Built up since the original release in 2011, Nintendo’s brilliant dedicated handheld games console has a slew of fantastic games: Super Mario, Zeldas both old and new, sprawling RPGs in the form of Dragon Quest and Monster Hunter and a host of quirky, inventive titles.
Because of the quality of its library, the 3DS and its subsequent design revisions upset the odds to become a significant success. A wobbly start and the competition from ubiquitous mobile games not stopping the “3DS family” striding toward 65 million sales and becoming the best handheld console ever in the process.
But with the hardware aging and Nintendo launching a fantastic home console that you can take with you, would it now be abandoned?
Not so, says Nintendo. In an interview with the Telegraph ahead of the Switch launch, Shinya Takahashi promised that the company would continue to support the console well into 2018 and that he saw the 3DS as the perfect entry point for kids before, just maybe, graduating to a Nintendo Switch.
Such a thing is easy to say, of course, but Nintendo has shown every intention of extending the 3DS’s tenure. Not just in announcing new Pokemon games, releasing a specialised Pikmin game and a new Brain Training, but in giving the 3DS one final, suprising hardware revision. So here it is, the terrific but somewhat clunkily and confusingly named New Nintendo 2DS XL.
For clarity: the New 2DS XL is part of the 3DS family and will play both 3DS and original DS software. The “2” refers to the fact that this is the second revision of the hardware that doesn’t feature the 3D that the original console sold itself on but everyone switched off. Got it? Good.
It is a lovely thing, its smart clamshell design striking that balance between quality hardware and playful toy design that Nintendo are so good at. There are two versions, a dark grey console with electric blue trim, or a white machine edged with orange. The idea that this is a console designed with kids in mind is clear, it is light and compact enough for smaller hands, but chunky and solid enough to be thrown around; passed between siblings or chucked into bags.
While the chassis is smaller, the screens of the New 2DS XL are the same size as the New 3DS XL (do keep up) at 4.88 inches for the top screen and 4.12 inches for the touchscreen at the bottom.
The obvious difference is that the 3DS has the 3D feature, but otherwise the New 2DS XL has all the same bits and bobs of the latter 3DS designs. A front facing camera for AR cards, NFC support for Amiibo and the like, a second analogue nub to go with the original slider, d-pad and face buttons.
Unless you are wedded to the 3D feature, the New 2DS XL is, without doubt, the best-looking, most comfortable and refined iteration of the console. A cover snaps over the game card slot to protect against wayward hands, while the SD card slot also nestles in there, making it far more accessible to upgrade the memory than previous versions.
A stylus slots into a hole on the bottom of the machine, but it is bafflingly tiny, even for children. It is the only real gripe of an otherwise lovely handheld console.
To be clear though, this is purely a cosmetic redesign. Those that already own a 3DS, particularly the fully-featured New 3DS XL, shouldn’t expect anything more.
This is Nintendo’s send-off to a terrific console, a smartly-priced attempt to give it one more chance in the limelight before the inevitable wholesale shift to the Switch. There isn’t a huge amount for 3DS veterans here, but if you haven’t had the chance to sample its charms, I can’t recommend this splendid revision highly enough.