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The New Nin­tendo 2DS XL is the per­fect hand­held con­sole: it’s ro­bust, sim­ple and fun


An ex­cel­lent low-price ad­di­tion to Nin­tendo’s hand­held gam­ing fam­ily

IT’S NOT EN­TIRELY new and revo­lu­tion­ary like the Nin­tendo Switch (Shop­per 352), but the New Nin­tendo 2DS XL is a both a thought­ful ad­di­tion to Nin­tendo’s hand­held con­sole range and a re­fine­ment of what the Ja­panese firm does best. It’s colour­ful and chunky in a way that shouts for you to play it and, just like the orig­i­nal 2DS, it loses very lit­tle by not hav­ing a stereo­scopic 3D dis­play.

With its clamshell de­sign and crisp colour com­bi­na­tions, plus the same C-stick nub, Ami­ibo sup­port and 4.88in screen as the New 3DS XL, the 2DS XL is a thing of quiet beauty.

It may not have the cus­tomis­able in­ter­change­able cov­ers of its sib­lings, but it feels pleas­ingly chunky in hand, with solid build qual­ity and a pleas­ing heft. Nin­tendo has made other smart de­sign de­ci­sions, too: the 3D camera ar­ray has been re­moved from the top lid of the 2DS XL and is now tucked un­der­neath, to­wards the rear of the base.

The mi­croSD slot has been moved to the front of the unit next to the game-car­tridge slot, and both are now cov­ered by a sturdy flap to pre­vent ac­ci­den­tal ejec­tion dur­ing play. All three of th­ese small tweaks were pre­vi­ously points of con­tention for New 3DS and New 3DS XL own­ers, so it’s good to see Nin­tendo lis­ten­ing to feed­back and im­ple­ment­ing im­prove­ments here.


Un­like the New 3DS and New 3DS XL, the New 2DS XL’s 4.88in top screen is cov­ered with a glossy fin­ish and, just like the Switch’s im­pres­sive panel, it looks great. It’s bright and crisp, and colours don’t look as washed out as they can do on the New 3DS.

The lower touch­screen part of the 2DS XL is the same as the New 3DS XL’s. At 4.18in, it’s much larger than the one on the orig­i­nal 2DS, but there are oth­er­wise no real im­prove­ments when it comes to bright­ness, clar­ity or re­spon­sive­ness. If you’re wor­ried about it break­ing or be­ing eas­ily scratched by ea­ger younger players, don’t be: the touch­screens on the 3DS fam­ily all tend to be rather rugged com­pared to the orig­i­nal DS suite of de­vices.

How­ever, Nin­tendo has made a couple of rather per­plex­ing changes. The 2DS XL’s sty­lus is shorter and fat­ter, a change pre­sum­ably made to make it more com­fort­able for chil­dren to use, but any adults buy­ing the New 2DS XL will find them­selves bat­tling hand cramp af­ter a while.

Nin­tendo has also placed the 2DS XL’s speak­ers on the bot­tom cor­ners of the unit, which means when you hold the de­vice you end up block­ing the sound with your palms. It isn’t a deal-breaker, es­pe­cially since most peo­ple will play with head­phones, but it’s still a baf­fling de­ci­sion.


The New Nin­tendo 2DS XL isn’t just a re­worked, larger-screened 2DS: it’s also an en­tirely new piece of hard­ware. Us­ing the new, more pow­er­ful chipset found in the New 3DS and New 3DS XL, the 2DS XL is the only way to get a 2DS ca­pa­ble of play­ing games pre­vi­ously ex­clu­sive to the New 3DS fam­ily. See­ing as so few games ac­tu­ally re­quire you to have a New 3DS to play them, this doesn’t ac­tu­ally mean all that much. How­ever, it does mean that games that sup­port the new C-stick are more playable. You also can’t knock game per­for­mance as – with­out the need to push for 3D – games run in­cred­i­bly smoothly on the lush New 2DS XL screens. Nin­tendo’s 3DS home­screen UI is largely un­changed since its ini­tial 2011 out­ing on the orig­i­nal 3DS, and thus its gen­eral us­abil­ity isn’t re­ally up to mod­ern stan­dards. You won’t spend much time pok­ing around the menus, but it’s def­i­nitely some­thing worth not­ing if you’re buy­ing for a younger mem­ber of the fam­ily.

As far as bat­tery life goes, you can ex­pect it to be in the same six- or seven-hour ball­park as the New 3DS XL. You’re un­likely to be play­ing your New 2DS XL for that long in a sin­gle sit­ting, though, so it should eas­ily last you for a week­end of oc­ca­sional play.

Un­like the launch of the New Nin­tendo 3DS and New 3DS XL, Nin­tendo won’t be re­leas­ing any games that work ex­clu­sively with the 2DS XL. In­stead, its ap­peal re­sides in the fact that it’s ca­pa­ble of play­ing ab­so­lutely any 3DS or DS game ever made.

Still, a few launch games will be re­leased con­cur­rently. Mi­itopia, a To­madachi Life-like RPG, sees your Miis build­ing re­la­tion­ships and fight­ing one an­other in var­i­ous set­tings, while Dr Kawashima’s Devil­ish Brain Train­ing: Can You Stay Fo­cused? con­tin­ues the series’ in­fa­mous men­tal gym­nas­tics.


If you aren’t par­tic­u­larly fussed about 3D – and many aren’t – you’re look­ing at a de­cent £40 sav­ing with the New Nin­tendo 2DS XL. It’s ef­fec­tively the same de­vice as the New 3DS XL, and it has Nin­tendo’s 12-year back cat­a­logue of games to back it up.

If you al­ready own a 3DS of any sort, it’s not worth pick­ing up a New 2DS XL as well, but if you’re late to the party and want to hop aboard the DS band­wagon, this is the hand­held to get. It may have its own lit­tle foibles – and its black-and-turquoise and white-and-or­ange de­signs aren’t as catchy or cool as the New 3DS with its in­ter­change­able faces – but this is yet an­other strong ad­di­tion to Nin­tendo’s hand­held line-up.

Nathan Spendelow

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