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Wednesday July 26, 2017
Hands-on Preview: New Nintendo 2DS XL handheld
by Vaughn Highfield | May 15, 2017 | Comment Now
This could be Nintendo’s last DS, but it's shaping up to be a fantastic swansong to a well-loved handheld.
Hands-on Preview: New Nintendo 2DS XL handheld

Before you go thinking that the “New Nintendo 2DS XL” is some sort of immediate replacement for the Nintendo Switch, stop. It’s not. Nintendo insists the Switch isn’t a handheld console and, in this instance, they’re correct. The New Nintendo 2DS XL and the Switch are totally different animals.

So, what is the New Nintendo 2DS XL if it isn’t related to the company’s snazzy new hybrid console? To call it little more than a revamp of the Nintendo 3DS XL is to do it a disservice. Doing away with the 3D element found in its 3DS XL counterpart and yet returning to the clamshell design the first 2DS abandoned, the New Nintendo 2DS XL is a refinement of its predecessors and shows the company hasn’t lost its touch in the handheld department.

The timing of the New 2DS XL’s announcement, however, is a little peculiar. Not only was the announcement slipped out quietly – and totally out of the blue – but it comes right after Nintendo making a song and dance about just how well the Nintendo Switch has sold.

Those who remember the fantastic GameBoy Advance Micro coming right at the end of the GameBoy Advance’s life may draw parallels to the New 2DS XL’s arrival but they’d be wrong. Unlike the GameBoy Advance, which was superseded by the Nintendo DS, the 3DS is still going strong.

New Nintendo 2DS XL hands-on: Revolutionising a revolution

It’s probably not worth overthinking the reasons for Nintendo’s decision to launch the New Nintendo 2DS XL, though. Indeed, the premise appears to be pretty simple: while the original Nintendo 2DS was a rugged, 3D-free version of the 3DS for younger children, the New Nintendo 2DS XL is a more grown up version.

Part of this shift in focus can be seen in the 2DS XL’s pricing. It costs $199, which makes it less than the 3DS XL but more expensive than regular 2DS. You may wonder at that, but the 2DS XL is more than simply a larger, folding version of the 2DS.

First up, Nintendo has brought over everything from the New 3DS line into the New 2DS XL. This means it employs the same internal hardware as the New 3DS and New 3DS XL, features the extra “ZL” and “ZR” shoulder buttons as well as the new C-Stick nubbin. So, unlike the original 2DS, the New 2DS XL can play games like Xenoblade Chronicles 3DThe Binding of Isaac RebirthHyrule Warriors and all of the SNES Virtual Console games, as well.

Nintendo has also listened to feedback from 3DS owners, addressing many of the gripes users had with the New 3DS and New 3DS XL. The most welcome addition is the introduction of a covered flap to stop the 3DS game cartridge accidentally ejecting during play. Nintendo has also moved the microSD card next to the 3DS cartridge, so you no longer need a jeweler’s screwdriver to access it if you want to switch it over.

Although the New Nintendo 3DS XL is hardly a heavy thing, the New Nintendo 2DS XL is significantly lighter. Weighing a mere 260g and with dimensions that are just a little smaller than the New 3DS XL, it’s fantastically portable.

The biggest revelation with the 2DS XL, however, is Nintendo’s reversal of its bizarre decision not to include a charger in the box with the 3DS XL and New 3DS XL. So for your $199 you’re getting a New Nintendo 2DS XL, a 4GB microSD card and a power adapter, all in.

New Nintendo 2DS XL hands-on: A catalogue to die for

Unlike the launch of the New Nintendo 3DS and New 3DS XL, Nintendo won’t be releasing any games that only work with the New Nintendo 2DS XL. Instead, its appeal resides entirely on the fact that it’s capable of playing absolutely any 3DS or DS game ever made. And that makes it incredibly good value for money.

When the console arrives on 28 July there are, however, going to be launch games. 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 neither of those sound like they’re up your street, Nintendo also has two big Nintendo 3DS games launching just the month before. Both Hey! Pikmin and Ever Oasis join the plentiful 3DS games library from the 24th of June and should appeal to anyone picking up a 2DS XL a month later. Hey! Pikmin is your typical Pikmin fare: lead as many Pikmin to safety, while collecting treasure, without getting them killed.

The chief difference here is that it’s not a distance-viewed Pikmin game as found on the GameCube and Wii U, instead it’s a side-scrolling adventure made for the smaller screen. Still, despite this shift in perspective it’s as enjoyable as the series has ever been.

Ever Oasis, on the other hand, has a lot of old-school JRPG fans excited. Created by Koichi Ishii, the man behind Final FantasyEver Oasis casts you in the role of Tethu, a seedling tasked with creating a village and filling it with inhabitants. Naturally it’s all a little bit absurd, but I found it enjoyable during my short time playing it and I can see myself sinking plenty of hours into it.

New Nintendo 2DS XL hands-on: Is it worth it?

What is clear is that, if you’re already the happy owner of a New Nintendo 3DS or New 3DS XL this isn’t worth your time.

If the 2DS you bought for your kid is looking a little bit battered, though, or they’ve outgrown its more childish aesthetic, the 2DS XL could be a great purchase, especially if you’re not too fussed about playing in 3D. 

I’ll be delving deeper into what the New Nintendo 2DS XL is like to use, along with its screen and build quality in my full review. For now, though, it looks as if Nintendo is onto yet another portable console winner.

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