Console Review: New Nintendo 2DS XL

Is the newest iteration of the hardware worth a look?

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 09/19/2017 19:25 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Sturdy build; all of New 3DS XL's features minus glasses-free 3D; light, thin, and easily portable
Poison Mushroom for...
Middling battery life; only one design on the market is needlessly limiting; some might miss the glasses-free 3D; shrimpy stylus

I think that the common response a lot of people had when Nintendo announced New 2DS XL was “why?” What purpose does this fourth iteration of the baseline 3DS model serve? After spending a few weeks with the handheld, I think I’ve come up with the answer: New 2DS XL is the midrange model that many fans have been waiting for.

Everything about a New 3DS XL is present in a New 2DS XL, with the exception of a glasses-free 3D screen. For many fans, this will be no loss, as the 3D functionality of the handheld has always been a controversial feature. A lot of players have the slider all the way down as they play, so the lack of 3D will not be missed, and indeed might even be seen as a boon.

I find myself in the camp of people who do like the 3D feature, but it’s not a deal breaker to me by any means. With a New 3DS XL clocking in at $200, to be able to buy what is essentially the same console at $150 is an incredible bargain. What’s more, it’s also a step up from the baseline 2DS model, which a lot of fans liked the price of but not necessarily the form factor.

Thankfully, along with the lower price, New 2DS XL also sees the return of a bundled charger. Throw in a 4 gigabyte Micro SD card, and fans will be ready to get playing right out of the box. With battery life in the four to five hour range (expect a little less than four if you crank everything from brightness to volume to max), expect to get a decent amount of playtime out of the system. Decent, not great, but battery life has never been the 3DS lineup’s strongest suit.

The unit itself has a much more rugged build than a New 3DS XL. Glossy plastic has been replaced with a much more matte finish, with indented plastic stripes across the top lid wrapped in a stripe of bright electric blue. The design is in keeping with the sturdier, no-frills look of the baseline 2DS line, but it’s definitely a step above that. The clamshell form factor alone is a major improvement over a regular 2DS.

I do have a couple of nitpicks to make about the system, however. For one thing, the stylus is laughably small. It clocks in at 2.75 inches long. Compare that to a New 3DS (note: not an XL!) stylus at roughly 3 inches. Believe it or not, that quarter of an inch makes a difference when it comes to comfort and usability. I have no clue why Nintendo would skimp on such a minor detail, but it was a mistake.

That shrimpy thing on the left is the New 2DS XL stylus. New 3DS stylus on the right.

My other gripe is focused on the hinge. It’s externally attached to the body of the system, lying across the upper half of the unit inside of a cylindrical tube of plastic. It disrupts the otherwise sleek look of New 2DS XL and, by being placed on the outside of the body rather than within, is needlessly exposed to potential damage that no previous Nintendo clamshell design has ever been at risk of. Nothing about New 2DS XL feels cheap, but I do worry that a ding in the wrong spot might leave the upper screen flapping limply.

Outside of those two problems, this is everything that a New 3DS XL has to offer at a price of $50 less. As I stated above, New 2DS XL is the midrange 3DS model that many fans have wanted for years now. It’s not a budget model like 2DS, nor is it an outright luxury item like New 3DS XL. Instead, it sits happily in the middle, offering the upped horsepower and usability of the New 3DS lineup with a smaller asking price and more durable exterior. So don’t sleep on this one if you’ve been holding out on buying a 3DS or upgrading from the baseline unit; it’s definitely worth a buy!

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