Nintendo has finally gotten around to releasing the latest iteration of its hand-held gaming systems in the US, under the very literal name of “New Nintendo 3DS.” While GameStop employees nationwide are already bracing for a holiday season of trying to clarify to clueless gift-givers whether they want a new New 3DS, a used New 3DS, a used old 3DS, a used old 3DS XL, a new 2DS, etc., Nintendo hand-held fans are wondering if they really need to upgrade.
  One could be forgiven for being unsure what’s even so new about this New 3DS. At a glance, the new system has an extra pair of shoulder buttons and a small nipple-like stick over the right buttons that operates like the nipple-like “TrackPoint” for which IBM/Lenovo laptops are notorious. This gives it the same built-in functionality as the Circle Pad Pro accessory for the old 3DS. And…that’s about it. It has a shinier finish and moves the volume toggle from under your left hand so you’re not constantly bumping it. So what?
  The real changes are under the hood. The New 3DS has more RAM and a faster processor, which shortens game download and loading screen times and allows the system to use face-tracking to stabilize the 3D display. The stable 3D may not seem like much while sitting at home, but on a cross-town bus ride it’s a significant improvement. It also has NFC so it can communicate with Nintendo’s amiibo figurines.
  The New 3DS uses a microSD card for memory instead of the larger SD and requires you to unscrew the back to swap cards, but in practice this makes the card less likely to get bumped out if the system is dropped and isn’t a real hindrance since you almost never need to take out the card. The onboard speakers are much louder than the older version. The cartridge slot is on the bottom left, which can feel a little awkward, and the stylus on the bottom right is a little less intuitive to pull out, but neither of those are crippling flaws.
  Looking at the history of Nintendo’s iconic hand-held line, the best comparison would be the jump from the Game Boy to the Game Boy Color: The New 3DS makes existing games more enjoyable, but not overwhelmingly so, and exclusive games will be released for it, but as a slow transition. The first game to be exclusive to it, the JRPG Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, won’t even be released until April 10th. No others have been announced yet.
  So do you really need it? The changes are small but significant enough that there’s no blanket answer to that. The improvements are most significant in Super Smash Bros., which can use amiibos, and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, which uses the new controls to make game play more like a proper console. MH4U feels like it was designed to work on the old 3DS but shine on the New one, not just because of the controls but because of the better processor. If you’re a serious player of either of those games it’s definitely worth upgrading. But if you’re spending most of your 3DS time playing older games like Pokémon or Animal Crossing and you’re not obsessed with having the newest shiny things, there’s not much need yet. Currently only the XL version is available in the US, and only in red or black, so if that’s not your ideal you might want to wait for a color you like more, a smaller size or a limited edition system, all of which are rumored to be coming eventually.

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