The Nintendo 2DS Is A Confusing Product That Makes Complete Sense

By Robert Ward . September 2, 2013 . 8:30am

I met up with Nintendo’s own Krysta Yang at PAX this year, to talk about what Nintendo was bringing to the table in 2013. We spent some time talking about the nostalgic but fresh feel of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, but when she asked me if I had a chance to try out Nintendo’s new 2DS handheld, we quickly switched gears and left to hunt down what might be this year’s biggest surprise.


I was one of many people who didn’t believe that the 2DS announcement was real. I was convinced it was an elaborate prank—after all, how are you going to explain to an average consumer that the 2DS plays 3DS games? Well, the fog started to clear after some consideration. Only about half of the people at PAX Prime were using the 3DS’s 3D effect. Portability, I thought, was another issue—but with so many people carrying tablets around nowadays, would the 2DS really be a burden?


Let me tell you, it’s easy to look at a 2DS and think these things, but it becomes difficult to justify them when you hold one in your hand. Despite its cake-slice-like appearance, the 2DS just feels right. The shoulder buttons are the perfect distance away (and soft, at that!), the Circle Pd and directional pad feel natural, and the screens feel properly placed. Oh, and even with a heavy metal device securing it to a Nintendo employee—the new handheld was light.


Some of the functions associated with 3DS hardware were integrated into the 2DS’s software. For example, sleep mode is now activated by pushing a switch on the lower-right corner of the 2DS forward. While it is in sleep mode, the handheld can’t be turned off by pressing the power button. Neat! Also, the wireless switch is gone on this model, but it can instead by accessed by going to the home menu and tapping the wrench icon in the top-left corner of the screen. Convenient!


I may not be a part of the market that wants a Nintendo 2DS, but handling it and talking to people who played it revealed to me that a market nevertheless exists for it.


At $129.99, and only a few games right now whose experience is legitimately augmented by the stereoscopic 3D effect (Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon and Super Mario 3D Land, among others) the 2DS seems like an awesome deal for someone who just downright doesn’t want or need 3D. It’s a sturdy console—one that I think will likely stay at home, but it’s nothing to scoff at.


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  • Smooosh

    I guess it’s especially good for kids, although the lack of built-in protection kinda makes you think the opposite…

    But then again, hinges can always break, so I guess it makes sense.

    • ninjabart122

      You could technically have a sort of, tablet-style flip cover for the 2DS, that might even function as a stand for it. I have no idea how well it would work though, but the option stands.

  • malek86

    But it still doesn’t take into account the question you asked yourself – how are they going to explain to an average consumer that the 2DS plays 3DS games?

    The 2DS is a confusing product that might make complete sense, but 2DS is just a confusing name that doesn’t make any sense.

    • Would that honestly be a problem, though? Think of it this way—really clueless consumers (the ones this is product aimed at) think the Wii plays Wii U games and that DS plays 3DS games. I’m sure the natural assumption will be that 2DS plays 3DS games.

      • malek86

        There will also be other clueless consumers who think, that since it’s not a 3DS, it can’t play 3DS games.

        And generally speaking, assuming that your audience is made up of idiots is not a good way to do business. You have to make things simple for association, but not because they are idiots, simply because the average consumer might not want to spend time to get informed.

        • Herok♞

          Well you have to remember Nintendo sells to everyone which includes parents who aren’t in the know about gaming so it does make sense to assume your audience knows nothing, it would be different if it was Sony and vita since they have a clear older audience.

        • And generally speaking, assuming that your audience is made up of idiots is not a good way to do business.

          I dunno. That seems to have worked well for Nintendo the last 30 years. :P

        • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

          The thing is anything they pick up with a DS and a 3DS label will play on the machine

        • ronin4life

          Both the “2” and the “3” are in red lettering.
          Maybe that will help.

    • BlackC#Bro

      The huge PLAYS ALL 3DS GAMES sticker on the box will probably help, if not just be a bit.

      • ShadowDivz

        Probably only a little. Because people don’t read anymore(instructions and the like) and tey will just go to the cashier.
        Do you have any 2DS?
        Does it play 3D games?
        (for the 700th freakin time) yes.

  • Andrew Arndt

    yeah it nuice but i wont buy i have a XL and i use the 3ds hear rh mainly for certin games

  • cbellevie

    Played around a bit at PAX and agree, it felt way better than I expected. I see so many kids holding tablets and this seems like a total natural for them.

