Weekend Playlist: A Rare Hardware Launch – Nintendo DSi Review

All DSi units come with this photo installed.  Isn't that weird?

All DSi units come with this photo installed. Isn't that weird?

So, I’ll get right to it for this week’s Weekend Playlist: I played a lot of Nintendo DSi.

How does this weird new Nintendo handheld fare? Check out my mini review.

I decided to head on over to a midnight launch at a local shop to check out the scene. Well, there really was no scene to be had, except for a handful of customers and a pair of glassy-eyed shop clerks. It was not met with too much fanfare in this neck of the woods. I probably should have hopped a train to Nintendo World and checked it out there, but it was too late to do that. I forked over my cash and headed home with my new toy.

Let me start by saying that this is the first turquoise blue handheld I have ever owned. I have an ice-blue Gameboy Pocket, but that’s just SOOOO different. I love the color of the handheld, and I admit I was very skeptical of the matte finish, having really loved the glossy white DS (still do), but the finish on this device is very nice indeed. Paired with the lovely blue color, on the outside this thing is already a winner.

Opening the DSi, I notice the system’s return to clicky-buttons, just like the DS Phat. This isn’t really a bad thing per-say, however, the buttons need to be pressed with just a tad more pressure than the old ones, and “rocking” your thumb over Y and B to run and jump in Mario Games (you know what I’m talking about) needs a bit more effort and could lead to some strain. Nonetheless, the feeling of a solid build is there. This does feel like a far less fragile unit than the DS Lite. Something about it just says “qua-li-tay.”

So I fire it up. The DSi definitely wants to get to know you. I entered a bunch of info, ranging from name to birthday to favorite color. I was slightly disappointed when the DSi didn’t buy me dinner, even. (You better call me soon, you son of a bitch!)

I head right into the DSi Shop and am gifted 1,000 Points to do some shopping (thanks, Nintendo!) At first glance I don’t see anything I really want, but the lure of free minigames becomes too strong and I buy Birds & Beans and Aquia.

The two games I chose are pretty solid. Both have pretty addicting qualities to them, and I think are probably worth the total of (the free) 700 points I spent. Still have 300 left that will take a bite out of something bigger and better to come down the line.

I then play around with the sound functions. Eh, nothing really fun to be had here, I must admit. Yeah, you can record your voice and make it sound wacky and zany. I guess thats sort of fun for kids, but for me who’s nearly 90 years old now (give or take 60 years), I need something a bit more entertaining. It’ll be fun to mess with from time to time, but it likely won’t get much use.

The cameras….now this is a little more interesting. The quality of the cameras is nothing that could ever hold a candle to digital cameras of the past 10 or 15 years (seriously) however, the refresh on them is actually excellent, leading me to believe that competitive gaming with friends along with video would be killer. It also makes me think that a Skype DLC would blow your pants off into next week. Let me say that again for the sake of popping up on Google more often: Skype for the DSi. Skype for the DSi! This is something that would be a near killer app for the DSi. Yes, I’m talking about Skype for the DSi.

Oh…and there’s also a nice Purple LED on the outside to let you know the outter camera is on. Sorry, pervs. They’re on to you. It also forces a shutter sound effect weather you have the volume on or not, something I think was spawned by panty photgraphers on trains in Japan….seriously.

The image editing portions of the software are more fun than the sound stuff, but still, its nothing I haven’t done before on Photo Booth on my Mac. Though, I admit, having it in my pocket is kind of cool. Will be fun on long, boring MTA trips.

And that leads me to the question of: “Why the DSi?” A lot of people, I think, percieve the DSi’s value to be in the cameras, and I truly believe that is absolutely missing the real point. I think the real value of the DSi comes in it’s new DLC capabilities, better WiFi networking technology, and the possibilities when you combine the cameras WITH the networking possibilities. (Such as in….wait for it…Skype for the DSi.) Right now (as is usually the case with Nintendo Handhelds) the launch titles are a pretty big and breathy “Meh.” But I know that will change, as do you, deep down in your cold, black heart.

The DSi is a very cool little system, but it needs time. I’d say by Fall we’ll see some stuff that will make a lot more people take notice, and (perhaps begrudingly) reach into their pockets to dish out for this system.


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