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New Nintendo handheld fails as suitable, cheaper alternative

Submitted by Liz Fox on October 16, 2013 – 3:51 pmNo Comment


Illustration by Byron Buslig

As the Sony and Microsoft cage match wages on with the much-anticipated releases of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, it’s become evident that Nintendo is on the verge of a stall. The company’s most recent venture, the Wii U, was released late last year to lukewarm reception, leaving Nintendo’s designers scrambling to hold over its devotees before releasing another major television-based console. It’s out of this need for speed that the videogame monolith brings the Nintendo 2DS, a handheld gaming system designed to introduce a younger audience to potential classics.

At first glance the 2DS is guaranteed to raise some eyebrows (and maybe some pitchforks). In making the product, Nintendo decided to do away with the hinge model – commonly known as the “clamshell” design – that enables its user to fold the system when its not in use. The company has instead opted for condensing the model by placing a chunk of plastic between the two screens, allowing the sleep/off feature to be activated through a separate side switch. In the age of thinner phones and sleeker interfaces, this is a huge disappointment for a consumer who doesn’t enjoy playing something with the feel of a Tonka toy.

Despite this flaw, Nintendo does have a reason – albeit a weak one – for this change. The 3DS, which has made a mark on handheld gaming due to its use of 3D effects, is primarily used by gamers who are in their mid to late teens, leaving younger consumers to deal with a product (and the accompanying games) that might prove too difficult. But the 2DS is designed for ages 7 and older and offers a cheaper alternative for parents whose children can quickly demolish things. The reinforced design and selection of games were created to solve some of these problems and these solutions could provide a way for Nintendo to get back some of the market lost with the demise of the original Game Boy.

Because the 2DS was designed as a cheaper alternative to its predecessor, much of the appeal surrounding the 3DS has been taken away through its hardware specs. The new model does not have the stereoscopic 3D gaming feature, using a single-display touchscreen instead of one that’s dual-layered. The cameras found on the 3DS, which are capable of taking 3D photos, have been retained and can be viewed on any DS system, but the speakers have been downgraded from stereo to mono, rendering the sound mediocre.

This isn’t to say Nintendo has neglected giving the product some minor advantages. The 2DS has slightly better battery life, giving its user up to 5.5 hours of play in a single charge. Another upside is the model’s backwards compatibility, which allows room for both 3DS, DS and DSi titles. The 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi connection has also been retained, leaving some room to browse online and connect with friends.

Unfortunately, the company’s desire to be economical in design does not outweigh the idea that the 2DS is stunted. The system’s design is clunky and cheap, and the many faults found in the hardware are not worth saving an extra $100 for someone looking to play with some seriousness.

The Nintendo 2DS will be released Oct. 12 at the price of $129.99.

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