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The New Nintendo 3DS is everything fun, exhausting, about Nintendo's strategy

Nintendo has announced a "new" 3DS system coming to Japan later this year, to be released in other regions in 2015.

The changes are interesting, and include another analog stick above the face buttons, two extra shoulder buttons, some speed improvements that are said to help make the menus and downloading a bit zippier, and the 3D effect should be enhanced.

Xenoblade Chronicles is coming to the new system, and it will only work on the upgraded 3DS. If that becomes a trend we're in for some scary times.

Retailers are going to have a hard time explaining that there is a system called the 3DS that plays this subset of 3DS games, but not all the 3DS games. Customers will glaze over before they get to the part where if they want to play every 3DS game they'll need to buy the latest model, which comes in two sizes, or that their existing 3DS merely plays most 3DS games, as does the 2DS, because the new 3DS is a bit faster.

It's confusing, and it's my job to keep up on this stuff. To the average parent going into a store around the holidays to pick up a new system for their children or their partner it could be downright baffling.

If you're just now entering Nintendo's world, you're going to have to choose between this model and the existing models. You'll have to judge whether or not you care about the 3D aspect of the system or if the 2DS is OK for you, and then you'll need to decide if the updated hardware is worth the cost to pick up the new system.

It's confusing, and it's my job to keep up on this stuff

If you buy an older unit, you'll walk away knowing you won't be able to play some upcoming games that take advantage of the new hardware. And those cool amiibo toys that learn from your play and work across games? You're going to need the new hardware to play with those, or at least purchase something new to use them on your existing hardware.


This is very cool-looking hardware, and a better screen combined with more buttons opens things up for some fun things. I'm going to pick one up the first day they're available, and I bet many of you are as well, but Nintendo has announced and will launch a system that's kind of a new platform, but also an upgrade to the existing hardware line, with a name that makes it sound like something you already own.

Hell, we know the calamity caused by the Wii U name, and unless Nintendo makes its naming system a little clearer in the US we could be looking at the same mess for this release. There needs to be a way to communicate with players what exactly they're getting with every version of the system, but when you mix in games that only work on one version or may require an additional purchase for the near-field communication that gets tricky.

It used to be handled. The 3DS was the system, and it played everything. That was the platform The 2DS lost the 3D display but was easier for children to hold and play. The 3DS XL? Well, it was bigger. Now we have this other thing. In two models. With new buttons, added speed and exclusive games.

Calling it the "new" 3DS isn't going to cut it.

There's also the fact that Nintendo's infrastructure for dealing with families with multiple systems or existing customers isn't just anachronistic, it's downright hostile. Want to buy a digital version of a game and share it between pieces of hardware your family may own? You can do it on iPads, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and the Vita, but Nintendo doesn't seem to know how to catch up.

Games can only exist on one system at a time, so no sharing. Moving your existing digital games from the 3DS system in your home to the new unit will likely use the same annoying system that we currently suffer through.

Calling it the "new" 3DS isn't going to cut it.

This is exciting in many ways. The amiibo toys are a cool addition to Nintendo's roster of games, which remains one of the strongest collection of franchises in the business. The new screen could be great, and if it improves the limited "sweet spot" you have to stay inside to see the 3D effect it will be even better. More power is always welcome, and a second analog stick is a good call; it opens up the possibilities for better camera control while keeping the bottom touch screen open for menus and maps.

This is all good stuff.

But it's also going to fragment the market, create customer confusion, and returning players will have to deal with Nintendo's archaic policies when it comes to moving your content over or buying digital games.

The constant, continual march into the future with incremental upgrades has long been Nintendo's portable strategy, and it's always worked, but the lack of basic features that have been standard in Sony and Microsoft systems is only getting worse.

The next level of puzzles.

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