For the second time since it originally launched the machine, the DSi sees Nintendo restyling its popular handheld console and adding fresh ideas and features to give it a further burst of life.
In this case, it’s added a few things. There are two cameras, there’s web access, there’s a smaller chassis, the facility to download games onto SD card and the small matter of smacking £50 onto the asking price. Heck, nothing in this life comes for free…
At heart, of course, it’s still the Nintendo DS, and the foldable handheld is still based around two screens, one of which you touch with the supplied stylus. This time, though, Nintendo has managed to make the machine even smaller, albeit at the expense of the Game Boy Advance cartridge slot.
It’s also built in two cameras, so that you can snap away to your heart’s content and then fiddle with the pictures once you’ve taken them. That said, you’d be daft to try. The resolution is so ridiculously poor that you’d get something better out of pretty much any mobile phone. Being able to play with audio doesn’t lift things, either.
The wireless improvements are far more welcome, though, and we managed to hook our DSi up to a test wireless network in a matter of minutes (we needed to go through advanced options to navigate wireless network security, though).
From there, we made our way through to the DSi online store, where we found that Nintendo had bestowed upon us 1,000 points to get us started. We also found that the store was pretty bare, with just six items on launch day. It’ll fill up in time, but in the interim we downloaded the DSi web browser to keep us busy.
It was easy to do, too, and you’re told how much of the machine’s in-built memory would be required (there’s just 256MB available in the machine, but you can extend capacity through the aforementioned SD cards). The download screen was fun, with Mario characters filling a tank up with water to tell you how long you had left, and the browser was then up and running in fairly short time.
Again, in practice the web browser had more of a novelty feel (although the interface is good to get around the limited display size of the screen), but the idea of downloading games to the machine is a potentially terrific expansion of the DSi’s capabilities. It’s certainly done the likes of the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii the world of good, and can’t hurt the DS either. It’s arguably the main selling point of this updated console.
Elsewhere, there’s been a bit of reorganisation. The power slider is now a power switch, and likewise the volume isn’t controlled by sliders any more. But while these are good moves, they’re not compelling reasons for an upgrade.
Which thus leaves us wondering whether the addition of the DSi store, the main reason to buy Nintendo’s new handheld, is worth a £50 premium? On its own it isn’t, sadly. And while the DS is still a formidable handheld machine, it might be that for the time being the best thing the DSi can do for us is push the price of the perfectly grand DS Lite down a few quid.