The New Nintendo 2DS XL

As a gamer and commuter, I’ve been very keen on portable gaming consoles for many years.

The PSP, Vita, and 3DS in-particular have all provided me with hundreds of hours of entertainment. On the occasions of Southern Rail strikes, they have also defused my stress and frustration and probably stopped me from hulking out.

Although the Vita is my favourite portable console, the 3DS is the one I end up taking with me more often.

The clamshell design of the 3DS makes it perfect for commuting, because it does not require a case or a screen protector. I love the convenience of dropping my 3DS in my bag or shoving it in my back pocket without worrying about damaging the screen. It really is as tough as nails (several drops on the floor have confirmed this).

Which brings me to the New 2DS XL.

This is the 2D version of the New 3DS… which incidentally is the dumbest name for a gaming console ever.

“No, Mum. I wanted a New 3DS.”

“It IS new, honey.”

“No, this is an old 3DS. I wanted a New 3DS.”

“Honey, I swear it’s new. It was factory sealed and everything.”

Stupid titles aside, the New 2DS XL is a lovely portable console. I’ve been road-testing it over the last few days (or train-testing in my case) and here are my impressions.
First of all, the system transfer process was painless and quick. This is feature is built into each 3DS/2DS console. I don’t know why, but I expected something to go wrong here. I’d read online that it could take hours, plus some overly complex warning notices about DLC made me pause.

But everything transferred over without a hitch… my DLC, my StreetPass hits, my game saves… even the personalised layout of the icons on my homepage. It was simple and only took about 45 minutes (which was great, as I set it going before having lunch).


The exterior feel of the 2DS is smooth and polished along the edges and the base. It has a matt texture on top unlike my original 3DS, which is glossy. I assumed the matt texture of the 2DS would mean an easier grip but this morning the 2DS slipped right out of my hand and onto my hardwood kitchen floor. So it’s not quite as ‘sticky’ in my hands as I thought.

But that accident did prove one thing… it’s as sturdy as the 3DS when it comes to being dropped. There was no damage or scratching after taking that nasty fall.

The hinge also feels more toy-like. When the top screen reaches the usual ‘angled’ position that most people use for playing games, it doesn’t stick in place. Instead it wobbles forward a bit. You won’t notice it if you’re sitting down or standing up, but you will if you’re lying in bed or on the couch.


The blue XABY buttons and directional buttons are hard and clicky compared to the original 3DS, which had soft and mashy buttons that were much quieter. This makes the buttons feel more tangible on the 2DS and thus more satisfying to press. However, the louder button clicks could potentially annoy my fellow commuters during those long silent moments when the train has stopped in a tunnel 😛 The four shoulder buttons are soft and quiet… and also surprisingly easy to reach with my index fingers.


The screen is much bigger than the original 3DS. Even though the resolution has not been raised, it still makes games like Fantasy Life and Super Smash Bros look much better than on a small screen. As the 3D screen has been removed, there is no longer that annoying element of ‘looking at the screen through another screen.’ Now it just looks like a normal screen.


The screen seems to be dimmer than my original 3DS. I used to play the 3DS on brightness level 3 out of 5, as anything brighter would give me eye strain. On the 2DS, I need to play on brightness level 4 out of 5 to achieve the same level of brightness. That’s not a big deal, but it will probably consume more battery power.

The top screen is made with a super reflective material so when it is sunny or bright, it can get a bit difficult to focus on the screen. I’ve found myself angling the screen ever so slightly THIS way or THAT way during some of my sunnier trips home. During the evenings, though, any reflection disappears behind the on-screen graphics.

Other Points

The stylus is shorter and thicker than the 3DS, which I like because I can hold it more easily. The game cartridge is now covered up like the SD card (which is now a micro SD card) and that’s handy for peace of mind. The speakers are in the bottom and the front facing camera has been moved from the top screen to the hinge. As I used neither of those anyway, it doesn’t matter to me (I always use headphones… or play silently if I’m doing something else).

The placement of the On/Off and Home buttons makes more sense… as it’s harder to accidentally hit the Off button now. The volume slider features stronger resistance than the original 3DS, so it’s easier to make more precise adjustments to the volume than the 3DS.

As for the extra processing power… Super Smash Bros runs beautifully now. And Xenoblade Chronicles really sets the bar for what is technically possible on the console. I’m genuinely stunned at seeing a game like that run on a portable device.


Overall, I’m happy with the New 2DS XL. It’s proven to be a sturdy durable device with a bigger screen and more power. It feels comfy, looks pleasant, and is a joy to use. There are a few minor issues with it, but they are outweighed by the pros.

I couldn’t recommend it if you already own a New 3DS or New 3DS XL… But if you’re still using an original 3DS like I was, this upgrade is absolutely worth the £130 price.

Thanks for reading, folks! 🙂

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