I bought a 2DS. Upon ordering the handheld, I knew exactly what I was signing up for and what the system could and, ultimately, could not do. However, after purchasing the little brother to the 3DS XL, there’s so much left to be said. There are no reviews that talk about the obvious differences in usage between one and the other. I see great reviews of the product itself as a standalone, but it lives in a family alongside a stepbrother who looks a little bit like it and an older brother who pretty much hands down his clothes directly to him. It’s a weird metaphor, but you’ll understand it soon enough.
When I got home with the 2DS, I’ll admit that I was a bit disappointed at the idea of owning both a 3DS XL and a 2DS, but after a few hours of owning both, I’m slowly beginning to realize that while they do the same things, they’re very different from each other as products. Looking back, Nintendo released a handheld called the DSi XL in 2009; the goal for this console was very clear. Every commercial, ad, or sales pitch revolved around the idea of having this thing kept at home, sitting on a desk, and played for a few minutes throughout the day. The 3DS XL is also in this same vein. It’s true that after playing a 2DS, the XL seems monstrous. I did have to get accustomed to the 2DS’ smaller screen size (same as the original 3DS), but after a while, it simply felt more portable. The ruggedness, the grip that allows you to assuredly hold the entire console, and the dense buttons make it feel like a stocky piece of hardware.
Unfortunately, the biggest problem I’ve found was that it feels stocky in a childlike way. The 2DS is made to be suitable for children, so the toughness of the device wasn’t unexpected. However, the same way the hardware feels a bit childlike-tough, other small details of the machine also echo this design sentiment — sliders are difficult to adjust and styli are unresponsive. The stylus itself is placed a bit higher on the 2DS than on the 3DS XL, but popping the stylus out takes more energy than it probably should. It’s not as fluid as it is on the bigger device, making the quick actions I needed within Pokemon X feel sluggish. These are not necessarily negative traits when you keep in mind that the device was made with smaller kids in mind, but it’s something that may bother older, detail-oriented players.
While messing around with the 2DS, I noticed that either my hand placement was wrong or my hands are too small or large to operate it properly without a bit of fatigue. For instance, my left hand’s ring finger and pinky tire quickly. When playing, the left is where the majority of the 2DS’ weight is placed, seeing as that’s where I must hold it during stylus-intensive sessions. It’s also where the joystick is placed, and idle playing has me holding the device with that one hand. The overall grip of the device, however, is stellar. I feel as if my hands are enveloped around the handheld, granting me complete control over it. Part of me wonders why Nintendo did not market the 2DS as a 3DS that lets you hold it like a Gameboy. On the eve of its announcement, Nintendo released a ton of NES games on the eShop, and the 2DS is arguably the perfect device for playing them. Holding the 2DS feels like a home console controller as opposed to half of a portable one. It feels right. It feels like it was made to play games on, and it’s shocking to see it not being flaunted anywhere.
If you’re transitioning from a 3DS XL to a 2DS, you will feel like you’ve downgraded for a short period of time. You’ll probably convince yourself that it was a good purchase while having that lingering thought that the 2DS does nothing more than your beloved XL. These statements are entirely true when you try to compare two devices from the same line together. However, the devices were made for different purposes and different types of people. To help connect this with something you’re all familiar with, it’s akin to the iPad Air and the iPad Mini. Like the iPad Air, an XL is too big for certain situations. A 2DS is a more portable, smaller, compact device that does everything it should on a level that I didn’t know existed. The 3DS is a compact device in itself, but it doesn’t appeal to those people who want something sturdy, small, and useful. The 2DS, on the other hand, is exactly that.
There are things that the 2DS simply cannot do that the 3DS XL can. There are also concerns that stem from viewing a simple technical specifications page: the 2DS boasts a mono speaker and not a stereo one. Simply put, its sound quality pales to that of the 3DS’, but it does not sound horrible. It’s definitely something worth checking out on your own since preferences vary, but it’s something that you need to be aware of before diving in. Another concern is the use of one screen instead of two. Nintendo is infamously, and arguably ingeniously, using one screen for both the top “screen” and the “touchscreen.” Thus, the notion is that the screen uptop would look absolutely horrible, but Nintendo manages to make it look crisp and gorgeous. When compared to an original 3DS, things look as if they’re being made with premium materials.
The feel of the 2DS is something that is simply unparalleled. It feels perfectly compact in my hands. That with the smaller screen size makes it feel like one solid device that can’t be compared to anything else on the market. The only time I’ve seen something as fitting as the 2DS was when the Gameboy Advance hit the shelves. That same feel of personality and use reigns true here in the 2DS.
The 2DS is a new Nintendo gaming device. It’s not a new thing that does new things; it’s a new dog learning classic tricks. The compactness of it reminds me of a Gameboy. The screen size makes things look crisp, clear, and perfected. The overall device is something that I feel okay walking out of the house with and pulling out at any given moment. It doesn’t require much to turn on and get going, nor does it feel like a commitment like the XL does. It looks solid, yet goofy. It’s a nice mix of hardware design and usability that I rarely get to see. If you’re in the market for a 3DS of some sort, you have a few variables to consider. There are things presented here that will either make you adore the idea of the 2DS or push you towards an XL. The 2DS sets the bar at a level that I don’t think any other company is reaching for. While that may sound like an unnecessary challenge for Nintendo, it’s proving to be a new starting line.