2DS vs 3DS vs 3DS XL: Which should you buy?

Even though the Nintendo 2DS is clearly aimed at parents with younger children and the entry level market there are a lot of older gamers who are looking to pick up their first 2DS/3DS system this year. With Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Pokemon coming out over the next few months the 3DS has become an unstoppable monster in terms of great software.

So with three 3DS models on store shelves starting October 12th which would should an older gamer buy? Someone who isn’t necessarily in the market Nintendo is aiming the 2DS at? There are pros and cons to each model and it isn’t as clear cut a decision as some may think.


Benefits of the 2DS: If you’re not at all interested in the 3D capabilities of the 3DS platform than you may disagree with putting any of your money towards a product that has features you will never use. Why else would so many hardcore gamers be complaining about Kinect raising the Xbox One’s price to $500 then? Some people know they won’t use certain aspects of a console and don’t want to pay for those features. So on that note the 2DS would be great for money-conscious adults who don’t want to pay the $40 premium for the 3D screen. In addition to that the 2DS appears to have more rounded edges so it won’t dig into your palm like the original 3DS and isn’t as heavy as the 3DS XL. It seems like it should be comfortable for long gaming sessions as a whole. Visuals won’t appear as stretched as on the XL if you notice that sort of thing. At least you can’t be effected by the 3DS’s screen scratching issue with this non-clamshell design.

Disadvantages with the 2DS: The system doesn’t sport as good battery life as the XL and its screens are only 3.53 inches and 3.02 inches. If you don’t like the design of it at all then nothing will sway you. The 2DS looks a lot like a fisher price toy and some older gamers won’t want to be seen with something like that. Then again, if you’re really that self-conscious about what you look like while playing handheld games outdoors then perhaps you should find a different hobby. The speakers are mono on the system so that alone will turn some people away. Of course the 2DS is not portable at all and will fit only in MC Hammer’s parachute pants. You will need a purse or backpack to bring your 2DS around with you.


Benefits of original 3DS:The original 3DS is the only model that will begin to fit in your pants pocket. It has the same size screens as the 2DS but has the 3D screen. The 3D really impacts games like Pushmo, Mario 3D Land and Mutant Mudds. I enjoy it a lot and can’t imagine the platform without it. Price is $169 so it isn’t too high either.

Disadvantages of original 3DS: The original 3DS’s corners are notoriously sharp and dig into your palms during extended play sessions. Battery life is worst on the original 3DS and Nintendo never truly fixed the screen scratching issue on the system. It is also glossy so be prepared to see a lot of fingerprints. Price isn’t bad but it is awfully close to the 3DS XL and PS Vita too. The original 3DS only ships with a 2GB SD card unlike the 2DS and XL which ship with 4GB cards. So if you plan on downloading a lot from the eShop you will need to upgrade quicker.


Benefits of 3DS XL: The biggest benefit of the XL is the bigger screens. The 3DS XL rocks a 4.88 inch screen on top and it really changes how you experience games. I can’t imagine going back to the smaller screens on the 3DS myself. Battery life is much improved, lasting up to 6.5 hours or more. The 3DS XL doesn’t have as rounded edges as the 2DS but it is much easier on your palms than the original 3DS and the shoulder buttons are improved. The XL isn’t glossy either so you won’t run into fingerprints as often and the screens aren’t as prone to the scratching issue that plagues the original 3DS.

Disadvantages of the 3DS XL: This handheld isn’t portable at all. It could fit into some rather big pants pockets but a backpack is better. Some users won’t be able to stand the stretched images in games and lower PPI count on the screens. The XL weighs the most out of the three systems so you may hate holding it for long periods of time while in bed if you play late at night. At $199 the 3DS XL is a solid buy but it is the same price as a PS Vita. That means you start debating whether you want one library or the other, opening a whole new can of worms.


Hopefully this post helps you decide which model is for you. If you want a lower price and don’t care about overall design than the 2DS might be best for you. If you want a portable device then the 3DS is good for you but the bigger screens of the XL are hard to walk away from once you check them out. You’ve got until October 12th when the 2DS releases to make your decision and at least Nintendo was smart enough to give consumers multiple options with their current handheld.