It’s taken a while, but Nintendo have finally found their ideal 3DS family. We’ve lost a few members along the way, but after six iterations of the console in almost as many years, there’s now a settled feel about the range of handhelds on offer thanks to the latest arrival, the 2DS XL.
The first thing you’ll notice about the 2DS XL is its sleek design. Available in either black/turquoise or white/orange, it really is quite a looker, easily one of the best of this generation. The colour picked out on the face buttons and the border around the edge of the console, combined with the ridged, textured pattern on the top and the subtle Nintendo logo in the corner help give the 2DS XL a surprisingly premium feel, despite its £129.99 price tag.
By ditching the face-tracking 3D cameras and relocating the remaining ones onto the main body (one forward facing on the hinge, a pair on the back between the shoulder buttons) Nintendo have managed to shave off a few millimetres from the console’s body while still retaining the larger screens. The 2DS XL is light and easy to hold, and shedding a few grams means it sits easily in a pocket, no more noticeable than some of the larger smartphones on the market.
Funnily enough, a smartphone is exactly what the stripped-back design of the top screen resembles, complete with a shiny black bezel that picks up dust and fingerprints, and, more annoyingly, the imprints from the face buttons when closed. The reflective nature of the screen’s bezel also means playing outside or in any well-lit area can sometimes be tricky due to the glare.
Other slight grievances we came across were the d-pad, which feels and looks cheap compared to the rest of the console, and the new cover that hides the game cartridge and SD card slots. The cover does a good job of helping maintain the minimalist aesthetic and alleviates the chance of accidental cartridge ejections (plus, you also no longer need a screwdriver to access the external memory slot) but the material used feels very flimsy, and can be difficult to open without feeling like it’s going to snap off under the pressure.
The location of the speakers (which now sit on the bottom corners of the console) was also a worry at first due to their proximity to your palms, but this didn’t turn out to be a problem and they performed well in their new position, even when outdoors. The only time it’ll cause any issues is if you’re resting the 2DS XL on top of something, but it’s nothing too major.
The 2DS XL’s lack of 3D gaming isn’t really a problem either; plenty of games now neglect to implement the feature, while many players - myself included - never bothered with it in the first place. If you’re of a similar mindset and don’t already own either of the ‘New’ range of 3DS handhelds with all their added capabilities, then the 2DS XL is easy to recommend, especially given its affordability.
For your money, you’re getting a console that not only looks and feels great, but one that can handle the select games in the 3DS library that require the extra power found exclusively in the ‘New’ models. If you’ve yet to pick up a 3DS, or have been looking to upgrade from the original model or the original XL, then we’d highly recommend considering the 2DS XL. Plus, Nintendo have actually included a charger this time!