is unlikely to be your favored web browsing device, HTML5 support makes the New 3DS more capable in that regard should the need arise.
- Removable Faceplates – Nintendo will be offering a wide variety of options to customize your system, from classy wood and slate colors, to soft pastel fashion patterns, to vibrant images of gaming mascots.
It’s exciting to imagine all of the optional features this new hardware could enable in future 3DS games, but these new additions aren’t just for enhancing games that run on the existing hardware. Like exploration heavy RPGs? Nintendo also announced that the portable version of the popular Wii RPG Xenoblade Chronicles will only be playable on the New 3DS hardware.
What Could The Future Hold?
By continuing to use the 3DS name, Nintendo is projecting that this new system isn’t a dramatic leap over the previous models. The little features add up though, and there are lots of new experiences this hardware upgrade could enable.
Proper Dual Analog Control
When the first generation of 3DS launched, the lack of a right analog input seemed like a terrible oversight on Nintendo’s part. Players have gotten used to controlling all kinds of first and third person games with dual analog input, with one stick controlling movement and strafing, and the other controlling looking and turning. Kid Icarus: Uprising got by on the 3DS with its stylus swipe look controls, but it was a clumsy work around at best. Now that we’re looking forward to a 3DS with dual analog inputs included, it isn’t hard to imagine great first-person shooters on the horizon. Maybe not the gritty modern military shooters like Call of Duty, but more playful titles, like EA’s Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, would be a perfect fit.
Innovation On The Skylanders Experience
The Skylanders fad may have cooled somewhat, but that doesn’t mean that the appeal of physical figures and trinkets that influence your games is dead. The New 3DS won’t need accessories to interact with the Amiibo figurines, but what if Nintendo takes the idea even further? What if your Pikachu figure could bring some exclusive attacks from Super Smash Bros. to your next Pokémon battle? Games are just starting to explore the possibilities that NFC figures and accessories enable. By providing this feature on both their home and handheld platforms, Nintendo is in a position to innovate.
Portability Of Console Gameplay
Four face buttons, four shoulder buttons, a directional pad, and two analog sticks. It’s kind of amazing how little video game controllers have changed since 1997. That was the year Sony released the DualShock controller for the PlayStation. The New 3DS may not have buttons hidden beneath the analog sticks like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4’s controllers do, but along with the added flexibility of its touchscreen, it’s closer than ever before to having parity with the control standards of major consoles. Even closer than the PlayStation Vita!
Why is this so important? Developers have had over 15 years of experience designing games around this controller paradigm, and they’ll continue to design for it thanks to Sony and Microsoft’s decisions to stick with what we all know. This means lots of game design work done for the two most popular next generation consoles will be portable to the New 3DS. Complex action games like Rocksteady’s Batman series could go portable, and fighting games won’t need to map as many critical functions to combined button presses.
Nintendo is making a bold proposal by offering some games exclusive to this incremental hardware upgrade. Just like Apple has taught iOS users that some new apps just won’t work on older versions of their hardware, Nintendo is asking you to accept a continuum of 3DS hardware models. This could mean you’ll see hardware iteration more often, with the understanding that older models, while still supported and viable, just won’t play some small fraction of future games.
Would you buy a new 3DS every two to three years to take advantage of constantly improving technology? Do you think this new 3DS has arrived too soon? Make your case in the comments.
Image Credits: gtknj Via Flickr