BS1_njOCMAAO3yjMulling over Nintendo’s newest handheld.

After a Wii U price drop, the last thing anyone expected was a hardware announcement on the same day. The 2DS, a sister handheld to the 3DS, is not marketed to anyone likely reading this blog. It’s meant for a certain type of crowd: the young ones. Specifically those under the age of seven, to whom stereoscopic 3D can be dangerous.

The handheld is an ideal piece of hardware for those still in primary school. It resembles a Fisher Price toy, one big and beautiful block so kids can’t hurt themselves on the 3DS’ hinges. It plays all DS and 3DS games, only not actually in 3D (hence the awkward but similarly sounding name). Lastly, it’s the perfect product for whom currently bastes in the thralls of technology. If parents don’t want to get their kindergarteners a cellphone or tablet, why not go for a 2DS instead?

(You know humanity is going to hell when children under ten earn their social status by having a smartphone.)

Like the 3DS XL is meant for those with feeble eyesight, the 2DS is marketed to a specific audience. It’s Nintendo’s way of further soaking up handheld sales, the company’s lonely strength right now. In other words, the big N is hedging its bets.

The price is where things get interesting. At $130, it’s one of the cheapest pieces of hardware ever released by Nintendo. It may even be the cheapest. The 2DS retails for $40 lower than its 3D-bearing brethren, and contains everything except 3D. It is worth noting though that 3DS games are more expensive than mobile, so there is a trade-off.

I find it difficult to root against Nintendo here. Even though the 3DS has the option to turn off 3D, children that fool around with the handheld may accidentally turn it on. In releasing this, if Nintendo had parental complaints in mind, it makes perfect sense. If not then the firm has a good eye. Its playful appearance attracts thoughts of childhood toys, being a perfect segue to get young kids into playing and enjoying games. And for parents who fall into the unsightly trap of thinking games with weapons, gangsters and a big “M” on the cover are suitable for someone in grade school.

Nintendo hardware tends to have an uproarious response. Unlike the Wii U, Nintendo has a firm grip on the handheld market. The 2DS is just a product of that dominance, a targeted machine that would be unsuccessful otherwise. It may be, also, the last dagger in the Vita’s heart.

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