The 3DS is a wonderful system with a huge variety of solid titles to play. This is probably the reason why I already own two 3DS systems, a black launch version and the Zelda XL. So when the 2DS reared its flat face, and I checked to make sure it wasn't April 1st, I was intrigued. The 2DS looks bizarre. It's like a thin slice of cake that plays video games, but not in 3D mind you. It seems like it would be a marketing nightmare, but hey, Nintendo isn't exactly the best at naming their devices (I'm looking at you Wii U). When the 2DS popped up for $99 on Black Friday I thought, "I need this. I don't need to buy groceries this week." Please don't tell my wife.
- The screen resolution. I would be lying if I said the resolution of the screens on the XL didn't bother me from time to time. They're just a little too jaggy and rough due to the fact that it's literally just a bigger screen with no enhanced visuals. The 2DS, like the original 3DS, just has a much cleaner look.
- The feel of holding it. When I pick up the 2DS it feels like I'm holding a classic Game Boy, and that's a good thing. It's even large enough to feel comfortable in my man hands. The lack of a clamshell design may be slightly off putting for travel purposes, but there is some thing pleasantly enticing about holding a Nintendo handheld as one solid uint again.
- It plays all my games. I know it's ridiculous, but playing my old games on a new system (even one as directly similar as the 2DS) makes them feel new again. My entire library of DS and 3DS titles is at my finger tips... again!
- New and improved shoulder buttons! They feel much better than any shoulder buttons a DS, DSi, or 3DS has ever had. They're large and in charge. Even though they don't push in as far as I would have hoped they're easily a leap forward for gaming on the go.
- Price. Though I snagged the 2DS for a mere $99, it retails for $130. That's $40 less than a 3DS Classic (are we calling it that?) and $70 less than an 3DS XL. That means you could potentially pick up a 2DS and two games for the price of one XL.
- Mobility. The 2DS is slim and decidedly wide. It fits in my pocket, but it feels awkward and the exposed screens make me a little uneasy. Though I suppose it's no different than carrying around a smart phone.
- That mono speaker. It's not completely awful, however it doesn't do the system justice in terms of sound quality. This small issue can be remedied easily with a pair of decent headphones.
- Lack of 3D. I usually never play 3DS games with the 3D turned on, but since this feature doesn't actually affect gameplay (besides maybe helping with depth perception at times) it doesn't feel like a big loss. Younger children won't care and adults who find 3D tiring certainly won't miss the 3D effects.
- The name. I'd hate to be the guy working at a retail store who has to explain that the 2DS does play 3DS games, just not in stereoscopic 3D. 2DS specific games don't exist. It's confusing to say the least. It's like naming your system the Xbox 180 because it plays Xbox 360 games, just not with Kinect.
- Battery life. It's not that it's terrible, in fact it can get up to 5.5 hours of 3DS gameplay in on one charge. It's the fact that this number is lower than that of the XL. Come on Nintendo, you should at least be able to match your other systems.
When all is said and done I'm much more impressed with the 2DS than I initially expected. Even though it's portability may be a bit cumbersome I'm sure I'll be taking it along with me when I need a handheld to pass the time. The 2DS is inexpensive, surprisingly well built and features a library of marvelous titles that you won't find on many other consoles (handheld or otherwise). If you don't already own a 3DS (What's wrong with you?) this lovely slice of gaming cake is a reliable choice, especially if you're buying for a small child or aren't drawn to 3D gameplay.
The 2DS was reviewed using a... 2DS. It was purchased on Black Friday through WalMart.com. Special thanks to Zuko for posing with the device and not chewing it. Follow GiantBoyDetective on Twitter for more gaming goodness @SuperBentendo