2DS: Two steps forward, two steps back

It’s not uncommon for a handheld system to undergo a  redesign or two during its lifespan. Even the original Game Boy saw itself slim down with the release of the Game Boy Pocket in 1996. In more recent years the Game Boy Advance saw roughly 4,572 redesigns, the Nintendo DS couldn’t stop evolving, and the 3DS got a much-needed XL upgrade a year after its release. Today, with updated cell phone models being released seemingly every twenty-seven seconds, it’s no surprise that Nintendo revamps its handhelds every couple of years.

It was a surprise, however, when Nintendo bombshelled us with the 2DS.

The two obvious first-takes are the radical overhaul of the system’s design and the abandonment of its original selling point: screen-hopping visuals. 3DS is eschewing its upper-screen identity and essentially becoming a more powerful DS. Since the 3D feature affects aesthetics moreso than gameplay, it’s not a colossal loss. In fact, I’ve seen shiploads of gamers complain on message boards about the 3D, saying it either a) gave them headaches, b) didn’t work for their eyes, or c) made the games look worse. I personally loved the 3D effects in Fire Emblem: Awakening. They gave the upper screen a surreal quality, like staring into a pool that could splash to life during battles and cutscenes. On the other hand, with Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, the game looks grainy around the edges in 3D. Nonetheless, I played the game in 3D for the most part–if I have it, I’m using it.


Yeah, it’s about as sexy as a burn victim, but at least it won’t cripple your hands.

Aside from the wonky design and the lack of 3D, I love newly introduced 2DS. The lower price tag is always a plus, but what wins me over is how comfortable it looks compared to the 3DS and 3DS XL. Now that the system no longer consists of two halves connected by a hinge, your hands can stretch out a bit and comfortably bear the weight of the system. The current  3DS XL transforms my hands into gnarled claws after 30 minutes of play. And that’s if I play a game that requires the analog stick. If I use the D-pad, I usually have to be hospitalized after my play session.


Playing D-pad dependent games like Castlevania on the 3DS XL can leave your thumb suffering as much as Drac’s minions.

The positives aside, I don’t like the message Nintendo is sending with the 2DS. The name itself connotes a step backward, and dropping the 3D effects could signal a phasing out of 3D gaming on handhelds. I wonder if developers will even bother adding creative 3D cutscenes if the 2DS smashes the sales column. Now, as I mentioned earlier, the 3D effects exist for aesthetic purposes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t affect gameplay. For instance, take Gamecube’s survival horror hit Eternal Darkness, a game that utilized various screen and noise effects to trick gamers into thinking they were going insane. What’s to say a 3DS developer can’t use 3D effects to spook gamers in a similar way? What’s to say that 3D gaming’s potential isn’t waiting to be tapped?


7 thoughts on “2DS: Two steps forward, two steps back

  1. Great post! I love the line, “If I use the D-pad, I usually have to be hospitalized after my play session.” That definitely gave me a good laugh. I totally agree with what you’re saying though. I think there is potential for the 3D market if it is utilized correctly. As of now, that potential is yet to be found out, but hopefully Nintendo doesn’t give up hope altogether. Personally, I’m looking forward to the 2DS. I hate the name, but I never got a 3DS and the fact that it’s cheaper is a plus for me. I probably wouldn’t have ended up using the 3D function all that much even if I did get a 3DS, so the 2DS should be perfect for me. It’s rather frustrating that it’s being marketed as a “kids console” though. I’m an adult and it doesn’t seem all that childish to me. Plus, most ads have teens/adults using it right? Either way, I don’t really care. Functionally it’ll be far more effective for me.

    • If I didn’t already have a 3DS XL, I’d be all over the 2DS for the price and comfort of it alone. Though the 3D rocks, I can live without bells and whistles.

      And 3DS is definitely not childish. Not when games like 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward exist. The “childish” label is just another attack waged by insecure folks who need the newest iPhone/Droid/etc. to feel good about themselves. I’m 23 and I thought Fire Emblem Awakening was one of the best games I’ve played in my life. Challenged me like no game has in years–and that’s kiddy?

      • Exactly, that’s what I’m sayin! There are so many good games out there that pose a serious challenge for gamers. My brother has said the same thing about Fire Emblem actually.

  2. Pingback: Too little, too late? New Zelda to make legitimate use of 3D in the wake of the 2DS era | Title Screen

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