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New Nintendo 2DS XL is the 3DS price drop in disguise

A $150 handheld minus the 3D nobody used: it's not a Nintendo Switch, but it's got plenty of upside.

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The NES Classic is gone. The Nintendo Switch is hot stuff. But the Nintendo 3DS ($240 at Amazon.com) still hangs around. In fact, Nintendo's got a new version, called the New Nintendo 2DS XL, coming out July 28.

I haven't played one yet (but we will, soon), but here's what you need to know about Nintendo's surprise little hardware announcement.

Wait, what is a New Nintendo 2DS XL?

It's a New Nintendo 3DS XL without the 3D. Or, a Nintendo 2DS in a clamshell form. Nintendo has regularly released new hardware variants on its 3DS systems since 2011, and 2DS XL looks like it's the most affordable larger-screen one of the bunch.

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The New 2DS XL feels a little more compact than the New 3DS XL, but there's no 3D.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Does it do the same things?

Hardware-wise, it's similar to Nintendo's last hardware bump-up, the "New Nintendo 3DS." That means it has a few extra perks compared to the Nintendo 2DS: a few more buttons, and support for SNES games.

  • Costs $150 (which converts to about £116, AU$200)
  • Plays Nintendo DS and 3DS games
  • Still has a stylus
  • Has the same extra buttons and second mini-analog control stick as the New Nintendo 3DS systems
  • Can play SNES games on the Nintendo eShop -- something that, oddly, older 3DS and 2DS systems couldn't do
  • Supports Amiibo via NFC
  • Boasts "more ergonomic design." After holding one, it seems a little more comfortable (but the stylus is small)
  • Nintendo claims "faster load times" and extra parental controls for software

Should I get one?

The 3DS still has a ton of life left in it, especially if you like retro games. All of Nintendo's Virtual Console offerings for NES, Game Boy, Game Gear, and SNES are on there, and the 3DS has other gems like Sega's arcade-perfect 3D Classics. There are also hundreds of 3DS and DS games, and a lot of games still worth playing. (Zelda, Mario, Animal Crossing, weird indie games like Pocket Card Jockey, and all the classic Pokemon games). The Nintendo Switch ($299 at Amazon.com), meanwhile, has a small but growing handful of different games. For kids, or fans of classic Nintendo games, it sounds very promising if you don't already own a 3DS.

How does it feel?

After playing one, it seems well built. But the included stylus is really short. Dropping 3D effects seems to have reduced the bezel on the top half of the system. I liked how it felt, but it didn't feel all that different from the New 3DS XL.

Is it worth getting over other 3DS systems?

It looks like Nintendo's shaved down the line of Nintendo 3DS systems to just the New Nintendo 3DS XL ($25 at Amazon.com), the New Nintendo 2DS XL, and the Nintendo 2DS.

  • The most expensive is the New Nintendo 3DS XL, at $200: the extra $50 basically just gets the glasses-free 3D effect. But, you might find the New 3DS XL ($185 at Amazon.com) on sale for close to what the New 2DS XL costs.
  • The Nintendo 2DS is so low-cost, at $80, that it's a better bet for kids.
  • But, the now discontinued and slightly smaller New Nintendo 3DS (also with glasses-free 3D) used to cost $150. If you can find that, it's a worthy alternative. Odds are, you won't.

In the end, this is really a price cut of sorts for the years-old 3DS. But it certainly seems like the 2DS XL is the best 3DS of the bunch, if you're ready to say goodbye to 3D.

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