Last Thursday, Nintendo hosted another Direct presentation focusing heavily on their 3DS plans for the next few months. The main highlight was the announcement of a new 3DS model, which has been rumored for weeks. It is called the 3DS XL, which is essentially a larger 3DS. The size comparisons between the two models are below as the XL version has a 90% bigger screen, a 4 GB SD card, and improved battery life. What is surprisingly missing is a second analog stick, which you need a Circle Pad for, but Nintendo didn't clarify if the Circle Pad will fit in fine with the new XL model. Otherwise, new Circle Pads might have to be made specifically for the XL for games that require it. Japanese and Eurpoean folks will have the 3DS XL first when it comes out on July 28. Americans will have to wait until August 19, the same day New Super Mario Bros. 2 comes out, to get their hands on the new version. The colors that will be released stateside for its launch are red/black and blue/black with more to come in the future. In terms of pricing, the 3DS XL costs $200, which makes sense considering the original 3DS is still at $150. I do expect some special trade-in deals and bundles with various retailers at around its launch time as well.
The other major highlight of last night's Nintendo Direct was the latest on the new Super Smash Bros game. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced during the Japanese part of the presentation that the new iteration will be co-developed by Project Sora and Namco Bandai. Franchise director Masahiro Sakurai and Namco's Masaya Kobayashi shortly followed with some tidbits on how excited they are to work together on the next Smash Bros. Sakurai also mentioned that there are still two versions of it in development, which are likely for the Wii U and 3DS, but it is going to be a while until we get to hear new details. For those wandering how Namco Bandai's involvement will be in the new game, Kobayashi will be overseeing it while folks that worked on various franchises such as Soul Calibur, Tekken, and Tales will be involved on the project. This is big news for Smash Bros. fans as both Sora and Namco working together on it do mean bigger and better things for the franchise. Specifically with Namco's involvement, we might see the game be more of a competitive fighter balance-wise to the likes of the other fighting games that are available.
Nintendo also announced specific release date windows for their upcoming 3DS lineup. Pokemon Black and White 2, which is actually out in Japan next week, is coming stateside this fall along with Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and Professor Layton: Mask or Miracle. Additionally, a new Fire Emblem is revealed for release next year. New Super Mario Bros. 2 is still on track for its August 19 release as they showed off the new Coin Rush mode. They are also planning additional levels of this mode as downloadable content for a later release. There is new Japanese footage that explains the new gold mechanics of the game below. On the Japanese part of the presentation, new Animal Crossing footage was shown proving that the game still exists and will have lots of StreetPass support. It is slated to come out this fall at Japan, but no word on the stateside release yet. The 3DS eShop will also lots of content available for purchase and download in the coming months with more Game Boy titles and demos such as Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, which is actually out now to download.
With lots of first-party and third-party games out in the coming months at Japan and the states, Nintendo's 3DS is expected to have another solid year of content to keep players busy. The new 3DS XL to be released on August 19 is also a nice redesign of the handheld for those who want a bigger version. It is especially handy if anyone waited for a new model like this that skipped out on the original. It was telling that Nintendo wanted to focus on the Wii U at E3 a couple weeks ago, but I am personally impressed with what they have coming for the 3DS. New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Pokemon Black and White 2 will be very successful in sales and other games like the new Professor Layton will spice things up for 3DS owners. The Wii U's struggles before launch are a completely different story, but I'm happy that Nintendo still believes in their handheld products, especially with mobile phones and cheaper games currently dominating the space. The new Smash Bros. news is great for fans and at least Namco will be able to provide a different take on a great Nintendo franchise, even though Project Sora is still a part of it. It is a good time to be a 3DS owner with so many good upcoming games and a new model soon to be released.