So, in keeping with tradition, Nintendo has announced a new iteration of their evergreen handheld. Unlike previous updates, however, the new 3DS packs some important updates. Confused? You're not the only one. Let's break down what we know so far.
[Updated 1/20/15: added specific pricing information and information requested by readers.]
[Updated 1/12/15: added information regarding the official US release date, and the UK's limited Ambassador Edition release.]
[Updated 10/10: added videos showing how to install Micro SD card and change New 3DS faceplates. Added new commercial showing off faceplates.]
[Updated 9/24: added Australian 3DS release date and video of new 3DS commercial.]
The new 3DS released October 2014 in Japan, November in Australia. It launches February 13, 2015 in the US and Europe.
The New 3DS released in Japan on October 11, 2014 and in Australia on November 21. Some lucky European Club Nintendo received invitations to purchase an Ambassador Edition New 3DS. It's the same New 3DS other countries have received, though it comes in a bundle with special Nintendo logo front and back plates, and a set of Smash Bros. cover plates already available elsewhere.
The proper launch of the New 3DS will be on February 13, 2015 in both Europe and the US. While Europe and the rest of the world will receive both New 3DS models, the US will only be receiving the XL model.
Both the compact and LL/XL 3DS models are being upgraded.
Both the compact 3DS and the XL (called the LL in Japan) are being replaced. The original 3DS is being replaced by both a white and a black model and the XL is getting new metallic blue and metallic black variant.
And it's still region locked.
It's priced about the same as its predecessors.
The compact and LL new 3DS models retail for 16,000 (about $151 USD) and 18,800 (about $174 USD) respectively. In the US, where the XL model is the only option, it retails for $199.99. In Europe the compact model retails for £149.99 while the XL comes in at £179.99.
It doesn't come with a charger, either.
All new 3DS models don't pack a charger in the box. If you already have an existing 3DS charger, it'll work with the new models. It sucks that both Europe and the US have taken on Japan's terrible business practice regarding their stance on bundling chargers. On the upside, you could buy one of these nifty-looking charging cradles for about 1,000 yen or about 10 bucks, though you'll still need an AC adapter to connect to said cradle.
The compact model can use faceplates.
The compact version of Nintendo's new portable can use faceplates, meaning you can quickly swap your console's face out if you tire of its look. Sadly, this doesn't extend to the LL/XL line, meaning US-based players are completely out of luck. To install the faceplates, you'll need a size 0 phillips screwdriver and, oddly enough, your stylus. The video below illustrates how to do it.
The pricing for the faceplates is a bit tricky, too. The simpler, solid color faceplates are 1,000 yen a pop, or about 10 bucks. The character-themed ones mostly run for about 1,500 yen, close to 15 dollars. And the more ornate ones, like the woodgrain Mario pictured above are a pricey 3,000 yen each, or about 30 dollars. Ouch.
There's already a special edition.
Hopeful new 3DS LL owners aren't out in the cold. Nintendo is already offering two special edition consoles. While Japan already has a handful of special editions of both models available, the US and Europe are getting some of their own. The Monster Hunter 4 bundle will be available on day one exclusively at Gamestop, along with a considerably harder-to-find Majora's Mask version. It's important to note the latter doesn't appear to come with a copy of the game.
The compact New 3DS isn't to be left out of the fun, either. Nintendo has announced a partnership with Japanese pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu to produce "Kawaii Kisekae Plates" or "Cute dressup plates" for the console's diminutive variant.
It's a pretty big upgrade.
The New 3DS is one of the biggest mid-lifecycle upgrades Nintendo has ever done. For starters, let's talk about the obvious— see that little nub up there, just above the face buttons on the right-hand side? That's a second analog stick, dubbed the c-stick a la Gamecube. The idea is this stick will help players better navigate games like Monster Hunter 4, which all but demand its use.
There's more though, the new units also pack two additional shoulder buttons, essentially rounding out the features the circle pad pro added in a more compact package.
Completely new however, is Amiibo support. Nintendo has included NFC in both New 3DS models, meaning using your new figurines with your 3DS won't be as clumsy. Just tap them on the 3DS' touch screen to use them.
The New 3DS models' screens also boast some new wizardry to allow for off-angle viewing of the 3D images displayed on the top screen. Nintendo claims the days of searching for your screen's sweet spot are over, I'll believe it when I see it. It's also worth noting that the compact model's screen has grown ever so slightly, bumping up to 3.88 inches from the original's 3.53 inches. The touch screen has also grown a bit, at 3.33 inches versus 3 inches on the original.
Both New 3DS models utilize the same 802.11 b/g wireless found in their respective predecessors, but Nintendo claims the new models will be able to download and install eShop content faster, thanks to a speedier CPU on board. Both models also sport a faster GPU, but we'll get into what that means in a bit.
Rounding out the new features is an improved camera. Nintendo has supplied the following image indicating the new 3DS camera will handle photos far better than the previous models.
Some games will only play on the new model.
That faster CPU and GPU in the new 3DS mean we'll get some games that just can't run on the older counterparts. Right now a port of Wii cult classic Xenoblade Chronicles is the only game announced. No release date has been announced for the game just yet.
It'll still play your old games.
It should be pretty obvious, but it bears mentioning. The new 3DS will play all your old 3DS and DS titles. DS titles from any region will play, while, as always, you can only play 3DS titles from the same region the console comes from.
But it won't take your old memory card.
The new 3DS models now require take a micro SD card. Nintendo is selling their own branded cards, but any micro SDHC card will do. Make sure it isn't a micro SDXC card, as Nintendo has stated they won't be compatible. Nintendo's also been mum on details regarding how exactly transferring your content from your old 3DS to the new models will work, as the process typically requires you to insert the old system's SD card into your DS.
The largest officially-supported Micro SDHC card size is 32GB, though users of larger cards have reported getting them to work in the New 3DS since its Japanese launch. I haven't personally tested anything above 32GB, but will update if or when I get the opportunity to.
To install your micro SD card, you'll need a size 0 phillips head screwdriver, as illustrated in the video below:
You can backup your data to your PC wirelessly.
Nintendo is also advertising a new backup utility for the new 3DS which will allow you to copy all your data on your SD card to a Windows PC. Sadly, mac users are left out in the cold on this one.
The boxes are pretty darn nifty.
Sure they're just boxes, but there's something about them that's just eye-catching. They aren't as great as the excellent Super Famicom and Nintendo 64 boxes, it's nice to see a pop of color return to their products, at least on the compact model.
Want to learn more about the New 3DS? Check out my hands-on impressions!
Have any questions? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments.