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New Nintendo 2DS XL review: A welcome late addition to Nintendo’s handheld family


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New Nintendo 2DS XL review – The New Nintendo 2DS XL isn’t going to set the world alight. It’s not new and revolutionary like the wonderful Nintendo Switch. But the New Nintendo 2DS XL is a thoughtful and welcome addition to Nintendo’s handheld console range.

After almost six years of 3DS devices being on the market, the 2DS XL represents a refinement of what Nintendo does best. It’s colourful and chunky with an aura that shouts for you to play with it and, just like the original 2DS, it loses nothing by not having a stereoscopic 3D display.

New Nintendo 2DS XL review

The New Nintendo 2DS XL is the latest entry into Nintendo’s family of handheld games consoles. It’s the evolution of 2013’s wedge-shaped Nintendo 2DS handheld, and brings with it the same level of power and features as the New 3DS XL but without the glasses-free 3D screen. Most important, though, is the price, which is £40 cheaper than the New 3DS XL, and should ensure mass sales among young kids who don’t care about gaming in 3D.

New Nintendo 2DS XL review: Price and competition

Nintendo finds itself in a rather unique position within the handheld games console market: it’s basically the only player. The major “competitors” to the New Nintendo 2DS XL are Nintendo’s own New 3DS and New 3DS XL consoles and its home console-cum-portable, the Nintendo Switch. At a stretch, you could lump smartphones and tablets into the same pot, but what Nintendo offers far outstrips the sort of experiences you’ll find on Android and iOS in terms of game length and overall enjoyment.

Price-wise, the New Nintendo 2DS XL costs £130 and comes with a charger included in the box. You can pick up the smaller-screened and 3D-enabled New Nintendo 3DS for £10 more, or the New Nintendo 3DS XL for £40 more, but neither come with a charger in the box – meaning you’ll be forking out at least another £10 on top of those prices.

The Nintendo Switch costs more than twice the price of the New 2DS XL, but it’s significantly more powerful, and is intended to be a replacement for the Wii U rather than your beaten-up old Nintendo DS.

New Nintendo 2DS XL review: Design & display

With its clamshell design and crisp colour combinations, plus the same C-stick nubbin, Amiibo support and 4.88in screen as the New 3DS XL, the New Nintendo 2DS XL is a thing of quiet beauty.

It may not have the customisable interchangeable covers of its siblings, and it may still look somewhat more childlike, but it’s a significant step forward. It still feels pleasingly chunky in hand, with solid build quality and a pleasing heft.

Nintendo has also made some smart design decisions with the New Nintendo 2DS XL. The 3D camera array has been removed from the top lid of the 2DS XL and is now tucked underneath, towards the rear of the base.

The microSD slot has been moved to the front of the unit next to the game-cartridge slot, and both are now covered by a sturdy flap to prevent accidental ejection during play. All three of these small tweaks were previously points of contention for New 3DS and New 3DS XL owners, so it’s good to see Nintendo listening to feedback and implementing improvements here.

Unlike the New 3DS and New 3DS XL, the New 2DS XL’s 4.88in top screen is covered with a glossy finish and – just like the Switch’s impressive panel – it looks great. It’s bright and crisp and colours don’t look as washed out as they can do on the New 3DS.

The lower touchscreen part of the 2DS XL is the same screen found in the New 3DS XL. At 4.18in, it’s much larger than that found on the original 2DS, but there are otherwise no real improvements when it comes to brightness, clarity or responsiveness. If you’re worried about it breaking or being easily scratched by eager younger players, don’t be: the touchscreens on the 3DS family all tend to be rather rugged compared to the original DS suite of devices.

However, Nintendo has made a couple of rather perplexing changes. The 2DS XL’s stylus is shorter and fatter, a change presumably made to make it more comfortable for children to use, but any adults buying the New 2DS XL will find themselves battling hand cramp after a while.

Nintendo has also placed the New 2DS XL’s speakers on the bottom corners of the unit, which means when you hold the 2DS XL you end up blocking the sound with your palms. It isn’t a deal-breaker, especially since most people will play with headphones, but it’s still a baffling decision.

New Nintendo 2DS XL review: Performance and specs

The New Nintendo 2DS XL isn’t just a reworked, larger-screened 2DS, it’s also an entirely new piece of hardware. Utilising the new, and more powerful, chipset found in the New 3DS and New 3DS XL, the 2DS XL is the only way to get a 2DS capable of playing New 3DS-exclusive games.

Seeing as so few games actually require you to have a New 3DS to play them, this doesn’t actually mean all that much. However, it does mean that games that support the new C-stick nubbin are more playable. You also can’t knock game performance as – without the need to push for 3D – games run incredibly smoothly on the lush New 2DS XL screens.

Nintendo’s 3DS homescreen UI remains largely unchanged since its initial 2011 outing on the original 3DS so, as you can imagine it’s not up to modern standards. You won’t spend much time poking around the menus, but it’s definitely something worth noting if you’re buying for a younger member of the family. The 3DS’s UI is most definitely showing its age.

As far as battery life goes, expect it to be in the same six- or seven-hour ballpark as the New 3DS XL. You’re unlikely to be playing your New 2DS XL for that long in a single sitting, though, so it should easily last you a weekend of occasional play.

New Nintendo 2DS XL review: Game compatibility

Unlike the launch of the New Nintendo 3DS and New 3DS XL, Nintendo won’t be releasing any games that work exclusively with the 2DS XL. Instead, its appeal resides in the fact that it’s capable of playing absolutely any 3DS or DS game ever made.

But when the console arrives on 28 July there are 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 the month before. Both Hey! Pikmin and Ever Oasis 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. 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 the Mana series, Ever 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 review: Verdict

If you aren’t so fussed with 3D – and many aren’t – you’re looking at a decent £40 saving with the New Nintendo 2DS XL. It’s effectively the same device as the New 3DS XL, and it has Nintendo’s 12-year back catalogue of games to back it up.

If you already own a 3DS, I wouldn’t bother rushing out to pick up a New 2DS XL, but if you’re late to the party and want to hop aboard the DS bandwagon, this is the handheld to get. It may have its own little niggles – and its black-and-turquoise and white-and-orange designs aren’t as catchy or cool as the New 3DS with its interchangeable faces – but this is yet another strong addition to Nintendo’s handheld lineup.

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