(USA TODAY) -- When covering video games, sometimes judging with your hands is more important than with your eyes or ears.
It's hard not to review the Nintendo 2DS -- launching Oct. 12 for $130 -- without seeming a bit puzzled. Forget that there's no 3-D capability (hence the 2DS name). This version of Nintendo's popular handheld ditches the clamshell design. So, instead of opening and closing the handheld as you would with 3DS and earlier DS models, the 2DS arrives with a slate form factor.
Nintendo offered a demo of the 2DS recently, featuring several games includingMario Kart, Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon.
While the 2DS retains the same dual screens, the device feels lighter and thinner. With the hinges gone, the thumbstick, directional pad and face buttons have been moved up. Two larger shoulder buttons sit on top, while the mic has moved to the lower left. Also, the 2DS trades in the switch to turn wireless functionality on and off for a Sleep switch.
Pretty much everything about the 2DS remains the same as the 3DS, including the stylus, the cameras that can still shoot images in 3-D, software options such as Nintendo Shop and other features. Only two things are missing: 3-D viewing -- which few players might miss -- and the clamshell design.
Still scratching your head about the slate design? So was I. Then I held the device and started playing some games. It's surprisingly comfortable, fitting snugly between two hands whether you're racing go-karts or exploring a scary mansion.
My lone, minor concern is protecting the screens now that there's no way to close the device. Nintendo will sell carrying cases separately for 2DS, but curious how those screens hold up in a backpack or other bag. Also, will most 3DS games work just as well in 2-D only? The first game that sprung to mind was Super Mario 3D Land, where having the 3-D view is valuable. Nothing would be more frustrating than buying a 3DS game for 2DS and learning that extra dimension would prove very useful in having a positive experience.
At $130, the 2DS could prove a huge seller for Nintendo, targeting customers seeking an affordable video game option for themselves or their kids. Based on my brief experience, the 2DS design doesn't seem to detract from the great selection of DS and 3DS titles available. We'll have more details on the 2DS performance when it arrives on October 12.