DSwhy?

9 May

bold blue dsiWhile the Nintendo DSi is a worthy purchase for anyone who has yet to upgrade from the original DS “Phat”‘s outdated size and appearance, the handheld’s new features are either shallow or have yet to reach even a fraction of their full potential. Most disappointing of all is the lazy recycling of older games, which comprises majority of the current DSiWare offerings as “express” titles.

The DSi’s two cameras are the handheld’s most obvious new features. It’s doubtful anyone expected the cameras to be very powerful, but the DSi’s built-in camera software doesn’t amount to much more than a modern day GameBoy Camera in color without the charm or timliness. It’s fun for a few hours, and your friends and family will get a kick out of making each other look like hideous mutants, but you won’t find yourself throwing away your digital camera anytime soon.

bold wario snappedThe more exciting prospect of the DSi’s cameras is its gameplay applications, but the only game that actually takes advantage of this application isWario Ware: Snapped, which is just as shallow as the camera software itself. In the download, you play the typical micro-games you would expect, but you use your hands and face through the camera to get things done. The slide shows of your awkward expressions and poses that are displayed after you finish a series of micro-games can be fun to watch, but you can experience all the game has to offer in less than hour, that is, if you can get the camera to recognize you.

Like the camera software, Snapped can be a fun way to introduce the handheld to friends and family, but the poor feature recognition doesn’t bode well for DSi exclusive games. The DSi’s sound editing software is equally appealing and shallow as well.

bold dsi soundIt would have been nice if the DSi could have served as  practical recording device for college students or young journalists, but as it is, the handheld’s sound recording and editing software is nothing more than a sophisticated Yak Bak. You can make ten second recordings and edit them by changing the speed or pitch, reversing the sound, or by applying different effects.

You can also import songs onto the system via an SD card and play them normally or make temporary edits. There are various audio displays that play along with the music, with some similar to those you’d see in Windows Media Players and others that make references to video games like Super Mario Bros. and Excite Bike.

The DSi can serve as a convenient MP3 player if you’re without an iPod or any other decent music player, but the editing software isn’t much more than a cheap and temporary gimmick.

bold dsi ware

It may be a bit early to judge, but the lazy recycling of older DS games is the DSi’s biggest disappointment considering the DSi Ware download service is exclusive to the latest version of the handheld. “Express” in a game’s title impies not only that the download is from a previously released title, but that the download is only a fraction of the original game. The worst offender of this series of downloads is the Master of Illusion series. They’re cheap at two bucks a pop, but the concept of buying individual magic tricks once a week when you could just buy the full title comes off as an extremely lazy use of the DSi Ware service.

Hopefully, DSi Ware will see the similar downloadable gems like World of Goo and Mega Man 9 on the Wii Ware service, but without any amazing launch titles like Lost Winds, it’s hard to be impressed with DSi Ware right now.

bold gbaAnother disappointment, and a curious one, is the DSi’s absence of a GameBoy Advance slot. The GBA platform is dead, but its library is huge and even contained a few games that can interact with DS games.

The GameBoy Micro is still readily available online for about $100 and is certainly the most stylish option for a DSi owner wanting to enjoy his back catalog of GBA games, but it’s disappointing Nintendo couldn’t find a way to work a GBA slot into the DSi.

bold rhythm heavenFinally, it’s diappointing the biggest title to be released along side the DSi was Rhythm Heaven. If the demo on the Nintendo Channel is any indication, the game is fun but not very substantial. The release of a new DS model should have been accompanied by a title in the vein of New Super Mario Bros. or Phantom Hourglass, not mini-games with added touch controls. It’s great that the game has finally made its way outside of Japan, but it was a let down to take home the DSi and have nothing new to play other than some mini-games once the handheld’s gimmicks got stale.

bold dsi internetOne plus for the DSi other than its improved appearance and visuals is a new, faster version of the Opera internet browser. The download is free, and the browser actually runs at a decent speed. It still can’t stream videos, but the browser is great for short sessions when you don’t feel like breaking out your laptop.

If you’re still struggling with the decision of to buy or not to buy, you’re better off waiting. There won’t be a price drop anytime soon, but with the DSi’s picture and sound apps serving as only minor distractions and no killer DSi Ware games on the horizon, you’re better off saving your money for now. Chances are, you’ll be rewarded for your patience with a broader spectrum of colors to choose from.

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