Nintendo 2DS: The Australian Hands-On

When it came time to name the Xbox 360, you got the impression that Microsoft were eager to call it anything but the Xbox 2. With Sony on the verge of announcing its third iteration of the PlayStation, no-one wanted to risk looking like old news. PlayStation 3. Xbox 2. Three is greater than two, right? That's not just science, it's plain old mathematics. It's a numbers game.

From that perspective, you might argue that Nintendo hasn't done the best job of naming its latest consoles.

First there was the Wii U. A name that has done its level best to bewilder, confuse and bore the casual audience that made the original Wii such a great success. Now there's the 2DS, the console that's currently sitting comfortably in my hands. Microsoft was so afraid to move the Xbox number forward one they added 359. Nintendo, it seems, couldn't care less. They're doing something a little crazy. They're going back a number. Ballsy.

But as I use this new piece of tech, with its unique design, I openly wonder about the name. The 3DS was a name that signalled progress. Not just from the natural progression of the numbers, but from the '3D' perspective. 3D = future, some kind of future. What does 2D mean? It means flat. It means old, it means taking some sort of a step back.

As I'm holding this piece of technology, a well designed, well-positioned piece of technology that — in my opinion — has done everything right I remember its name and this is the thought that enters my head: 'what the hell were they thinking'.

I'd argue they were thinking about the money they're going to make. So much so they forgot to give it a decent name.

I'm in the minority when I say the words, 'I think the 2DS is a good idea', but I believe the numbers will prove me right. The game that's launching alongside the 2DS is Pokemon X and Y. Being an insufferable aloof teenager when the first game was released, I couldn't even pretend to be an expert on Pokemon. I missed that boat but I didn't miss its impact: a turn-based epidemic that spread from generation to generation with terrifying ease. Pokemon is airborne and the X and Y virus is the most potent and efficient yet. It will infiltrate the minds of children who are playing for the first time, the parents who first played all those years ago, and everyone in between. It will be a game changing release and the 2DS exists to help facilitate that change.

Because it's cheap. So cheap. $149.95 cheap to be precise, and by the time it's been discounted in Big W and packaged with Pokemon in JB Hi-Fi there won't be a damn thing you can do to hold back that river. It's Christmas, it's summer, it's money flowing in the goddamn streets all headed in one direction: Nintendo and its gosh darn Pokemens.

So the name is terrible but the product itself? I love it. I actually love it. From the initial images I worried about the shape of it. As far as I'm concerned the 3DS XL represents one of the best designed handhelds I've ever owned: great size, great shape, everything. The 2DS is such a massive diversion from that, so I expected to be frustrated. I wasn't. The buttons felt fine, to the point where I didn't notice their supposed cheapness. The d-pad felt small against my medium-sized man hands and the relegation of some parts of the console to the touch screen, I imagine, might be frustrating in the long term (especially if, like me, you frequently turn off the wi-fi to save battery) but as a core package the design felt sort of flawless.

This is what the 2DS is for: it's for parents who are terrified of 3D and its effects. No matter how inane and senseless that instinct is, it's a very real concern that parents have and its a whole market that remains untapped. The 2DS is about to do some serious tapping.

The tipping point is here for the 3DS in all its shapes and sizes. A burgeoning library with classics across multiple genres. An install base that allows large scale software development to make sense. A brand new Pokemon on the horizon, a new Zelda, a brand new market to sell to. Two well designed handhelds (in the 3DS XL and the 2DS) that court two very different markets. I expect great things for Nintendo's handheld business over the next few years.

But that name? The 2DS? What the hell were they thinking?


    Maybe they were thinking naming it what it is. A 2d 3ds. 2ds...

      Yep agreed. It makes complete sense to me.

    Microsoft added 359?
    Didn't they go backwards, just like Ninty?

    Last edited 18/09/13 2:26 pm

      1 to 360!

        But isn't it 360 to 1? A subtraction?

        Note: I might just be confused.
        EDIT: I am confused! But that's because of Microsoft going from Xbox 1 to Xbox 360, and then back to Xbox One. Now I understand what you were getting at. Ignore me!

        Edit: In response to the actual article, despite already owning a 3DS and not really wanting a 2DS, I can now see that it's a pretty savvy move by Nintendo!

        Last edited 18/09/13 2:30 pm

          I believe Mark is talking about the upgrade from the original xbox to the xbox 360.

    Having not bought a 3DS and turning off the feature when my sister got me to get her past a boss in Luigis Mansion, this has got to be the most compelling reason to get my first Nintendo handheld ever. While it may look a little Fisher Price it's cheap and does the job :)

    But what would they call it instead? No3DS?

    It's part of the 3DS family, but it doesn't do 3D. If you call it the DS-Something then people might think it's only as good as the original DS, and 2DS, while it might confuse some people, still indicates that it is a different console from the original DS.

    I agree that the name is a bit stupid, but I can't think of a better one that still lets people know what product it is.

