It shouldn't come as a surprise to see Nintendo launch a new 3DS revision less than 18 months after the original console — after all, the company waited almost exactly the same length of time before following up the DS with the DS Lite. Where that revision sought to slim down the DS to a sleeker, more portable form factor, however, the first 3DS upgrade goes in the opposite direction. The 3DS XL (or LL in Japan) is ostensibly identical to its predecessor in every way beyond a ballooning in size; its screens are around 90 percent larger than the 3DS', with the top 3D display jumping from 3.53 inches to 4.88 inches. Nintendo also promises that the increase in physical size will be accompanied by lengthened battery life.
The portable gaming market has changed significantly since the original 3DS' launch, though, with the PS Vita offering far more powerful hardware, and even recent smartphones outstripping its capabilities. Hamstrung by the need to maintain a unified platform, Nintendo has also elected not to include hardware upgrades such as a second analog stick or a resolution boost for the screens. The 3DS has been performing well enough lately, but can a simple hardware redesign be enough for the traditional gaming giant to keep up?