We're just coming back from a long weekend here in the US, and it was a good weekend for gamers. Labor Day is when PAX Prime happens, and I spent a lot of time watching streams from the show but honestly there wasn't a lot of news coming out of it. Still it was fun sitting in on some panels and demos from the comfort of my living room.
But even without PAX news there are things to recap. Friday morning Nintendo held one of its Nintendo Direct streams. This one was directed at its Japanese audience and Nintendo used the event to introduced a new 3DS handheld gaming system for the Japanese marketplace. (It hasn't officially been announced for other areas yet.)
The new systems (there's both a 'standard' size and the 'XL' size) add an analog 'nub' to the right side of the unit, two new shoulder buttons, better 3D capability (which I think means a larger 'sweet spot' for seeing the 3D effects), NFC capability (for use with the upcoming Amibo figures) and an 'enhanced' CPU.
Reaction to the new 3DS seems to be mixed. Some folks seem to think it's too early for new hardware (the new 3DS will be 100% backwards compatible but games designed specifically for it won't run on the old hardware) but most of the consternation seems to come from the name. The new 3DS will be called the New 3DS.
You can imagine the confusion this will cause. Granted Apple does the same thing with the iPad, but you don't have parents and grandparents going to retail stores to buy their kids a game for their iPad. When someone says "My daughter just got a new 3DS and I want to buy her a game." do they mean an old-style 3DS fresh from the store or do they actually mean a New 3DS?
When you head to Gamestop to buy a handheld Nintendo console you'll now pick from the 3DS, the 3DS XL, a used 3DS, a used 3DS XL, a New 3DS, a used New 3DS, a New 3DS XL or a used New 3DS XL.
I'm really hoping that Nintendo rebrands this device to the 3DS Plus or Super 3DS or something (anything!) other than the New 3DS when it launches for the North American market.
So that was Friday. On Monday Sony held a pre-Tokyo Game Show press conference. For the most part this was all about the games coming to the PS4 and Vita, but they did announce that both consoles would be getting dashboard themes in the coming months (and on the PS4 at least, they are animated) and that the Vita will be getting a software update that lets you watch PS4 livestreams. That seems like a seriously niche addition to me. There's also a new pink and white Vita coming this fall but it's the standard hardware with a fresh coat of paint.
Of the new games announced the most significant announcement was probably that Persona 5 is coming to the PS4. But it's also coming to the PS3 so really it isn't a reason to upgrade.
And we have news for PC gamers too. Alienware has announced a re-design of their Area 51 desktop systems. The most striking thing about the design is the shape (that's it in the image at the top of this post), and while it looks like a gimmick an Alienware representative explained the reasoning behind it during the PAX Prime "Future of PC Gaming" session.
The system is designed to sit under your desk. The front panel slopes back to give you easy access to the ports on it. (Think about looking under your desk; the designed is intended to position the plane of the front panel perpendicular to your line of sight.) The back panel slopes forward to ensure there's room behind the system for ample air flow and to prevent cables getting jammed against the wall if you push it all the way back. And when you need to access the back panel you can 'roll' the system forward onto the small surface at the bottom front to give you easy access.
Inside the case there's room for 3 graphics cards and you'll be able to order the system with the new Intel i7 Extreme 8 core processor. The system supports up to 32 GB of 2133Mhz DDR4 RAM. Of course you'll be able to configure it to meet your needs when it becomes available later this fall.
It feels weird to get excited about a new PC because of the shape of the case, but I have to admit this system has me excited!
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.