One of the biggest reasons Nintendo hasn’t been doing so well lately is because its product lineup is really confusing. And Nintendo’s upcoming October launch of the 2DS portable game console may only confuse things more. What’s the difference between it and a DS, for example? And what the heck is a DSi?
Here’s a really quick overview of what Nintendo’s portable handhelds are called, and which games each one can play.
The Nintendo DS gets its name from its Dual Screens. The bottom screen is a resistive touchscreen, meaning it’s based on pressure and uses a plastic stylus. It also has a built-in microphone.
The DSi, Nintendo’s current entry-level portable console, costs $99 and is an upgraded version of the original DS. It has two built-in cameras; one facing towards the player, one facing outward. It uses a normal SD card to store pictures on.
The DSi plays DS games, which are clearly labeled “Nintendo DS” along the spine. Some DS games use the DSi’s extra features, and have a label which indicates that. The DSi also plays DSiWare downloadable games. It can’t play the few games which require a plug-in accessory, like Guitar Hero, because it doesn’t have the Game Boy Advance cartridge slot that the original DS did.
The 3DS gets its name from the fact that it’s a Dual Screen console which plays games in 3D. The bottom screen is still a resistive touchscreen, but this time the top screen is an autostereoscopic 3D display, which means you don’t need 3D glasses to see the effect. A slider on the side lets you adjust the strength of the 3D effect, or turn it off altogether. DSi-style cameras let you use the 3DS to play augmented reality games, or even take 3D pictures and videos.
The 3DS plays all the cartridge-based and downloadable games that the DSi can play (in 2D), as well as games which are designed for the 3DS only. These are labeled “Nintendo 3DS” along the spine. It can also download 3DS-only games from the Nintendo eShop.
The 3DS comes in two versions: The regular 3DS for $169, and the 3DS XL for $199. The 3DS XL is much larger, and more streamlined.
Here’s where the names get confusing. The upcoming Nintendo 2DS (to be released on October 12) is not the same thing as the DS. Instead, it’s a console that plays all the same games a 3DS plays, but in 2D. In other words, it’s a 3DS without the 3D feature.
Why would you want one of those? First, because the 3D feature isn’t the only improvement 3DS games have over original DS ones. The 3DS hardware is much more powerful than the DS’, and can put out much nicer graphics, sort of like the Gamecube’s compared to the N64’s. And second, because it’s much cheaper. At only $129, and with a solid, child-friendly design which lacks any hinges to snap, it’s the perfect console for a young child looking forward to the release of Pokemon X and Y for the 3DS … especially one who’s young enough that their developing eyes shouldn’t be using the 3D effect anyway.