The 2DS is a cheaper 3DS with one less dimension. That’s not a major problem, but the 2DS design itself can be.
Nintendo 2DS: On the plus side
Nintendo’s latest console, the Nintendo 2DS exists basically to solve two problems. Firstly, there’s the issue of the 3DS’ inbuilt 3D effect, which can be switched off on the 3DS/3DSXL, but isn’t recommended for younger gamers with maturing eyes, or those who find the 3D effect to be too “strong”.
The second problem it exists to combat is a price sensitivity issue; with competition from mobile platforms such as Android and iOS, it’s increasingly difficult for Nintendo to justify a $200+ handheld console.
It’s certainly a curious looking device for a member of the “DS” family; the last time Nintendo had a simply flat handheld gaming system, it was the Gameboy Advance Micro. Micro isn’t the word to apply to the 2DS, which is a big flat slab tablet-style handheld with controls mostly transposed towards the upper screen, while the lower screen acts as a resistive touchscreen.
In hardware terms, this is pretty much the first generation 3DS in terms of battery and screen size, but without a fold in the middle at all. This is arguably in the name of robustness, but I’d be willing to bet that it’s also got a lot to do with keeping costs down.
The lack of a fold means that there’s no easy way to put the 2DS into sleep mode, and so it’s got its own sleep slider at the bottom left, which is a workable solution. Nintendo’s also seen fit to expand the size of the shoulder buttons, and that’s a big plus against at least the 3DS where the shoulders are rather small and fiddly.
In terms of gameplay, 3D is obviously the thing you miss out on, but that’s arguably a small factor. Every 3DS game has to have 3D switch-off built in, because it’s possible to run the 3DS/XL that way.
The form factor of the 2DS is what will make a difference with how you play games, and there’s something of a learning curve here depending on the games you choose to play. Because the controls are aligned with the top screen, the best way to hold it is as though the bottom screen is only secondary, but that varies from game to game.
Titles such as New Super Mario Bros 2, The Legend Of Zelda: The Ocarina Of Time and Rayman Origins all worked well enough in my testing. Games still load with a 3DS logo, which seems odd the first few times you see it. There’s a learning curve here that’s a stark difference from every other “DS” family device, but it’s not an insurmountable one.
Nintendo 2DS: On the minus side
That’s not the same thing as saying that every game works superbly well. Kid Icarus: Uprising is a good example of a game that’s a little harder on the 2DS, and not because of the lack of 3D. Because you use a combination of touchscreen aiming and stick movement, you’ve got to hold the 2DS very wide to play Kid Icarus, and this is something I found quickly uncomfortable. Maybe there’s a good way to play this on the 2DS — but I’m yet to find it.
The 2DS is cheaper, but it’s also more cheaply built than the existing 3DS family, and that’s apparent from the moment you pick it up. It has a cheap plastic and slightly hollow feel to it, and the colour scheme looks like inexpensive paint rather than the glossy finish of the 3DS/XL.
If you’re a long-term Nintendo fan, it’s also a bit galling that you can’t share downloaded apps across your devices. It’s feasible to shift eStore content across to a 2DS from a 3DS, but as far as I can tell, this is a one-way process. Boo!
Nintendo 2DS: Pricing
The 2DS’ other claim to fame is its pricing; at $149.95, it’s the cheapest member of the 3DS family out there, which should make it line up with the younger target audience with parents who may be both price conscious and mindful of their youthful eyes.
Nintendo 2DS: Fat Duck verdict
I genuinely don’t have a problem with the 2DS dropping 3D functionality, on the whole, because I so very rarely use it myself, but also because there are relatively few games that use 3D in an actually engaging way. Even titles like Pilotwings Resort work well on the 2DS’ limited display.
The physical design though is puzzling, because it exposes the screen more than with a folding design, and with kids in mind I’d be concerned that the screen could get damaged more quickly than with a 3DS/XL, where the fold directly protects the screen. The flat tablet design takes some getting used to in order to avoid hand cramps, too.
The pricing is also something of an issue, given you could turn a 3DS/XL “into” a 2DS simply by prohibiting use of the 3D slider and flipping the screen fully open.
Admittedly, kids will be kids and they might slide 3D functionality back up, but the price difference between the 3DS and the 2DS is around $50 — or the price of only one game. For the added comfort of the fold and lower screen layout, I’d say that’s going to be the better buy. Against the 3DSXL, where there’s a $100 price difference it’s perhaps a little more debatable.
Ultimately the 2DS is just another option in Nintendo’s long term battle to retain the handheld gaming crown. I’d strongly advise getting some hands-on time with it, though, because the design won’t suit every set of hands, large or small.