Nintendo has a damn good track record in the hardware revision game. The first entry of a Nintendo portable system is always the idea, the pure concept hacked out of clay and thrust out into the world in haste, as if Nintendo is afraid that any refinement will taint it. The Game Boy led to the Game Boy Pocket, the Game Boy Advance morphed into SP, the Nintendo DS was vastly improved and refined by the Nintendo DS Lite. The New Nintendo 3DS and 3DS XL may not have been as drastic, but were still an upgrade over the basic model.
Now it's the 2DS' turn.
I admit, I've never liked the 2DS. I always found the unibody design to be hideous. I understood the point of the thing; it was the fairly ugly, cheap 3DS model you gave to your young son, daughter, brother, or sister. The original asking price of $129.99 was slightly too expensive in my opinion, but Nintendo eventually got the price down. It was the system built to get thrown on floors, to be stepped on. It's meant to survive or simply be replaced.
The New Nintendo 2DS XL leaves that idea behind. This revision of the 2DS sits in-between the 2DS and the New Nintendo 3DS/3DS XL. If you want an entry-level model for your small kids, get the 2DS for $79.99. If you want or need all the bells and whistles for teens and older gamers, buy the New Nintendo 3DS XL for $199.99.
What if you don't need 3D though? Sure, it was the platform's initial selling point, but at the end of its lifespan, I find myself not missing it. I doubt I'm alone. When I play something on my New Nintendo 3DS, I turn the 3D on briefly to see how a developer utilized it and then turn it off completely.
Having spent some time with the New Nintendo 2DS XL, I can safely say I won't miss glassesless 3D at all. Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime has called the New Nintendo 3DS XL "the Cadillac of handheld gaming" - that'd be the Switch, in my opinion - which would make this the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla of handheld gaming. Just what you need to get from point A to point B, while playing some games.
What struck me about the New 2DS XL when I first picked it up at a Nintendo hands-on event was how light the damn thing is. Apparently, dropping built-in 3D allows you to just completely shed some excess weight. It weighs slightly more than the New 3DS, coming in at 260 grams (9.2 ounces) instead of 253 grams (8.9 ounces), but the additional weight is negligible. If you're used to the New 3DS XL, the weight difference is noticeable and welcome, while the overall system has roughly the same dimensions (3.4 in. × 6.3 in. × 0.8 in. vs 3.7 in. × 6.3 in. x 0.8 in.). In addition, it sports a new ergonomic clamshell design with rounded surfaces on every corner.
The full-length hinge design has been replaced with a smaller version that sits a bit deeper into the system. The hinge clicks into three positions like the New 3DS/3DS XL: two standing positions and a completely flat one. Unlike the 3DS models though, the deeper hinge means the New 2DS feels better when completely flat. The top and the bottom are on the same plane, meaning it feels nearly like the lower-end 2DS, unlike the 3DS models where the top screen is higher than the bottom one. The new design does mean the hinge sticks out in closed mode though.
The new design also feels better when closed; the New 3DS/3DS XL have lower screens that stick up from the where the buttons sit, so when they're closed, there's still a sizable gap on either side of the screen. The 2DS's bottom screen is flush. On the New 2DS, the top screen is inset a bit to make space for the buttons, meaning it feels closer to a seamless system when closed.
There are some other changes to the overall system. The speakers have moved from the top screen to two vents on the bottom of the unit. The center of the redesigned hinge holds the inner camera, the microphone, and the notification light. The Home button moves from the center of the bottom half to underneath the directional pad. The outer 3D cameras are now on the bottom half of the 2DS, not the top. (Yeah, they're still there and they still record in 3D, you just can't see it on the system.)
The most excellent change is the game card slot, which now has a cover to prevent you from clicking out the game card, which has happened to me a few times. The microSD card slot is housed under the same cover.
So what do you lose in the transition from the New 3DS XL to the New 2DS XL?
Nothing really. You get the XL-sized screens, New-level processor, the C-stick, the ZL/ZR buttons, and the built-in NFC reader. Everything else works. You lose the 3D, which I feel isn't a loss at all. It even comes with an AC Adapter in the box, something that the 3DS XL lacks.
The New Nintendo 2DS just feels right. This is the final form of the platform, a superb swan song for the system. I'd like to see the flagship 3DS in this form factor, though I'd miss the switchable faceplates of my New 3DS. The 2DS XL feels like the jump from the DS to the DS Lite. After playing with it for a while, the 2DS is the system I didn't know I wanted. That's a good way to close out the platform, Nintendo.
There's still more impressions from the New Nintendo 2DS XL event!