Of all the devices in the DS line (and there's an excessive amount), this is one Nintendo's best models yet, trailing only slightly behind the more expensive New 3DS XL. It's light, durable, comfortable, and a joy to game on.
The product naming team at Nintendo is hard at work trying to confuse consumers with the release of the New Nintendo 2DS XL. Don’t get it mixed up with the Nintendo 2DS, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS XL, New Nintendo 3DS XL, or Nintendo 32DS GameBoy XL New Version (Special Zelda Edition).
Excessively confusing names aside (enjoy that beautifully simple Nintendo Switch name while it lasts), Nintendo has delivered yet another solid entry in the 3DS (and 2DS) line of consoles.
Read on to find out what we thought of it, and at the end of this review you can win our test model!
As far as the handheld market goes, Nintendo has it more or less locked down, with Sony and the Vita all but forgotten (it seemed like even uttering the word Vita was a sin for Sony at E3 this year). It’s too bad because I still think the Vita is a fantastic piece of hardware. For the sake of comparison, the Vita retails for $199 (though it’s not in stock at most retailers). The New Nintendo 2DS XL goes for $150, so it’s priced just right.
In its own line, the New 3DS XL sells for $199. Both New 2DS XL and 3DS XL feature a 4.88-inch upper screen and a 4.18 inch lower screen. So essentially, the only real difference is the 3D support.
Moving to the cheaper side of things, Nintendo also has the 2DS, which is $80, comes with a smaller screen, no clamshell design, and support for “NEW” games (of which there are only two right now).
In terms of value, the New DS is solid, and while it gives up the 3D gimmick, it actually gains some things over the more expensive 3DS, as we’ll get to.
The New 2DS features the same power under the hood as the New 3DS, with the only variation being the lack of 3D support on the screen. Here’s a quick and dirty look at the New 2DS specs:
- 4.88-inch upper screen and a 4.18 inch lower screen
- Slightly lower battery life of around 6.5 hours (compared to 7 hours on the New 3DS XL)
- 300X240 resolution on top screen, resolution not listed for lower screen
Nintendo doesn’t release much in terms of specs, so details about the processor aren’t readily available, but it does feature the same chip as the New 3DS XL, which means it can play those “New” 3DS exclusive games (as of this writing, that’s Xenoblade Chronicles and the Super NES Virtual Console games. It’ll also include Fire Emblem Warriors when it comes out later this year).
The most baffling thing about the new console is the decrease in battery life. You’d think that removing the 3D would give you a gain in the battery, but that’s not the case. Nintendo claims that battery life is similar to the New 3DS, and it is most definitely on par, but as mentioned, we did see a slight decrease. Your mileage may vary, but you should go into owning this console expecting battery life that, at best, matches the 3DS model.
Nintendo has returned to the clamshell design we all know and love with this 2DS iteration. While the thought of getting rid of a moving part that tends to snap on the 2DS was an okay idea, in the end, protecting the screens and putting the console to sleep via just closing it makes for a better experience.
As for the look, the US version of the console comes with a light blue and black design. For now, Nintendo isn’t offering the console in other colors or with custom designs for games like it did with the New 3DS, but that’s not overly surprising since the company will likely have shifted most of its focus over to the Switch. Even releasing a new DS device in a post-Switch world is surprising.
Nintendo has made some incredibly smart decisions in the design of the New 2DS XL that give it a bit of a boost over previous models. First of all, the top of the clamshell is much thinner and lighter, so it doesn’t bounce around as much if you move while playing (we’ll get to that later). Nintendo moved the cameras to the main body of the device, which allowed it to create this thinner design.
One of the things I found most annoying about the New 3DS XL is that Nintendo hid the microSD card slot inside the console, and you needed to unscrew the back to swap it with a bigger one (it comes with 4GB, which is absurdedly small if you plan on downloading digital games). That’s just another thing that could potentially break something and shorten the life of your console. With this console, the slot is right next to the game card slot. It’s a small change, but one that makes a difference in usability.
