The mysterious ways in which Nintendo operates are on display once again as the company chose to skip an announcement at E3 2012 and waited two weeks after the fact to unveil the .
Following nearly the same road map as the DSi, the 3DS XL hits just a year and a half after the original 3DS release. While it's not shocking that the 3DS is getting an XL big brother, it's certainly confusing that not much is changing with the portable console's overall design.
Both screens will see size improvements totaling 4.88 inches on top and 4.18 inches on the bottom (that's 1.35 and 1.16 inches larger, respectively), along with what looks like a more tactile trio of buttons below the lower screen.
Priced at $199, the 3DS XL will go on sale in the U.S. on August 19. Three color schemes will be ready to go at launch: black, blue and black, and red and black. It's logical to assume that the original 3DS may receive a price drop around the same time, down from its current $170 price tag.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 carries the same release date, so those looking to purchase a new XL may be wise to wait for a bundle that packs in both items.
The elephant in the room has got to be the lack of a right analog stick, something Nintendo had been kicking itself for not including in the original 3DS release. Not putting a right stick in the XL is easily one of its most perplexing moves in recent memory.
The 3DS needs anto achieve dual analog control, so just imagining the Frankensteinian creation that'll be required for the same functionality on the 3DS XL is already giving my thumbs anxiety.
Aside from this glaring omission, the 3DS XL's outer casing looks to have more of a rounded-edge aesthetic that spreads across the entire console, including its hinge.
So is this a missed opportunity on Nintendo's part? The knee-jerk reaction is a confident "yes," only for the fact that the XL doesn't seem to address anything I complained about in the original 3DS. The battery will see a slight improvement, averaging 3.5 to 6.5 hours, which is up from 3 to 5 hours on the 3DS. Just seeing how large the XL really is has me shaking my head in disappointment at how simple it would have been to place a right analog stick onboard.
We'll have our full Nintendo 3DS XL review in the coming weeks leading up to its August 19 launch in the U.S.