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The Ups and Downs of NEW Handheld Hardware

Upgraded to death.

Not two weeks ago, Nintendo announced a new 3DS cleverly called the New 3DS. It has several extra features, including Micro SD card support and a faster CPU, which means its games won't be compatible with previous 3DS versions. Here's what we think of it:

Nick: I feel like I'm going to have to make the leap to the new hardware just so I can continue to be a part of that ecosystem. Right or wrong, it brings up bad memories of the poorly handled launch of the system, the price gouging, and the subsequent release of far superior hardware shortly after launch. While the 3DS is a great system, it's starting to feel like Nintendo has used its customer base as guinea pigs until it found the ideal hardware that should've been in the launch model to begin with.

Of course, like a sucker, I'll still buy this new system, but for the first time I'll probably sell my existing hardware to fund it. I just have to hope that when the next real iteration of Nintendo handheld is launched, they don't use the 3DS lifecycle as a blueprint.

JD: Personally, I think that if there is a good upgrade plan, I'll end up getting the new system. Not only do the additions to the system intrigue me, but I want to be sure I'll be able to play the best games 3DS will have to offer. That said, this does worry me that Nintendo might make a habit out of these small system upgrades. I'd prefer to get my 3 to 4 years out of the system before having to upgrade in full.


Nate: This is almost perfect timing for me. I got my first 3DS (an XL) last March and have been planning to get a second with a different design to keep and pass the current XL to my wife. I feel this could open the doors to a lot of new possibilities if done right. This is very similar to the N64 Expansion Pak and DSi hardware jumps but I suspect, with official Nintendo support, this could be a much bigger deal.

One other observation is how Nintendo has been treating the Circle Pad Pro. Since it has been confirmed that Smash Brothers will not support it but will utilize the N3DS I get the feeling that Nintendo never really wanted to release the peripheral when they did. It was most likely a move they made to appease third parties like Capcom (for Monster Hunter). I am taking this to hopefully mean that Nintendo will better support the N3DS. Unfortunately, this means that we probably won't be seeing any new games supporting the Circle Pad Pro. Makes me a little glad I will be holding on to my old XL with CPP to use with those few which do support the peripheral.

Almost comically, right after this reveal NOA shows off three new standard 3DS XL models for the holiday season. I truly believe that Nintendo has no idea how the internet works, as sales of 3DS in the west are sure to be hurt by the Japanese announcement. Hardcore collectors may want to snag these as I am sure their runs will be limited, but otherwise it's unclear who will purchase these systems with the N3DS release looming.

This may end up being Nintendo's comprehensive response to the whole mobile/smartphone revolution. I only hope they bring their "A" game to the table. In the meantime, I am quite optimistic for what this NEW 3DS will bring to the gaming market.

Matt Snee: I have to admit I've never been so pissed and excited at the same time. I am relieved that I haven't bought an XL yet. I'll be buying a N3DS to play Xenoblade and other games, and I hope it comes out sooner than later.  

* * * * *

A few more choice quotes from the staff:


  • Improvements seem great: better battery life, extra shoulder buttons, a C-stick nub, 3D that auto-tracks to the position of your head, and improved specs.
  • Analog Nub looks like it could add to the gameplay experience.
  • Better specs could bring a few more 3rd party support to help round out Nintendo's release list.
  • Better download speeds could mean bigger and better eShop games.


  • New features could've been in the 3DS XL.
  • Some big, upcoming games will be N3DS exclusive.
  • Puts gamers in the unfortunate position of feeling obligated to make the upgrade.
  • Analog Nub could be too small for those with big hands.


For the unabridged version of the discussion, click over to the second page.

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09/11/2014 at 12:29 PM

Like Matt I haven't upgraded from my launch 3DS yet so if I can find the funds I'll wait for the new model XL. I really have nothing to be pissed off about but I do question the strategy. 

I'm very excited to see Xenoblade Chronicles on a handheld system. That sucker pushed the Wii so if they can give me that same experience on a 3DS WOW!

Then again, if they strip it down to cutscenes played out through talking heads on a static background and point and click to move from one area to another I'll be just as impressed as I was with Persona 3 Portable which is to say not impressed at all.


09/11/2014 at 02:42 PM

I'm a bit conflicted, but I'd be lying if I was to say I have no interest in getting one. It just depends on the games that exclusively work for it.


09/11/2014 at 07:24 PM

I'm not a fan of incremental hardware upgrades. It can be difficult to come up with the necessary chunk of change all at once for yet another system, and I really like my 3DS XL. If something N3DS-exclusive comes out that I really want to play, then I'll try to upgrade but otherwise I'll just stay on the fence.


09/12/2014 at 08:06 AM

I waited and bought my 3DS XL, hoping it would be the final version.  I guessed I should of waited longer.  I wouldn't say, "I'm pissed", but I have no plans to buy the New 3DS anytime soon.  I bought a 3DS (almost a year ago) and I'm sticking with it.  It's practices like the coming of this N3DS, that I wait years before buying handhelds.  Nintendo always has a different version down the road.  Why put money on a handheld when a newer and better handheld is right around the corner?  The worse thing is the N3DS has exclusive games.  That's just bullshit.  I'm not going to upgrade to another 3DS just for a couple games.  Or will every game for now on be N3DS games?  I'll wait and see if these N3DS exculsives are worth my time.  If they are any good, I'll buy them and just wait for the final version of the N3DS to drop in price (another 3 or so years from now).  I refuse to pay more than $100 for the thing.  I took a chance on Nintendo and they screwed me by releasing a brand new handheld.  That's what this is.  If this thing has exclusive games, it's a new handheld.  I also don't think the pros to this thing are that wonderful.  I was doing fine without them all this time.  Why add them to the 3DS, now.  They should of saved those "upgrades" for a new handheld.  Oh wait, maybe they did. Undecided


09/13/2014 at 02:39 AM

It's already frustrating with the Pokemon games and the DSi (back in the day). I would like to get one but I'll wait for the N3DS library to build up.


09/17/2014 at 04:00 PM

That second analog "nub nub" is like an Ewok: too small, and completely unnecessary.

I have no interest in this slight upgrade to the 3DS. The only thing that would sell it for me is one killer game, like if the next Etrian Odyssey was on it. Then I'd have to let Nintendo rob me by getting this barely upgraded 3DS. Phoey!

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