Nintendo gives the 3DS its Game Boy Micro with the latest redesign.
I wasn’t on board with the concept of a 2DS at first. Back when the weird revision was revealed in 2013, it just seemed like a last-ditch effort to try to rope in the younger audience, especially ones with parents who were put off by 3D ruining a child’s eyes or something. I toyed around with the wedge system when given the chance, but no way was I going to give up the elegant clamshell design of my 3DS XL, and later my New 3DS XL.
The New 2DS XL, the latest and potentially last revision of the 3DS, changed that mindset. Outside of a few small problems, this is my favorite iteration of the 3DS and will likely be the version of the system that I go back to when Nintendo inevitably moves on from the 3DS line.
The system reminds me of the Game Boy Micro in a sense. As the Game Boy Advance was replaced by the DS, I kept my Game Boy Micro around to play any GBA games I missed or wanted to revisit. I played Metroid: Zero Mission on that neat little system, romped through Minish Cap, revisited WarioWare. It was a nice, light way to go back to GBA games. Likewise, the New 2DS XL does that for 3DS and DS games, with really only one major drawback: the lack of stereoscopic 3D.
I’m of two minds about the loss of 3D. On one hand, I truthfully don’t play with 3D on anymore. The novelty still comes up every now and then, especially when watching a cutscene or a brief glance into how a game pops off the screen, but it’s just become a novelty (and it probably always was with very few exceptions). The 3D is no longer the selling point of the 3DS to me. That’s changed to be the excellent lineup of games spread across the past decade or so of Nintendo handhelds and even reaching back into the ‘80s and ‘90s with Virtual Console. The 3D, at least to me, isn’t necessary for the 3DS to be one of my favorite systems ever made.
What it lacks in 3D, it makes up for in a slim form factor and a lightweight design. Compared to my New 3DS XL, I feel like I’m holding air when I carry my New 2DS XL. Not that other forms of the 3DS were really all that heavy, but it’s a noticeable difference. That makes my age-old method of laying on my back in bed or on the couch and holding up my system to play games much more comfortable. It’s a small, highly specific use, but it also translates to it being easier to play awkwardly controlled games like Kid Icarus: Uprising.
Unfortunately for games like Kid Icarus: Uprising that make heavy use of the stylus, the stylus in the New 2DS XL is my least favorite in DS history. It’s about half the size of the New 3DS XL stylus and offers none of the telescoping design of the original 3DS one. It’s a short and fat pen that gets the job done, but not really in a way I’d call comfortable. It worked for contemplative games like Picross 3D Round 2, but for faster action games, it was subpar.
Otherwise, it has all the other control options the “New” 3DS line has, complete with the little second analog stick nub. The New 2DS XL has much better placement for game cards and microSD cards. As opposed to have the game slot be exposed at all times or accessing the microSD card slot requiring you to take off the back of the system, both are nicely housed behind a flap at the bottom of the system. It’s extremely easy to access and removes all headaches from accidentally nudging a game card out or needing a screwdriver to switch SD cards.
I’ve spent the better part of the last month trying to figure out what will be my main 3DS system going forward. Will I use my New 3DS XL so I can have a better stylus and bask in the 3D of Metroid: Samus Returns? Will I side with no 3D and choose to have what seems to be the better, lightweight design? At the end, I’m siding with the latter. The New 2DS XL reinvigorated my affinity for the 3DS as a whole, and this is exactly the kind of iteration I look forward to keeping it around over the next several years. Much like the Game Boy Micro, it’s not a flawless redesign, but it’s a stellar legacy version of the system to keep on-hand if/when you want to revisit the litany of classics in its library.