Nintendo 2DS review: No-frills 2DS is great for kids

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Nintendo 2DS is an affordable and solid system for a younger gamer or for those not interested in 3D visuals. It packs in a 4GB SD card and performs just as well as its 3DS brethren (save for 3D).

The Bad The 2DS feels cheap and only has one speaker that sounds a little lacking. Though it's designed for children, there are a few vulnerable spots on the 2DS, and it might not survive a bad fall.

The Bottom Line At $130, the 2DS offers a huge array of compelling software and makes for a great entry-level gaming system to the uninitiated first-time gamer. Just be sure to buy a protective case along with it, too.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 7.0

Editors' note: Nintendo has announced new transparent versions of the 2DS will be available for $100 in the US as of November 21. The otherwise identical earlier models will retain their $130 MSRP. Note that some of those models are bundled with a game like Mario Kart 7, however, which helps offset the cost.

When Nintendo has announced some of its recent products, the collective reaction on the Internet has often been: "Is this a joke?" Sometimes, Nintendo gets the last laugh -- the name "Wii" was widely derided, but that console went on to become a smashing success. Other times, the result is more curious than funny: 3DS Circle Pad Pro, anyone?

The Nintendo 2DS was greeted with similar disbelieving howls when it was first announced in late August -- "A 3DS without the 3D? Really?" -- but now that I've actually spent some time with it, I can say it's not completely outrageous. Indeed, for younger gamers -- especially those under 7 who are warned off gaming in 3D on the cover of every 3DS game -- this less expensive ($130) no-frills gaming handheld may be just the ticket. Add in Nintendo's kid-friendly, decade-strong gaming library dominated by Pokemon, Mario, and Donkey Kong titles, and you've got an electronic babysitter that's cheaper and more durable than an iPod Touch or even a "real" 3DS.

In this review, I'll be looking at the target audience for the 2DS and its overall performance. For a detailed review of the previous 3DS models, check out my review of the $170 3DS or the big-screen $200 3DS XL , both of which are still available.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Look and feel
The first thing I thought when I picked up the 2DS was "this feels cheap." But I guess that's the point. It's not designed for an adult gamer. In fact, it's for the opposite demographic. The 2DS is crafted with the youngest gamer in mind, stripping away mostly every moving part in a move that's probably done to avoid breakage of any kind.

The 2DS' slate design looks a bit odd because it doesn't close like previous Nintendo clamshell devices. That said, its wedge shape certainly fits nicely in your hands. It's lightweight (about 9 ounces) and retains most of the same button placements present in the other two concurrent 3DS models.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The major differences are the locations of the start/select buttons and the placement of one single speaker for audio playback, which now seems to be missing a punch. All the usual suspects are onboard and accounted for, plus Nintendo has upped the size of the included SD card to 4GB.

The screen sizes are the same as the original 3DS', but of course the buttons are now flanked around the top screen as opposed to the lower touch screen. This makes for a finagled adjustment period, especially if you're used to the old layout.

Aside from lacking the 3D effect on the top screen, there's nothing the 2DS can't do that the 3DS and XL can. (Yes, the 2DS can play all of the 3DS games, and most DS/DSi games.) The 2DS can even take 3D photos with its dual lenses around back. It also has the same power connection interface as all the other 3DS models, though this version won't fit in any charging dock.

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