The last change that actually puts the New 2DS XL a step ahead of the other consoles in the line is the weight. It’s 9.2 ounces, while the 3DS XL tips the scales at 11.6 ounces. Holding the two, you really can feel the difference, and since this is a portable console, anything that makes carrying it around more enjoyable is a good thing.
This next one isn’t really a design change, rather it’s more of a no-brainer: Nintendo decided that users actually need to charge their devices and it included a charger in the box. This is easily one of the most innovative changes we’ve ever seen in the tech space, and we hope the rest of the electronic industry takes notice. Who would have thought that battery-powered devices need chargers? (In case it’s not abundantly clear, that’s sarcasm. Though it is nice to have a charger in the box.)
Sadly, there are a couple of negative design aspects, too. First of all, the speakers face down, which makes them more difficult to hear. As such, you might find that you need to crank up the volume or use headphones in order to listen to your games clearly. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, but if you boot this up for the first time and wonder why the speakers have less punch, that’s the reason.
Another negative is the stylus. Nintendo included a short little thing that doesn’t feel good to use at all. Personally, I avoid stylus-based games on the DS, but if you play games like Picross, some Zelda games, and others that require a lot of touch screen, it’s definitely a drawback to keep in mind.
You can combat this with third-party options, but they won’t fit into the stubby little stylus port. A collapsible stylus could solve your problem if you can find one that’ll fit into the mini port.
The only assumption we can make is that Nintendo assumed this console would be purchased mostly by children and figured a small stylus would do the job. My large hands are sad, but it’s not necessarily something that would prevent me from wanting to own the console.
Speaking of which, the console does feel a little more durable than the original New 3DS XL. Without slamming both consoles against the wall repeatedly it’s difficult to make a call on durability, but I will say that I feel comfortable carrying around and the thought of breaking it never crossed my mind.
Having a cover over the 3DS card port is a smart choice that should help keep the console running longer, as you don’t need to worry about stuff getting in there if you’re using it outside. It’s another one of those small changes that make a difference.
If not for those drawbacks, it’d be easy for me to call this the best DS model yet, as I personally turn the 3D off on my New 3DS XL anyway, but with those negatives, it’s really close. That said, it’s a damn good console, and definitely worth buying from a design perspective.
Does the gaming experience bump it a step ahead of the more expensive 3DS XL and the budget-friendly 2DS? Let’s find out.
Gaming on the New Nintendo 2DS XL
There’s not a lot to say about playing games on the 2DS XL that I haven’t already said in the New 3DS XL review, as they’re so similar.
The main game I play on the DS is Monster Hunter, and adding in that second stick makes it all but impossible to go back to an original 3DS. It’s still a little nub instead of a proper circle pad like the left stick, but in the games that actually support it, the experience is much better.
The key phrase there is “games that actually support it” because Nintendo hasn’t put out that make games that actually use the right stick for anything. There are a few shooters, the aforementioned Monster Hunter, and some others.
Shifting focus to the place where the 2DS XL makes an improvement over the 3DS XL is the lighter top screen. When you’re holding the console, taking the weight out of the top screen feels so much better. The top of the 3DS always felt like it was loose and flapping around, and the thinner lighter screen completely removes that problem.
As mentioned, the stylus that comes with this console is not good, and this does have a negative impact on gameplay if you’re digging into an experience that uses the touch screen. In games like Pokemon, you can use your finger, as you’re mostly just tapping big buttons, but in games where more precision is required, using that mini stylus is not fun.
Overall, the New 2DS XL delivers a really solid gameplay experience, and it’s amazing how something as simple as making the top of the clamshell thinner and lighter changes things up.
Is It Worth Buying the New 2DS XL?
If you already own a New 3DS XL, there’s nothing about this one that makes it worth buying. If you’re running an old 3DS or original 2DS, this device offers a tremendous portable gaming experience that’s worth buying, especially with how good the price is. If you don’t own any 3DS consoles, then you absolutely should go out and buy this one, as it’s available at a solid $150 price point with a massive library of games.