Nintendo giveth, Nintendo taketh away.
Nintendo has once again graced us with a new handheld model no one knew they wanted with the New Nintendo 2DS XL. Confusingly enough, this is the sixth version of the 3DS family of systems, and the second to drop the namesake 3D feature for the sake of a lower price.
The original Nintendo 2DS is, without a doubt, the ugliest in the family, but does have an attractive price at only $79.99. The New 2DS XL is very pretty in contrast, with a middle-of-the range $149.99 price – $50 cheaper than the full-fledged New Nintendo 3DS XL – creating a nifty little package that feels great to play with just a small handful of problems.
On the surface, the New 2DS XL includes everything the New 3DS XL does in a smaller, better-designed package, just without 3D. The C-stick is still a little nub resembling a rubber trackpoint found on ThinkPad laptops, offering the same dual-stick experience as the New 3DS XL. It can get a bit uncomfortable for long stints of play, but it works for sporadic camera movement used in the Monster Hunter series or for quick inputs for attacks in Super Smash Bros. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely better than nothing, and is a feature the original 2DS lacks.
Larger screens, exactly the same size as the New 3DS XL’s (4.88” and 4.18”), mark another obvious improvement from the original 2DS (3.53” and 3.02”). For more details on how the New 2DS XL compares to older 3DS models, check out this Nintendo 3DS comparison chart.
Oddly, just like the original 2DS, the New 2DS XL keeps both the front and back-facing dual cameras, so you can still snap poor-quality photos in 3D even though it lacks the functionality to display them properly. Maybe Nintendo anticipates games someday that may need all three cameras to function probably, but otherwise it seems like an unneeded expense.
Like previous Nintendo systems, the New 2DS XL can connect to WiFi, but with some frustrating limitations. If you’re trying to connect to a public WiFi signal that requires a browser log-in, you won’t be able to, unless Nintendo releases a patch someday to fix the issue. (Hint hint.) Not the most terrible issue if you can change router settings at will, but incredibly annoying if it’s your parent’s router or if you live in a dorm at a university.
If there’s a reason to get a New 2DS XL instead of a New 3DS XL if money is no object, it’s that it’s smaller and considerably lighter, avoiding the somewhat top-heavy weightiness of the New 3DS XL by moving all of the aforementioned features and the speaker from the top screen to the base. The New 2DS XL actually weighs the same 9.2 ounces as the original 2DS but manages to subsist in the slimmer, more attractive clamshell package.
The Home button and volume slider were also moved to accommodate the New 2DS XL’s smaller size. Almost unnoticeable but not unappreciated, the volume slider is stickier on the New 2DS XL than it is on the New 3DS XL, making it a challenge to accidentally adjust the volume.
The game card slot is smartly protected by a new cover, preventing accidental game ejects previous models are prone to. The cover also hides the slot for the Micro SD card, making it easier than ever to get to – no tools are required, as they are for the New 3DS XL’s convoluted process. Reading up on the process is definitely still needed though, so look up how to transfer data between Nintendo 3DSs.
Overall, the New 2DS XL is significantly more comfortable to play than the New 3DS XL or the original 2DS. Its less-chunky bottom half fits easily in my hands comfortably, and unlike the New 3DS XL’s sharp design, the shoulder buttons’ slight curve feels natural to press. The design change is small, but it certainly makes a big difference in play. I found myself using the ZL and ZR buttons to pan the camera in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate notably more often than on the New 3DS XL, all because they were more comfortable to use.
Change Isn’t Always Good
The speakers, which were moved to keep the top screen thin, are awkwardly placed on the bottom of the New 2DS XL, causing muffled sound and odd vibrations when at max volume. They’re technically in stereo, which is an upgrade from the original 2DS’s mono speaker, but the sound is even more difficult to appreciate without headphones.
I nearly missed the stylus entirely with its well-tucked-away slot next to the headphone jack, but it’s there in miniature. The unobtrusive size was most likely to keep the New 2DS XL as small as possible, but it is just slightly too short to be comfortable to use.
I immediately noticed how much brighter the New 2DS XL’s top screen is compared to the New 3DS XL’s. However, that “oooh shiny” moment passed when comparing it to the New 3DS XL in other ways. Primarily, the colors displayed on the New 2DS XL are ever so slightly washed out. It’s as if the picture’s brightness setting was turned up too high, making the blacks less deep and the colors less vibrant. The contrast is lacking, and turning down the console’s actual screen brightness doesn’t fix the issue. It’s another very modest difference that you might not notice just looking at it, but definitely discernible when comparing consoles side by side.
The other noticeable difference is that the top screen is slick with a glossy coating. Though it looks sleek, it actively diminishes the angle of comfortable viewing. Seriously, this thing is so reflective you could spy on someone behind you with it, which is not great for playing in a well-lit environment.
Power is the Answer
Screen issues aside, the New 2DS XL’s processor seems to pack even more of a punch than the New 3DS XL’s. The New 2DS XL loaded Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate even faster than the New 3DS XL, both on startup and between areas. It also achieves the same enhanced draw distance, improved frame rate, and frame rate stability the New 3DS XL boasts when compared to older 3DS models. You can expect to play any New 3DS-exclusive games like Xenoblade Chronicles 3D on the New 2DS XL just as well, if not better – just without the 3D.