Do you have a portable gaming system? How many games do you normally carry with you? Where do you put them? What if all you had to carry was the gaming device? Nintendo’s upgraded DS is now the DSi. Does this portable negate the popular DS Lite?
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The first thing you’ll notices is that the DSi is slightly larger than the DS Lite and slightly thinner. The screens get an extra 0.1 inches (each) over the DS Lite. The clamshell design is roughly the same; however, the thinner DSi might crack easier if you stuck it in your back pocket. The controls and overall feel of the DSi are a little light, but relatively the same as the DS Lite.
Upon further inspection, you’ll noticed that Nintendo has removed the Gameboy Advance slot from the bottom of the system. From here out, you can no longer play older GBA titles. Sadly, this shrinks the overall library. To make up for this, Nintendo pushes the online purchase of DSiWare. Like the Sony PSPGo, you can now download new games for your DSi. The number of games you can carry with you is limited by the (standard) SD card you stick in your DSi.
There are over 200 games that you can purchase through the DSiWare shop. These games range from remakes of Nintendo’s old “Game and Watch” line to the Legend of Zelda: Four Swords. Even Oregon Trail makes it into the DSiWare library. Nintendo throws out a plethora of Japanese titles that may go unappreciated by American audiences. The notion of a store works well to a degree on the DSi, but the real story is in the card games.
The top of the DSi still features the standard DS Card slot. Compatible with all standard (non-3D) DS titles, the DSi boasts over 2,000 games and growing. The current popularity of the system keeps titles like Pokemon White 2/Pokemon Black 2 and the Professor Layton series coming. If you like puzzles, the DS library has Tetris, Bejeweled, and more. Party games? Mario Party, Bomberman, and other more. Even Mario Kart has made its way to the DS library.
Like the older DS versions, you can still play some games with a single card. The DSi supports the “Download Play”. Games like Mario Kart DS will transmit a small client application that allows the game to be played on the recipient’s DS. Once again, Nintendo encourages you to share the fun.
Have you tried Pictochat? Nintendo allowed DS players to just create chat rooms where you can draw and write letters to each other using the touchscreen. You may check this out for a few minutes, but after a while, Pictochat gets old. To breath new life into chat, the DSi features two cameras. The forward facing camera allows you to take pictures of the world around you and share them with your friends. The inward facing camera lets you share your own picture with friends.
To further encourage the use of the camera, games like Pokemon Black/Pokemon White and Pokemon Black 2/Pokemon White 2 allow you to video chat with friends who also have a DSi or 3DS. This gets a little laggy at times, but it’s a fun way to put your face in the Pokemon world. Sadly, you can only video chat over the same network. Pokemon does not support video chatting with friends over the internet.
Speaking of internet, the DSi comes with its own browser. Surf Facebook, Nintendo, and other websites right from your system. In theory, this sounds great, but in practice, it fails. The DSi’s memory and processing power is too small to make browsing the web anything less than tedious. Even the improved Wifi connectivity doesn’t help here. If you really want to browse the internet on a gaming system, try the Sony Vita. The experience will be closer to the internet on your mobile phone.
But who really buys a portable gaming system to surf the web? You buy it because you like gaming. The DSi doesn’t deviate from its predecessors at all. Your L and R shoulder buttons along with A,B,X, & Y on the face feel as comfortable as your old Super Nintendo. The direction pad hasn’t changed since the original Nintendo back in the 1980’s. Apart from the touch screen, the DSi would be just another Gameboy.
So, the DSi sounds like a pretty good system so far, doesn’t it? Well, the DSi isn’t without its flaws. Remember that over 2,000 game library? Some of those games, like Band Hero, require the GBA slot for gimmick controls and peripherals. In addition to this, games like WarioWare, Yu-Gi-Oh, and other DS titles that require the GBA Slot will be unable to unlock special features. With Nintendo cutting this backward compatibility out, they’re really pushing players forward toward the next thing.
The question of purchasing a DSi or going with the DS Lite or 3DS is fairly simple. Since the DS Lite still supports backwards compatibility, its library is larger than the DSi. The 3DS plays both 3DS and DS titles, but adds all the DSiWare and (downloadable) retro games to the mix. It seems like Nintendo used the DSi as a transitional piece while on their way to the 3DS. I would recommend skipping this intermittiary of gaming evolution, and go with either the 3DS or the DSLite. Sorry Nintendo, but you should’ve just gone all out.