The Nintendo 2DS is a pleasant but secret surprise. Its announcement was met with criticism due to the form factor and had since been largely ignored. Its removal of the 3D screen and clam shell design with a decrease of price was set specifically to entice parents intimidated by the 3DS and 3DS XL. The Nintendo 2DS is practically forgotten in gaming circles, but for those who have no interest in 3D and are looking for a cheap way to get into the Nintendo handheld world, the Nintendo 2DS is a shockingly solid contender of a device.
The most noticeable change from the 3DS to the 2DS is obviously the form factor. Many have commented on it being a device similar to those made by Leapfrog. This claim is made by people who have no kids. As someone who does, I can assure you I have never once felt it was a cheap device made for children. It is not as large as everyone makes it out to be (it’s actually smaller than the 3DS when the screen is fully open), and while it may be flat like a tablet, the size surely isn’t. The system is sturdy with hard plastic and feels less breakable than the 3DS. Removing the flip screen has made me less frightened to drop the system and have it land in a way that would snap the system in half. The 2DS is slightly heavier but less noticeable as it’s more evenly distributed throughout the device although the design is slightly slanted to where it’s thicker at the top and thinner at the bottom.
The shape of the 2DS and the button layout are far more comfortable than I would have given it credit for. The circle pad and d-pad are on the left side and fall slightly above the middle of the device. The four face buttons sit on the opposite side, about the same place as the circle pad, with the start and select buttons underneath them. The face buttons themselves are slightly larger and easier to press, making them superior in my mind compared to the 3DS. The home button is one placement I don’t quite agree on as it is in the least convenient place underneath the bottom screen. But even with the terrible placement, the home button is not as bad as the shoulders of the 2DS that don’t feel great. The higher on the shoulder buttons you press, the more stiff they feel and not as responsive. They do curl around the side, so if pressing closer to the bottom, seem more reliable. The stylus is found on the back of the right side, again around the middle, and the camera is right above the top screen with two in the back. Since the design is different, sleep mode is initiated by flipping a switch on the bottom right of the 2DS whereas closing the clam shell 3DS put it in sleep mode. And if you have any non-digital games, you can find the slot for them in the top.
Changing the design and lowering the price meant they needed to get rid of costs somewhere, but fortunately, is not a big detractor, at least for me. Instead of stereo speakers, the 2DS has a mono speaker in the upper left corner of the 2DS. The battery life lasts a little longer, despite being the same battery, and can keep ticking up to five hours with 3DS games or up to nine hours with DS games. The top screen no longer includes the 3D capability and instead the 2DS features a single non-stereoscopic LCD touch screen with a frame to match the dimensions of the 3DS.
One of the complaints I always held against the 3DS is the gap between the top and bottom screens. Since these are not on separate pieces of the device, there is a slimmer border dividing the two screens. I had more issues playing games with actions on both screens (such as Elite Beat Agents or The World Ends With You) because I would want to see both screens. Usually tapping would be done on the bottom screen, but all of the interesting actions would be occurring on the top. Too often I felt like I was missing the parts of the game I wanted to see the most. And while I haven’t tried those games on the 2DS, the very idea of the screens being closer sound more promising.
If anything feels lazy about the system, it’s the system software. More in a way that had me giggle than anything. Everything is identical to the 3DS except there is less app blocks on the home screen. One of the first things the 2DS lets the owner know is that it doesn’t have 3D, but mostly every prompt that comes up from the system itself will mention the 3DS. The 2DS tells you to ignore this. Yes, instead of taking the time to change messages that come up in the system, Nintendo decided to throw in one message at the beginning to disregard all 3DS comments. It’s something stupid to be critical about, but it kind of shows how little effort went into the 2DS. Like I said, everything else is the same. From the apps and games, to the eShop, Miiverse; you name something the 3DS has software wise, the 2DS can be used interchangeably.
To those having doubts of the 2DS…don’t. I am happier with it than I was my 3DS. I had no interest in 3D, so it felt like a wasted addition that only bumped up the cost of the system. The criticized design is cozy allowing the hands to be more open to positions whereas I always found my hands cramping by how I had to hold the 3DS. For the price of the system, which also came with Pokemon X, and the removal of some complaints (and instead replacing them with more minor ones), I would not go back to the 3DS no matter how great a game featured 3D. Laugh at Nintendo all you want, any kids that receive the 2DS as a present, I can’t imagine them being disappointed with it.