  • notentirelythere

    Just wondering, does anyone know how the 2DS feels handling games that require simultaneous input from the touch screen and one side’s worth of direction pads/buttons? (like Kid Icarus, Star Fox Command)

  • komiko12

    I liked the Wireless button. Much faster than pressing the Home button just to go to the settings.

    • Ferofax

      Prone to wifi glitching abuse, where people flick the switch off and on to purposely introduce lag or disconnect entirely. Some people can’t finish an online match and take a loss.

  • Altin

    Still cant imagine how I am supposed to hold this one.

    • Namuro

      Like a tablet?

      • Altin

        I thought the same thing but on the long run, it can be loathsome if that object is heavy.

        • Namuro

          Well, Robert mentioned that the 2DS is quite light. Other sites I’ve come across also said the same thing that it feels good to hold, and that it’s light. If Nintendo is marketing the 2DS at really young children, I think they would design the thing to be quite light.

          I think it’s important to remember that it’s being redesigned for kids, not for adults (but surely, a lot of adults will get this…). If they can lug around an iPad, I think they can manage the 2DS, which is about the same size as an unfolded 3DS.

          • Altin

            Hm…Hopefully it will be lighter than most tablets. I guess we will have to wait a little more until we get more details.

          • Namuro

            The 2DS weighs 260 grams (slightly heavier than 3DS, which is 235 grams), while the XL weighs at 336 grams. I don’t really follow the news on tablets that much, but the most recent small tablets that I looked into was the Nexus 7, which weighs between 290-300 grams. Then there’s the iPad Mini which weighs around 310 grams.

  • Oscar Alberto Abrego Suarez

    I dont have a 3DS, im low on money and i dont care for 3D and i cant really use it outside my house so im getting this, thanks Nintendo :)

    • Bobby Jennings

      You can get a 3DS for cheaper than this price though..

      • Fidelis

        Was just about to comment saying that I got one off of ebay for $115

        • Zoozbuh

          Also, a lot of people (incl. parents) don’t like buying used consoles.. You don’t get the warantee, there’s less peace-of-mind if something goes wrong, etc.

      • Shane Guidaboni

        So that would mean you will be able to get a 2DS for even cheaper than that in time.

        • Bobby Jennings

          Yeah. but not anytime soon.

          • Shane Guidaboni

            Still, the point remains that people have more choices now. Just because a 3DS is cheaper doesn’t mean parents will spring a few less dollars for one for their kid when they might prefer this without the 3D for their child.

      • ronin4life

        And if that is the case, a 2ds can fall to even less than that.

        • Bobby Jennings

          I already answered this one.

      • Oscar Alberto Abrego Suarez

        Not here where i live though, the 2DS will be a lot cheaper according to my calculations.

        • natchu96

          ANYTHING gaming over where I live is going to cause pricing difficulty. Whether I end up going for this or not I welcome the option.

  • Guest

    Yeah it’s cool, after the first bad impression I appreciate it more now; and the name at least implies it’s a sucessor to the DS (NDS then 2DS) so it should be fine among really clueless costumers; which even at the end will be driven by the really low price on a ‘New’ Nintendo handheld… I’m sure it’ll find its audience.

    My only issues now, I want to see it in more colours:

    And a Japanese release date to import one :D

    • transferstudentx


    • Aoshi00

      Does the 2DS have a regular sized screen or an XL sized screen? I have a US Zelda 3DS & Red XL and a regular Jpn 3DS, been wanting to get a Jpn LL. If this is XL sized, might be cool to collect the Jpn ver as well.. It’s not necessary, but I did get the GBA micro as well for novelty’s sake.. but now for me, the bigger the screen the better, my eyes just aren’t as good anymore, too straining to stare at small screens for a long time like playing Gyakuten Saiban 5 now.. also as cool as some of the 3D effects are, my eyes get tired easily too if I play in 3D only..

      • Guest

        Apparently, within the 12,7 cm high and 14,4 cm wide of the 2DS, the upper screen measures 3.5″ and the lower screen 3″. Similar to the original 3DS, I think.

        Better yet, here is a comparison:

        • Aoshi00

          Thanks, 2DS screen size looks pretty much like the original then.. Would be cool to have a hinge less XL..

    • Zero_Destiny

      The white and red is so darn classy.

  • Sardorim

    I’m still unconvinced. My hands simply refuse to hold what looks like a self-mutilation device built to cause them pain.

    • ninjabart122

      Does it really feel like that, or have you not tried it yet?

      • Sardorim

        My eyes tell me it does look like that . I’m sticking to the 3DS.

