Friday, June 22, 2012

So, who's on board the 3DS XL/LL train?

During its trio of "Nintendo Direct" broadcasts last night (one of which was aimed at Europeans, one of which was aimed at the Japanese and one of which was aimed at North Americans), the "house that Mario built"--aka Kyoto-based Nintendo Co., Ltd.--announced that it will be releasing a new, larger 3DS system alongside the much-anticipated (by me, at least) New Super Mario Bros. 2.

More specifically, that means Japanese and European gamers can expect to see a shiny new--and surprisingly large (more on that in a second)--3DS sitting on the shelves of their favorite electronics or convenience stores starting on July 28, while their North American counterparts can expect to see the same sight starting on Aug. 19.

The "3DS LL," as the system will be known in Japan (it'll be called the "3DS XL" elsewhere), features a 4.88-inch top screen and a 4.18-inch bottom screen--that's a 90-percent increase, for all of you size queens--and improved battery life (the battery reported will last for 3.5 to 6.5 hours while playing 3DS games and 6 to 10 hours while playing DS titles). Also, it will come with a 4 GB SD card and will sport a price tag of $199 in North America and ¥18,000 (approximately $223) in Japan.

As for my thoughts on this particular revelation: Actually, I think it's pretty cool. I definitely like the idea of being able to play current and future 3DS games on a larger pair of screens, for instance, and I also like that Nintendo has decided (finally!) to stop surrounding the system's upper screen with a sea of black.

Along that same, aesthetic line: I quite like the looks of the all-white model (above) that will be sold in Japan. However, I abhor the ugly, two-tone models that will be sold in my neck of the woods. I also hate Nintendo of America's obsession with the colors red and blue. (Please don't tell me it has anything to do with the American flag.)

Will I be buying a 3DS XL (or LL) anytime soon? Probably not. Although I'm not the biggest fan of the current 3DS design, I don't dislike it so much that I want to throw away $199 or more on this upgraded model. Now, should the powers that be at Nintendo of Japan decide to release an all-pink version at some point in the next year or so, I'll seriously reconsider that position (as I'm sick of not being able to buy and play Japanese digital and retail games on my North American 3DS).


2D2Will said...

I just want to know why the redesign doesn't have a second circle pad built in. Also, I have no desire to get the redesign. Don't need it.

Kimimi said...

I'm disappointed they didn't add the second circle pad, but overall I do like the redesign, especially the white one.

Terry said...

I'll buy one. I like that larger screen (only slightly smaller than the Vita's) and it should still easily fit in the pocket of my cargo pants.

The redesign of the Select/Home/Start buttons is also a big deal for me. I HATE the current ones.

First order of business will be transferring my Ambassador content over. "Metroid Fusion" will be lovely.

Viewtiful_Justin said...

We've already talked about this one, Bryan...but for the sake of stirring debate, I can't get on board with this one. I hate the new rounded design more than I love the extended battery life. I just think the timing of this is really wonky, too. Maybe I'm off-base, but I don't see the need for it. Maybe in a year or two, I'd feel differently, like maybe it was something more than just a cash snatch from Nintendo. I can just see them sitting in crates right next to the regular 3DS systems on the original launch date, waiting to be released a year later...

Nintendo needs to stop taking lessons from Wario, methinks.

Bryan Ochalla said...

2D2Will: The reason the redesign doesn't include a second circle pad is pretty simple, IMO -- Nintendo isn't interested in segmenting its user base. After all, putting a second circle pad on the 3DS XL would mean that many games made from the release of the XL forward would include control options/modes that wouldn't be accessible by those with regular ol' 3DSes, and that's a big no-no.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Kimimi: I have a feeling a LOT of people are going to say they're disappointed by the lack of a second circle pad. I can understand it, I guess, although I'd be lying if I said I desired one myself. Of course, I don't play many games these days on other systems that make use of two sticks, so maybe that's the reason :P

Anyway, I'm glad to hear you like the overall design, too. I really hope they get over this two-tone, thing, though. I mean, why can't the silver XLs/LLs have a silver interior, rather than a black one? I know I'm being anal about such things, but I can't help myself...

