The New Nintendo 2DS XL was announced at the end of last month, providing a slightly more powerful version of the regular 2DS in terms of processing power, along with a bigger screen, and Gamereactor got the chance to get our hands on the handheld itself at a preview event in London this week, seeing some of the games on offer for the console as well.
In terms of just how the consoles look, we saw the two announced models, the black & blue and the white & orange, with the black one obviously showing fingerprints and marks a little more. The colours were bright on both though, and each had a gloss finish, things which have no doubt been considered to appeal to kids. Both of these looked smart and very presentable, and the colours worked well together.
When we picked the console up, it felt reasonably weighty, but not uncomfortably so, even after hours of use. The smoothed edges on the sides meant that it was pretty easy to hold too, with no sharp edges digging in anywhere, and all of the buttons were in easy reaching distance and felt satisfying to press. The stylus tucks in neatly at the bottom too (facing upwards, like sliding a sword in a sheath), and becomes indistinguishable from the rest of the design when tucked away. All of the buttons around the edge, including power, never felt in the way either, and there's also a convenient headphone port underneath too, as well as the slots for MicroSD cards (which no longer needs a screwdriver) and game cartridges.
The one thing we did notice, however, is that with a big top screen there's a bit more movement when the console is up, as this flip screen moves back and forwards a touch (only a few millimeters), especially if you shake it. On the other hand, though, the hinge is pretty sizeable, meaning that we can't see this coming detached very easily, although it does protrude a little bit when closed, something we didn't have an issue with.
In terms of the buttons, these will obviously come as second nature to users of other 3DS models, as the main buttons are all in the same place as the Nintendo 3DS XL, but there's also some new features, such as the c-stick in the top right of the bottom panel (we didn't get to test that unfortunately) as well as four triggers on the shoulders. Here, though, we found the ZL/ZR buttons a little annoying to access (the shoulder buttons furthest from the edges), as you had to reach a little awkwardly to press them, but it's good that there's extra buttons which games can make use of.
The first game we played on the console was Hey! Pikmin, a game that makes great use of both screens. Here is where you can really appreciate the screen size of the 2DS XL, being 4.88 inches diagonally for the upper screen, and 4.18 diagonally on the lower (the same as the New Nintendo 3DS XL), as the levels span both screens, meaning there's a very wide field of view. Considering you can throw Pikmin in various places by touching the screen, however, it can feel tempting to try to touch the top screen to get to high ground, so you have to fight that urge, and it did feel a little weird to have to touch the bottom screen to throw things to the top one. Other than that, though, we appreciated the extra vision given by the second screen, and its size was definitely appreciated in this sense too.
Another game we played, Ever Oasis, didn't need the stylus nearly as much, however, and instead did what many other 3DS games do in the sense that the top screen was the 'main' screen showing what was going on in the RPG, whereas the bottom showed menus, maps, inventories etc. This also worked just as well, and this is clearly the motive for the top screen being bigger than the bottom (although neither are small, that's for sure).
The other two games we saw were Miitopia, a light RPG using Miis as the central characters, which again worked similarly to Ever Oasis, as well as Dr Kawashima's Devilish Brain Training, again working pretty much the same as other Brain Training games (except this time a bit harder). The console is meant to have a bit more processing power compared to the regular 2DS model, but the games we played weren't exclusive to this model and so didn't show it off (although they did look good), but this processing power does mean that it's quicker opening apps and browsing the main menu. It must also be mentioned that the Nintendo 2DS XL features amiibo support too, as well as the ability to transfer Miis from Tomodachi Life (in the case of Miitopia), meaning that you don't have to start completely fresh when buying the console.
In short the Nintendo 2DS XL offered a comfortable experience, and we can forgive the small things like a slight movement on the top screen and shoulder button placements. It's a console that benefits from having bigger screens, and you can play not only 3DS games but also 3DS and New 3DS software as well (although obviously in 2D), so if you haven't managed to pick up a 3DS, but don't mind not having the 3D function, this may well be for you when it comes out on July 28.