The new Iwata Asks has been posted up on Nintendo’s website and it’s all about the questions posed about the new 3DS XL console. How is it improved over the old 3DS? What is better? Five guys from the Research and Development department at Nintendo HQ have been pulled in from the depths to tell us more. Why are they all men? For once I would like to see a woman on the board…but I digress.
It’s been stated that in the early stages of development, they basically just put a bigger LCD screen to the current 3DS circuitry and prayed that it would work. Thankfully, it did and so it stayed in place. It wasn’t expected to work and the team wanted something that was impactful. Something that would make the average Nintendo handheld an stand back and say ‘Wow. I want one of those.’
Next up came the problem with the glare on the screen. For those of you with a regular-sized 3DS, you’ll notice that on a sunny day if you attempt to play your 3DS outside- you’ll struggle to see the screen on your device. The screen is made up of three layers, and now with new technology at their hands- Nintendo have been able to put an anti-glare coating on each of these layers to improve visibility. When I test drove the 3DS XL, I did notice the glare in the store. Or should I say less of it. It didn’t seem to reflect the lights as bad as the old 3DS and I’m assuming that the same principle would apply to strong sunlight. The colours also seem to be vastly improved, this is due to a new manufactor relationship Nintendo has in place with a LCD TV company. So there’s new screen technology too, which means that they didn’t just enlarge the old-style screen but actually create something from scratch.
Nintendo being the ever-changing innovator in the gaming industry, have also created a new technology for increasing battery life on the new 3DS XL. This new tech improves the effeciancy of the power used by the backlight in the console.
Iwata: When you view 3D images on the Nintendo 3DS, the liquid-crystal barrier blocks the images for the left and right eyes from each other, so the efficiency of the light is halved. You thought that improving that would also save power.
It was basically a technology that didn’t exist when the original 3DS was created, so having this now in their hands- Nintendo is eager to use it on their new 3DS XL console. With them having the rights to the technology, I wouldn’t be surprised if we also see the same in the new Wii U handheld gamepads. But using this technology means that Nintendo killed two birds with one stone- the lack of screen brightness and bad battery life in the original 3DS console.
The team go on to talk about the casing and how basically they wanted to take the original DSi XL casing and tweak it. But with the newer technology in the 3DS XL- that just wasn’t possible. With items like the the Circle Pad and the location of the speakers- there was a lot of jiggling about the team had to do to make all the technology fit into the casing of the console. But eventually, they had to scrap this idea and they began to work on a similar design for their new XL console. Including a brand new plastic used for the casing that included fibre glass. Yes, you read that correctly. Does this mean that Nintendo are going back to the days of making their handheld consoles hard to break? I almost believe that this is a path that they have to go down with more and more kids playing on their handhelds these days. Kids drop things. Heck, I’m an adult and I drop things. I’d be pretty upset if I broke a brand-new console just by dropping it. I used to be able to bounce my ancient Gameboy brick off the wall and off hotel balconies. It lived to tell the tale, I assure you.
The new casing is 55% fibre glass, but this meant that they had issues with the colours being as bright and eye catching as the original 3DS consoles. This accounts for the matte look of the new console, rather than the glossy shininess of the old. I think I’d prefer a more hard-wearing machine than a shiny, sparkly one. When you compare the size of the new console next to the old XL, you can see that the bottom screen is exactly the same as the old one. But then the top just blows the original completely away, it’s amazing how big Nintendo have managed to make the 3D screen.
Looking at the two side by side, I almost think that the 3DS XL is a little smaller, but it could be a trick of the eye. It’s certainly not as square as the original XL console- it’s got a more friendly, curved appearance and I think it’s just a lot prettier than the DSi XL.
We designed it with the concept “A softer 3DS with a bigger screen”. It was only made possible because it was a larger piece of hardware, but the battery is in the center of the main body this time, so we could achieve more rounding on the exterior surfaces than ever before. With the battery in the center, the balance of weight is good.
Another new difference between the 3DS and the 3DS XL is the places where the SD card is inserted and the stylus are stored. They are now on the lower right-hand side of the console, next to each other. The relocation of these is because of the battery being enlarged and some of the other important things being moved around inside the console. The 3D slider on the console also makes an audible ‘click’ sound now when you change between 2D and 3D- so you can actually tell when you’ve changed the setting.
All in all, I think these new additions to the 3DS XL make a great console. But I can’t help but think they should have really been in the console the first time around. One thing that Nintendo seems to do is put out the first version of the console almost as a beta-test. An unfinished console, if you will. And I dislike a lot that they use the customers as guinea pigs for what works and what doesn’t. But, this is nothing new here. I’d really like to get one of the new 3DS XL consoles, but at this point in time I’m just going to be sticking with my original 3DS console. I’m just going to wait with baited breath to see if this breathes some much-needed life into the beleagued 3D console. Sure, it’s popular- but is it as popular as Nintendo hoped it would be? Let’s hope more people pick up the 3DS XL than the original 3DS…