Published on February 18th, 2015 | by Laura Giunta
What Librarians Need to Know About the New 3DS XL
On January 14, Nintendo of America announced the launch of the New 3DS XL, a brand new Nintendo handheld. Having previously been released in Japan and Australia last fall, the North American release was on February 13, 2015. But, with a new handheld just out, what do librarians need to know about the New 3DS XL?
On the positive side, the New 3DS XL is backwards compatible and will play all 3DS and DS games, meaning libraries’ current game collections are not obsolete just yet. Rather than being a next-generation handheld for Nintendo, the New 3DS XL is considered a part of the 3DS family, similar to the introduction of the 2DS in October 2013. The New 3DS XL is an enhanced version of the 3DS, featuring face-tracking 3D, amiibo and NFC support, a C-stick for better controls, and faster processing power compared to the 3DS. Because of its faster processing power, gamers will see a significant increase in speed during loading for certain games, like last fall’s Super Smash Brothers and the upcoming Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. Moreover, with the increasing popularity of amiibos, the New 3DS will allow for easy amiibo use in 3DS games, including Super Smash Brothers and also in Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., a new IP from Nintendo developed by Intelligent Systems, the developer of the critically acclaimed 3DS game Fire Emblem: Awakening. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., which releases on March 13 for the 3DS in North America, will fittingly introduce the Fire Emblem characters into the game world through their respective amiibos – but only for those who also have a New 3DS XL.
While other territories launched both the regular sized New 3DS and the larger New 3S XL model, Nintendo currently only has plans to release the New 3DS XL in North America. At launch, two colors – black and red – will be available and will retail for $199.99 each. Limited edition models of the New 3DS XL include designs featuring The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, but both sold out quickly online once they became available for preorder; the Majora’s Mask edition does not feature the game and retails at $199.99 while the Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate edition includes a digital, preloaded copy of the game and retails at $229.99. None of the models include an adapter, which will have to be bought separately, although the adapter used in other 3DS models will work with the New 3DS XL for those who are upgrading. The New 3DS XL also uses a microsd card, rather than the SD card used in the 3DS, 3DS XL, and 2DS, and the microsd card can only be accessed using a screwdriver.
The launch of the New 3DS XL in North America coincides with the release of two highly anticipated 3DS games for the first quarter of 2015: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. Majora’s Mask, rated Everyone 10+, is a 3DS remake of the classic Nintendo 64 game and features one of the darker and more complex stories within The Legend of Zelda series. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, rated Teen, will release for the 3DS only and is a successor to the popular 3DS hunting game, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, which released March 2013 on both the Wii U and 3DS. While both games will play on the regular 3DS, 3DS XL, and 2DS models, the games will also play on the New 3DS and will benefit from the New 3DS XL enhancements, particularly Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, which will have better controls with the additional C-stick and shorter load times due to the faster processing power. Because of each game’s popularity, and because they are compatible with the 3DS and the New 3DS, both The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate are must-haves for any library’s video game collection when they release on February 13.
Currently, there is only one exclusive for the New 3DS XL announced for release in North America, which is Xenoblade Chronicles 3D (Rating Pending). This will be a port of the award-winning science-fiction RPG Xenoblade Chronicles that released on the Wii in North America in April 2012 and was rated Teen. Because of its exclusivity to the New 3DS, which will only be a couple months old by the time the game releases, libraries may want to hold off purchasing Xenoblade Chronicles 3D until they can be certain that the New 3DS XL is a success – and that there are enough patrons within the community that have the New 3DS XL to warrant the purchase of the game. At the same time, because the initial Wii release of the game was so critically acclaimed, libraries may want to still consider adding Xenoblade Chronicles 3D to their collections when it releases in April 2015, despite the audience for it being limited at first.
Despite the buzz surrounding the announcement of the New 3DS XL, it is difficult to determine how well the handheld will sell now that it’s released. However, if the sell-outs of the limited edition models are any indication, the New 3DS XL may very well be a hit come February. Although the use of the microsd card, the lack of an adapter, and the absence of the regular-size New 3DS at launch may be off-putting to some gamers, the significant enhancements, particularly the amiibo support and increased processing power, may be enough to convince current 3DS owners to upgrade their handhelds to the 3DS. Moreover, the success of the New 3DS XL may influence just how soon Nintendo chooses to launch their true next-generation handheld. Librarians should be on the lookout in the next coming months to see how the release of the New 3DS XL plays out, and to see if the handheld is also well-received by the gamers within their library’s community.