Anyone hoping Nintendo would invent the 4DS in time for its next portable system was sorely mistaken today when the company unveiled plans for the Oct. 12-bound Nintendo 2DS.
This non-3D handheld gaming system is a step backward in terms of radical new technology, further proving that supposed "eye-popping graphics" add little to gameplay and movie watching experiences.
Nintendo 2DS rectifies that blazed trail gone cold with a cheaper solution that's more parent friendly at $129.99 (about £84, AU$145). It's also kid friendly, doing away with the obnoxious Nintendo 3DS warning messages for children under seven.
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But like every Nintendo product launch in recent years, the 2DS is mired by some strange design choices.
Fans of the Mario company are going to see some great ideas, but inevitably realize that the proper handheld they're looking for is in another castle.
The price is (almost) right
The Nintendo 2DS price is $129.99 (about £84, AU$145), which is $40 less (about £26, AU$45 less) than the original Nintendo 3DS and a more meaningful $70 cheaper (about £45, AU$78 cheaper) than the Nintendo 3DS XL model.
Compared to its closest non-Nintendo competition, the 2DS is also $70 cheaper than the PS Vita, which Sony recently price dropped to $199 and €199. It can't go any lower to match Nintendo's new entry-level offering.
By far, shaving a dimension from the 3DS has given way to a more budget-friendly portable. Few people wanted that expensive glasses-free 3D screen after five minutes anyway.
It misses the sweet spot of $99 (about £64, AU$110), but the price point isn't what's going to cause every handheld-devoted gamer to throw up their often-preoccupied hands.
What happened to the clamshell design?
Just because the Nintendo 2DS lacks stereoscopic 3D graphics doesn't mean it should just lay there flat as a board. But that's the exact "bored" looking design the company went with.
The 2DS is Nintendo 3DS "unhinged," but that's not a positive change. It no longer sports a clamshell design that folds the handheld in half to make it easily pocketable.
Likewise, the non-foldable 2DS form factor means that the system's plastic housing no longer doubles as a protective case for its two screens.
The reason? "The screen is one piece," a Nintendo spokesperson told TechRadar. Flexible screens aren't ready for handheld gaming just yet.
That's great news for accessory companies looking to sell new 2DS carry-all bags, but irritating for gamers, even the younger crowd that Nintendo seems to be going after.
No dual analog on 2DS
The 2DS controls alter the location of the circle pad and face buttons; they're now in line with the top screen. Meanwhile, the D-Pad and the start and select buttons are closer to the smaller bottom screen.
Like choking up on a bat, that is likely to make gaming a more intense experience, especially considering most of the action happens on the top screen.
There's ample room for a built-in second analog stick, something gamers have been clamoring for in the last several years, but Nintendo failed to deliver here.
Yes, the company came out with the Circle Pad Pro accessory, but because it wasn't included with the system in the first place, support among developers has remained limited.
So far, Nintendo hasn't said whether another dual analog accessory revision will come out to match the underutilized Circle Pad Pro and Circle Pad Pro XL already available.
Same games, sort of
Nintendo's hardware design choices are perplexing to say the least. But in an age where Xbox One and PS4 games aren't backward compatible, it's nice to see the Big N step up and do the right thing here.