The lights are on
Nintendo first unveiled the new 2DS system a few days ago, and it garnered a variety of reactions from the Game Informer staff. The $129 handheld strips out the 3D feature of the 3DS, features smaller screens than the XL, and drops the protective clam shell design. To me, the 2DS looked cumbersome and awkward, the opposite of what a portable device should be. After getting my hands on the device at PAX Prime 2013, I walked away surprised by how good the system feels and how compact it is.
The 2DS has screens sizes more in line with the original 3DS rather than its bigger brother, the 3DS XL. While I prefer larger screens on my handhelds, the reduced displays allow for a smaller form factor. The 2DS seems to be about a quarter smaller than the 3DS. Its lack of a hinge means the system can't fold up for easy portability, but it's much smaller than in initially appeared. The 2DS will fit well in laptop bags, purses, or the school backpacks of its intended younger audience.
The 3DS XL beside the 2DS (I apologize for my grubby fingerprints)
The original 3DS and 3DS XL go to sleep when the device is folded shut. The 2DS compensates with a switch on the bottom right that puts the system to sleep. The physical wireless toggle has been removed from the handheld itself and tucked away in a menu (which are identical to the 3DS). The buttons, circle pad, and d-pad are located near the middle of the system, as opposed to their previous home on the bottom half of the 3DS. The controls on the face of the system feel great, but the shoulder buttons are further away than I'd like. This increased shoulder button distance wouldn't be a complete hindrance for me, but I worry that it may be uncomfortable for younger players with smaller hands.
The 2DS plays all the same games as the 3DS, including original Nintendo DS titles. It can still access the eShop and do all the fun things of the original handheld. Given the low $129 price point and a concurrent launch with 3DS title Pokemon X and Y on October 12, there's no doubt this handheld will find a lot of new homes. I went into my hands-on session with the device doubtful, but walking away it's clear that the 2DS is a great starting point for on-the-go users that don't care about 3D or folding up their portable.