Nintendo has always been a more family and child-oriented game company. Ever since they began, their franchises have all been geared towards all ages and some specifically towards kids. Just think about it. Mario. Kirby. Zelda. Pokemon. Even Smash. They’re all either geared towards family or kids. I was once a small child around 8 years old when Pokemon Red and Blue released in the United States and it’s what really got me into handhelds with the original Game Boy and then the GBC with Pokemon Yellow.
It’s no surprise that with this generation, Nintendo made a model of its popular 3DS handheld that is specifically targeted towards to help children get into Nintendo games, while providing parents with a cheaper alternative to buying the full 3DS or 3DS XL. That handheld is what I’m about to talk about, and I’m sure many of you already know what I’m talking about.
Let’s get down to it! Here’s my review of the Nintendo 2DS!
Let’s start with this new system’s design. If you take a look, it is a free-holding handheld that has no hinge and has the clamshell design completely removed. Nintendo has not released a hinge-less handheld since the Game Boy Advance era, with the original GBA and the Game Boy Micro. The idea of this may have been to make it a much simpler task to hold and view it, rather than angling the top screen like you’ve had to do with all DS and 3DS handhelds.
The displays on the system are roughly the same size as that of the original 3DS model, so users of the XL’s may notice a bit of a change. Then, we have a button configuration that mirrors that of the 3DS. N Circle Pad above a D-Pad on the left of the screens, while the face buttons on the right of the screen. Also to the left of the screens is a mono speaker, which is the only speaker built into the system. Much like the New 3DS models, the Start and Select buttons are also to the right of the screens, rather than below with the Home button. The Power button is also to the right of the screens, just on the bottom.
Since this isn’t a clamshell design, Nintendo needed a way to initiate sleep mode, and that’s what the slider just below the Power Button is for. Slide it to the right and it will click in place, putting the system into sleep mode. Move it to the left and it will automatically wake up. On the opposite side on the bottom of the system is the headphone jack.
Now let’s look at the sides and the top. The left side of the system has the volume sider on it, while the right side houses the SD Card Slot, and the Stylus Pen. Note that the SD Cards supported are the full-size SD Card, and a 4 GB card comes pre-loaded in the system. Then we get to the top, where the corners house large, thick L and R triggers, and the power port and Cartridge Slot are in the middle on the top.
On the back is where things get interesting, and strange. There are two cameras on the back, supporting the 3D feature for the camera, and it is here on the 2DS. Why the 3D-less model still has a 3D camera feature, no one knows. But that’s really all that’s on the back other than the logo and disclaimer.
As far as software is concerned, it’s no different than a normal 3DS. The home screen looks the same and you even still get the “3DS” logo when you launch 3DS games. The only difference with software is that the game has no built-in 3D. Meaning that games can only be played in 2D mode.
Now we get to the fun part. How does this model perform? First, we look at the design itself. It’s pretty clear that Nintendo made this in mind for kids, particularly the guarantee that a child could and would drop the system. The shell and material is very hard and thick, clearly made to take a beating. It is actually a lot tougher than any of the other 3DS models, and that makes it a nice and stable handheld to have and use, especially if you have a tendency to drop portable technology.
The system, itself, is surprisingly comfortable to hold. When I picked it up, it felt comfortable right away. My hands fit onto the 2DS just like it would hold an iPad in portrait orientation. One of my fingers even made it seem more convenient with the natural holding of the system being right where the stylus pen is, making whipping out the pen for touch controls incredibly easy and much less work than on my New 3DS XL.
The only thing I will say as a complaint is the location of the trigger buttons. My fingers naturally rested around halfway up the back of the device, so getting used to holding it with my two pointer fingers resting all the way on top of the system was a hassle, to say the least. Granted, it wouldn’t have been easy for Nintendo to make triggers work sticking out the back of the system, but that didn’t make it any less awkward of a change. Even now, my fingers still naturally rest halfway up the back whenever I don’t have to use the triggers.
As far as use, let’s talk about those screens and the speaker. I tested the screen brightness and it isn’t quite as bright as the New 3DS is. It’s still got enough light to be decently playable out and about, but there is a subtle difference between how bright it is compared to the New 3DS. The speaker is the main culprit of the performance, though. They have one mono speaker on this thing, which means you cannot have stereo sound without headphones. You may not notice, but a lot of people will. Why there isn’t a secondary speaker somewhere, I don’t know.
As far as games go, I have no complaints. There is actually an advantage to using the smaller screen of the 3DS. On the XL models, you can easily pinpoint breaks and jagged edges in 3D games. With the smaller screens, much less so. When I played Ocarina of Time on my XL, I could make out a ton of jagged edges on Link. When I played it on my 2DS, I could barely tell there even were jagged edges. It’s that big of a difference.
Just remember. The 2DS is not part of the “New” 3DS lineup. That means that this cannot play games exclusive to those models, like The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, and SNES Virtual Console.
Longevity is about the same as the normal 3DS. You’ve got about 3-5 hours of 3DS games on a charge or 5-8 hours of Nintendo DS games on a charge. No real advantage of disadvantage over other models. Other things to note are that the hardware is a bit out-dated because of the New 3DS. The New line improved on screen brightness as well as touch screen responsiveness. With the 2DS you cannot freely use your finger for everything. You’ll have to use that stylus pen for a lot of stuff. Until they release a “New 2DS”, if they ever do, the hardware won’t be quite on par with the New models, in terms of specs, screen brightness, or touch response.
The 2DS is a neat little handheld that deserves much more credit for what it is. While it lacks the upgrades of the New 3DS, only has a mono speaker, and has awkwardly-placed triggers, it’s a very comfortable device that I’m starting to prefer using, even over my New XL.