The 2DS: Nintendo’s Gamechanger?

THE 12TH OCTOBER was the most anticipated day in Nintendo’s 2013 calendar. Firstly, the excruciating wait for Pokemon X and Y to grace shop shelves worldwide was finally over and, less significantly, the 2DS was made available for purchase.

When the 2DS was announced in August many gamers wondered if it was an elaborate prank. It wasn’t so much the idea that was unwelcome (okay- it sounded a bit funny when I first heard it). We all know that the appeal of the 3DS extends far beyond the 3D gimmick, and Nintendo fans will understandably want to trade in their classic DS for better graphics and the latest game releases. Despite this, the headache-inducing 3D feature isn’t for everyone. With the 2DS, gamers with an aversion to all this new-fangled 3D technology can enjoy all the other benefits of the latest installment in the DS series without spending £25 extra on a feature they never use. The console plays both DS and 3DS games and, as of yet, will have no games of its own.

It was its appearance that people found unappealing- promotional images showed a dual-screen handheld console that was almost as flat as the 2D images it generates. It takes a step away from the tried-and-true clamshell design of the previous models and instead follows Nintendo’s recent enthusiasm for creating tablet-style devices. The 2DS comes at a crucial point for the games company as their latest console, the Wii U, missed its sales target in the year since its release, and Nintendo’s reign over the handheld market may be waning in favour of mobile games. Perhaps Nintendo’s new designs are an attempt to emulate the success of their portable rivals- they are trying to be more innovative in their designs, but may find that gamers prefer the classic console styles.

The new design does, however, make it more difficult to confuse the two consoles. So when little Jimmy’s technophobic and partially-blind dad goes to Game to buy him a 2DS for Christmas, he’s less likely to go home with the 3DS instead. But when you want something that does everything the 3DS does, minus the 3D, do you really want it to look so different? But each to their own. A lack of clamshell design never did the Gameboy series any harm (although it was eventually adopted for the last in the series, the SP). None of them, however, had to accommodate two screens.

I already own the 3DS, so I didn’t exactly rush out to buy the 2D version. Luckily, my flatmate bought it as soon as it was released so I was able to see it for myself. I must admit, I didn’t find the console as aesthetically offensive in real life. Maybe after months of looking at pictures of it and laughing had endeared itself to me. More likely, I realised that it’s not actually too bad a design.

It’s more portable and less bulky than I imagined- even though it’s more difficult to slip into your pocket than its predecessors. The screens are slightly smaller than those on the 3DS, though it is sturdier due to the lack of hinges. So, if I had one, it would be less likely to meet the same sad fate as my DS did, where I broke the hinges by absent-mindedly piling things on top of it. The 2DS being one, solid entity makes it perfect for children (and hapless 21-year-olds). The shoulder buttons and analog stick are next to the top screen. My flatmate found that this made it easier for players with longer fingers, like himself, to use than the 3DS.

In the few short weeks since its release, certain retailers have cut the price of the console by about £10. This tactic is old news for Nintendo, who slashed the price of the 3DS from £269 .99 to £199.99 just a few months after its release in 2011 in order to boost lagging sales. MCV have since reported a 64% increase in sales of the 2DS.

That said, this premature price cut still deals a heavy blow to Nintendo. The future of this portable console remains unclear and, with Christmas on its merry way, it could prove to be a success or a festive flop. Either way, it will definitely be one to watch, as will any of Nintendo’s future offerings.