Nintendo took gamers by surprise Wednesday when it suddenly announced plans to release a new handheld gaming console on October 12, little more than a month before rival console developers Sony and Microsoft put their next-generation systems on the market.
Nintendo said that the 2DS will be compatible with all 3DS games, but will be different from its current reigning champion in a few key ways. At $129, it's a good $50 cheaper than the 3DS, but as the new system's name suggest, it will not support the same three-dimensional visual effects that the 3DS has. And while the 2DS still have the DS's iconic two-screen display, Nintendo has tweaked the form factor of the 2DS to make it a flat slate-like tablet that can't bend like its predecessors.
Given the fact that the DS family is already a critical and commercial success for Nintendo, making a new handheld struck some gamers as a peculiar choice. The 2DS may take the company's time and resources away from helping its beleaguered home console counterpart, the markedly less successful Wii U. But speaking in an interview with the influential gaming blog Kotaku, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said that the point of the 2DS was to make a more family-friendly and cost-sensitive model for children to start out with, calling it "an entry-level handheld gaming system."
Nintendo also announced a $50 price drop for the Wii U, which will bring the console's price down to $299.99 starting Sept. 20.
Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at: Yannick.LeJacq@nbcuni.com.