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New Nintendo 2DS XL Review

by Neal Ronaghan - July 27, 2017, 11:42 am PDT
Total comments: 10


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.


  • Better placed game and microSD card slots
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Great way to play a fantastic library
  • Lack of 3D
  • Tiny stylus


KhushrenadaJuly 27, 2017

Is it still backwards compatible with DS games?

Yes it is.

LemonadeJuly 27, 2017

Its a nice design, but no 3D is a deal breaker

KhushrenadaJuly 27, 2017

Quote from: Lemonade

Its a nice design, but no 3D is a deal breaker

Yeah, I'm of the same opinion yet I'm thinking this might actually make the ultimate DS machine. I've got a ton of unplayed DS titles and while I've got an original Phat and DS Lite, it might be nice to have better machine to play them. Plus, there are a few 3DS titles that I probably would be fine playing on here like Crosswords 3DS and Concentration Training. Heck, with the eShop and classic SNES games, this might make the best way to play them and save space on my other 3DS systems for actual 3D games. Just spitballing here but if that design didn't look so sleek, I probably wouldn't be as interested in this as I am despite the lack of 3D.

I take it that system still has gyroscope capabilities for Steel Diver's periscope mode or some of Rhythm Theif's rhythm games. The review doesn't explicitly state it but it does say it has all other control options as the 3DS line with just 3D depth missing.

pokepal148Spencer Johnson, Contributing WriterJuly 27, 2017

Quote from: Donkenada

Yeah, I'm of the same opinion yet I'm thinking this might actually make the ultimate DS machine.

No that would be the DSi XL.

KhushrenadaJuly 27, 2017

I thought you were all into the DS Phat being the best of the DS machines. When did this i XL betrayal begin?

pokepal148Spencer Johnson, Contributing WriterJuly 27, 2017

See, the DS phat is ironically the best way to play DS games (it's actually my favorite way to play GBA games though.)

The DSi XL is my serious answer.

KhushrenadaJuly 27, 2017


Well, the 2DS may now be the best way to play DS games, so......

But the real lesson here is that the GBA Micro is the best way to play GBA games. In fact, I think that's how I've played nearly all the GBA games I own. I might have played a couple on the DS Phat as that was the first time I had GBA capabilities but once I got the Micro (and the Famicom Micro to boot!) I've played them all on that puppy. It's only defect is its inability to engage in GC connectivity without some modded process.

StrawHousePigJuly 28, 2017


... ones with parents who were put off by 3D ruining a child’s eyes or something.

As a parent of multiple younguns, none gives a country crap about 3D. Some kid somewhere probably does, but not mine. I turn it on for them and they turn it off. :o

pokepal148Spencer Johnson, Contributing WriterJuly 29, 2017

Quote from: Donkenada


Well, the 2DS may now be the best way to play DS games, so......

It doesn't have pixel perfect screens though.

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Developer Nintendo

Worldwide Releases

na: New Nintendo 2DS XL
Release Jul 28, 2017
jpn: New Nintendo 2DS LL
Release Jul 13, 2017
eu: New Nintendo 2DS XL
Release Jul 28, 2017
aus: New Nintendo 2DS XL
Release Jun 15, 2017

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