Nintendo DSi Review

Posted on June 1, 2009

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About a month ago, I unboxed the new Nintendo DSi handheld gaming system and started playing around with it. Now, after a month and quite a few hours spent gaming, I will finally give you a tour of the system and a review.

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The Specs

The DSi sports two cameras (one on the outer shell and one inside where the mic used to be on the old DS Lite). Both cameras have a 1.3 megapixel resolution and produce decent pictures in well lit environments.

The DSi is slightly thinner and longer than the DS Lite, making it more comfortable to hold than before.

17c6f15bd9fac57f0b2e98fb07c75499 Also, the DSi has a slightly larger screen than the DS Lite (3.25 inches vs 3.0 inches). Not very noticeable if you have never owned a lite before, but if you compare the two side by side then you can see the difference.

Some minor changes include the power slider turning into a button and going to the bottom left corner of the system (much like the DS original). Also the volume slider has become a button as well, much like the PSP. However, I find that the volume goes up and down in large increments, rather than having the precision control of the slider.

Ahh, but let’s not forget one of the coolest features of the DSi, the SD card slot where the power slider used to be! I can already smell some great hacking possibilities…

Unfortunately there is now no GBA cartridge slot on the DSi, so you might want to keep your DS Lite handy for playing those games. However, I would like it if Nintendo created a GBA virtual console for the DSi, just to keep that great system alive…

The Features

Now, you might remember the DS and DS Lite’s menu system. Yes, that horrible menu system that required you to restart the whole system every time you saved a change. Madness! Well, now with the new DSi, you get a spiced up menu system that eliminates hassles like those, and also is a bit more fun.

nintendo-dsi-xmbAs you can see, the DSi menu is much like the Wii channel system. With different “channels” for everything. The default channels in order from left to right are: System Settings, Game, Camera, Sound, DSiWare Shop, Pictochat and Download play.

System Settings are where you can change your wireless internet settings, brightness settings, parental control settings and more. It also eliminates the hassle of turning your system off for every change you save!

The game icon is pretty straightforward. Click on it and play! However, a new feature of the DSi is that games can be taken out and put back in while the system is turned on without freezing the system. If you are in the middle of a game and it pops out, you will return to the menu screen. Also, if you want to get back to the main menu while inside the game, just press the power button! The screen will flash white and then you will appear at the menu. Holding the power button will turn the system on/off.

The camera icon is where all the camera stuff is done. Click on it, and you will see two icons on the bottom– Camera, which will take you to the main camera screen and let you take pictures if you click on it. The second icon is the Album icon. Clicking on it will take you to your album, showing you all the pictures that you’ve taken and also allowing you to edit them with a bunch of cool effects. You can also tag images (tagged images show up on the top screen of your DSi in random order when you are in the main menu) and delete images.

The sound “channel” lets you record and edit sounds. You can change the pitch and tempo of the sounds after they are recorded. You can also apply a bunch of cool preset effects to the sounds. The maximum length of each sound clip is 30 seconds.

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The DSiWare shop is the handheld equivalent of the Wii Shop Channel. You use your Nintendo Points (Formerly known as Wii points) to buy DSiWare games. These are fun little pick up and play games mostly, however there are some full games on here too. Right now there aren’t many, however keep looking over the next few months to see the titles come flocking in!

Titles are sorted by price. There’s the free category (Currently only the DSi Web Browser is there), then 200 points, then 500 points and finally 800 points or more.

Also, Nintendo decided to give out 1000 free Nintendo Points to anyone who gets a DSi before October 25th,2009! (Some people are saying that the date is June 2010, but that isn’t true. It says October 25th right on the DSi box!).

Pictochat hasn’t changed much on the DSi. However if you double tap the pencil icon you can write in rainbow ink! Try this and impress your DS Lite owning friends!

Also, if you send a message to a DS Lite or DS owner over pictochat, the sound that it makes when they recieve the message is slightly different. Try it out!

Download play remains completely unchanged over the years. Just tap the icon and enjoy multiplayer fun with your friends!

DSi Web Browser

Remember the old $50 DS and DS Lite web browser that you had to go out to the store to buy? And it required that memory enhancing pack to run? Yeah, those were the days.

Luckily, those days are over! Thanks to the DSi’s improved online capabilities, the DSi has a free web browser! It isn’t built into the system though, you have to download it on the DSiWare Shop in the free section.

This browser is way faster than the other, older versions. Built on the Opera foundation, it houses some cool features that you’ll love! However, I’m not going to list them here. Just check out my video review of it (coming out in the next few weeks) to see that.

Final Thoughts & Flaws

Well, the DSi handheld gaming system offers many cool new features such as the DSiWare Store and the Cameras. As well as bigger screens and the SD card slot. But it also has some flaws. Here are some of my problems with the system listed below:

Shorter Battery life –

The DSi has a battery life of 14 hours with the brightness set to the lowest level, internet turned off and the volume at minimum. Now, although this is impressive, It is quite a bit less than the DS Lite’s battery life of 19 hours at minimum settings. However, I find that this is still a very good battery life. After owning this system for 2 months and playing it casually for only about 30 minutes to an hour each day, I have only had to charge it four times.

No Game Boy Advance Slot – The DSi gave the good old GBA slot the boot after nintendo claimed that it would improve the thin design. However, I say that I would rather have the GBA slot back and gain a few millimeters than have to swap systems every time I feel an urge to blast some space pirates in Metroid Fusion or level up my Venusaur in Pokemon Leafgreen. Also, the GBA slot plays key roles in some DS games too! You use it to migrate Pokemon from older GBA games into your new Pokemon Diamond or Pearl games, you also use it for the rumble pack and Guitar Hero: World Tour! Now I know that the death of the GBA slot is the price to pay for innovation, but it still saddens me that the worlds best handheld gaming system is finally gone. Goodbye Game Boy.

That is all the bad stuff I have to say about the DSi! Not a very big list, right? Why? Because the DSi RULES! If you own a DS or DS Lite and have $180 to spare then I really reccomend you to upgrade. Just don’t get rid of your old DS if you want to play games that use the GBA slot.


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Posted in: Gaming