Nintendo 2DS hands-on: Cheap, plasticky, and super comfy

Credit: Raymond Wong/DVICE

We got to spend some time with the Nintendo 2DS at New York Comic Con ahead of tomorrow's official launch and we have to say, despite its odd shape and stripped down features, the handheld will probably be a hit — with younger gamers.

The 2DS is the third member to the Nintendo 3DS product lineup, which includes the DS Lite-sized original 3DS and the 3DS XL, which has 90 percent larger screens. Unlike all of Nintendo's handhelds since the old Game Boy Advance SP (minus the Game Boy Micro) that were clamshells, the 2DS sports a wedge-shaped "slate" design that some believe is a distant cousin of the doorstopper.

Jokes aside, the 2DS, as its name suggests, ditches the glasses-free 3D screen that Nintendo so proudly championed two years ago. While the 2DS still has the 3DS's three respective cameras (two on the back and one on the front) and plays all DS and 3DS games (only playable in 2D), the handheld only has a mono speaker. Nintendo also says the 2DS should have a 3.5-5 hours of battery life when playing 3DS games and 5-9 hours when playing old DS games.

Gaming First, Looks Second

So, how does the Nintendo 2DS feel and what kind of quality can you expect from it? Well, the be blunt, the handheld is really plasticky. It feels like a Fisher Price toy (if the company made toy electronics in black and blue color schemes). But if you can get over the device's looks, the 2DS is a very comfortable device to use.

The 2DS is very light and although its screens are a little small for my liking (they're the same size as the original 3DS), the placement of the Circle Pad and ABXY buttons that flank the upper screen feel right. The shoulder L and R buttons are much larger and wider than the other 3DS handhelds, and have a nice button depth to them. Also, the stylus is in more accessible spot — on its right side, not its top — compared to the original 3DS.

Surprisingly, while demoing new 3DS games such as Skylanders Swap Force, I never missed the 3D, probably because most people usually leave the 3D depth slider turned all the way down, anyway. (For those who don't know, the 3DS's parallax barrier screen only works when you look at it directly head-on. Otherwise, it's just a blurry headache-inducing mess.)

Perfect For Kids

When the 2DS was announced at the end of August, most gamers dismissed it as a Nintendo dud. Why on earth would anyone buy the 2DS over a 3DS? Nintendo fought back saying the 2DS is a cheaper product aimed at capturing gamers who don't want the 3D feature.

More importantly, the 2DS is perfect for kids younger than seven, who probably shouldn't even be playing games in 3D for long periods because of their still-developing eyes. For those younger gamers, the 2DS make sense. It's affordable enough for mom and dad to approve and durable enough to survive drops to the playground floor.

It sounds silly for Nintendo to release a product geared towards tots, but you have to remember, those same kids aren't growing up playing Nintendo anymore. They're growing up playing Angry Birds on iPhones and iPads. The 2DS is a means to get those young gamers back, without destroying their eyes with 3D. Besides, the 3DS and 3DS XL will still be around us grown-ups. Today's kids don't know Mario well enough, and Nintendo intends to change that with the 2DS.

The Nintendo 2DS hits stores tomorrow for $129.99 (includes a 4GB SD card), just in time for Pokémon X and Pokémon Y).

For the latest tech stories, follow DVICE on Twitter
at @dvice or find us on Facebook