By Brett Molina, USA TODAY

When covering video games, sometimes judging with your hands is more important than with your eyes or ears.

It'shard 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 handheldditches the clamshell design. So, instead of opening and closing thehandheld as you would with 3DS and earlier DS models, the 2DS arriveswith a slate form factor.

Nintendo offered a demo of the 2DS recently, featuring several games including Mario Kart, Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon.

Whilethe 2DS retains the same dual screens, the device feels lighter andthinner. With the hinges gone, the thumbstick, directional pad and facebuttons 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 theswitch to turn wireless functionality on and off for a Sleep switch.

Prettymuch everything about the 2DS remains the same as the 3DS, includingthe stylus, the cameras that can still shoot images in 3-D, softwareoptions such as Nintendo Shop and other features. Only two things aremissing: 3-D viewing -- which few players might miss -- and theclamshell design.

Still scratching your head about the slate design? So was I. Then Iheld the device and started playing some games. It's surprisinglycomfortable, fitting snugly between two hands whether you're racinggo-karts or exploring a scary mansion.

My lone, minor concern isprotecting the screens now that there's no way to close the device.Nintendo will sell carrying cases separately for 2DS, but curious howthose screens hold up in a backpack or other bag. Also, will most 3DSgames work just as well in 2-D only? The first game that sprung to mindwas Super Mario 3D Land, where having the 3-D view is valuable.Nothing would be more frustrating than buying a 3DS game for 2DS andlearning that extra dimension would prove very useful in having apositive experience.

At $130, the 2DS could prove a huge sellerfor Nintendo, targeting customers seeking an affordable video gameoption for themselves or their kids. Based on my brief experience, the2DS design doesn't seem to detract from the great selection of DS and3DS titles available. We'll have more details on the 2DS performancewhen it arrives on October 12.

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