        • Göran Isacson

          And according to the multiple people who’ve actually held it, it’s not. Like, I get it, your own experiences trump all, but all available data at the moment kinda points to the opposite of your impressions.

        • gold163

          Your eyes tell your hands how to feel?

    • Something people said about the Wii U gamepad. For the most part gaming sites have stated its comfortable.

    • Firehawke

      Take a look at the Ars Technica article with a photo of actual hands holding the actual device. You might change your opinion.

  • Shadowman

    So weird looking, but hey whatever floats Nintendo boat.

    • ronin4life

      “but hey whatever floats Nintendo boat”
      That would be mountains and mountains of cash.

  • Forty

    It sells to kids and parents who want the cheapest thing rather than a quality product.

    Good for Nintendo, but it shows to me that they really don’t seem to care about making a quality console. And to me, a console shouldn’t just be a $200 box I have to shell out money to get exclusives for. It should be something that offers a unique experience for the games on it. And with Nintendo all but admitting that 3D was a completely pointless endeavor, I can’t see how the 3DS has contributed anything to make its games a unique experience, unlike other platforms out there.

    Nintendo make great games but the 3DS represents a complete lack of good console design to me because it offers nothing unique, while also being less powerful, and sells purely on being the system you need to own for Pokemon or Monster Hunter. And while that doesn’t stop me enjoying those games, I can certainly say I’d rather play them on just about any other platform and I can’t help but feeling my experience with the games could have been so much better were they elsewhere too.

  • Minos

    The only thing parents will see/care its the price and that it runs “Pokeman”.

    If people don’t get confused by all the Android models out there I don’t see how they can confuce this, but looks like that knowing how USA is not populated by the brightest stars on the Sky, Nintendo took mesures:

    • Rohan Kishibe

      In* (Grammer nazi strikes again!!!)

      • X_Bacon


        • Rohan Kishibe

          Spelling nazi strikes again!

          • Ferofax


  • Nicky Tetlow

    My thoughts exactly. I didn’t desire the product at all, but as a person with young siblings and lots of kids under 7 in the family, I got the concept after watching the video, no risk of 3D damaging underdeveloped eyes, robust design with no moving parts to overuse and break, a little carry case to keep it safe etc.

    However I don’t really understand responsible adults buying this over the regular 3DS because of the lack of 3D. It’s still more pricey to get a 2DS over a perfectly functional used 3DS. If it’s just the form factor that seems more appealing, then that’s understandable.

  • At first I was thrown off by the 2DS, but this perfect for nephew who broke an original ds and three ds lites. Come October I’ll pick up three 2DS’s. Two for my two nephews and one for my niece for her b-day.

    • Namuro

      Wow, 4 DS? You must really love your nephew. I salute you, sir!

      • Yup, 4 total. His parents seem to like him, I think he’s ok too.

  • Astraye

    This is useless, just turn off the 3D on your 3DS and you got a 2DS.

    • Nicky Tetlow

      Not when that 3DS is in the hands of a young kid, that hinge is not secure in the hands of an irresponsible child.

    • Arrei

      It’s useless for many of us, but it’s not so useless for people who don’t yet own a 3DS and would like to save 40 bucks by taking out a feature they don’t want to use.

      People seem to be treating this thing like it’s replacing the standard model or something…

      • gold163

        It’s actually kind of funny in a sad way that there’s this dismissive elitism surrounding the 2DS when it’s obviously meant for a completely different demographic entirely than the people who are scoffing at it.

    • gold163

      This device is $40 cheaper than the original 3DS. You know what you could do with forty bucks? Buy a copy of Pokemon. Guess what game is going to be coming out soon after the launch of the 2DS?

      Make sense now?

      • Astraye

        Seriously for $40 i rather prefer take
        a 3DS who got better screen and can bend than that stupid scam.

        • gold163

          Oh, the 2DS can bend too. It just won’t work afterwards.

        • Arrei

          Budget products aren’t scams just because they’re not as good as the full-price models. That’s why they’re budget.

  • The more I look at the 2DS, the more I like it. It’s just one of those things you need to get used to. I have no interest in it, but it looks like a good product for those who still don’t have a 3DS.

  • gold163

    One thing I’ve been worrying about is the weight and pressure distribution on this thing while holding it with one hand. People seem perfectly satisfied to hold it with two so far, but considering that holding the 3DS one-handed while playing games such as Kid Icarus Uprising already gave some reviewers problems, does the 2DS seem to have similar issues? Also, since the touch screen is located far lower on the 2DS relative to your hands holding the device, does this cause problems when using the device’s touch screen heavily and with one hand?

