It's understandable if you're checking the date right now to make sure this isn't an April Fool's joke, but the Nintendo 2DS is a very real handheld console hitting store shelves soon. Nintendo plans to sell the 2DS alongside the regular 3DS and 3DS XL as a slightly cheaper alternative for families with small children. To save on costs though, the new game system drops a few key features of the current portable console line-up, most notably the clamshell design and the glasses-free 3D screen.

For the most part, the 2DS functions almost exactly like the 3DS, but with some reduced features and a different button layout. The most obvious change is that this new handheld doesn't fold in half like its predecessors and has a more tablet-like design, which limits its portability somewhat. It has the same screen sizes as an ordinary 3DS – 3.53 in (8.96 cm) for the top one and 3.02 in (7.67 cm) for the bottom – and measures 5 in (12.7 cm) long, 5.67 in (14.4 cm) wide, and 0.8 in (2.03 cm) thick.

The next major adjustment is the removal of the 3D visuals entirely, meaning all 3DS games will play as if the 3D slider was turned all the way down. This move seems aimed specifically at children under the age of seven, since there's been some concern over whether 3D images affect their eyesight at that age. Considering many people play games on their 3DS with the 3D turned off anyway, not everyone will miss this feature.

Other than these changes though, Nintendo's handheld will be able to play both DS and 3DS games, connect to the internet wirelessly, and even take 3D pictures with its dual cameras (which won't be viewable in 3D on the console of course). It even retains a similar battery life to the 3DS with 3.5 to 5.5 hours of gameplay on a single charge. The 2DS also has an added switch to put it into sleep mode and only one speaker for mono sound, though stereo audio will still be available through headphones.

It's seems like a slightly odd product, even for Nintendo, although removing the hinges might make a sense if you've ever seen a five-year old slam a DS closed as if there was a spider on it. And with a cheaper cost, the company may be hoping to get a handheld into more childrens' hands ahead of some upcoming kid-friendly titles like Mario Party: Island Tour, Pokemon X/Y, and a new Adventure Time game.

The Nintendo 2DS will be available worldwide in red and blue color schemes on October 12 at a price of US$129.99, which is $40 less than a 3DS right now. Each console will come with a stylus, charger, 4GB SDHC card, and several AR cards. The company is also offering matching carrying cases for $12.99 each to keep the front of the device protected.

Check out the video below to see more on how the Nintendo 2DS looks and plays.

Product page: Nintendo

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