In the wake of the Switch's formal unveiling, many had assumed that Nintendo would be moving on from its 3DS handheld in favor of providing support to its new portable/home gaming console hybrid. As gamers prepared to make the transition over to the newer platform, however, the House of Mario shocked consumers this year when it announced a new entry in its 2DS line of handhelds, the New Nintendo 2DS XL.
The immediate appeal of the platform comes with the slight power upgrade that 2DS owners had been lacking in comparison to the New Nintendo 3DS XL. Those making the jump will find games running a little smoother in the wake of this transition, and New 3DS exclusive titles like Xenoblade Chronicles 3D are finally available to those that have been left without since its release – this holds especially true for those hoping to play some of the SNES titles titles previously only available on "New 3DS" models.
This is, of course, paired with the addition of a built-in amiibo scanner, a C-Stick, two extra shoulder buttons, and larger screens. Truth be told, all that these additions have really done are provide those that aren't keen on glasses-less 3D with a console that's on par with what's currently available on the 3DS side of things. This is a great thing for fans that have been left wondering if these exclusive features would be made available to them, but it's a far cry from being a step forward for the product line.
Still, it's clear that that's not Nintendo's intention with the New 2DS XL.
This "don't fix what ain't broke" mantra doesn't hold true to the design of the system though, as the sleek, clamshell aesthetic is a much more manageable system to tuck into a pocket or throw in a bag. The original 2DS resembled more of a slab (or the original Game Boy), which was a polarizing look for those that wanted to keep it on their person without fear of damaging the system's dual screens. This worry has been completely erased with this release, but the compact design has come with its own drawbacks.
The stylus itself is significantly smaller than what's been included with any other unit to-date and it is easily the platform's biggest detractor. Truth be told, it's almost absurd how petite the thing really is, clocking in at roughly the length of a toothpick. Having said that, the stylus features a little more girth than the aforementioned restaurant freebie, but its design will be sure to cause hand cramps during extended play sessions.
Other than that, the design of the New Nintendo 2DS XL is quite a step up from existing offerings. It's incredibly light, albeit a little hollow feeling when compared to the New Nintendo 3DS XL or the Nintendo Switch. That doesn't take too much away from the system, as the black and blue (or white and gold depending on the SKU) makes for a nice color pairing. Meanwhile, the wavy exterior of the shell makes for a neat look for the console, albeit one that looks a little more Fisher Price-esque. The only downside to this look is that the matte exterior will get finger smudges on it, which is sure to agitate anyone that prefers a pristine looking electronic. Even then, that's easily remedied with a wet nap.
Additionally, the game and MicroSD card ports are now both located under a flap at the bottom of the console, which means that gamers won't have to unscrew the back of the unit to get to the memory card slot – as was the case with previous units. Having both of these things tucked under a flap of plastic can make swapping out game cards on the fly a little more challenging, but it keeps the platform looking sleek, prevents things from getting wedged in the slot, and prevents cards from accidentally being ejected during play. Overall, its placement was a solid call by Nintendo.
Nintendo's latest console is a solution for those that want to avoid 3D but don't want to miss out on the additional power of the New 3DS. The cost of the New Nintendo 2DS XL is $149.99 USD ($199.99 CAD), which means that it rings in at roughly half the price of the Nintendo Switch. This isn't overly costly based on what the console does and the immense library of titles that are currently available for it. It's cheaper than the New Nintendo 3DS XL too, which helps it to further carve out and cater to its own audience.
Overall, the New Nintendo 2DS XL is a worthwhile addition to the 3DS family that provides aficionados of the 2DS system with a means of accessing features that they'd previously been barred from. Exclusive games, smoother gameplay as a result of the extra power, and a number of new buttons and abilities make this a great option for consumers. Although, maybe they'll want to carry around their own stylus.
The New Nintendo 2DS XL is available now.