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Everything You Need To Know About The New 3DS

by Matt Helgeson on Aug 29, 2014 at 08:14 AM

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Nintendo surprised the video game world today with the announcement of a new 3DS. A mid-generation hardware update is nothing new for Nintendo, but this is perhaps its most drastic handheld revision to date. Read on for a detailed breakdown of what to expect from the new 3DS.

More Powerful

The system boasts a better CPU, though Nintendo did not specify how much more powerful it is compared to that of the original 3DS. It will allow for faster downloads and better web browser and movie-viewing performance.

Two Models

Like the current 3DS, there will be two versions of the new system. Each unit is nearly identical in size to the conventional 3DS and 3DS XL, and appear to be priced similarly. Nintendo's official Japanese prices for both systems are 16,000 yen (new 3DS) and 18,800 (new 3DS XL). At current exchange rates, this translates to $153 USD and $180 USD, respectively. This likely means that we can expect the current 3DS U.S. prices ($169.99 and $199.99) to hold true for the new models. By the way the official name of the new system is the New Nintendo 3DS.

Better 3D

One of the main complaints about the current 3DS is that the system's 3D display - once thought to be the main selling point of the system - is fairly poor. Often blurry and hindered by a very tight viewing angle, many gamers have grown accustomed to turning off the 3D display entirely. Nintendo has addressed these concerns with a bigger, brighter 3D screen that also dramatically widens the viewing angle. This should hopefully made 3D functions a more important part of the 3DS's game library moving forward.

The C-Stick

One thing most people noticed at the announcement of the original 3DS was that the system lacked a second analog stick, something many had hoped for and a feature that was included in Sony's competing PlayStation Vita. Nintendo essentially admitted that this was a mistake by releasing the add-on Circle Pad Pro, an aftermarket analog stick attachment, in 2012. The new 3DS will have a built-in second analog, a small "c-stick" nub located right above the four face buttons.

NFC and Amiibo Support

Nintendo is betting big on it Skylanders-style Amiibo figurines, which use NFC (near-field communication) chips to "talk" to the Wii U, allowing for game data to be transferred between the Amiibo and the system. The new 3DS will have built-in NFC, which allows you to place an Amiibo on the system's bottom screen for use in games like Super Smash Bros. The system will also communicate via Wi-Fi with your PC, allowing you to import and export data between the new 3DS and your home computer.

Exclusive Games

While the new 3DS will run all games currently available for the current model, the new graphical horsepower - and the built analog stick - will allow developers to make more complex games in terms of both graphics and gameplay. For this reason, certain upcoming new 3DS titles will only run on the new system. The first announced new 3DS exclusive is the port of the Wii game Xenoblade Chronicles.

This is exciting on one hand, as it allows for games with native dual-analog control and better graphics. On the other hand, it effectively splits the 3DS install base in two, and could engender bad feelings from gamers who already bought the original system and now find themselves unable to play some of the platform's best titles.

New Buttons

Nintendo has made some changes to the unit's buttons. The new face buttons are a bit larger and also colored, inspired by the color scheme of the SNES's buttons. More interesting are the two new shoulder buttons, called Z1 and Z2. This will give developers some new control options to play with.

Layout Changes

Nintendo has moved some button and inputs, like the card slot, stylus slot, and power button, to the player facing edge of the unit. This should be more convenient than the previous location for the card slot under the hinge of the top screen.

Upgradeable Memory, New Location

One feature that has been maintained on the new 3DS is the SD card slot, which now lays under the back cover plate (more on those later). This will allow you to purchase a conventional SD card and upgrade the internal storage memory of the unit.

Customizable Cover Plates

Gamers in Japan will get a couple of special edition version of the new 3DS to choose from (a Monster Hunter 4G version and one with a collection of familiar Nintendo characters). However, every new 3DS will be able to be customized by new aftermarket cover plates, which will sell separately. In the announcement video, Nintendo showed off a myriad of cover plates, featuring everything from simple geometric designs like black and white checkerboard to graphics featuring iconic Nintendo characters and designs. While no U.S. release information has been given, the Japanese cover plate price will be 1000 yen, around $9.60 USD.

Nintendo will also be selling new charge bases for the handhelds.

Models, Release Date, and Price

This was strictly an announcement for Japan. Right now, the new 3DS is not even officially confirmed for the U.S. We expect new information to be released soon. The unit will launch on October 11 in Japan. However, Nintendo says U.S. and European units won't hit retail until sometime in 2015.