If Nintendo's latest handheld game system sounds like a joke, it's because it once was.
In 2011, an April Fool's Day post in an Internet gaming forum trumpeted that 2-D was "making a triumphant return to handheld gaming" in the form of the "Nintendo 2DS," a gaming device for those bored with the faddish 3-D games of the Nintendo 3DS.
Fast-forward to today, and Nintendo is debuting just such a system on Saturday. Yes, it's actually called the Nintendo 2DS.
Ironically, the real 2DS even looks like a contrived image of the faux 2DS posted back then -- two small screens and controls on a small tablet, instead of the hinged, folding design of the 3DS and its predecessor, the DS.
But the Playskool-like design of the Nintendo 2DS -- with its bright red or blue shell, rounded edges and comfortable feel in small hands -- belies its target audience: young gamers. The 2DS' $130 price, which is $40 below that of the 3DS, also caters to entry-level gamers.
Otherwise, the newest member of the Nintendo family shares many traits of its higher-priced big brother:
-- Compatibility with all 3DS games (minus the 3-D effect), as well as most games for the older DS.
-- Wi-Fi connectivity to play against other gamers online and to access the Nintendo eShop to download games and other content.
-- An SD card slot (a 4-gigabyte card is included) to store saved games and downloads.
-- Front- and rear-facing cameras.
Of course, the 2DS also offers parental controls, reflecting Nintendo's family-friendly approach.
On the downside, the 2DS' sole speaker pales next to the 3DS' stereo sound, but young kids probably won't care.
Will the 2DS catch on, or will it become the black sheep of the Nintendo DS family? It's impossible to say at this point.
Consider this, though: Gamers once joked about the 3DS being a fad, but its popularity has never waned. In fact, the 3DS has been the top-selling game system of any kind for the past four months, according to sales figures compiled by the industry-tracking NPD Group.
By targeting the youngest gamers with the 2DS, Nintendo just might have the last laugh.