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Nintendo 2DS REVIEW – Nothing to Laugh At

by Ashley Esqueda | October 30, 2013October 30, 2013 11:30 am PDT

The Nintendo 2DS is a relatively curious device: A handheld stripped of the bells and whistles of its powerhouse brother, the 3DS, with a super affordable price tag attached. Our own Joey Davidson didn’t think much of the device when it was originally announced, writing he felt like it was a Pokémon machine made only for kids; however, I’ve been using the 2DS for the past week, and there’s more to it than just “made for Pokémon X & Y.” Sometimes I was a little disappointed, but sometimes, I was surprised at what Nintendo’s bargain handheld had to offer.

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Nintendo 2DS Video Review

Hardware

Nintendo 2DS-Stylus

The 2DS hardware holds the biggest changes of anything on the system, so let’s dig into it. The clamshell design of the 3DS has been eschewed for a wedge-like slate. Obviously, they’ve removed the 3D slider from the 2DS, but the stylus is still present, and just about everything else. Since a user can’t sleep the 2DS the same way you’d put a 3DS to sleep (closing the clamshell), there’s a sleep switch on the bottom right. The circle pads feel very similar (if not the exact same) as the 3DS, which is a welcome surprise, as I was expecting them to be cheaply made. Same goes for the bumpers, which don’t feel fragile at all.

Nintendo 2DS-VS-3DS-Side-2

As for the shell of the 2DS, it definitely has an air of ‘inexpensive’ — you won’t be marveling at how premium it feels in your hand, nor will you rave to your friends that Nintendo went above and beyond with the build quality. I will say, though, that it also felt tough… as in, “my kid drops this thing every now and again, and it’s still surviving” tough. Which I’d imagine is exactly what Nintendo was aiming for. It comes with a 4GB SD card already in its slot, which is a nice little extra.

Nintendo 2DS-Camera

One particular feature seemed bizarre to carry over from the 3DS: two side-by-side cameras, used traditionally for taking 3D photos and videos. Those cameras are still on board, but regardless of why, I can’t possibly figure out a great reason for them to be there. It’s a strange decision, especially considering nobody really uses those cameras in the first place even on the 3DS (at least in my experience). I guess AR games and a couple other use cases apply, but I’m still kind of ‘meh’ about their inclusion.

Screens

Nintendo 2DS-Front

If you hadn’t heard, the dual-screen setup on the 2DS is actually one single screen, housed under a cover that gives the illusion of separate screens. That’s apparently a cost-saving measure by Nintendo, and overall, I didn’t notice anything different about the way these “screens” work compared to an original 3DS.

The screens on the 2DS are the same size and resolution as the original 3DS; to say they’re small would be an understatement. I found myself longing for the bigger 3DS XL screens often, especially while playing The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time 3D. Then again, the smaller screen size lent an added air of portability to the 2DS, and would fit discreetly into a backpack or other bag. The one major concern? Scratches. The 3DS is protected when closed, a feature you don’t have with the 2DS, and that’s something to think about if you’re considering picking one up.

Nintendo 2DS-VS-3DS-Front

Looking at the 2DS, I could potentially see a 2DS XL getting a release if the first generation device sells really well this holiday season, but that’s pure speculation on my part.

Software

Nintendo 2DS-Menu

All the standard Nintendo software and navigation from the 3DS has carried over to the 2DS. Street Pass is still loads of fun when you’re at a convention (or any other place where Nintendo-lovers gather), and getting around the settings and various menus is easy. There’s not too much to say beyond that — if you love (or hate) Nintendo’s menus on the 3DS, you’ll feel the exact same here.

Games

Nintendo 2DS - Official Nintendo Video - 011

As I mentioned before, I spent the majority of my time playing The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time 3D. I’ve played the same game on the 3DS, and I can honestly say I didn’t miss the 3D at all. I don’t often use the 3DS with the 3D turned all the way up (or on at all), so the 2DS felt right at home, and eliminated the added step of checking the 3D slider to shut the feature off, which was a small but appreciated thing.

Ocarina of Time aside, I didn’t experience any lag or slowdown on the 2DS while playing; in fact, some of my friends who tried Pokémon X & Y on the 2DS out of curiosity reported much less lag on it compared to the 3DS. They said the 3DS often had slow frame rates while playing with 3D turned up, so take that for what it’s worth. I never found myself missing 3D while using the 2DS, but if you’re really into that extra immersion, then the 2DS isn’t for you.

Nintendo 2DS - Official Nintendo Video - 007

Buy/wait

The Nintendo 2DS is a price-perfect handheld for anyone looking to play 3DS games without the 3D, but we wish there were larger screens and some kind of screen protection included, since you won’t be closing this slab shut anytime soon.

Look, I get it: it’s no coincidence Nintendo launched the 2DS the same day as Pokémon X & Y. And yes, Joey might be right in that some people will use it as a Pokemon machine. But there were so many nice comforts in the 2DS: often, I felt like I was holding an old Gameboy in my hand, which was kind of cool and nostalgic; the tradeoff of a lower price for no 3D was a happy exchange; and the parts of the 2DS that needed to feel sturdy, did feel sturdy.

If you’re an adult, the 2DS might not be right for you. You may want larger screens, or need your handheld to close shut. But if you’ve got a 7-year-old kid? It’s a no-brainer. It’s not so expensive that a catastrophe would be ultra painful, and the design makes it easy for little hands to hold for long periods of time.

We all laughed a little bit when Nintendo announced the 2DS, saying it was crazy; however, far stranger things in Nintendo’s product lines have done well at market, and the 2DS’ compelling price point and vast library of games (all 3DS games are compatible) make it a great pick for a kid who doesn’t need a more expensive variant, or an adult who would rather invest in more games as opposed to 3D on a handheld.

Ashley Esqueda used the Nintendo 2DS for 6 days, and played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D during her gaming sessions.


Ashley Esqueda

Ashley Esqueda is a sixth-generation Southern Californian, and thinks that's pretty cool. Ever since her mom bought her an NES for her third birthday...

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