Nintendo 2DS XL Review: Fun for Kids of All Ages

I have a confession to make:

The Nintendo 2DS XL is my first handheld game system.

It seems a little strange to me in retrospect; after all, I started with the Intellivision back in the ’80s, then the original Nintendo and all of the subsequent systems with the exception of the Wii U. Technically we do have the Switch, but I have only used it while docked.

I have played here and there on systems like the Gameboy and the DS when a friend let me. But I never had one of my own…until now.

After many hours of gameplay, I am hooked. I love being able to game on the go like this.

Family playing Playing the Nintendo 2DS XL

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Nintendo 2DS XL Review: Not Just for Adults

I have been playing video games since I was about 8 years old, so I naturally looked forward to playing with my own kids. ZZ has played a bit here and there; she can play MarioKart 8 Deluxe or Super Mario Odyssey for a while on the Switch and likes to sneakily take our phones to play mobile games.

We recently had the amazing experience of attending a party thrown by Nintendo at the Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum in Salt Lake City.

After dinner and learning about the new Nintendo 2DS XL, the kids got an opportunity to try several games, surrounded by fun props like warp pipes, mushrooms, the Master Sword from The Legend of Zelda, Mario coin blocks, and piranha plants.

I got to interview David, who works for Nintendo. Look for the video soon over on our YouTube channel!

Monopoly Gamer Mario Kart

Photo credit: Melinda Jae Photography

During a trivia session, I won a copy of Monopoly Gamer Mario Kart for knowing that Mario first appeared long ago in Donkey Kong. Back then he was known as Jumpman. How far he’s come!

Nintendo 2DS XL Review

Photo credit: Melinda Jae Photography

They were even kind enough to send us home with a Nintendo 2DS XL, Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and MarioKart 7. Now that we have had a chance to try it out for a while (some more than others… *sheepish grin*), I can see just how wonderful this system is for kids of all ages.

So Simple Even a 2 Year Old Can Try It

Bella is a bit young still to really get into it all, but she kept wanting a turn for herself. I made her a character in Link Between Worlds and was surprised to see that she could figure out the joystick and got herself out of Link’s house and into the game world. The system controls really do work so well for little hands.

Playing the Nintendo 2DS XL
ZZ, our 4-year-old, was also able to dive right into playing games. At the event, she said Mario Party: The Top 100 was her favorite game. She also has a character in LBW now and started working on the game. I think she will especially enjoy the Detective Pikachu game that just released since it’s a character she loves.

Games for Everyone in the Family

Nintendo has a reputation for making a wide variety of games that the whole family can enjoy Even my grandma has a Wii so she can do some Wii Bowling 🙂 Favorites like Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda, Pokemon and more help ensure that your kids can experience the wonder of video games without worry.

The Nintendo 2DS XL fits right in; you can play any of the 3DS games, along with many of the DS games. You can even relive cherished memories by playing games from previous systems with versions on the Virtual Console.

I love when companies make their new systems backward-compatible. New technology is awesome, but it can be hard if you are supposed to forget all of the games you already own and just buy new ones. Do note that the 3DS games won’t show in 3D.

So Easy to Take Everywhere

One feature of the standard 2DS that I wasn’t quite sold on is it is one piece. They did make it very sturdy to help account for the tendency of kids to drop it and otherwise put it through the wringer, but I tend to be a worrywart.Of course, I could get a carrying case, but that would add bulk and I already need to tote around so much.

The 2DS XL is an improved version in 2 important ways; not only is the screen much larger than the 2DS, the system folds over. I feel safer when my kids are both trying to run off with it to play games or it’s stashed in my purse or diaper bag.

We took it with us on a recent trip and loved how portable it is. The battery lasted through plane flights, hours of playing after the kids went to bed, in the car. I didn’t have to recharge too often. Huzzah!

Amiibo Support

Are you a fan of these little figures that can get you bonuses in your favorite games? We have enjoyed using our Princess Zelda one on the Switch, so I am looking forward to getting ones that will work with games on this system. Which one do you prefer?

Playing the Nintendo 2DS XL

Watch Videos on the Go and Check Internet

Sometimes it can be hard when you take little kids places and they get bored. This usually leads to acting out, tears, and other frustrations. They could certainly be enticed to play some video games for a bit, but the 2DS XL has other magical features.Netflix: I downloaded it for free in the eStore and logged in to see how well it worked. It did seem to take a little bit longer booting up than it does on our TV, but I didn’t have any issues watching some Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Now I can drool a little over Chris Pratt on the go… I mean, let the kids see their favorite TV shows. Yeah, that’s it… 🙂

YouTube: I had a similar experience while using their YouTube app. Slightly slower loading, but the video of Ro making X-Men Pretzels on her Nerdy Nummies show looked very clear. Sound is a bit low for my liking (as you might imagine from such a little device), but there is a headphone jack that will help mitigate this.

Hulu: You can also download this app if you subscribe to Hulu. My girls are a big fan of the cartoon Dot, which features a tech-savvy little girl. Seems perfect for playing on this machine.

Checking the Internet on the Nintendo 2DS XL

Internet: There is also a browser that you can use to visit websites. I checked out this very blog to see what it looked like. Your child could look up facts on the go like the life cycle of a butterfly or names of the different Pokemon.

It took me a bit to find the stylus (it’s on the side nearest you on the bottom half…look for a little black ridge to pull it out) and at first, I thought it had been left off. This makes it much easier to type out URLs and search terms, as well as playing some games.

It might look a little wonky since most websites won’t be optimizing for these types of devices, but it is serviceable. (Don’t worry, there are parental controls available to help control this if you don’t want them checking the Internet without you around.)

There’s also a camera onboard. I did find that the results were a bit grainy, but ZZ is prone to secretly taking pictures with my iPhone, so this can whet her appetite instead. I was able to use it to customize a Mii of, well, me!

Yes, There are Parental Controls

If you want to make sure you get your turn* that your kids aren’t getting into trouble, there are parental controls available to help you set limits. You can create a pin so they have to get you to unlock it first.

You are also able to determine which games they can play according to ratings, restrict them from buying (ZZ is way too good at accidentally buying things on mobile games), whether or not they can play with non-friends online and more.

*Mom told us years later that she would insist we had to do our homework before video games in part because she wanted to make sure that she got a turn playing. Still gaming to this day. 🙂

The Bottom Line: It’s a Winner

If you are looking for a portable video game system that will be appealing to the whole family, you can’t go wrong with the 2DS XL. Fabulous games and other media options can help safely introduce your little ones into the wonderful world of video gaming, but still be challenging enough for adults. Get your game on today with the awesome Nintendo 2DS XL!

Leave me ALL THE COMMENTS…I have so many questions. Do you have one yet? What games do you recommend? What was your first Nintendo game? How old were you? Mario or Link? Favorite Pokemon?

Tags: Nintendo, Nintendo 2DS XL, video games

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