August 29, 2013, 6:00 AM —
Nintendo was certainly full of surprises yesterday, dropping a couple of bombshells on us. The first was 100% good news: a price cut on the Deluxe Edition of the Wii U, which will be $299.99 starting on September 20th. There is no price cut for the Basic Edition which will remain at $299.99, so beware when you're out shopping. You don't want the Basic Edition.
There's also going to be a $299.99 "The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD Bundle" that includes a Deluxe Wii U and a digital copy of the the titular game, plus a digital version of a book about Hyrule (where the game takes place). It sounds like this bundle might not have some of the extras of the regular Wii U Deluxe, like the GamePad or Wii U Stands, but that's not 100% clear. This bundle is apparently a Gamestop exclusive and is available for pre-order now.
The other big news was the announcement of the Nintendo 2DS. This is a handheld device capable of playing Nintendo 3DS titles, only without the 3D part (the Nintendo 3DS has a slider that lets you control how much of the 3D effect you see, including the ability to turn it off, so all Nintendo 3DS games should work fine in 2D). The Nintendo 2DS will retail for $129.99, which is $40 cheaper than the 3DS. The 2DS arrives on October 12th.
But here's where things go a little wonky with the 2DS. It's not a clamshell device; instead it's a slab of plastic with two screens on it. That means it's a lot less portable than the 3DS; you'll need some kind of case for it if you don't want the screen to get all scratched up (it looks like it does come with a foam sleeve, so at least that doesn't mean any extra cost).
This is a curious design to me. The first thing I thought when I read about the 2DS is that parents will be really happy to have a much-cheaper handheld game console, since children are more apt to break/lose their handheld than adults are. So it would be a great kid's handheld if it shut like a 3DS, but leaving those screens exposed all the time means it's going to get broken even faster than a 3DS.
I'm curious what it feels like to handle the 2DS. The 'shoulder buttons' are up top, as are most of the other controls. That means you'll grip the thing from the top and let the bottom hang down, which seems a little backwards. I don't know about you but when I'm holding a tablet with two hands in a portrait orientation, I tend to hold it somewhere between the middle and the bottom. On the other hand, gripping it with your fingers at the top means the heels of your hands can easily help support it, so maybe it'll be fine. Probably it'll be fine; Nintendo doesn't often screw up ergonomics.
Basically I love the idea of ditching 3D and saving $40, I just wish Nintendo had been able to deliver a clamshell device that you can snap shut and throw in a bag or a pocket and not worry about.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this device, so please leave a comment. And do you think a $50 price cut will help the Wii U start to gain traction? Most of all...how did Nintendo get the 2DS so close to launch without any leaks? Maybe Sony and Microsoft need some lessons from Nintendo execs!
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.