Nintendo just recently announced one more product in the 3DS family of systems. The New Nintendo 2DS XL is a stylish handheld with the premise of the less-than-portable 2DS and the features of the New 3DS, such as enhanced processing power and a lower screen capable of reading amiibos. Their latest home console, the Nintendo Switch, proved to be a success despite a less than exciting launch catalog (not counting Breath of the Wild) and part of it is due to its gimmicky nature. The Switch is primarily a console, but can easily turn into a tablet-like handheld. Imagine if the PlayStation Vita was an integral part of the PlayStation 4 and its streaming feature was seamless.
Despite a short battery life, the Switch’s portable capabilities made many speculate that the 3DS, the company’s latest handheld family, would be coming to an end. Nintendo denied the claims and although many were skeptical, they have been living up to their promise. In July, Dragon Quest XI will release for the PlayStation 4, the Nintendo Switch, and the 3Ds family and now with the New 2DS XL, the 3DS had its lifespan extended.
The new handheld is a welcome surprise, but what exactly drove the Japanese company to come up with it? Why not lay the 6 years old handheld line to rest and focus on the Switch, which needs more games to keep consumers interested? Are they just trying to make some easy cash considering the collectibility of the 3DS or is there a more interesting strategy that we’re not able to see just yet?
It’s impossible not to notice how sleek the 2DS XL is, especially after the announcement of the first custom design. While the regular 2DS (released in 2013) is far from visually appealing, the New 3DS allows owners to customize their handheld’s appearance by replacing the front and back plates. The New 2DS XL might not go as far as the regular New 3DS, but its design is the prettiest in the whole system family. Promising to be lightweight, this new iteration incorporates the accessibility of its predecessor with the portability that the DS and 3DS systems are known for (except this is one of the popular XL versions, so it won’t quite fit our pockets). Perhaps most importantly, it is a cheaper alternative to the New 3DS as it comes packed with all the functionalities that require peripherals on an “old” 3DS.
This move not only shows that Nintendo doesn’t intend to end 3DS support anytime soon, but also that it really wants owners to upgrade to the newer version. Only a few games were released exclusively for the New 3DS, with Xenoblade Chronicles 3D (a degraded port of the Wii classic) being the most notable; however, newest titles seem to run better on the New series. For instance, Pokémon Sun and Moon (released back in November) run just fine on the New 3DS, but on the “old” 3DS they present noticeable performance issues in battles with more than two pokémon. Sometimes even a 1-vs-1 fight will be as choppy as potato GLaDOS attempting to generate a small world in Dwarf Fortress.
Whereas the enhanced 3D gimmick (as well as the other features) wasn’t enough to make most 3DS owners upgrade to a New, its absence from the 2DS XL, which reduces its price, is a plus. Add to that a growing selection of titles that run better on the New series and the 2DS XL could outsell the New 3DS.
Although the 3DS family is old, the New series basically renewed its lifespan thanks to its additional buttons and enhanced processing power. This allows Nintendo to potentially move the handheld forward by developing more New 3DS exclusives that would keep it relevant for longer than expected. Despite the Switch’s portability, the 3DS still offers a much larger library that includes DS games, so keeping it alive while the former walks its first steps is a smart move. Taking the 2DS XL for granted this early, on the other hand, is rash.