Bryan Ochalla said...

Terry: Ah, I forgot to mention the redesigned Select/Home/Start buttons! I, too, hate the current ones. Blech!

Anyway, I agree with you about the screens. Who wouldn't want to play games like Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 on bigger screens?

Actually, I'm going to want one even more after the trifecta that is Animal Crossing, Luigi's Mansion and Paper Mario come out...

Bryan Ochalla said...

Justin: Hey, I'm OK with you stirring debate. Stir away! That said, I don't completely understand being upset by this. If you don't want one, why do you care if it's released next month or next year? Also, I don't think they're pulling regular 3DSes off the shelves in favor of these, so it's not like Nintendo is limiting consumer choice.

As for this being a "cash grab": Well, maybe I'm just more cynical than you are, but this is the kind of thing I expect from any company that exists in 2012. Nintendo is a company and as such wants to make as much money as possible, and this is how they think they can do it.

The key here, for me, is that I don't have to go along with it if I don't want to. I'm not being forced to buy this new piece of hardware, just like I'm not going to be forced to buy the Wii U or the PS Vita or the next iPhone.

Like I said in the post, I may get one of these eventually -- if they release the color I want, for instance, or if I just can't stand not having access to those bigger screens. Until then, though, I'll be quite content with my red, "regular" 3DS.

Adam said...

I just hope it doesn't make games look a little blurry like the DS XL

Bryan Ochalla said...

Really? I've heard great things about the DSi XL's screen, Adam. You haven't had such a great experience with it yourself?

Frank F said...

I would love a bigger screen to play 3DS games on but I'm also playing a lot of DS games and they already look terrible. So I can't imagine how bad they are going to look on the 3DS XL. Although I am tempted to buy it and play only 3DS games and give the hubby my current 3DS. He won't play it much so I could always fall back on it for my DS games. We'll see. I'm gonna think about this one for a whole.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Frank: You know what's kind of crazy? I've never played a regular DS game on my 3DS. I just can't bring myself to do it. I hate the idea of the top screen being "letterboxed," in a way. So, I just play DS games on my DS and 3DS games on my 3DS :)

Anyway, since you're not weird like me, I understand being of two minds when it comes to the 3DS XL -- especially in terms of how DS games may look when played on it. It sounds like you have a potential solution to the problem, though.

As for thinking about all of this for a while: Good idea! I'm going to do the same. I'm going to take a GOOD while to think about it, actually, as I already know I won't be getting an XL this year. Next year, though? Who knows. Really depends on the colors that are released...

Frank F said...

Bryan: Man you are crazy. Nah I kid. I can actually totally understand that. In fact I contemplated getting a DS just to play DS games. But I don't want to be carrying around both a DS and 3DS everywhere. The letterboxing is hideous and annoying but I'm willing to tolerate it.

Yeah I don't know if I'll be getting one this year either. I've got an expensive phone upgrade coming up and then there's the Wii U. So I definitely won't have the money to buy an XL this year even if I wanted one. Which is fine because it forces me to think about this for at least a good 6 months. What color would tip you over the edge to get you to buy one next year? I will buy any new 3DS if it's in white. It kind of bugs me that my current 3DS isn't white because it doesn't match the rest of my mobile devices. Oh see, I'm a bit crazy in a whole different way!

There's also something about the design of the XL that bothers me. The glossy back is gone, they're using cheaper plastic and it kind of looks more like a toy than a sexy gaming device. I'm sure that's perfectly alright for a number of people but to me it feels like a step backward. I would have loved to see them use the same color glossy plastic all over the device and less rectangle-shaped 'home', 'select', and 'start' buttons. That home button should be big and round with the smaller start and select buttons to either side. The XL should look like it's related to the Wii U.

diaglyph said...

I came across this image:

You can really see the difference.

