Talking Point: Another Look at the News - 22nd June
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
Topic hint: it's big
It's Friday, but we're not going to share our weekend gaming plans with you today, remember that's every two weeks. Today we're starting a new feature series where members of staff pick a piece of Nintendo news from the week and give their own opinions, sometimes irreverent, on the story. Normally that would mean that each contributor would have their own story to write about, but this isn't a normal news day.
Today is all about 3DS XL, its enormous stereoscopic 3D screen looming over the land of Nintendo: unfortunately we can't just say 'Nintendo Land' as that's been used up by a game on something called the Wii U. Nintendo Life editor James Newton, features editor Thomas Whitehead and assistant editor Mike Mason all tackle the sizeable handheld and share their personal views. Check back at the same time in two weeks as more members of staff will look at a variety of news topics.
Today's top story: a company with a history of revising its handheld consoles has revised another handheld console.
OK, so I don't write for The Onion (one day!) but the revelation that there'll be a new model of 3DS out soon shouldn't surprise anyone; it was always a case of when, not if.
3DS has been on shelves for about 15 months now, so it's about time for a hardware revision. In Europe at least, the gap between 3DS and 3DS XL was actually longer than the gap between DS and DS Lite, though Europe got the original DS five months after the rest of the world. Of course, XL isn't really a replacement like the Lite was, but you get the point.
As for the machine itself, it looks pretty good to me: better battery life than the 3DS, the biggest screen ever on a Nintendo handheld and not a trace of an ugly tacked-on second Circle Pad. I don't know if I'll trade in my Aqua Blue 3DS for an XL — the all-black interior is a little dull for my tastes — but no doubt when I see the thing I'll want one. That's how it always works with Nintendo. Curses.
Oh, and when Nintendo said Nikkei's original report was "full of mistakes", that was true: the 3DS XL has a 4.88" screen, while Nikkei said it was 4.3". Talk about inaccurate reporting.
When Nikkei published the rumour that a 3DS XL was on the way just before E3, I thought it was unlikely. Nintendo had gone to such lengths to revive the original model, and was weeks away from making a profit on each device: why would it then dive in with an improved, more expensive iteration?
So I was wrong, but as I think about it I actually think it's a smart move. There's definitely a demographic of gamers that bought and loved the DSi XL, but were put off by the comparatively dainty dimensions of 3DS. I doubt that applies to many people reading this, but there are gamers, many that are relatively new to the hobby, who may see the XL and think that, actually, it looks like an attractive purchase. Releasing it alongside a new Art Academy in the UK, for example, shows that this may be the target audience.
Will I get one? I'm very, very tempted, though I want to see the larger 3DS screen in action first. The resolution will be the same, so I want to be sure that gorgeous games don't actually look worse with the bigger dimensions. I'm relatively confident they'll look great, though, and the idea of playing visual stunners like Kid Icarus: Uprising and Resident Evil: Revelations on a bigger 3D screen is seriously exciting. If the UK price is in the ball-park of £150-170 and the resolution comes across well, I don't think I'll be able to resist. Oh, and there's a red model, a colour of handheld I've pined for since the days of the DSi equivalent. Such temptation.
My my, isn't this a shock? In a move that has the distinct whiff of eau du DS Lite, Nintendo has announced a 3DS redesign, mere days after denying the accuracy of such a report in Japanese newspaper Nikkei. It's very much reminiscent of 2006, when buzzes were abound about a redesigned DS. Soon-to-be-ex-Nintendo UK boss David Yarnton famously batted away the rumours, only for eggs to meet faces days later when the far sleeker DS Lite was put on display to the world.
So now, despite statements to the contrary, we have 3DS XL, a gigantic new version of the system that dwarves the original model. The two will be on sale side by side, in the same way that DSi XL and DSi co-existed. The screens are a ridiculous 90% bigger than the current system. It looks pretty sleek. As somebody who puts DSi XL above the other models, I definitely want to try one. Buy one? I'm not so sure about that; I'm fairly happy with the original 3DS.
The most mysterious thing about it, though, is that there's no second Circle Pad. Nintendo semi-acknowledged the desire for a second analogue input with the Circle Pad Pro add-on, so it seemed like a fairly safe bet that it would include an extra one on any future redesign. Yet of course, once again Nintendo has defied expectations; perhaps the recent insistence that a second analogue slider isn't really necessary with gyro controls in place was early damage control. I've not really had too much need for a second Circle Pad, so it's not a huge bother to me, but I can't imagine the left-handed Kid Icarus players that grabbed a Circle Pad Pro will be too happy right now. Well, at least until the CPP XL is trotted out.
What are your thoughts about today's 3DS XL news? Excited, annoyed or indifferent? Let us know in the comments below.