3DS XL now available in US

The Nintendo 3DS XL has launched in North America.

The new, bigger-screen version of the glasses-free 3D handheld that first went on sale last year is Nintendo’s chance to capture more gamers in a market it hasn’t really managed to catch so far.

Even though Nintendo has always been the definition of handheld gaming, new competition from tablets and smartphones, along with significant problems plaguing the 3DS launch, has led to the company dwindling this time around.

Nintendo used to have a very solid track record of being able to keep its console prices solid for a long time after being released, but the 3DS was a very different story. The company had already slashed the system from $250 to $170 after just a couple months.

And in addition to being the most expensive system Nintendo has ever released, it launched without any good games, and heavyweight franchises like Mario took several months to come to the device.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata admitted there were many faults with the release of the 3DS. In addition to the lack of launch titles, the company missed its target of a holiday 2010 release, which could have spurred significantly more sales and given it much more traction out of the gate.

The XL is Nintendo’s chance to right those wrongs. The new unit is available for $200.