My first reaction when I saw it: Ugh! How ugly! LOL
But I'm starting to soften hehe
First off - it doesn't bother me that it doesn't have the 2nd circle pad. The games that use it now - they don't interest me, so makes no difference for me.
The screen is 4.88" (Vita is 5"). And I would assume the screen would still be "native" resolution for 3DS games so it shouldn't suffer stretching artifacts etc (only DS games would suffer that).

With regards to colours, its good they are offering 3 (PAL regions get Silver). I actually don't mind the duo tone. When DSi first came out, I got the Red/Black DSi and loved it. And I'm glad its no longer glossy. I might go with the Red option again. Should note that the 3DS transfer system will do a 100% transfer! So everything will move across!

I was also wondering, what about the camera? Is still the crappy 0.3MP or whatever it is? I was hoping they'd make it at least 1MP.

Now imagine how games will look!! You'll have a screen that is almost the size of Vita's: Luigi's Mansion, Paper Mario, Heroes of Ruin, Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing, Theatrythm, Kingdom Hearts -- these games are going to look glorious on such a large screen!

Also if there is connectivity with Wii U, that will work nicely too!

Back to my reaction: I am a little annoyed. I would've expected something like this to come out next year, say around the 2nd year anniversary of 3DS. I thought Nintendo would've wanted to focus on Wii U this year. So I think it is a little odd that they've done this.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Frank: Sitting on this decision seems like a good idea to me. I'm in the same boat as you, BTW -- I'm hoping/planning to buy a Wii U later this year and a number of 3DS games, too, so there's definitely no money in my gaming budget to buy a 3DS XL. So, that'll have to wait until next year (if I get one at all).

As for there being a color that would push me over the edge: Yep. Pink! And it would have to be all-over pink, not a pink exterior with a black interior. Ew.

I really like the idea of all-white and all-black ones, too, though. In fact, I think Nintendo is kind of insane to not launch with those two color variations -- all-white and all-black -- in all regions and THEN go to the weird colors.

There's no way in hell I'd go for either of the colors being offered at launch in the States, by the way. Ugh.

One more thing: I agree with you that the 3DS XL looks "cheaper" than the current 3DS. I personally don't think that has to do with the lack of the shiny upper screen, though; I think it has more to do with the overly rounded edges and the rounded outer shell of the XL. The interior of the 3DS XL looks fine to me, even nice.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Igor: In retrospect, I can understand why you and Justin and others have been saying that this should have been held until next year. Really, the WiiU *should* be Nintendo's focus and priority for the rest of this year. Maybe this is them hedging their bets? Or maybe they're fairly sure that adults/parents will be buying WiiUs while their kids will be buying 3DSes? I don't know ... just a guess.

As for the camera on the 3DS XL: I'm guessing it's the same as the one on the regular 3DS, especially since Nintendo didn't mention it. Who knows, though, right?

BTW, the larger screens (top one, especially) are the main selling point of the XL for me. Like you said, just imagine how great Luigi's Mansion and Paper Mario, etc., will look on it! Ack!!

DavidR said...

It's either insane or stupid, especially considering I bought a DSi XL last year - and have a 3DS already - but I'm more likely to buy a 3DS XL on release than I am a Wii U. I didn't think Nintendo would release one so quickly, I'm not sold on it aesthetically, I don't like the NOA colors, I'm not rich. . . but I love stereoscopy and having the XL would be a great excuse for finally finishing Ocarina of Time! And think of how awesome Dinosaur Office would look in huge 3D! (Insane or stupid? You be the judge!) If Nintendo improved the camera, it would be a must-buy for me. I fear they won't. But I really look forward to the initial reviews of the XL. I think I may treat myself to a 5-days late birthday present on August 19!

Bryan Ochalla said...

I don't think it's insane *or* stupid, David -- you like what you like and you want what you want. Nothing wrong with that!

I really have a feeling that most complaints about the aesthetics of the XL are quickly going to go the way of the dodo bird, BTW. What I mean is: I think most people are going to buy, or not buy, the XL for one reason and one reason only -- the screen.

Frankly, that's all that's attracting me to the XL at the moment -- the ability to play current and future 3DS games on a fairly big screen.

