Nintendo announces 3DS XL, arriving this year

Satoru Shibata came to us from Nintendo of Europe‘s warehouse in the middle of Germany to introduce gamers to a very special new member of the Nintendo family: The Nintendo 3DS XL.

With glass measuring 4.88 inches, the XL screen real estate 90% larger than the 3DS. It’s also a little big heavier – at 336g and over an inch wider – but we’re told that the processing power will remain the same. Happily, in addition to bumping up the size of the hardware, Nintendo will also include a new, larger SD card – 4GB instead of 2GB for the standard 3DS.

The new 3DS XL

The new 3DS XL

But – there’s a catch! There will be no AC adaptor included with your 3DS XL. Instead, you’ll be able to use a charger you already own – from your DSi or standard 3DS, perhaps, to provide your new 3DS XL with power. Of course, if you don’t have an earlier model, don’t stress: You’ll be able to pick up a new charger with or without the 3DS XL cradle.

Hopefully going a little way to reassure fans, you’re given a choice of blue, red or silver, and this is all launching in Europe on July 28th – the same day as Japan and one month earlier than North America – we’re keeping our eyes on an AU date.

In terms of what you’ll be able to play on your new console, Shibata also touched on some of the 3DS XL launch titles, including Kingdom Hearts 3D – Dream Drop Distance, Theatrhythm (remember the demo is out now!), an all-new Art Academy and a retail version of Freaky Forms, which takes the download-only original and bumps it up a notch.

We were also treated to a new look at New Super Mario Bros 2, which will follow the console to market on August 17th as both a retail copy and a digital download from the eShop. Rather than just another Mario game, this is actually a milestone for Nintendo, as New Super Mario Bros 2 marks the first batch of premium DLC for western audiences, thanks to the game’s intriguing Coin Rush level.

Shibata called in David Corless, Sonic brand director for Sega, to talk a little about the upcoming London Olympics: In addition to the game headed to both Wii and 3DS, you can also expect to see a social app available for download – the Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Virtual Card Album will see gamers around the world trying to collect an assortment of, well, virtual cards, which are available through a number of different ways. In addition to the starter pack available at retail, others can be picked up through Street Pass, wi-fi connections, special location hotspots, or by being unlocked through gameplay. This whole thing is only for a limited time, however, so keep an eye out!

Speaking of catching ’em all, Pokemon Black & White 2 was next in the showcase, including two eShop apps that’ll help you out if you’re playing on 3DS: The Pokedex 3D Pro to keep track of what you’ve collected, and Pokemon Dream Radar which will let you find even more, with a tasty bit of augmented reality thrown in. Even though we were treated to English gameplay footage, there’s still no specific dates for the game’s release in the west.

We were also shown 37 reasons why we should play Heroes of Ruin (now with added dubstep), Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem, Inazuma Eleven Wii and Paper Mario 3DS.

Then – something kind of exciting: Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is headed to a western release by November, and will receive free DLC puzzles each day after launch, just to keep you interested.

 Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

…and finally, arguably the most exciting point: A new Super Smash Bros game is in the works, with Nintendo collaborating with Namco Bandai on the game, which Shibata explains got far too complicated for a single team to create from scratch.

Was it a good showcase? Most definitely. Was it also somewhat confusing? Absolutely. We’re just three weeks after the year’s major trade show, and it seems rather odd that Nintendo is choosing to make its hardware announcements – and long-awaited software reveals – somewhere else.

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