Introduction to the Nintendo 2DS
The Nintendo 3DS was released over 3 years ago, and at first, the handheld console struggled to sell units. The targeted market (being mainly children) didn’t have enough of a reason to get games that demanded more horsepower, and the next two years Nintendo lowered the price of the 3DS again and again. It proved to work wonders as the sales went up for the 3DS, and more games were released for the console. The fact is though; the handheld console market is fading away, people are more and more interested in playing games on their smartphones and tablets, which also do so much more. So what Nintendo did, was to release an even cheaper alternative to the 3DS; the 2DS. The 2DS is everything a 3DS is in specifications, but is built with less quality, as well as cutting down on a few hardware enhancements.
That is the device I’m reviewing today, we’re about to learn what Nintendo has done to appeal to a broader market.
Performance and Specifications
Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way; the 2DS houses almost the same hardware, so it can play all 3DS titles, except they aren’t in 3D, but in 2D. Simply put, the 3DS has a screen that displays an imagine for both eyes, so it looked as if it was in physical 3D. The 2DS doesn’t have that screen, so instead you have a traditional LCD screen.
The 2DS is powered by a dual core processor based on the ARM11 architecture, a Digital Media Professionals PICA200 GPU, 128 MB FCRAM, 6 MB VRAM and 2 GB internal memory (of which 1.5 GB are available for the user) . Connectivity includes Wi-Fi and an SD-card slot. A single speaker is available for the sound output, but supports stereo through the 3,5 mm jack. It also sport 3 cameras. Two in the back for 3D images (which you can view on a 3DS – if you happen to have one of those too), these are also used to measure distance in certain games. There’s a camera up front too for games that support that. All three are at a modest 0.3 megapixels, but they get the job done.
The performance in real life is perfectly good, nothing awful. Loading and jumping around the system, though, isn’t particularly fast either. It does shine in how smooth the system is, when it’s used for browsing and navigating through whatever you might do. The only program that suffered here was the YouTube app.
The Nintendo 2DS is build of plastic, there’s no way around it. It’s pretty much your standard plastic in good quality. It feels good enough to the touch, and in all feels sturdy enough to take a little beating. That however, is where things start to go down. The way it is put together has left some room for cracking noises and some flimsiness. The display is only ok, with some acceptable colors but pretty bad brightness and contrast. Viewing angles are not really considered either. It is fine to play with, and it is a cheap handheld, so it’s passable. The brightness of the screen itself goes from 1-5, 1 being for low-light and 5 for use outdoors. Both ends works well, but outside you have to think about reflection on the top screen.
The responsiveness of buttons however is good, though a little loose. The D-pad is moving a bit, and is a bit small, but I haven’t had any issue using it in games or menus. The home-button is also something different, every other button is nice and responsive, easy to press, but the home-button is hard and doesn’t feel that responsive, it’s a shame.
The resistive touchscreen also works well, but of course not as nice as those we are used to in smartphones, the capacitive variant. All in all, good for a cheap console, but still leaves you a tad underwhelmed, and if you use it with your fingers, you have to press a little to get a response.
Fit and Feel
The 2DS is built quite differently than the 3DS. While the 3DS uses a clam-shell design, the 2DS is just a square flat surface, with rounded corners. This isn’t necessarily a drawback for the 2DS, because it ultimately means the device’s button setup is slightly higher than on the 3DS, which means an older child and an adult can better hold the device in their hands. When held so you have all buttons accessible to your fingers, the device feel very natural to an adult’s hands, and when you play games it is just as good. Everything is accessible in a very comfortable way, so much so, that I recommend the 2DS to adults, more than the 3DS. Unless of course, one wants the 3DS XL or the 3D effect. But if you’re not, the 2DS fits very well in your hands, if you are maybe of 12 years of age or older.
This design however, makes the 2DS prone to scratches and marks, which the 3DS clam-shell design prevents. Be sure to take care of it, or buy the bag designed for the 2DS.
The design is simple but with a few nice touches. It’s thinner at the bottom, and round on those edges all around, and thicker on the top with rounded corners for your fingers. I have the White/Red combo, which makes it a bit of a beauty. The whole console is white, but red around the edges, and a single fairly thin red strip on the back, where the Nintendo logo is discreetly placed. It’s well designed, of good quality, it’s just a shame it isn’t built that well. I wouldn’t scare away from it, but just keep that in mind.
Design and User Experience
The software that includes the menus and user experience is very soft and light. The 2DS operates smoothly and fairly fast, depending on what you’re doing/playing. Everything the 2DS offers in software is nicely explained so that everybody capable of reading and understanding what they read, can operate it. It’s simply laid out in the Home menu, where you can find every game or app you have. If there’s one thing I don’t really like about the Software included, is how much the 2DS offers. There’s StreetPass and… well, frankly I can barely remember the rest, it all seems unnecessary and a bit complicated. I’m sure you can get into it, and use it with ease, I just can’t seem to see the benefit, and it shows up in some games and services. And then you have to activate it and use it. But aside from that, it’s very easy to look at and navigate.
The 2DS has two screens of course, and it’s typically used that way, so the bottom display is where there’s action, where you navigate, and the top display shows the visual stuff that makes the menus and games a complete package of game and what actions to do, Nintendo and game developers use these very well.
The 2DS comes with services out of the box, and even a few mini games. You can also go to the Nintendo eShop and find a few extra apps (not to mention a lot of games). These include making Mii’s (virtual representation of yourself and your friends/family. Used in games.), Letters, note taking for games, Mii Maker, Mii Garden, YouTube (through eShop) and a web browser. The mini games include a shooting game; AR Games, in which you use some included AR cards and put them on a table. The tble comes alive and stuff gets out and you have to shoot targets. You can also pose different Nintendo characters and take pictures with the dual cameras. The other game is called Face Raiders, with uses the 2DS’ sensors and cameras to shoot flying heads of you or your friends. Both simple and pretty impressive fun.
The Mii Maker and Mii Plaza are some kind of social game and collectible game, this works with how many steps you take (that’s right, in sleep-mode, your 2DS can count how many steps you take if you carry it around, through your day), which you can use to get virtual goods, and trade with people you meet along the day. The 2DS apparently detects these automatically. All in all, out of the box, with no games bought, you can have a few hours of fun, if not more. Just to get a taste of what the 2DS can do with it’s 3D cameras and different sensors.
Final thoughts and conclusion
I must say that I think Nintendo did the right move. With a healthy catalog of games already in existence, but wanting a wider audience, Nintendo managed to put together a cheaper version of the 3DS, without going too much down on quality. It’s actually mostly minor details and the fact is not a clam-shell design, which can be viewed as an advantage.
This reduction in price have made it more accessible for people who were on the edge of buying a 3DS for it’s catalog of games, but didn’t want to spend that much on the console. Some people say it’s just a 129€ Pokémon machine, but the truth is, Nintendo offer classics from the NES, SNES and N64, besides playing regular DS games, and of course all of the Nintendo 3DS’ offerings, which means Nintendo actually offer games for everyone, and plenty of it. Making it cheaper is a gateway for Nintendo’s products and services. Handheld consoles may be in decline, but it’s clear that Nintendo still offers modern and simple solutions where games are in high quality on the go. Only very few smartphone games even compare to what a 3DS/2DS offers. So the 2DS still has an advantage that mobile isn’t going to overtake just yet, and Nintendo only secured that further with the 2DS.
In conclusion; good (enough) quality, great games within a huge catalog, and good software, makes the 2DS a great and cheap console you should consider if you like gaming on the go and smartphone games aren’t enough, or precise enough, yet.