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Hands on with the Nintendo 2DS

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"Yes, I was hoping you could show me where the 2DS games are..?"

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Nintendo definitely marches to the beat of a different drum -- their own drum, which doesn't always look like or sound like you'd expect. And, love it or hate it, there is a certain undeniable percussive flare to Nintendo's bold manufacturing and marketing ideas.

When they launched the original DS back in 2004 to directly compete with Sony's PSP, everyone thought Nintendo committed handheld suicide. But history has a different way of remembering Nintendo's boldness, and some 153 million units later, the original DS now sits atop the throne of bestselling handheld console ever -- and second best game console of all-time, behind the PS2.

After multiple iterations of the DS, Nintendo launched the 3DS, which confused some with its seemingly gimmicky glasses-free stereoscopic capabilities. Much like its predecessor, the 3DS was poised to compete with Sony's overhyped and overpowered PS Vita, and the world booed in disapproval. But, once again, Nintendo proved their naysayers wrong and the 3DS is currently king of the handheld console market.

So when Nintendo announced their newest handheld iteration last week -- the 2DS -- most industry analysts remained tight-lipped until they actually got their hands on it.

Much like its moniker suggests, the Nintendo 2DS has ditched the 3D effect, but that's not all. It no longer features the hinged, clamshell design, either. It's a small slate. A small tablet-like architecture, though there is a slight wedged, angled element to the body. Also: there is no stereo sound without headphones -- only mono. And while the screens sport identical dimensions to the original 3DS, the buttons and Circle Pad have been moved up, and the shoulder buttons now sit atop the crown of the device.

Overall, the 2DS is very light, but very sturdy. It has a very solid, balanced feel in your hands. As far as sheer aesthetics, I've seen prettier concepts. Personally, I always play with the 3D slider cranked to the top, and almost never without headphones, so the 2DS feels like a step backward to me.

The new 2DS tagline is: Unbelievably fun, seriously affordable. Although I would've loved a cheaper price point -- say $99.99 (and a brief explanation how 3D-centric games like Super Mario Land 3D will work) -- there's no denying it certainly is cheaper -- at $129.99 -- some $40 less than the erstwhile entry level 3DS and a whopping $70 less than its direct competior, the PS Vita. All told, Nintendo is hoping to crack a different, younger, budget-friendly demographic this holiday season.

Will they succeed? Again, only time will tell. The 2DS launches October 12th, 2013 in all available markets.

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