Anyway, I hope you do treat yourself to a five-days-late b-day gift -- and then come back here and tell me what you think of it :P

diaglyph said...

Something to consider regarding 3DS XL:

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, yes, I've read and heard about this, Igor. It's not a big deal to me, honestly, but I know it's a big deal to others!

Frank F said...

Even if DS will loo better on the XL vs regular 3DS I can't get over the bad design. I'll just continue playing them on my current 3DS or get a DS. Both options are cheaper than buying an XL.

Bryan Ochalla said...

I think that's a great idea, Frank! No one should ever feel the need to buy a new gadget just because it's new, IMO.

Robert said...

Maaaann hell noo, me and my Boyfriend are really against this. we hardly use our 3DS as it is because nothing has really kept us playing for more then a few days ( maybe Mario kart. )

Sorry to rant but, we bought it when it came out before the price drop, got some Meh free titles and now they pump out this make-up compact looking thing which I bet will have a stretched resolution.

SUPPER happy they finally put colours on the 3DS, but the Vita has gotton a lot more use from us so far.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Robert: Rant away! The 3DS XL certainly is a product that prompts differing opinions, that's for sure :)

As for you and your boyfriend getting more use out of the Vita thus far: Well, that's how these things go, isn't it? The catalog of one system speaks to us more (sometimes a lot more, sometimes just a bit) than the catalog of another, and so we gravitate toward the system with the more attractive catalog.

Personally, I like my 3DS quite a bit and I don't regret the purchase at all -- esp. with games like Animal Crossing, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, NSMB2 and Paper Mario: Sticker Star coming down the pike.

That said, I'm not planning to get a 3DS XL anytime soon.

I'm not planning to get a Vita anytime soon either, though. I love my PSP, and I'm still buying games for it, but there's no way I'm going to spend $250 on a portable with few games and a very questionable future at this point.

Should some of the above change -- namely, a price drop that brings the system to $199 or lower as well as a number of games that I'm interested in buying and playing -- I'll obviously reconsider. In the meantime, though, I'll spend my money on retro and 3DS games.

diaglyph said...

Found out today that Aus and NZ will be getting the cradle and power adapter in the package when the 3DS XL comes out here, leaving Europe and Japan to be the only regions not to include the cradle/power adapter.
Was a strange decision to begin with.

I will add that the 3DS has been the best portable for me! I haven't touched my PSP in ages (and only a small handful of games really interested me), in fact I think the PSP is dieing as it is showing something like mould growth on the screen (even though its been in its PSP case all this time) :( but its not really phasing me LOL it hasn't really impressed me overall (likewise with Vita, over priced, over hyped).
With 3DS XL, the screen will be almost same as Vita's (in size) which kinda excites me (though I guess would've been nice to have an OLED screen hehe).

I'm also glad that it's keeping the 1:1 resolution too!

I just hope I have money around release day LOL (maybe trade in my old DSi haha)

Oh and I got Heroes of Ruin :) Had an online session with some aussie friends - a lot of fun!!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Igor: Yeah, overall, it is a strange decision not to include an AC adapter and/or the cradle with 3DS LL's in Japan and Europe. I personally wouldn't care about it, as I have a ton of Nintendo-made AC adapters at this point, but I guess it would suck for newcomers. At least they'll be available for sale separately. And who knows, maybe Nintendo will rethink this decision as time goes on?

That's too bad that you've never really enjoyed your PSP. I prefer my DS and its library, of course, but that doesn't mean I dislike the PSP at all. I own about 12 or 15 games for it at this point, and I still want about six more. Anyway, I've really enjoyed it so far.

I agree that the Vita has some issues, though. It'll be interesting to see if Sony can overcome them or if the Vita falls by the wayside.

I'm glad to hear you finally got your hands on Heroes of Ruin, BTW. Can't wait to hear more of what you think of it!

diaglyph said...

I came across this video:

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, I mentioned that very video on Twitter a few hours ago, Igor. It's great, isn't it? Honestly, it's making me rethink the XL yet again. Still, I'm not going to buy one this year. Next year, though? Extremely likely, I think :)