Tuesday 23 January 2018

Nintendo 2DS XL review: A handheld gem at the end of the road

New Nintendo 2DS XL ★★★★★ Age: 7+

Nintendo 2DS XL
Nintendo 2DS XL
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Call it the console with the identity crisis. Nintendo's 3DS handheld series has veered all over the map in its six years of existence.

The glasses-less 3D of the original was a sight to behold but always felt a novelty. Then Nintendo began tinkering via several iterations, making the screen bigger, removing 3D altogether for the 2DS version and finally introducing the "New" variant, a more powerful edition with a fresh design.

The New 2DS XL may be the last hurrah for the popular family that has sold more than 65 million units, but is now overshadowed by the hybrid Nintendo Switch. Yet this cheaper, compact refresh costing €160 sends the series out on a high, hitting a sweet spot between the €110 plasticky 2DS and the €240 premium New 3DS XL.

The latest machine inherits its big brother's horsepower and superior control layout while sacrificing 3D and a few aesthetic niceties. The case design gives off a much more pleasing vibe than the Fisher-Price horror show that is the 2DS. It may be hewn from chunky matte plastic but feels mostly solid, save for a small amount of wobble in the top screen.

The stylus ranks as the console's only glaring misstep, a stubby little stick unsuited to the heavy-duty work required in titles such as Kid Icarus Uprising.

Overall, the hardware compares well with the variable history of the series. Nintendo sensibly includes both a 4GB memory card and a charger, the latter a curious omission in several previous models.

Of course, the long-term future of the 2DS/3DS family looks cloudy - Nintendo has now moved much of its focus to the Switch. Yet the New 2DS XL can call on a fabulous library of titles such as Mario Kart 7, Super Mario Bros 2, Pokémon, Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing, the Legend of Zelda - the list goes on and on.

If you've resisted the siren call of the 3DS until now - and feel the Switch out of your reach at €330 - this could be the console to bypass your willpower. It's a feisty little machine that ably handles a terrific back catalogue, but just remember that its best days are behind it.

The New Nintendo 2DS XL goes on sale on July 28

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