Hardware Review: New Nintendo 2DS XL is a worthy handheld that ditches the third dimension
It seems like Nintendo is over the 3D fad as well
I was fortunate enough to be able to play around with the New 2DS XL for a little over a week now. As someone who absolutely loves portable gaming, even though I barely travel, I knew this little guy was going to get a lot of game time out of me. Like many previous iterations that either added new functionality or trimmed the fat, the New 2DS XL is yet another redesign that mostly focuses on the latter.
If you're familiar with the New Nintendo 3DS XL, which was Nintendo's latest handheld before this one that came out in 2015, then you'll be familiar with all the bells and whistles that come in the 2DS iteration. The big XL screen, the second analog nub for camera control, built-in amiibo scanning functionality and the upgraded faster processor and RAM are all standard features of the New 2DS XL. That means games like Hyrule Warriors: Legends which chugged on the standard 3DS models, or even exclusive games to the New 3DS such as Xenoblade: Chronicles will all work flawlessly on this new model.
The trade-off, as the name suggests, is the lack of a 3D screen, which even Nintendo and other third-party developers aren't prioritizing as a feature. The newly released Hey Pikmin!, Nintendo's very own IP, doesn't utilize it, as well as a slew of third-party titles, probably to focus more on performance. As we've seen in some games, such as the Pokemon titles where the 3D slider worked in battles, the performance dip was noticeable.
What was truly striking about the New 2DS XL was the build itself. Screenshots and videos don't really do the handheld justice until you've held it and played some games on it. The entire clamshell design is symmetrical all the way around, unlike the 3DS XL, which had that hinge at the top. On the 2DS XL, the hinge is very small and extends into the top of the bottom screen and into the bottom of the top screen. The shape is a rounded rectangle all the way around, which once again is quite different from the 3DS XL, which had rounded corners on the bottom but was squared off at the top. Whether the New 2DS XL is closed or open, it looks fantastic.
Another notable difference is that all of the system's controls have been moved to the lower half of the system. The 3D slider was removed altogether obviously, and the volume knob was shifted to the bottom left instead of the top left where it used to be.That means that the top half of the system is fully dedicated to the screen and nothing else. In turn, this brought the weight down of the 2DS by about two ounces. It's not incredibly noticeable, at least not right away, but over extended play periods, you'll find that the top heaviness of the 3DS is gone, thanks to all the extra controls being shifted to the bottom of the system.
At $149.99, it feels like an absolute steal, considering you're getting all the hardware benefits of the New 3DS XL sans the 3D screen, however, if you already own that device, you probably won't have much of a reason to switch to the New 2DS XL.
One of those main reasons being Nintendo's account control. I currently have a 200GB SD card inside my New 3DS XL, which houses around 40 digital retail games, 50 smaller digital titles that include games like Bye-Bye Box Boy and Sakura Samurai, and of course a whole heap of Virtual Console games that I've either bought myself, or were given to as part of the Ambassador Program when the 3DS first launched. If it was as simple as simply taking out my MicroSD card out of my old 3DS XL and putting it into the New 2DS XL, I would switch to it in a heartbeat, but thanks to Nintendo's archaic design, that doesn't use an account system but instead ties game to hardware, I'd have to go through a whole setup process to switch my account from the 3DS to the 2DS. An absolute pain. Of course, this rant isn't knocking the New 2DS XL by any means, it's not the hardware's fault but rather Nintendo's, but I did want to talk about why it might not be ideal for anyone looking to switch to the 2DS from their old 3DS.
At that price, it's a perfect little handheld for kids, and given that 3D is now out of the picture, you don't have to worry about your five-year-old ruining their eyes with that. However, I do have another disclaimer. Despite the clamshell design of the New 2DS XL, make sure that your child knows what it is they're holding and that they're at least somewhat familiar with technology and video games. I tried to introduce my 4-year-old to gaming with this little guy, plopping her down in a chair next to me, giving her Mario Kart and letting her play around in Time Trial against no opponents, until she grasped the controls. Well, a few days later, I ended up discovering the screen had quite a nasty crack on it, despite thinking that Nintendo's handheld is pretty tough. Let this be a disclaimer just in case you buy one and think that due to its outer protection, it's completely child proof.
With that said, if your kid has been eyeing your 3DS for quite some time now, the New 2DS XL might be the way to go. I've never really liked the open design of the standard 2DS, so this redesign fixes that completely. Couple that with the fact that the New 2DS XL has all the upgrades of the New 3DS XL (minus the 3D) for that price, it's well worth buying, if you've somehow held out this long from handheld gaming, or that special little one in your life is ready to have a handheld of their own.