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My Week with the DSi XL

G4Sterling
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Posted April 2, 2010 - By G4Sterling


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My Week with the DSi XL

There’s little argument that in the last decade, the Nintendo DS was one of the most prolific platforms for gaming. It’s arguably the most successful handheld since the original Game Boy -- and it certainly struck a similar chord in its boundary-shattering sales. Less than a week ago, Nintendo released a heftier version of the DS, and I’ve spent a week playing on it. You can watch the Talkabout below for some info, but since that taping, I’ve spent even more time on the DSi XL, and I really like it.

In regard to size, the XL’s screen is nearly twice that of the DS Lite. It’s not as big as a netbook, as some have assumed, but it’s certainly grandiose for gaming on the go. The bigger screen really comes in handy when you’ve got an audience in tow, or in the case of Nintendo’s latest casual-friendly software release, America’s Test Kitchen, you need a larger screen to keep an eye on your instructions. And although I hadn’t tested out as many 3D games on the DS’ screen prior to the Talkabout I filmed with Patrick Klepek, I can now report that one of my DS favorites of recent memory, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, transitions well to a bigger format. Many of my other DS stalwarts, like New Super Mario Bros., also feel grander and more vibrant on the XL’s larger screen. And it's huge. Photos can point out the differences, but words can only do the size discrepancy so much justice. It really sinks in once you've got one in your hands and can feel the heft for yourself.

It’s not, optimal, however, for all types of DS games. Part of the reason that I volunteered to test out the DSi XL for a week was to review Tecmo’s Again -- which I’m still working on -- and after 30 minutes of holding the XL sideways to play the game in CiNG’s trademark book style (also seen in the developer’s last game, Hotel Dusk), my hands began to cramp. I have fairly large hands, and if mine couldn’t withstand a half-hour of gaming, I’m sure that the average person will grow tired of holding it up after a shorter period. The XL also isn’t ideal for gaming in bed. I tend to play DS games for that half-hour when I’m trying to nod off at night, and it’s not comfortable to grip a heavier handheld when you’re lying down. If you’ve never owned a DS, these are fairly serious barriers.

Also, with the news leaking out regarding Nintendo’s plans for a DS update, many gamers might feel hesitant about investing in a unit that’s retailing for nearly $200. I’m still convinced that this hardware isn’t for the core audience. With the size and heft, it seems like a DS designed for families, or, my mother-in-law, a recent retiree who plays Brain Age religiously every day and has burned through DS Lites like most gamers go through red-ringed Xbox 360s. While the DS Lite was the perfect compromise for gamers of all stripes, the DSi feels like squandered potential, and the XL, while not as stagnant as the DSi, doesn’t feel like enough of a leap for the core audience.

Talkabouts: Nintendo DSi XL »


With those caveats out of the way, I’ve really enjoyed my week with the new handheld. It does a great job reinvigorating DS games. The DSi XL manages to magnify games without, from what I’ve seen, make them look overly distorted. I’m considering kidnapping the office system to play (and, politely, of course, return it daily). But in regard to making the big investment in the machine, it’s a tough sell.

I bought a DSi last year before starting with G4 (a year ago, DSiWare seemed to have the potential for lots of cool downloadable games we might review, so it made sense), and I still jump back and forth between my DS Lite and my DSi sometimes. Unless Nintendo updates its firmware for me to transfer my DSiWare purchases -- few that they are -- to the XL, I’m not convinced that I’d take the leap. If you still have a functional DS that you’re actively using, I’d advise you to wait and see what Nintendo has up its sleeve in June at E3 before making any snap judgments. But if the next DS is a long way away and your DS Lite is on its last legs, the DSi XL might make a worthy replacement.

 

My Week with the DSi XL
http://www.g4tv.com/thefeed/blog/post/703685/my-week-with-the-dsi-xl/
http://images.g4tv.com/ImageDb3/219561_LGST/dsi-xl-talkabout.jpg
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