A slimmer form factor, different feel and no 3D effects are what make this new version tick.
The New Nintendo 2DS XL is an interesting proposition. This new version of Nintendo's marquee handheld comes a few months after the launch of the Switch. In a world where the Switch exists, why would you go back to the old form factor? Well, it's still easier to transport with the smaller form factor and the Switch cannot currently compete with the extensive game library available. There are many Nintendo titles, fantastic RPGs, and other fun surprises that make this is one of my favorite systems ever. The bigger question is not why a new version exists, but if this is now the new entry point into the Nintendo ecosystem.
From a design perspective, I absolutely love the New Nintendo 2DS XL. Our unit, sent over by Nintendo, is a beautiful ice white with orange accents. (The only disappointing thing about this model is that this version won't be available in North America.) The buttons and the ring on top make the handheld spark without the slippery edges of the New Nintendo 3DS XL. Sure, it is a cheaper material, but I feel more happy to wrap my hands around it. Despite using less premium parts, the handheld feels better built to last. The hinge feels more fixed than before and the shoulder buttons are more sturdier as they require a firmer push.
One of my favorite things about the new 2DS is that the Game Card and MicroSD slots are now behind a flap. This allows the slots to be tucked away and not have to feel them while playing a game. This was a huge complaint I had with the original New 3DS line, so to see it changed just feels right. The volume slider has been placed where it should be, next to you on the side and the 2DS even has a handy lock so that you can't turn it on by accident. Not every change on the outside is for the better though as the stylus has been shortened beyond a comfortable amount. Another bad change is the placement of the AR Cameras, which have been moved to the lower half of the system. You won't use them often, but they are still there.
As you open up the system, you will notice that it has all the features of a New Nintendo 3DS XL. Most of the button placements are the same with the HOME button being the only exception. Another thing that you will find is that the bulk of the system is in the bottom. The upper half is only the screen, which leaves an incredibly thin top. It feels that you're slightly farther away from the top screen but after a while I got used to the look of it. The bulkier bottom is also less noticeable when you start playing with the system.
This is where the New Nintendo 2DS XL shined the most for me. Everything about the dimensions is smaller on this system as the weight, width and height have been improved to create a compact system that can be enjoyed with any type of hand. I have large hands and the form factor fit them quite nicely. Ergonomics are a huge factor in bringing a handheld along, which is why I preferred the smaller New 3DS for the longest time. Now there is something that is in the middle of that spectrum. It is easier to carry, but it has large enough screens to enjoy your absolute favorite games on. Next to this, you can easily hold it in a singular hand for those touchscreen games like Hey! Pikmin.
To be clear, this is not going to replace your premium New Nintendo 3DS XL. If you really care about the 3D effects and front facing speakers, you are likely not going to want to replace your existing system. The point of the new 2DS is to find a new market as it’s great for people who want a more cost effective way into Nintendo's products. Personally I found myself enthusiastic about bringing my New Nintendo 2DS XL along and popping it open during a train ride. It is a sleek device that I find worth owning for the amount of handheld games I consume. The rugged top and less flimsy bits ensure that I have no problem with putting into my bag.
Overall, I was quite impressed with the New Nintendo 2DS XL. It is a slimmer model with XL screens that can easily fit in a bag or pocket but still has all the power of the New 3DS line. There are certainly things they could have done better, the stylus and position of the AR Cameras to start. If you want more premium materials and 3D effects, I suggest staying with the New 3DS XL but it’s hard to be disappointed with this new version. It is sleek, fun looking and a reminder of the Nintendo 3DS' huge game library.