Nintendo 2DS: More a Contender, Less a Chump

When the 3DS first launched, fans rejoiced while those not in support of Nintendo claimed that the glasses-free 3D feature was ‘gimmicky at best.’ While I tried my best to fend off the masses, there was no denying it: I barely used my 3D feature on my games. Out of the 10 games that I own, I probably played four with it on, and two I could have probably played without. Even when I had it on, I usually only had it at half strength since having it too high would make my eyes cross. I get it: it was a neat, revolutionary feature that wasn’t big, but Nintendo wanted to make it big. That’s what they do. They revolutionize. They don’t create gaming consoles; they create eras.

After many, MANY failed attempts at defending the 3D functionality, Nintendo decides to unleash the 2DS. This console plays all of your 3DS games without worrying about 3D whatsoever. It comes in what looks like a rather gaudy housing (no clamshell design this time, folks), and sports the same red and blue colors we’ve come to expect from the current handhelds that exist. Oh, yeah, and by the way, no more 3D. What’s the deal, Nintendo? You take out the biggest key selling point from your handheld market halfway through it’s lifecycle and for what? What do you hope to accomplish?

2DS_360

Those were the questions I had until I finally got some hands on time with a 2DS, and realized this was probably one of the best marketing decisions they have ever made for a handheld. I don’t think it’s better than say upgrading the Game Boy to have color, but it’s pretty great nonetheless. Here’s why:

Price Point

Every single person I talk to who doesn’t have a 3DS now almost always goes back to the price. Even at the $169.99 USD for the older model, that’s not exactly chump change, especially when you include the fact that you are most likely going to buy it for a game (Pokemon seems to be the big thing right now…). Games are averaging around $39.99, so after taxes you are looking at well over $200. That’s a lofty investment for a handheld without a strong library yet and one feature that really sets it apart from the rest of the market. At this new $129.99, you have now significantly lowered the bar for both new customers and parents alike to get this unit for themselves.

The 2DS Unit

The unit itself is solid. Despite being made of a matte plastic and looking cheap, the unit feels very sturdy in your hands. Think of the original Game Boy in a dual screen form factor. When I grip the unit, my hands fall right where the buttons and joystick belong, and while it was uncomfortable before to use the D-Pad, that has been remedied thanks to a little more console extending out of the bottom. The lack of a clamshell design is a little unsettling, as it kind of takes away from the portability of it, but chances are the people who are purchasing this unit aren’t really on the go anyway — they are playing comfortably curled up on a couch or recliner and just enjoying some casual gaming. Some of the cases that have already come out look like they make this unit very easy to just pop in a briefcase and take along with you (for all of my worker bees out there). It is a little heavier than the original 3DS, but still lighter, and without the hinge, it feels much more sturdy in terms of durability (anyone else hate that their 3DS hinge ‘wiggles’ around?).

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Functionality

For the most part, the 2DS has all of the same features and functionality as the 3DS. You’ll notice two very big differences, but two that I don’t feel should really affect overall performance of the unit.

First, without the clamshell design, there is no way for the unit to sleep. Nintendo has included a dedicated sleep switch that functions very similarly to the sleep switch on the PSP. Flick it, and the unit is out. Flick it again, and it is back on just as quickly as it went off (ah, the power of cartridge format games). The battery is only slightly better than the original 3DS, but still not as good as the XL, so you can expect about 4-5 hours of play time, and about 5-7 days of sleeping before the unit gives out on you.

The other big change with the 2DS is the sound. The unit now has one speaker, located on the left side of the unit. The system can still output stereo, but to attain it, you have to put in headphones (or one of those portable speaker systems, if you’d like). I’m hit-or-miss on portable speakers; half the time I am playing them, I can’t use the sound anyway, so I’ve almost always got headphones hooked up to mine. This is probably a more case by case basis on whether this is a big point for you. Chances are it isn’t.

Final Thoughts

What else can be said? After getting some time to really ‘crash course’ through the 2DS, I’m satisfied. Satisfied so much that if I didn’t want the Eevee XL so bad, I would gladly ‘upgrade’ my current 3DS to the 2DS. Obviously a decision to buy a 2DS is going to be based on individual preferences, but I can tell you that I personally have shopped the 2DS to about a dozen of my friends who had been either looking for a handheld but didn’t want to spend the money, or were on the fence about a 3DS because 3D just wasn’t a selling point for them.

Nintendo hasn’t disappointed before. I’m not sure why I would expect them to do so now.

For more 2DS goodness, be sure to check out Jeff’s Thoughts of the Day here.

For the official website, go here.

the author

Peter has been reviewing games since 2007. He enjoys all aspects of the industry, and hopes to one day be a part of it. Until that day comes he will continue to work hard and garner as much knowledge about the industry in preparation for that move. He enjoys all aspects of gaming, and enjoys talking about them with his peers. His game collection can be found at the Backloggery: http://backloggery.com/peterthomas6 and you can reach out to him over @peterthomas6 on Twitter.