The New Nintendo 2DS XL Is Pretty Cool

Late to the party, I know. Only by two years, so chill. I’ve been loyally using my DS Lite and vanilla 2DS, thank you very much. Buuut, for $60 at my local Half Price Books who could possibly say no? Not this guy. Read more to find out why. Or not, whatever.

Now, you may be thinking: “You already had a 2DS, why spend extra bones on a New 2DS XL?” First of all, let’s talk about that name. It has ‘new’ in the name, even if it’s used it’s still somehow new. Worth. Second, it’s so much bigger. Size is everything, as you know. But really folks, it’s fucking huge. I will never be able to use my regular 2DS ever again. Seeya later eye strain, I hardly knew ye!

Size is Everything

Beyond the sheer size of the thing, there’s also the clamshell design. Is a DS truly a DS without a clamshell? Ever since the chunky original DS in 2004, or perhaps even earlier with the GBA SP, we learned that true happiness comes in the form of a clamshell. Truth. Flip it, fold it, just like a Motorola Razr. Folding open and closed a DS is just as satisfying the 1000th time as the first. I’m a sucker for novelty.

So, right, the screens are bigger and it folds and shit. But what else? Why get one of those over the cheap 2DS. To get serious about this: It’s all about longevity and security. The clamshell protects the screen and that’s worth the increased price tag. Sure, I paid a full $10 less for my 2DS XL than my 2DS, but that’s just random luck. Normally, a used 2DS XL’s sell for $100-115 depending on condition, so yeah, I’m awesome.

What Puts It Ahead of Previous Iterations?

Beyond the security of a clamshell design, there’s also the upgraded RAM and CPU clock speed which are inherently necessary for ‘New’ games like Xenoblade Chronicles 3D (which I certainly intend to play), but that’s not the important part of this equation. It’s faster, smoother and so much better in the menus. In that little quickness is everything, my friend. Imagine yourself playing a table tennis match with the late Zolt├ín Berczik. Oh, sorry, you’re a just a little too slow to play against him. If only you were a 2DS XL speed, you’d be able to be competitive. That’s what this feels like. Slam that forehand serve and give yourself a chance toward the match point.

Winning a clearly delusional table tennis match is good, but what are the downsides in the 2DS XL I’ve noticed so far? Aye, there are a few, but do I give a flip?…Sadly, yes. First downside is that the screens are blurry. Have you played a PSP or Vita recently. No? I have. They are way sharper and clearer than these screens. #2 Sony fanboy in the house. Why are they blurry? Well, it’s pretty simple: Our buddies at Nintendo kept the same resolution for their displays and simply increased the screen size. Try using 1280×720(progressive) resolution content on a 4k TV. Get you some blurry, right. That’s the same thing going on here. Even with my mildly aging eyes, I find these blurries to be unavoidable.

The 2DS XL’s Cons Are Real

Second problem. In the year of 2017, Nintendo released a system with a resistive touchscreen. Yes, this is the same flipping technology in use on their 2004 Nintendo Dual-screen. Does it work for the most part? Yeah, sure. Could it be ages better? Ask your smart phone with its newfangled capacitive touch screen. Precise movements and multi-touch are absolutely beyond the capabilities of this system, and that’s just sad. I found the original DS’ touch system to be entirely clunky and frustrating and the same is true here. The user is me and he is not happy.

Despite these annoyances, there is one deciding factor that helped sell me on this recent purchase. Perhaps it is arcane. Perhaps it is unnecessary. Perhaps you can go to hell. It’s Donkey Kong. Released in the year of 1994 for the original Game Boy, Donkey Kong tests all new systems for their worthiness. Will this 2DS XL pass the test? Or will it become a dusty shelf companion to the other countless handhelds? (actually I keep them in small compact clear totes, thanks)

What a beautiful cart.

Game boots up, there’s that music. Oh man, I’m in a level already. Now I’m squaring off against Donkey Kong as Mario, just like in the 1981 arcade version. People, I could do ten articles on the magnificence of DK94 and still not do it justice. Games like N+ and Talos Principle were simply bastard offspring to this masterpiece of game engineering. Remember, they’re working with ancient tech in the original Gameboy at this point, and have managed to create meaningful sound, expressive sprites and complex level design. Not to mention Super Gameboy support on the SNES. This is living.

Can You Deny These Graphics?

The game plays just as I remember and is just as punishing. There’s a time limit to each level and only so many lives. Levels don’t explain themselves and oftentimes there’s a gimmick that must be learned in order to proceed. Playing on my 2DS XL brought back so many childhood memories that I quite literally lost hours into this endeavor. Does that answer the question, then? I suppose so. This 2DS XL is rattling great, and that’s the end of it.

Now for some random observations that don’t seem to fit the pro-con system of before.

  • Textured outer case. Nice tactile feels.
  • Clicky buttons. Very responsive.
  • Connected D-pad. Not cheap feeling.
  • Upper right nub. What’s with Nintendo and nubs? Remember that Gamecube C-Stick. This nub is so small compared.
  • Stereo sound. Noice.
  • Fits in pocket, though not as well as DS Lite.
  • Makes my Pokemon Diamond (DS) look and sound great.

After All Has Been Said and Done

So, really, there’s not much else to say that hasn’t already said in reference to the original 2DS. Where the 2DS lacked personality, the XL brings it in spades. Sure, the screen is blurry and the touchscreen is prehistoric, but who cares? It’s still based on the same winning idea from the mid 2000s that captured my heart and millions of other gamers. While the PSP and Vita have vastly superior architecture and build quality, Nintendo understands fun. Quick, simple, fun, fun. The fun that sticks with you. Can you really put a price tag on that?

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