Japanese game maker Nintendo Co has upgraded its 3DS handheld device to sport a screen nearly twice as big as the previous model amid hot competition from smartphones and tablets that are wooing people away from dedicated gaming machines.
The Kyoto-based maker of the Super Mario games and Wii home console said yesterday the Nintendo 3DS LL, called 3DS XL in overseas markets, goes on sale in Japan and Europe on July 28, and in the US from Aug. 19.
It will sell in Japan for ￥18,900 (US$236) and US$199.99 in the US. The firm did not give a price for Europe.
The 3DS, which has a touch panel and delivers 3D imagery without special glasses, has two screens — one is 8.96cm and the other 7.67cm.
The LL or XL version’s screens are 12.40cm and 10.62cm, according to the company. Screen dimensions refer to the diagonal measurement, so LL screens are 1.9 times bigger.
“There were demands for a bigger screen and so we are ready to respond with a size-variation model,” Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said in a video on the company’s Web site. “You can enjoy powerful 3D imagery.”
It weighs a bit more and is slightly bigger than the previous model, but battery life was extended to up to six-and-a-half hours for 3D games from the previous five hours, and up to 10 hours from eight hours for regular games.
Nintendo and Japanese rival Sony Corp with its PlayStation Vita handheld are fighting tough competition from smartphones and tablets, which allow users to not only play games, but also spend time on social media and other entertainment.
Nintendo has sold 17 million 3DS machines worldwide so far. Sony has sold 1.8 million of its PS Vita machines.
Nintendo is also planning a new home console called Wii U for later this year. It will have a 15.75cm touchscreen controller that works separately from what is on the TV monitor, but it will not work as a portable like the 3DS or 3DS LL.