bomba's House Of Flancakes

Posted on Mar 18th 2018 at 08:00:00 AM by (bombatomba)
Posted under New 2DS XL, New, TN, IPS, NKOTB,

When the first real information hit, everyone thought the Big N had lost their marbles.  The 2DS, which was for all intents and purposes the whipping boy of the internet, was far from a success, and when the novelty of having a handheld game system shaped like a door wedge wore off it was almost never mentioned, save for Youtube personalities living with a two or three video a week release schedule, and during sales updates with an ever decreasing MSRP.

So, what happened when Nintendo announced they would release an "XL" version of the 2DS?  Disbelief for one, at least from this writer, but soon replaced by curiosity.  Could Nintendo actually take something that is almost universally regarded as a kid's toy and a bit of a failure and make it respectable?

Of all the companies, few command the same kind of devotion than Nintendo.  Well, Apple does, and technically more devotion than the Big N can muster (or at least devotion from people with bigger wallets), but I digress. 

When the New 2DS XL was first announced, I could have been counted among the scoffers and the curious.  I wanted to believe that something that weird could exist, but felt it hard to believe that the ever conservative Nintendo could dream up such a thing, especially in light of the criticism of the system.  As of 2017 the 3DS platform was six years old and it showed, especially in comparison to their new primary console, the Switch, which also happens to be portable.  Rampant speculation followed, especially from yours truly, that Nintendo would simply murder the 3DS line one uneventful morning and move on, and who would blame them?  I couldn't.  I mean, not only had they released competing hardware (the Switch), but they were already creating original entries in their most popular franchises for the mobile market.  Let it die, I thought, so that perhaps the Switch might live.  But when I saw the first pics of the New 2DS XL, I couldn't help but pay attention.  Sure it looked like a toy, but to me all Nintendo stuff looks like toys.  No, it was something else, something that I don't know if I can articulate properly.  For the first time in years I was paying attention to the 3DS release schedule, almost without noticing, I might add.  I do this at times, suddenly paying attention to specifics games, systems, or genres, then just as suddenly moving on to something else.  For me this is normal behavior; all part of fun of being bombatomba.

The real turning point for me was when my wife let me know that with my turning forty, I could expect a nice present, but instead of me seriously looking at a PS Vita (something I had wanted to get for years), I found myself looking at the New 2DS XL.  I must have consumed dozens of articles and videos regarding the system, so that before I even held one I knew all the strengths and flaws, not only of that but the entire 3DS line, and still I was curious.  So after weighing the merits of one system over another (and missing out on dozens of well-priced eBay auctions), my frugality won in the end, and I picked up a (new) New 2DS XL for around $130 USD, along with a Nintendo eShop card (for which to buy VC games).  I think my wife was relieved, as I had dragged on the process for what must have felt like months to her.  She is a patient woman, but I often imagine this was tested to the limit with this ordeal. Listening to a forty year-old kid endlessly discussing the merits of each individual system in the 3DS line must have been maddening.

So far resistant to my best cleaning efforts, but I only notice it when I put the system down

The first thing to note is that the New 2DS XL has a very different tactile feel than the 3DS systems, though familiar to those with an OG 2DS or the DS Lite.  It feels very nice, and reminds me of my iBook G4; my favorite laptop on which to type.  For everyone else, mileage will vary (obviously), but I love the feel of the new handheld, more so than my freshman 3DS or my son's New 3DS XL.  The problem is that this wonderful surface also likes to attract the natural oil from your hands, and if you have exceptionally oily skin (as I do), then you will likely start to see spots similar to the picture above.  They can be cleaned, but like the "fingerprint magnet" surface of the 3DS line, it is a annoyance, though admittedly minor.

Regarding the speaker locations, which have been moved to the bottom outside corners of the system, I think they have the potential to be covered up, but I think this has more to do with how one holds the system.  I tend to grip the sides of the unit, with my middle, ring, and pinky fingers curled underneath the system, cradling it in a way.  This is primarily because I do have large hands, which if I have to form into claws if I want to use either the d-pad or the ZL or ZR buttons.  This is pretty painful after a while, but at no point do my hands muffle the speakers.  Despite what popular opinion seems to assume, I think those with smaller hands will have more problems than larger handed people.  That being said, I think there is massive potential for the speakers to be at least partially covered up during gaming.  There is also a strange vibration in the back of the system present when the volume slider is at maximum or near maximum, almost as if the speakers themselves are located near the middle of the system instead of the bottom.  Unfortunately, Nintendo has done nothing to make the volume of the speakers any louder than the other 3DS systems.  Like my son's New 3DS XL and older OG 3DS, the slider still has to be set to nearly 3/4 volume before the entire range of sound on a specific game can be heard (except the eShop music, which is just loud at anything over 1/3 volume).

While the size difference isn't terribly different between the two, the weight certainly is, especially in long gaming sessions.

