Skip to main content

New Nintendo 2DS XL review

3D is out, 2D is in

Features

  • Comes with a charger in the box
  • Omitted 3D capability keeps cost low
  • Same faster CPU as the New 3DS XL

While it may not seem like a tremendous selling point, we're happy to note that the New 2DS XL includes a charger in the box – something that was bafflingly absent from the New 3DS's package.

Another thing that feels weird to describe as a "feature" (but must be, due to it being the main point of difference between this and the New 3DS XL) is the fact that the New 2DS XL, as the name would suggest, only displays in 2D. This not only brings the price of the unit down dramatically, it also contributes to the thinness of the top screen.

New 3DS review

It's also worth noting that few 3DS games these days are actually designed with 3D in mind, making the 3D aspect of the console something that most owners will rarely use. Without games taking advantage of 3D camera perspectives like Super Mario 3D Land did, the only 3D you're getting is a slight separation of foreground and background elements.

Still, given the vast 3D improvements introduced with the New 3DS XL, including a front facing camera that tracked your head for a more accurate and responsive 3D experience, it's a bit of a shame that Nintendo's latest handheld has dumped the feature entirely.

New 3DS review

If that kind of thing is important to you though, the New 3DS XL is still readily available. This new handheld, however, is clearly intended as a cheaper alternative for those people who don't care about 3D gaming at all. In that sense, the New Nintendo 2DS XL certainly delivers.

It's also worth noting that as this is part of Nintendo's 'New' branded handhelds, the New 2DS XL features the same faster CPU that was introduced with the New 3DS XL. This means apps and games will launch faster, and some titles will even experience quicker loading times. Also, some newer 3DS games will only work on 'New' branded systems.

New 3DS Review

Screen

  • Large 'XL' size screen
  • Nice level of brightness
  • Still low resolution

Maybe the recent release of the Nintendo Switch, with its big and beautiful HD screen, has spoiled us somewhat, but our first reaction to turning on the New 2DS XL was "whoa, this looks older than I remember."

Quite frankly, it's hard to look at a 400 x 240 pixel display in 2017 and not immediately notice all of the individual pixels in front of you. Sure, the screen achieves a nice level of brightness (when looked at from front on), with colors looking especially vibrant, but this screen is basically identical to the one found on the original 3DS (when viewed in 2D mode) way back in 2011. Even then, we were already used to playing HD games on our phones, so you can imagine how long in the tooth it looks now.

3DS

Still, there's a comfortable amount of screen real estate here, with the upper screen providing 4.88-inches of play area and the lower touchscreen giving the player 4.18-inches to swipe their stylus across.

The smaller screens featured on regular-sized 3DS or original 2DS handhelds may bring the pixels closer together, making the low pixel-count ever-so-slightly less noticeable, but we think the XL's larger screens still offer a preferable gameplay experience overall.

New 3DS Review

Games

  • DS backwards compatibility
  • Huge library of terrific games
  • Great game releases still to come

While the New Nintendo 2DS XL's screen resolution might fail to blow people away in an age where HD resolutions are expected as a bare minimum, it stops mattering so much when you start playing the many classic games available in the 3DS library. 

For fans of role-playing games, Nintendo's 3DS library is like mana from heaven, offering the likes of Fire Emblem Awakening, Xenoblade Chronicles, Monster Hunter Generations, Bravely Default, Pokémon Sun and Moon, Shin Megami Tensei IV and many, many more titles in that vein. It would not be inaccurate to consider the platform the best ever portable for fans of JRPGs – there are almost too many great titles to choose from.

If you're after more traditional Nintendo-made games, then the system has you covered in that regard, too. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Super Mario 3D Land, Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Donkey Kong Country Returns and Metroid Prime: Federation Force offer something for everybody when it comes to classic Nintendo titles, and a Virtual Console section on the eShop also provides access to a number of classic games from the NES and SNES era. 

Best of all, the New 2DS XL, like all the 3DS systems before it, is completely backwards compatible with Nintendo DS titles, so you have a whole other generation of dual-screen games at your disposal. 

Add to this the fact that there are some great-looking 3DS titles on the way – like Metroid: Samus Returns, which was just announced at E3 2017 – and you have yourself a library that should keep you occupied for quite some time to come.