Just as with Donald Trump, I don’t intend to write about Nintendo as much as I do. I’ve written two other columns this semester, discussing the baffling decisions Nintendo has made in regard to “1-2-Switch” and the discontinuation of the NES Classic Edition. But, as is the case with our favorite orange businessman, this stuff practically writes itself.
For the third time this semester, Nintendo has made a decision that baffled me.
On Thursday, Nintendo announced a new product: the New Nintendo 2DS XL. Sporting a new black and turquoise color design, the New Nintendo 2DS XL is the successor to 2013’s Nintendo 2DS. It features a clamshell design akin to previous DS products, larger screens, a faster processor, addition of the C-stick and Amiibo support. Essentially, it’s a New Nintendo 3DS XL without 3D functionality.
Priced at $149.99, the New Nintendo 2DS XL is about $50 cheaper than its big brother, the New Nintendo 3DS XL. For a platform that’s been around for six years, this isn’t that bad of a price. It’s cheap, but it has an established selection of quality games. It even plays many games made for the original DS.
Compared to its predecessor, the New Nintendo 2DS XL is a great upgrade, too. For those unaware, the Nintendo 2DS strangely removed the iconic clamshell design the DS lineup was famous for, opting for a clunky slab form factor, instead.
While the original 2DS is priced at $79.99, the ability of its newer sibling to fit in your pocket is alone worth the extra money. And it helps that the New Nintendo 2DS XL is the best-looking handheld console Nintendo has made to date.
But, you’ve no doubt noticed the horrible naming scheme Nintendo has employed here. New Nintendo 2DS XL? Good God, that’s like three product names smashed into one. Since the 3DS, this has been the norm for Nintendo’s handheld consoles. The New Nintendo 3DS isn’t the same as the New Nintendo 3DS XL. The Nintendo 3DS isn’t the same as the New Nintendo 3DS.
Are you confused yet? You should be. Nintendo’s naming scheme for its handheld is even worse than its naming of the Wii U, which made the console sound like more of a peripheral than a standalone console.
However, woefully confusing name is the least pressing issue surrounding the New Nintendo 2DS XL. The big question is, why? Why does it exist in the first place? Why now?
It’s an undeniably strange decision to release a brand-new product into a six-year-old lineup. It’s even stranger to bring a brand-new product to this lineup that doesn’t even have all the expected features. The New Nintendo 2DS XL lacks 3D functionality. Does bringing in a new, $50-cheaper option really amount to a significant amount of business? How much life is really left in the 3DS’ library, anyway?
Perhaps more importantly, isn’t this a bit of a conflict of interest for Nintendo? What about that brand-new, shiny console released earlier this year, the Nintendo Switch? It’s supposed to be the hybrid console. It’s supposed to be the console for at-home and on-the-go. Wouldn’t Nintendo want to direct any potential handheld-console sales to its new platform?
Granted, I’m not well versed in the business side of things, so perhaps I’m horribly naïve. The New Nintendo 2DS XL just doesn’t make much sense to me, though. Two years ago, I could’ve seen its place, but in 2017, it just feels like the awkward stepchild in the Nintendo family. It doesn’t know where it fits in.
If it weren’t for the Switch’s existence, I honestly wouldn’t care. The New Nintendo 2DS XL — I’m quite tired of typing that out — would’ve been just another option to get your Nintendo fix. But, with the launch of a truly exciting new platform — and a shot at rising from the ashes of the Wii U — I want to see Nintendo throw everything it has into the Switch. I want to see Nintendo succeed in a big way, not just scrape by. But, with decisions like the New Nintendo 2DS XL, it feels like Nintendo isn’t giving its all in regard to the Switch.
This is a shame, because I don’t believe I’m alone in wanting Nintendo to succeed. And I’m definitely not alone in wanting to see the merging of home console and handheld gaming.
But, I guess that’s Nintendo for you.