    • Ying

      Why would you hold it with one hand? How are you going to be able to play with the controller pad and the buttons on the other side of the handheld using only one hand

      • Arrei

        Games that make heavy use of the stylus are typically played with the system supported with one hand, like the mentioned Kid Icarus game.

        That being said, I believe people were overestimating this thing’s bulkiness because of the screenshots – if you remember the screens are standard 3DS size, it shouldn’t be all that heavy.

        • gold163

          Yeah, a lot of people who got hands-on time with the 2DS are saying that it’s surprisingly comfortable to hold. But again, they’re saying this within the context of playing games such as Zelda, games that don’t necessarily require heavy touch screen use.

          Granted, there aren’t that many games besides Kid Icarus that really require you to use the 3DS one-handed, and I suppose having a more compact design means that the weight distribution on the 2DS might be a bit more fair to one hand.

          I’m not really afraid of the 2DS being bulky; I’m more afraid that having the bottom screen placed so far below compared to where it’s placed on the 3DS could potentially be an issue with games such as Kid Icarus.

        • Ying

          I played that game with two hands and forgot that the majority hadn’t which is why I responded as I did

      • gold163

        I gave you an example. Kid Icarus Uprising is a game that’s played mainly with the 3DS in one hand and the stylus in the other. The game even shipped with a stand for the 3DS so you wouldn’t even have to hold it; apparently some people thought it was that much of a problem.

        With the screen placed so low on the device I would think this issue (if it’s even an issue) would be exacerbated on the 2DS.

        • Ying

          Ah okay. I didn’t take that as an example because I played that game with two hands. I usually do even with those kinds of games, but I had heard that it had been a problem for others. I just forgot. Sorry ^^;

      • tubers

        Sometimes, you have to use the stylus in a manner of one hand letting go of one side of the device?

  • Keine

    the only reason i will be convinced to buy a 3/2DS is only when it becomes region free…

  • Link

    already have a 3dsxl, will eventually pick one up when it comes to NA in white. Im gonna need a second 3ds anyway to trade Pokemon w/ myself and this is definitely a much cheaper alternative. so sign me up!

  • PoweredByHentai

    I woke up and saw Nintendo’s announcement for the 2DS last week. I thought I was still dreaming so I went back to sleep. I was totally late for work that day.

    Not that what Nintendo did was a bad thing, but more like it was so sudden and perplexing that I wasn’t sure what to make of it when it was announced. The fact that it wasn’t announced at a public convention was what added to the confusion.

  • VenerableSage

    Even though I probably will almost never end up using the 3D mode on the 3DS, I need the bigger screens (and a wider system to prevent hand cramps). Hence my choice to go with an XL instead of waiting for the 2DS.

    (Plus, should a game come out that legitimately needs the 3D, you’re out of luck on the 2DS.)

  • PlatinumMad

    I just want to know if it’s made of Nintendium, like the Game Boy.
    My normal 3DS fells a bit fragile.

  • puchinri

    I keep telling my boyfriend that it’d be handy for us both to have a 3DS, and given the price and everything else, I think the 2DS is a nicer option (especially since we can pass it on to our child when she’s older).

    The white/red combo that EU is getting looks really nice too, and I would love if someone actually created a skin for it based on the Gameboy mock-up.

  • Namuro

    I’m seriously interested in getting this for my nephew. He has never own any handheld before, this would be a good machine to start from.

  • $36487238

    It’s all in the pricing for me. A month’s worth of salary in my job, and I’m finally going to re-play 3DS games again ^_^ I’ll just give it some thought first. Still want a 3DSXL.

  • 07thCrow

    If I had the option for this, instead of the 3DS at the time I bought one, no question I’d pick the 2DS. I never use the 3D function; it was distracting and bothered my eyes after awhile, even on a low setting. Plus, like the article says, most games that are out (most of which seem to be strictly Nintendo’s) either don’t use it or have it but it isn’t anything spectacular. I still don’t get the 3D craze; I already SEE in 3D and the graphics of modern gaming have depth = creating 3D environments/characters. I’m glad the 2DS option is out there now for gamers who haven’t gotten the 3DS, but want the games and maybe don’t care for the 3D function. Although, I wonder if people buying this for others (ex. a parent for their child) will be able to tell that the 2DS plays the same games as its counterpart.

  • Wow, just when I collected my money for 3DS, 2DS came. Great Nintendo, that is a really nice save. $40 saving! It’s a great deal for me.

  • ddh819

    are the 2ds screen sizes the same as a regular 3ds as opposed to the XL?

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