Nintendo Signage
Nintendo signage is displayed at the company's booth at the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo, known as E3, in Los Angeles, California June 11, 2014. Reuters/Kevork Djansezian

Nintendo is treating fans of its 3DS handheld console with a new and redesigned version. In the first-ever Nintendo Direct broadcast for 2015, Nintendo announced that the new handheld console is set for a U.S. launch date on Feb. 13, 2015.

Dubbed rather unimaginatively as the New Nintendo 3DS XL, it incorporates better hardware for the same price tag of $200 as the outgoing version. The "New" in the name points to improvements that include a faster processor, "slightly longer" battery lifeand an extra analogue stick on the right-hand side of the device for an enhanced gaming experience.

The most significant change aims to address a major criticism against the console: the 3D functionality. The current version of the Nintendo 3DS must be viewed from the dead centre for optimal 3D effect. The new system addresses that problem by adopting a face-tracking feature that claims to provide a uniform 3D experience irrespective of the viewing angle.

"It features a number of new enhancements, designed to offer the smoothest and most engrossing on-the-go gaming possible," said Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime during the Nintendo Direct.

Nintendo has promised improved boot-up times and quicker downloads thanks to the new hardware. The handheld console now also ships with built-in support for near-field communication and amiibo figures. The device will be backward compatible with all 3DS games. However, certain upcoming games will only be compatible with the redesigned version.

The New Nintendo 3DS XL, however, has one curious omission. It will ship without an AC charging adapter. On the bright side, IGN reports that the device will be compatible with the charging adapters of all existing DS, 3DS, 3DS XL, DSi and DSi XL variants. If you don't own any of these, you will have to purchase the official AC charger for $10 (AU$12 approximately).

"Rather than raise cost of New Nintendo 3DS XL by charging consumers for a component they may already own, we are giving them the option to only buy if they need an AC adapter," said a Nintendo representative to Polygon. The company claims that the omission is cost-cutting measure meant to offset the improvements to the upcoming console.

In addition to the 3DS XL launch, Nintendo's presentation also announced two bundles for the system. One version includes "The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask", whereas the other has "Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate" bundled with the improved 3DS XL. Both bundles are slated to release alongside the console on the same launch day.

Nintendo 3DS - Introducing the New Nintendo 3DS XL (Credit: Official Nintendo YouTube channel)