Nintendo is doing a very interesting thing with their two newest game consoles, the Wii Mini, out November 19, and the 2DS, already available. Basically, this pair seems to be going backward technologically, with both the Wii Mini and the 2DS lacking the bells and whistles of the Wii U and the 3DS, respectively.
However, a second glance reveals some definite upsides to the new devices.
At first glance, the Wii Mini ($99.99) seems to have little to recommend it.
The big missing element missing is a wireless internet connection, which takes away the video streaming and on-line game play. No Netflix viewing through this device. The Mini can’t play GameCube games on it either, unlike the original Wii. (The next step up, the Wii U, doesn’t play them either.)
So, the Wii Mini is like the regular Wii but players are basically locked into just the console games, though players can still customize their avatars.
However, the Mini comes with the popular MarioKart game and the Wii Remote Plus controller and attached Nunchuk. If bought separately, MarioKart is $39.99 retail, the controller is anywhere from $35 to $45, and the Nunchuk costs between $7 to $15, for a total of around $87, give or take a dollar here or there depending on whether you buy these items used.
So for $13 more than you’d pay for a game and a new Remote Plus, Nintendo’s most advance remote, you also get a game console. That’s a pretty good deal, and so I’d recommend the Wii Mini for anyone just starting with Nintendo consoles and on a tight budget, or for anyone who wants to add a second console in the house. Or even for parents wanting to restrict their kids access to the internet. The gameplay itself is the same quality as the Wii, and it’s nicely portable too.
Then there’s the 2DS, released October 12, which steps back from the technical innovation of the 3DS and its three-dimensional gameplay. In many ways, the 2DS design is positively retro, harkening back in style to the old Gameboy Color devices.
On the negative side:
- It’s heavier than the other Nintendo portable consoles.
- 3DS games will play on it but without the fancy three-dimensional effects.
- It’s larger than any console we’ve owned, about a hand-span wide.
- It’s not foldable, so a cover is necessary to protect the screen.
However, my twins both really loved using the 2DS. Here’s why:
- The controls are easier to reach because everything is closer together than on the 3DS.
- They liked the additional weight, claiming it felt more solid and comfortable in their hands.
- They felt their games were easier in 2D mode rather than on the 3DS, because their fingers could more easily reach the controls and respond faster. My son in particular liked playing MarioKart on this because he had much better results than his previous attempts on the 2DS.
The 2DS is priced $129.99, while the 3DS starts at $169.99 and the 3DS XL version with a larger screen is $199.99.
Bottom line for the 2DS: I’d recommend it for younger children with smaller hands who are just getting started with Nintendo games.
Overall, Nintendo has devices that will cover many different gaming needs and fit the restrictions of most budgets. The real question, however, is whether today’s generation has been lured away from gaming consoles to games on smartphones and tablets. So far, my children have shown a huge fondness for the Nintendo consoles, and my youngest daughter is hooked on the new Pokemon Y game. But they started on the gaming-dedicated consoles in a time before tablets and advanced smartphones. I wonder what the generation coming up behind them will prefer.