Moving to the Nintendo 2DS XL

My big Christmas gift this year from my wife was a Nintendo 2DS XL.  I mentioned this unit previously as it seemed an attractive addition to the Nintendo handheld family.

The 2DS XL

The word “New” in the “New Nintendo 2DS XL” indicates, in one of those confusing naming schemes, that the unit is part of the current generation of Nintendo 3DS hardware that includes several upgrades, including new controls, Amiibo support, and an upgraded CPU, the last being a key selling point for me. (Also, it should not be confused with the slab-like Nintendo 2DS, a different beast entirely.)

This unit replaced my old, first generation Nintendo 3DS XL.

The buttons I was missing on my older unit

The first of the “New” generation of 3DS hardware showed up on our shores back in 2015 and I have been eyeing them since the latest generations of the Pokemon series… and all I ever really played on my Nintendo handhelds over the years is Pokemon… started to seem like too much for the older processor.  Load times, scene transitions, and points during the story when there was a lot going happening on screen were noticeably slowed down.

This has actually been the case since Pokemon X & Y, so I started to consider the new hardware once it was announced, but really stuck out with Pokemon Sun & Moon.  However, my Pokemon playing tends to be a seasonal thing… I play for a few months, finish up the Pokedex, then stop until the bug hits me again or a new release shows up.

However, the new New 2DS XL seemed liked a good point to finally make the upgrade.  The 2DS XL has all the stuff of the “new” generation, lacking only one thing, 3D support and, frankly, 3D is a very minor gimmick with Pokemon titles.  The 3D slider on my 3DS XL was set to “off” probably in excess of 99% of the time.  Meanwhile the price of the 2DS XL was a good $50 less than the same generation 3DS XL.  For $50 I was quite willing to give up 3D support.  So it was on my wish list and showed up for Christmas.

Of course, once I had it I had to move everything from my old 3DS XL to the new 2DS XL.  Nintendo has a few options for that, one involving simply moving the SD card from the old unit to the new.  However, my old 3DS uses a standard size SD card while the “New” generation uses micro SD cards, so that swap wasn’t an option.

Furthermore, as I quickly found out, I had upgraded the SD card on my old unit to a 32GB model, the largest officially supported by Nintendo, and have used up a chunk of the space by purchasing a few titles, including the new Pokemon UltraMoon, from the online Nintendo shop, so they are stored locally rather than being on a cartridge.

The 2DS XL however not only had a micro SD card (SD card in my DS?), but the factory default size was a meager-in-2017 4GB in size.  I remember seeing my first 1GB hard drive back in 1990 and it was the size of a cinder block, so sometimes I have to check myself when I complain that 4GB is “small.”  Anyway, I had to order a 32GB micro SD for the 2DS XL.

Once that arrived I set it up and started the big transfer.  I decided to do it over Wifi because that seemed to require the least intervention on my part which meant, I hoped, the least chance of me screwing anything up.

There is a built-in process that allows you to do the transfer, you just have to setup the sending and receiving systems, get them in sync, and kick off the process.

The two units warming up…

The first attempt failed… though not because the time was an hour off on the units.  Something timed out on the first attempt and it punted the process.  However, on the second attempt things seemed to get connected correctly.

Of course, because it is Nintendo, there has to be a cute progress graphic.  In this one little people “build” the progress milestones.

Building our way to the 25% mark

After that seemed to be going, I went off to watch a movie with my wife.  Of course, because it the transfer was happening over Wifi and involved gigabytes of data it took a while, running out to the three hour mark easily.

Working on the 75% milestone a couple hours later

It is definitely a process you don’t want to sit around and watch or set in motion when you have a time constraint.  And clearly it is something to do with the power supply plugged in on both units.

In the end however, the transfer was successful.  All of my applications and user information was moved over successfully.  The process then wipes the old devices, so you don’t have double versions of things, and then you are done.

After that was done I finally got to try out the unit and I have mostly good things to say about it.

It is fast, noticeably so compared to the old unit, and is physically much lighter as well.  The screens are good, the case is easier to grip than the slick surface or the original design.  I really only have two gripes after using it for a couple weeks now.

