Nintendo 3DS XL (Nintendo)
Nintendo announced plans in an online video early Friday to roll out a new version of its 3D handheld system — called the 3DS XL — which will effectively double the system's screen size. The handheld will go on sale in the U.S. on Aug. 19 for $200.
Like the 3DS, the 3DS XL will have a non-3D touch screen as well as the larger 3D screen, which still does not require the use of special glasses. But despite the bigger screen, the new model will reportedly have a longer battery life, letting people play games for up to 6.5 hours, a 1.5-hour improvement over the original.
"There were demands for a bigger screen, and so we are ready to respond with a size-variation model," Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said in a video on the company's website. "You can enjoy powerful 3D imagery."
The news of the upgrade comes on the heels of Nintendo's denial that one was in the works. At E3 earlier this month, Nintendo design guru Shigeru Miyamoto told IGN the company was more focused on the successor to the 3DS rather than an iteration, specifically one with a larger screen.
Since the system's launch last February, Nintendo says it has sold over 17 million 3DS units globally, a pace that's faster than the one set by the original DS handheld. That system eventually became the best-selling handheld ever with over 150 million units sold worldwide.
The new system's launch date of August 19 coincides with the release of the anticipated 3DS game New Super Mario Bros. 2, setting up a big month for the beleaguered game company.
The company also revealed new software footage for the 3DS, including one big new game it held back from E3: Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask. This will mark the first 3DS appearance of the popular puzzle game, which is due out in November. Nintendo also plans to release one downloadable puzzle every day, for a full year after the game launches. Those will be available as free downloads.
Nintendo also confirmed the first direct sequels to Pokémon games -- Pokémon Black and White 2 -- will be out for the DS in the U.S. this fall. Japanese fans get the games this weekend.
Finally, the company announced a new Super Smash Bros. game is underway. Nintendo has handed over the development duties to Namco Bandai, though Masahiro Sakurai, who has overseen previous versions of the game, will once again be directing the game. However, he said, don't expect it anytime soon.
"The project has just gotten started," Sakurai said in a statement. "Bear in mind that not only are we developing two titles simultaneously, but we announced the project before we even started actual development, so I'm afraid we will likely have to keep you waiting for quite a while. Please be patient."
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