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Nintendo 2DS trades some portability for durability, and that's alright

When Nintendo first announced the third-dimensionless Nintendo 2DS, many of us balked. But after a month's time to digest the news, we've come to realize: lower-priced models of existing handhelds are the chic new thing. Sony followed suit with the PS Vita 2000, and with Pokémon X and Y on the horizon, Nintendo's handheld is about to get a lot more popular. Is the entry-point 2DS model aimed squarely at kids? Perhaps--but after getting our hands on a Nintendo 2DS ourselves, it seems like those kids will be getting a pretty sweet deal.

If you're hearing about the 2DS for the first time, think of it as a hingeless 3DS with all the 3D functionality of the top screen taken out. It has the same configuration you're used to: same joystick and D-pad, same four buttons on the face. But with no hinge to rest behind, the shoulder buttons have migrated, melding into the upper corners of the square-shaped handheld. Surprisingly, the grip feels similar to a 3DS, if not more comfortable. For the big-handed among us, the curvature of the 2DS shoulder buttons feels much more natural than the cramped ligament grip of the regular 3DS' shoulders. Granted, it may prove to be a bit of an awkward fit for a child's smaller grip.

Despite the Internet's first impressions, no one will be mistaking a 2DS for a hatchet blade or cheese wedge in person. It hardly feels thicker than an iPad, but not so thin that it feels cheap or flimsy. It's also much more convenient to simply dip your right thumb downwards to the 2DS' Start and Select buttons, instead of extended it to reach the 3DS' mushy, awkwardly centered ones.

The sense of touch can't be conveyed by any photo, so we were happily surprised by how light the 2DS feels, with far less heft than a 3DS. The trade-off is that because of its bulkier shape and lack of a folding hinge, the 2DS is a handheld that won't be fitting in any non-cargo-shorts pockets. Unless you're prepared to lug it around in your backpack or purse at all times, StreetPassing may be a bit of a problem. That also brings up another worry: with nothing protecting the screens when the 2DS isn't in use, you might have to be more careful with what you're storing it with.

So the question to ask yourself is: Can you live without 3D visuals? For many, the answer will be yes; people that play for extended periods with the 3D cranked all the way up seem to be in the minority. At $130--$40 cheaper than a 3DS--and the ability to play all the same 3DS and DS games, the 2DS seems like a sensible alternative for a younger audience. For gamers with disposable income, we'd still recommend the 3DS XL any day--but if you're wanting to get your kid or younger sibling into the wonderful world of Nintendo handhelds, the 2DS is the perfect fit. Just don't expect to slip it into your pocket between uses.

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17 comments

  • GOD - October 4, 2013 5:35 p.m.

    I wanted (and kind of needed due to large hand size) a 3DS XL, but caved and went with a Special Red 3DS because I couldn't wait any longer. Even still with my bulky hands I can manage just fine on a regular 3DS but that controller set up on this does look comfortable..... I still think it's silly though. Just have a parental lock in the 3DS that can lock the 3D completely if you're worried.
  • RonF - October 4, 2013 12:28 p.m.

    I don't care for the 3D effect, but a XL screen is surely necessary to pick my interest.
  • Sebakan - October 4, 2013 11:43 a.m.

    I'll get one. I didn't before because I hate 3D. It's shit, not only in games but movies also. I'm very happy Nintendo do this.
  • BladedFalcon - October 4, 2013 12:58 p.m.

    ...You know you never had to turn the 3D on in the previous 3DS models if you didn't want to, right?
  • Sebakan - October 4, 2013 2:26 p.m.

    Yep, but I don't want to pay more because that feature.
  • shawksta - October 4, 2013 10:33 a.m.

    Neat article Lucas but the 2DS is still bizarre, but hey if you enjoy it we cant stop ya.
  • GR_LucasSullivan - October 4, 2013 10:49 a.m.

    Make no mistake, I'm sticking to my 3DS XL for sure. But if I wasn't already a 3DS owner and wanted Pokemon, this would be pretty tempting!
  • shawksta - October 4, 2013 2:03 p.m.

    I guess so I have a similar dilemma with my original aqua blue 3DS.
  • masterjoe123 - October 4, 2013 3:48 a.m.

    Looks interesting, but I just got an XL, so I'm not even considering it.
  • slimjim441 - October 3, 2013 9:40 p.m.

    Fanny pack. Problem solved. Livin' in the 90s. Like a champ.
  • JAZ9030 - October 3, 2013 7:08 p.m.

    So as long as I'm wearing cargo shorts or pants it will fit in my pockets. Well that's good for me since I wear cargo shorts most of the time to lug around my 3ds and vita. I think if I didn't own a 3ds I would buy a 2ds. I never really cared for 3d anyway. I also like the button layout for having the the start and select buttons under the other ones. The only thing I'm worried about are the shoulder buttons. I get a dsi shoulder button vibe from them. I feel like they won't last long. Also a fun fact that I read somewhere. The 2ds only has one screen and the top part of the case splits it to make it look like two screens. If this is wrong sorry for the misinformation. I hope it sells well and maybe we will see new colors or limited editions.
  • Shinn - October 3, 2013 6:58 p.m.

    I don't like that the screen is exposed, yet still made of such cheap materials. I'm tempted to buy a Japanese one though, so I can play region locked games.
  • jedisamurai - October 3, 2013 6:56 p.m.

    Why the heck did Nintendo get rid of the darn HINGE??? I will totally buy one of these...when they are $99.99 and have a hinge. And not a moment before. 3D gives me eyestrain so I have no need of that.
  • BladedFalcon - October 3, 2013 5:57 p.m.

    I dunno, I still very bothered by the fact that it's supposed to be a PORTABLE system, yet it's not one that could fit in any normal pocket. Even 10 year old me would think that to be stupid and missing the point, as even back then I loved carrying by game-boy around in my pocket wherever I could. Even putting myself in the mindset of a kid today, I'd rather carry around a system in my pocket, than in bagpack, where it's always more of a hassle to take it out and play, not to mention that it makes it more easy for bullies or douchy kids at school to try and steal it. And no, I don't consider Tablets to be portable. At least, not in the way a cellphone or MOST portable videogame systems are, if it doesn't fit in a normal sized pants pocket, it's not truly portable.
  • Talvari - October 3, 2013 5:19 p.m.

    2DS seems pretty legit. But I hope they also make a 2DS with the same structure as the 3DS. Something about them folding hinges is so good. Portability and stuff.
  • RetroMediocracy - October 3, 2013 3:43 p.m.

    Despite all the great things i hear about the 2ds, it still just looks awkward to hold. Im loving my 3ds XL but if i can get my hands on a 2ds ill have to actually try it out for myself

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