New DS bigger, if not better

If you want to get the next model in Nintendo’s DS range you’ll need a little extra cash in your pocket… and a little extra room.

The newly announced 3DS XL will have a 4.88 inch main screen and a 4.18 inch lower screen. That compares with 3.53 inch/3.01 inch on the existing 3DS, making for around a 90 percent increase in total screen space.

Aside from the size increase, there aren’t any major changes other than the promise of a longer battery life. The new model will come with a 4GB SD card for downloading and storing games from Nintendo’s store.

The price will only rise a little: for example in the US it’s $199.99 compared with $169.99 on the existing model. As a cost-cutting measure, the European version will ship without a power adaptor, though this will be bundled with the US version.

Perhaps surprisingly there’s no second thumbstick despite the extra available space. Players will continue to have to buy the optional $20 Circle Pad Pro if they want the extra control, which means game developers will continue to have little motivation to support it.

While existing games will work fine on the new model, there’ll be a couple of new releases that are specifically designed for the XL. These are a sequel to Art Academy and monster-making game Freakyforms Deluxe Your Creations, Alive! It’s hard to see either of these or the larger screen size getting existing 3DS owners to upgrade right away.

Nintendo has been a little hazy on the manufacturing costs, but it appears the XL is priced to sell at a profit from the outset. Disappointing early sales meant the original model received a price cut making it a loss leader.

The XL goes on sale in most markets on July 28, though US buyers will need to wait until August 19.

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