New Nintendo 2DS XL Hand-on Review

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  • Release Date: July 28
  • Clamshell design
  • Two colour variants: Black/Blue or White/Orange
  • “New” 3DS-line features incl. C-Stick and additional shoulder buttons
  • Screens same size as 3DS XL, 82% larger than 2DS
  • Plays all 3DS games
  • Two rear-facing and one front-facing camera
  • Manufacturer: Nintendo
  • Review Price: £129.99/$194.99


I feel so sorry for non-videogame-savvy parents going into a store to buy a 3DS. The wave of information about all the variants of Nintendo’s handheld will result in middle-aged people staring at a sales clerk like a bunch of confused emojis. Now, there’s one more in the mix in the form of the New Nintendo 2DS XL, just to make the sales pitch even more fun.


The New Nintendo 2DS XL is a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster of all the previous 3DS consoles. The ‘New’ refers to the flagship line of 3DS handhelds which pack additional processing power, an extra analogue stick (the C-Stick) and two extra shoulder buttons. It also means the console can play New-exclusive 3DS titles, though this is very limited, with the only standout being Valkyria Chronicles 3D.

The ‘2DS’ part of the name naturally comes from the more kid-friendly, wedge-shaped 2DS variant which does everything a 3DS can do except play games in 3D. Finally there’s the ‘XL’, which means the screens are 82% larger than that of a standard 3DS and 2DS, and the same size as Nintendo’s other XL consoles.

Pre-order the new Nintendo 2DS XL from Amazon UK

Now we we’ve managed to get through that sticky situation, we can talk about the New 2DS XL in its own right. It’s quite a nice piece of kit, and has the potential to be the new standard Nintendo 3DS portable, ridiculously confusing nomenclature-aside. The real question is: who’s it for?

new 2ds xl

The 2DS XL features the same clamshell design of the 3DS and 3DS XL, although the combination of the ridged plastic upper lined with a smooth plastic, in either a vibrant turquoise or orange colour, gives it much more of a ‘toy’ aesthetic, aligning it more with the 2DS’ youthful appeal.

That doesn’t mean the console feels cheap, though; it’s well put together and feels nice in the hands. That said, when I opened it, the half housing the top part felt a little flappy, and was prone to changing its position with little movement. Whereas my current 3DS XL has a very satisfying click into position when opened, the New 2DS XL doesn’t, making it feel a little wobbly.

This could, of course, just be the particular unit I was using, and it didn’t prove an issue when playing games.

Weight is also a big thing, well actually, a little thing. The New 2DS XL feels significantly lighter than the 3DS XL, and the majority of the weight is housed in the lower half of the hardware, the section you hold while gaming. This makes it a very comfortable machine, too.

new 2ds xl

As well as shedding some grams, Nintendo has also moved the furniture. The headphone jack and stylus now sit beneath the lower screen at the front of the console, while to the left is a flap concealing both the game cartridge and memory card slots. The power button is on the right, and having everything here is a good fit. I would sometimes find myself accidentally pressing on the game cartridge slot of the 3DS when holding my console or pushing it into my bag, so having it concealed is much better. Plus having easier access to the memory card compared to other 3DS consoles is a blessing.

While Nintendo has made some great design choices, it has also made a couple of bizarre ones, most notably the inclusion of rear-facing 3D cameras. Considering this is a 2DS, why waste expense on including two rear cameras to take 3D pictures? I’m struggling to understand the inclusion of the neglected front-facing camera to begin with, let alone the two at the back. Considering near enough everyone, even kids, have access to better quality cameras via their smartphones, surely it would have made sense to scrap cameras altogether and offer the console at an even cheaper price point?

Where the front-facing camera is placed also brings me to one slight problem with the design of the console. The hinge doesn’t run all the way along the console, meaning when the console is closed, there’s a noticeable ridge at the top. So rather than folding into a neat rectangle, it has this odd bump where half the camera pokes out.

new 2ds xl

Another issue is the tiny stylus. I didn’t get a chance to measure it, but it looks like a HB pencil sharpened down to its last legs. It’s incredibly awkward to hold, and in my brief time playing Hey! Pikmin, which relies on touch input to throw Pikmin around, my hand quickly started to cramp. It’s a shame Nintendo didn’t adopt the telescopic design of the original 3DS stylus.

In terms of games, this console operates exactly like a New 3DS XL. The C-Stick and two additional shoulder buttons offer extra functionality in certain games, like manipulating the camera in Ever Oasis or Valkyria Chronicles 3D. The buttons and D-Pad match the colour of the lining of the console (so either blue or orange), and look very nice. The face buttons don’t protrude much from the console, meaning you can easily roll from one button to another, while the C-Stick feels incredibly stiff but somehow works incredibly well in games which take advantage of it. Again in the hands (when not using the stylus) the console is very comfortable.



At the very competitively priced £129.99/$149.99, it’s very possible that the New 2DS XL will become the new standard portable console for Nintendo. It offers all the functionality of the top-end version of the 3DS, minus the 3D of course (but let’s be honest, that fad faded long ago) and sports a very nice-looking clamshell design and colour combinations.

Nintendo has managed to create a portable that will appeal to both kids and adults, but the question remains as to which of these two audiences currently don’t already own a 3DS and will want to buy it? With the Nintendo Switch on the market and proving an incredible machine, is the New 2DS XL an attractive enough proposition to get people to buy a now-four year old console?

The inclusion of cameras is questionable, and the small, fiddly stylus is annoying, but overall this is a nice console which is offered at a great price. I’ll be very interested to see how well it sells, and indeed how Nintendo presents its now five-console family to consumers, or if it decides to cast some of these members aside.




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