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Nintendo DSi, an evolution in gaming

April 6, 2009

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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It has a black and matte finish. I was sold before I even laid my hands on Nintendo's latest version of the DS.

Okay, I am not that shallow but the colour choice really did help. In my world, black rules.

Nintendo DSiFirst things first, I was never a fan of the introduction of the GameBoy Micro or in some ways the DS Lite. To me, they weren't that technological advanced in any area and maybe not worth the upgrade depending on what was of value to you. The machines just looked a lot nicer and maybe those models should have been held back until Nintendo could offer more changes worth writing home about.

The same cannot be said of the new DSi handheld gaming console that is now available in stores. The DSi is a whole new experience that surpasses the DS by leaps and bounds. Visionaries that they are, the developers at Nintendo included some tremendous features in the DSi that have upped the ante when it comes to the world of handheld gaming.

Nintendo DSiThe biggest addition is the ability to download games. Just like you do with the Wii, you can connect to the Nintendo Shop via the Internet and buy or download games or other applications directly to your DSi or an SD card. Some selections like the 'Nintendo DSI Web Browser' are currently free while games like 'Brain Age Express: Math' and 'WarioWare: Snapped!' will cost you Nintendo DSi points.

To sweeten the pot, if you purchase a DSi and log on to the store before Oct. 5, 2009, you will be given 1000 points for free. That snappy Nintendo Store music though is still free of charge.
Of the current downloads, 'WarioWare: Snapped!' is the one to spend some coin on. It is the first game to make full use of the DSi's new built-in cameras that capture your every movement so you can virtually interact with your body not a controller of any kind. By shaking your head back and forth, a dog on the DSi screen will dry its fur off or by reaching out into the thin air with your hands, you can gather coins thanks to the built-in camera. One cannot wait to see what developers will do now that they have interactive cameras to work with. If nothing else, your in-games icons or models will look more like you. In my case, I don't really know if that is a good thing or not. I hear DSi screens can be kind of expensive to replace.

Nintendo DSiCameras, you say? Yes, I was getting ahead of myself. There are two 0.3-megapixel cameras: one on the outside of the lid and one inside where the microphone on the DS Lite used to be. Incorporated into the DSi is a simple photo editing suite that will blow your mind. You can distort images, paste glasses, moustaches or other goofy items onto people's faces. You can merge two faces together or even alter the colour of objects in your photos. 

Can you say hours and hours of shameless fun? Oh, yeah.

The audio suite is as fun but has its limitations. The DSi does not support MP3 files (Boo! Hiss!) but only AAC and the sound recorder is set to just ten seconds. The DSi can act as your desktop music player though and has some neat visualizations to play while you are rocking out. Gamers will love the Excite Bike and Mario Brothers ones.

All of these new upgrades come with a price though, I small one, if you ask me. The GameBoy cartridge slot is history. Not only will you not be able to play those GameBoy cartridges but there is no place for game peripherals like the 'Guitar Hero' grip pad any more.

Nintendo DSiToo bad. So sad. Let's move into the year 2000 and finally say goodbye to the GameBoy system. You were great while you lasted but I am guessing we might see our favourite titles again appearing in the Nintendo Store or possibly special collections. No great loss.

There are other changes too. The screens are bigger and brighter. The power button is an actual button located inside the machine. Two buttons control the volume now. The unit feels slightly more compact. Fully charged the battery lasts for 14 hours. Still, to me, it is all about the technology and the DSi is enough of a leap forward to justify plunking down $200 for the two new cameras, the SD slot and especially, the ability to download software.


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