With more than a couple years under its belt, the 3DS has since become recommendable. Highly recommendable, really, which by itself is incredible in this era of mobile apps for smartphones and tablet gaming. It may have taken a while to get there, but with time and a lot of noteworthy titles (not to mention one noteworthy hardware upgarde with the 3DS XL). The only obstacle in the way now is a relatively high price tag, despite the considerable drop from last year. Something had to give in order to get the stingiest gamers to open their wallets, or at least have a reasonable alternative for kids to enjoy Nintendo’s latest dual-screen handheld.
Another variation of the portable console like the 2DS was an inevitability, but its timely arrival comes off as a largely no-frills affair.
Not one to rest on their laurels, Nintendo has reengineered their venerable DS yet again. And with it comes a very significant and attractive price drop – while purging out the glasses-free 3D and breaking away from its signature folding hinge design for a simpler wedge shape, all in the name of entry-level affordability.
Regardless of what the 2DS looks and feels like (which we’ll touch on soon enough), its still the same handheld we’ve grown to love. The basic specs and features are unchanged like the custom PICA200 GPU, 128MB FCRAM (‘fast cycle” RAM), 6MB VRAM, all the way to the internal gyroscope. Other carryovers include the famous dual screens, which again sport the exact dimensions and resolutions from the original 3DS for the top (3.5” WQVGA) and the bottom (3.25” QVGA), and the three 0.3 megapixel cameras with one on the front and two on the back. Yep, you can still take 3D pictures but they can’t be properly viewed in their native format (.mpo).
With the technical stuff unchanged our attention focused on the aesthetics. We knew that the 2DS was going to be a radically-different looking handheld, but my first hands-on impression had me taken aback by the subtle rearrangement of controls. To accommodate the singular wedge body, the shoulder triggers (which were situated on the top-bottom half of the existing clamshell design) are contoured and enlarged, but unusually shallow, while the face buttons, D-Pad, and Circle Pad have also shifted upwards and flank much of the main 3.5” display.
Because the 2DS can’t be folded (obviously), a sleep/standby switch has been added while the Wi-Fi (network) slider has been removed entirely (and now toggled on/off in the system menu itself). The SD Card slot (which includes a 4GB card like the 3DS XL) is now on the right side where the XL-type stylus and Wi-Fi indicator light also resides. Audio quality has been cut back to mono sound since only one speaker is present instead of the standard two.
In terms of preference, build quality is admittedly on the cheap side as the 3DS’ metallic gloss and matte is replaced with an abundantly textured plastic shell that’s purposeful in design. The borders are colored while the rest of the body is in flat charcoal shade. With all the hard casing there are also a number of panel gaps that might guarantee an untimely death from a reasonable drop or excessive grime mucking up the juvenile-friendly portable, while the entire package is barely heavy duty, it should withstand the minor scuffs and bumps that will inevitably happen in a child’s possession.
The shape of the 2DS won’t fit in any normal-sized pocket so Nintendo offers an padded zipper case to keep the handheld safe while easing the minds of concerned parents. It’s definitely a wise investment for the long haul but I don’t understand why anybody has to cough up the extra $15 dollars instead of Nintendo just including it with the console; a very cheapskate move on their part.
If you’re already acquainted with the many existing DS models out there, then the form factor will definitely take some getting used to. When testing the 2DS, we sat down with Super Mario 3D Land and Kid Icarus: Uprising, and immediately noticed that the 2DS is bigger and somewhat wider even in adult hands. Where finger travel is concerned, reaching for the L/R triggers in conjunction with the circle pad and main face buttons is a bit cumbersome. The other part of this initial awkwardness is due to a lot of empty space on the lower tapered end which has the 2DS hanging loose and not easily cradling in many smaller palms. Truthfully, it does become comfortable after a while, but it never really feels as nice to hold compared to its refined counterparts.
Aside from the omission of stereoscopic 3D, there’s nothing that the 2DS can’t do overall. That’s a good thing, as this handheld is clearly targeted at those younger gamers out there. However, like the original 3DS, the battery life is still the biggest disappointment here. You’d think that removing features such as 3D would allow Nintendo to pony up and finally put in a battery that actually, you know…lasts. Unfortunately our averages sat between 3-4 hours from a full charge, which was far from the advertised maximum of 5.5 and downright laughable compared to our longevity tests with the 3DS XL of 6.5 hours.
I’m going to be honest here, I don’t like the Nintendo 2DS; from the revised design to the unimpressive performance and omitted features. I wouldn’t purchase one nor even consider it. That said, I know this handheld was not supposed to appeal to the likes of me, but instead for the scores of children and parents who’ve been patiently waiting for that sweet and cheaper price not seen since the DS Lite – especially with the concurrent release of Pokémon X and Y. For those who can tolerate the drastic and personally annoying compromises the 2DS just might be worth the dough. If not, do yourself a big favor and pick up the 3DS XL instead.
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