If you were aware of the whole New 3DS "IPS vs TN" thing that has been happening these two years and wondering, I can say that more than likely all of the New 2DS systems will have TN screens.  To those not in the know, IPS screens are wide viewing angle screens with (generally) superior color contrast but vastly inferior refresh speed to that of the TN screens, which tend to be brighter in appearance and will often appear washed out next to its IPS brethren.  I spent months researching this, and actually feel pretty stupid for wasting my time.  Simply put, the entire 3DS/2DS line features a mixed bag of poorly tuned and very well tuned LCD screens.  Look at the pic above.  Compared to my son's New 3DS XL (which are IPS), the screens on the New 2DS look a little washed out, though you this isn't as obvious in real life (as LCD screens are very photogenic).  Now compared to the DS Lite, which has very nice screens, the New 2DS looks amazing and the Lite washed out.  However, if you don't want anything to do with this nonsense I commend you.  I flushed scores of hours down the toilet researching and learning that when dealing with the New 3DS/2DS lines, it doesn't matter which kind of screen you get, rather if you are getting a properly calibrated one, as Nintendo went the cheap-o route with these bad boys and just bought to spec, although this could be changing.  Word on the internet street is that most recently bought systems appear to be IPS (one or both screens), but only time will tell.

Right is my son's New 3DS XL, whose top screen is a average IPS panel while the bottom is TN.

One strange thing I've experienced is the power on time;  it's not all that good.  I have to admit this could be due to the micro SD card I am using, but it seems as long as my OG 3DS, which is noticeably longer than the New 3DS.  This contrasts sharply with the reports I've read/watched online, which show that the New 2DS should have a slightly faster startup than the New 3DS.  Boot time to the eShop is very fast, which makes me believe it is the SD card, so take this with a grain of salt please.

After reading what I wrote above, things aren't really looking all that great, so I think I'll just compress the rest of the gripes.  The stylus is comically small, more so than the OG 3DS, but maybe not as small as the OG DS.  The top screen is glossy for some reason, but not at all bad, though taking pics of it is a bit of a pain.  Hmm, what else?  Oh, I didn't have a problem with the volume location (left side of the main unit), though many complain (more than likely, the way I hold it saves the day).  The battery life still isn't great, and since you will more than likely have the brightness turned up, it will feel short, but still better than the OG 3DS.  Finally, I've already spent (virtual) ink squawking about the sharpness of the New 2DS d-pad in January's article, so I won't go into detail.  Suffice to say my dislike of the d-pad is spread throughout all of the 3DS/2DS line (I prefer the SNES-like mush of the DS Lite), but the New 2DS bites into my thumb for some reason, despite the fact it has the same dimension as the other 3DS d-pads.

On the positive side, the Home and power buttons have been changed, and in my opinion for the better, with the Home moved onto the left face of the bottom half of the system, which makes for easier for me to check the battery meter, or to look up the built-in game manual.  The power button is still on the bottom of the New 2DS (same as the New 3DS), and is now slightly recessed, so it is pretty much impossible to turn off by accident.  In fact, I usually have to look for it before hitting it with my fingernail, as pressing with my large hands never seems to work.  The system is also noticeably lighter than its New 3DS cousin, so that I found play time sans hand cramps to be overall longer than with my son's New XL.

But nobody buys 3DS/2DS systems for the hardware; the software is where it's at.  While Nintendo has frustratingly slowed their Virtual Console releases to a near stop, the current selection of SNES titles, only playable on the New 3DS/2DS systems, is pretty good.  It has allowed me to play certain games, such as Earthbound, Super Metroid, Demon's Crestand the first two Breath of Fire games for far cheaper than it would take buying them physically.  The few "exclusive" retail games, such as Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, are a little hard to come by these days, but are very much worth the purchase if you can find them.  Nintendo has also recently added Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds to the Nintendo Selects line, which was a nice surprise, as this game had all but disappeared from retailer shelves (at least the stores I visit).

For fun: on the right is an OG 3DS, which looks like garbage next to the New 2DS XL one the left

Overall, I really like the New 2DS XL, despite my many gripes.  Is it right for you?  To be truthful, I have no idea.  If you are upgrading from a OG 3DS and care nothing for the 3D effect, I say go for it.  The screens are much better quality and the unit is much faster (no more bathroom breaks while waiting for the eShop to load).  If you have a large hands and are misguided enough to believe that the XL line will offer you some comfort over the smaller models, let me dissuade you now.  In fact, if comfort is your main concern, do yourself a favor and buy an OG 2DS.  Much easier on the hands than the other 3DS/2DS systems, at least in my opinion.  And don't bother if you already have a New 3DS.  The New 2DS solves a lot of minor issues with the New 3DS (relocation of Home button, cartridge and SD slot, recessing of power button, and small reduction of weight) but remember you aren't getting better screens, just different ones.

Thanks for reading!

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Now I want a 2DS XL!!
Nice in-depth write-up, Bomba!  I bought an original 2DS a year ago on the cheap, via a Facebook group, and thought I haven't messed with it much, it seems reasonably comfortable to hold.  However, the "New" line supports the most games, and I've been curious about this device.  At such a low price point, I might have to spoil myself when I finally get my tax return...
@Link41:  Always glad to spread the fun around.  Thanks for commenting.

@MetalFRO:  Like I wrote in the article, the OG 2DS is pretty comfy to use, despite how it looks.  If I come across one on the cheap I will definitely get it, if nothing but to compare the screens between that and the OG 3DS.  Yeah, it is hard to say no given the price and the nice array of games to choose from.  You can get used New 3DS XL units on eBay for a similar price, but I didn't want to spend that money on a used, possibly partially broken (or banned from the eShop) 3DS.

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So I'm an odd ball. So I am usually the last to post on a blog/forum. So I only post about weird games on weird platforms. So I have a strange relationship with commas and parenthesis. So what? Hey, at least you don't have to car pool with me to work, right? So have a heart, eat a blueberry, and don't forget to drop the empties in the box on the way out. I get deposit on those.
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