The New Nintendo 3DS XL gets sweet exclusive editions, coveted titles, just in time for a Feb. EU and U.S. (NA) launch

Nintendo Comp., Ltd. (TYO:7974) Wii U may be continuing to struggle, but sales of the 3DS handheld have slowly built up steam, even in the era of smartphone gaming.  Nintendo announced yesterday that it would be at long last bringing its latest and greatest second-generation 3DS, commonly known as the "new" Nintendo 3DS XL, to the American market on Feb. 13.

This may seem a little confusing as the original Nintendo 3DS XL launched in North America roughly two-and-a-half years ago in Aug. 2012.  The "new" Nintendo 3DS XL is an upgraded version, though with new features and new controls.  

Nintendo 3DS XL "new"

Additions over the original model include:
  • Refreshed design
    • Thinner body/narrower frame
    • A new "nub" style analog C-stick in the upper right corner
    • Stylus holder in front bottom face
    • Wireless switch goes away (becomes soft-button)
    • Select/Start move to right side
    • Ambient light sensor appears next to camera for auto-brightness adjustments
    • A second set of shoulder triggers (ZL and ZR) is added
    • Volume slider is moved from bottom face to top face, opposite the 3D effect slider
  • Hardware Changes
    • New, faster CPU and GPU
    • Better glasses-free (stereoscopic) 3D-viewing
    • microSD reader (vs. SD reader in old model) (moved from left side to front)
    • NFC support
  • Software Changes
    • Backwards compatibility with "original" 3DS XL games library and charger
    • New core software, including new "modern" browser
    • Enhanced online multi-player gaming
Nintendo 3DS XL

The new model will retail for $199.99 USD (the first generation model is currently retailing for $30 less than that -- $169.99 USD -- on, Inc.'s (AMZN) sales site). It's worth noting that the new 3DS XL has been out in Japan since Oct. 2014 and in Australia/New Zealand since Nov. 2014.

That said, American buyers haven't missed out on much as the library at launch in Japan was pretty paltry.  Nintendo is just now bringing out some of its big guns titles wise for the new, faster mobile console.  To that end Nintendo announced several titles which will launch alonside the new 3DS XL next month, including:

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.

ACE Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy +

Other announced titles that will be available later in the Spring and early summer include...

Etrian Mystery Dungeon (Spring 2015)

Puzzle and Dragons Z (May 2015)

Fire Emblem (title pending) (?? 2015 ??)

In addition to the NA launch date, MSRP, and trailers, Nintendo also announced a pair of special limited edition 3DS XLs, one for Majora's Mask and the other for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. The base version of the console will be available in black and red in North America at launch.  Smartphone gaming continues to be an existential threat to the 3DS's existence, but Nintendo continues to find a way to carve out a niche for its iconic handheld series, which first debuted with the classic Gameboy back in 1989.

Today, 25 years later, the only direct challenger to Nintendo in the dedicated mobile gaming device space is Sony Corp.'s (TYO:6758) second-generation (PCH-2000) PlayStation Vita handheld (aka the "slim" edition).  Black Friday sales figures, though, indicate that Nintendo's console enjoyed roughly a 10-to-1 lead over the Vita.  In other words, Nintendo's handheld is a stud, while Sony's continues to be a dud, sales-wise.

Nintendo currently has no plans to release the (normal size) New Nintendo 3DS, likely due to American buyers' overwhelming preference for the larger model.  Europe will also be getting the new handheld in February, but will be getting the smaller New Nintendo 3DS, in addition to the Nintendo 3DS XL.

Source: Nintendo America on Twitter

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