First, and the more minor of the two, is the cartridge slot.  That slot has traditionally been uncovered and on the back of DS units since at least the Nintendo DS Lite.  On the 2DS XL it is on the front left of the unit under a very cheap feeling cover.  I suspect that if I changed cartridges often that the cover would break sooner rather than later.  It is really a flimsy piece on an otherwise solid unit.  Fortunately, I don’t swap cartridges all that often.

The second gripe is about the new stylus that comes with the unit, which is smaller than the one on the 3DS XL.  I have big hands, so it took me a while to get used to the old stylus.  Swapping that out for an even stubbier little stylus is a bit of a pain.  And given that this comes up in every review of the unit I’ve seen, I suspect I am hardly alone in being unhappy with this change.

Also, because even the old stylus is a bit small, I’ve lost a couple over the years, so I bought a bag of 20 replacements a while back which work with the new unit, but which do not fit into the stylus slot.  I can use my grandfather’s bottle opener strategy out on the farm, where he made sure there was one within reach of any place he might want to open a beer.  I have enough left in my supply to put one or two near any location where I play.  I just have to worry about them getting swept up or stolen by the cats.

Other than that I have found the unit to be an excellent replacement for my old 3DS XL and would recommend it as a possible path forward for anybody on the older hardware who didn’t care about the 3D feature.  It certainly satisfies my Pokemon playing needs.

5 thoughts on “Moving to the Nintendo 2DS XL

  1. flosch

    Wow, a 1GB hard drive in 1990? I don’t doubt this must’ve been a huge apparatus. Full-height, no doubt? (For those who don’t know: “full height” used to indicate the height of two five-and-a-quarter inch slots stacked.) I remember I got my first PC around that time, and it had a 40 MB hard drive. Ok, so it was a pretty low-end machine, but still…


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Around then we were starting to see a lot of the 3.5″ third height drives in the 40MB to 80MB range, but bigger drives were all still 5.25″ in size. The big drive was a 1.2GB (unformatted) Fujitsu unit that was full height and 5.25″. It weighed a lot and the spinning of all those disks had a very firm gyroscopic effect if you picked the unit up while it was running. It was pretty loud too. I think the raw unit was $1,200 retail at the time. Fujitsu made good drives back then though. Their 40MB units ran forever. I still have a 520MB unit in an external case in my closet that will probably still spin up, I just don’t have a SCSI connector on my PC to read from it.

    My first hard drive was an external 70MB Rodime 5.25″ unit I bought for my Mac SE back in 1987. That ran for $999 back then, in an external powered case.


  3. Aywren Sojourner

    Congrats on the new handheld! I also have a first generation Nintendo 3DS XL, and if I were to ever update, this would be the exact system I’d pick up for myself. I’m far too into my Switch right now to pay a whole lot of mind to my poor 3DS, though. So, what I have is good enough for the time being.

    Hope you enjoy! :)


  4. Mattexl

    I’m also not very happy with the 2DS XL Stylus. Two things in addition to the smaller size:
    1) The end of the stylus has sharp edges that dig into my hand when I try to use it. Not comfortable at all, compared to the smoother end of the prior generations replacement styluses, of which I have a rainbows worth of colors.
    2) The storage location of the stylus on the bottom of the unit as opposed to the side. Before it was literally in the palm of my hand while I was using the thumb-stick, so I could slip it out (say during Ever Oasis when I needed to make some menu selections) and then slide it back in without even thinking. Now I have to fumble around to find it on the bottom of the unit to take it out, use it, and then fumble it back in. Terrible choice to move it, IMO.

    Not super happy with these design flaws, and I’m still playing on my Zelda Gold 3DS XL. Luckily I haven’t really noticed a lot of slow down in the newer games I’ve been poking around in. Load times may take a bit longer, but the actual game play isn’t effected. I know I’ll eventually just have to suck it up and get used to the new design, but I’ll hold out for a while longer.


  5. Rian

    The New 2DS XL is the best for me, even I choose DS than 3DS.

    While using 3DS, I never using the 3D, because it looks weird in my eyes, and after a couple minutes I got headache and want to throw up, not joking.


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