      Yea, they kinda painted themselves into a corner when they named the 3DS... I think they did pretty well with "2DS", given what they had to work with.

      On topic: I can certainly see the appeal, but I'm not sure my faith in humanity allows me to accept that there are that many parents scared of the effects of 3D. Like many, I just think that $300-$350 is a lot to spend on a handheld, and making a stripped back one available without the 3D for $150 will give those of us who can't justify the expense of a 3DS a viable alternative.

        I am not sure it has anything to do with parents being 'scared' of the 3D option, but this is much cheaper, and the 3ds is a gimmick at best. And there are many, many people it doesn't work for, or gives headaches to.

        I got my 3DS XL in early August, to play Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing, and the upcoming Pokemon. If I'd known then this was coming, I might well have gotten it. The 3D part is useless to me. And I don't get out much, so could have handled the lack of portability (The XL isn't exactly small either). Overall, as sceptical as I was when I first saw it, the concept has really grown on me and I wish now I'd waited to get it. (Actually, I would have ended up, if I had waited, getting the red or blue pokemon XL. I'm a sucker for pretty, which the 2DS very much is not)

        If they wanted to go the cheap plastic look route, why the hell didn't they make it look like a Famicom? Talk about missing the whole 'retro is in' wagon opportunity!

          I was referring to this point in the article:
          This is what the 2DS is for: it’s for parents who are terrified of 3D and its effects. No matter how inane and senseless that instinct is, it’s a very real concern that parents have...
          Which I was disagreeing with.

          I entirely agree with you on the aesthetics, tho - it's horrid. Reminds me of those cheap graphic-LCD game systems you'd pick up at Go-Lo for $10 ten years ago that would play tetris or space invaders (well, two stacked on top of one another). I'd love a cheap, 3D-less 3DS, and I couldn't care less about it not being very portable (my Vita stays at home, after all), but I can't see myself getting a 2DS...

    3D IS a real health concern.

    If you know how the 3D actually works, you'll know why it's a long term health concern and you'll understand why many get sore eyes and headaches wathcing 3D.

    We used to get told cigarettes weren't bad for us as well.

    3D WITHOUT glasses is even worse again.

    Having said that, it's more related to the type of 3D. In a movie FILMED in 3D like Avatar vs a movie where the 3D is added later maes a difference.

    Last edited 18/09/13 3:17 pm

      I know how 3D actually works, and don't see why it's such a long-term health concern.

      Explain it.

        You essentially have 2 images overlapping eachother at high speed creating that 3D image.

        While to your eyes, the glasses make it look like 1 3D image, your brain is essentially still seeing the 2 images constantly overlap each other. Which is why so many get headaches. It's basically screwing with your brain for want of a better phrase.

        Many of the wikipedia articles and blogs etc I've read say it's mostly people with already poor eyesight, but I myself have great vision and know many others with perfect vision who complain of headaches watching 3D.

        As I said though, I don't think it's as bad an issue with sources that were FILMED in 3D, but in the case of the 3DS, Movies, TV where the 3D is a post process it's much much worse.

          I'm not entirely sure you have a complete idea of how 3D works.

          What you're describing there sounds like "active" 3D, where alternate frames are presented for each eye and a set of powered glasses physically blocks the other eye from seeing this image, so there's a constant flickering between the two relying on persistence of vision for someone to see them as the one image.

          The second and more common form is "passive" 3D, where two images are on screen at the same time but each side is put through a polarised filter, then the viewer wears glasses with polarised lenses that each block one of the images out, again presenting one image to each eye though this one is prone to cross-talk where the one image is partially visible to the other eye where it's not meant to be seen.

          The 3DS doesn't really use either of these methods. It has kind of a lenticular screen over the top of the display which physically directs alternating vertical lines towards each eye, presenting each one with a separate image so long as the viewer is in the "sweet spot". There is no overlapping or high speed flickering, the screen is refreshing just as any other would. Then devices like the Oculus Rift, Sony ZMD or Zeiss Cinematizer are different again in that each eye only looks at its own "screen", with no possibility of viewing the other side at all.

      I don't know man, maybe you should learn how 3D works

    Never bought a DS of any sort. The 2DS however drops into the right price range for me plus there are games I actually want to play. Time for a 2DS.

    I unapologetically believe the 2ds is a great idea and it will make Nintendo millions.

    I've never really been into Pokemon, but i was thinking about seeing what all the fuss is about with X/Y.
    So which is the console to get? my natural instinct is to get the 3DS XL as its the most premium model and has big screens but is it worth the extra $90 premium?

      Definitely. The bigger screen is gorgeous and you then also have the 3D option if you want it.

    Kids are stupid.

    Break hinges stupid.

    And 3D is too much for their stupid, stupid little eyes.

    In fact, don't buy your kid games and send him outside where he can bleed his shins and throw up after doing too many rounds on that spinning thing in the playground (30 years and I have no idea what its called. No, I'm not looking it up).

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