Nintendo unveiled an updated design for its popular handheld system, the 3DS, on August 29. The sleek new version is more powerful and packs a number of incremental improvements like better cameras and screens. As competition for consumers' attention with phones and tablets increases, the Japanese gaming giant is also doubling down on something Apple iPads and devices powered by Google's Android system typically don't have: buttons. The New Nintendo 3DS features a new analog control stick as well as two new buttons.
Buttons matter because, no matter how much more powerful phones and tablets get or how much more sophisticated the software that runs on them, manipulating many games without them is still cumbersome. The best mobile games have devised unique control methods for touch interfaces, but titles with traditional setups—guiding a character across 3D space, for instance—still suffer. Nintendo's trio of new buttons amounts to a keen doubling down on what a gaming-dedicated device like the 3DS still does best, namely playing console-like games.
On Nintendo's new device, the right analog knob is located above the right-hand face buttons. In addition to the new controller, the gadget has third and fourth back trigger buttons, dubbed ZR and ZL buttons, located for use in conjunction with the new stick. The New 3DS will be available in both regular and XL-sized models with dimensions similar to current hardware.
In a presentation, the company promised a wider 3D viewing angle than previous models. Additional features include an automatic brightness adjustment sensor, Micro SD card slot, camera improvements, and colorful face buttons. The New 3DS will be available in Japan in October 2014. A U.S. release date has not been set yet.