From the early days of the original Game Boy to its most recent system, the 3DS, Nintendo has made a habit of releasing several different, improved systems that iterate on earlier versions of its handhelds. Today, the house of Mario continued in its tradition by announcing two new 3DS models with a host of new features to correspond with some major upcoming games.
Via one of the company’s occasional Nintendo Direct videos, the New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL—a version that has larger screens—debuted with a few cosmetic and functional alterations. (Worth noting, however: Nintendo has only announced the New 3DS line to release in Japan in October. Release dates for America have not been confirmed, though the system is not expected to debut until 2015.)
The most prominent change to the system is actually small in size. A small nub dubbed the C-stick has been placed above the 3DS’ A, B, X and Y buttons. This addition will allow for dual analog-controlled games that mirrors how players can control games on the company’s home console, the Wii U.
The New 3DS will also have additional shoulder buttons, placed next to the L and R buttons that already exist, again making the 3DS almost like a Wii U controller in its setup. Some games with a major following in Japan, like new entries in the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest franchises, are already set to take advantage of these new features to make games easier to control for players.
Perhaps the most important changes to the system are those players won’t be able to see on the 3DS’ surface. Nintendo is improving the battery life, increasing the internal CPU for a smoother experience, and including functionality that will interact with Nintendo’s upcoming line of Amiibo figures. These statues, modeled after some of the company’s most famous characters like Mario, Samus, and Link will be used not just to look good on your shelf, but also to improve the experience of upcoming games like Super Smash Bros. for 3DS.
This may seem like a strange move, and the changes appear slight. But this type of release is a common practice for Nintendo. The 3DS’ predecssor, the Nintendo DS, saw four different models in its lifetime, as did the original Game Boy. Some of these changes are also clear callbacks to Nintendo’s history, as the C-stick was also the name for a nub on the Nintendo GameCube controller, and the A, B, X, and Y buttons are now colored to reflect the buttons on a Super Nintendo controller. An update was inevitable for the 3DS, and it looks like Nintendo is using this improvement to marry its handheld and home console presence while celebrating the company’s past.