★★★★★ £130 • From www.amazon.co.uk
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.
DIMENSION TO DETAIL
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.