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Tomorrow morning, Nintendo is going to hold one of its Direct webshows in which it talks about upcoming products. We don’t know much about what it has in store, but here’s one thing that looks likely: the New 3DS.

A promotional poster for the new Nintendo handheld console leaked online yesterday (via NeoGAF, one of the most influential gaming message boards). It reveals the system will debut on Feb. 13 alongside The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. While Nintendo has not verified the authenticity of the marketing material, a GameStop clerk told me that they are under strict instruction not to discuss the New 3DS until Nintendo makes a public statement. The same employee (who I spoke with on the condition of anonymity) suggested the leaked materials are “not wrong.”

We’ll likely know more tomorrow, as it would make sense that the New 3DS will play a big roll in the Nintendo Direct event. So far, the publisher has only said that it intends to talk about Wii U and 3DS games due out around spring, but it’s also getting to the point where the company needs to launch the New 3DS in North America.

The portable gaming device debuted in Japan at the end of last year. It has also already launched in Australia, which means that the hardware is prepped for English-speaking territories. And with the potential for Majora’s Mask 3D to accompany the New 3DS during its North American launch, Nintendo could have another handheld that flies off store shelves.


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The New 3DS is a revised and slightly upgraded version of the 3DS proper. It has a more powerful processor, a right analog control nub, and improved 3D optics. It is also a bit overdue — at least in the States.

2014 was the first year since 2008 that Nintendo did not release a new handheld system in the United States. The company kicked off the streak with the Nintendo DSi in 2009, which was an improvement over the original DS similar to the New 3DS over the 3DS. In 2010, the publisher launched the DSi XL, which was a bigger system. In 2011, Nintendo made its first generational leap since the DS with the 3DS. In 2012, we saw the 3DS XL. In 2013, the company took a step back to release the cheaper, kid-friendly Nintendo 2DS.

But Nintendo missed 2014 in North America when it came to new handheld hardware, but it only just missed it. So it’s not surprising that Nintendo came out with something new for the 3DS. The company kind of needs it.

With the Wii U performing poorly compared to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, Nintendo needs to squeeze as much money from its portable machines and games as it can. But these devices also face growing competition from the iPhones and iPads that are filling more of the needs of young gamers. Over the last several gift-giving shopping seasons, iOS devices have supplanted the 3DS on holiday wishlists.

So the New 3DS may help to extend the life of Nintendo’s important handheld line, and that’s what the publisher needs to give it more time to figure out what is next — and whether it prepares new hardware for 2015 as well.

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