nintendo announce the nintendo dsi
This morning in Tokyo, Japan - at the Nintendo's Fall Press Conference, it was announced that they will be updating the Nintendo DS with a new model, known as the Nintendo DSi (see above).
Nintendo is currently (and has been for a long time) the dominant force in the handheld gaming market, commanding a 70% share. The announcement of the new handheld device comes only a couple of weeks after Steve Jobs' (Apple's CEO) laughable statement about the iPhone as a gaming platform, where he said "…you can make a pretty good argument that the [iPod Touch/iPhone] is the best portable device for playing games on".
The move is entirely unsurprising of Nintendo, who do have a habit of releasing minor revisions of their handheld consoles every few years. The new console has an interesting new feature set, and it is difficult not to get excited by the prospects (scroll down and watch the video if you are impatient!).
In a nutshell, the new Nintendo DSi will:
- be 12% lighter
- have a 17% larger screen (now 3.24 inches large)
- have improved speakers, and AAC support
- contain a 0.3 mega-pixel VGA camera (capable of 640x480)
- have two touch-screens! Both are now touch sensitive
- NOT have a GBA game slot…
- …instead, have a SD Card slot
- support web-browsing (probably via Opera Mini)
- run downloaded 'DSiware' games: similar in concept to Wii ware
- come in two colours (see above): "White", and "Frosted Black"
So, when can we get hold of it? It is currently slated for a November 1st, 2008 release in Japan, which is a little over a month away at the time of writing. Nintendo has thus-far been relatively tight-lipped about release dates of the Nintendo DSi in other territories. Currently, the Nintendo DSi release date is pencilled as Spring 2009. Price wise, it will be released at JPY 18,900 (which is we work backwards, comes out as about USD 179, EUR 129 and GBP 99). As you can see, it's not all that different in price to the existing Nintendo DS. And what about games? Well, check out this video for an overview of expected releases. It's probably worth noting that some of these games look very Eastern, and as such I will be surprised if all of them make it over here to the most conservative West (which is always a shame).
I was interested to hear about the DSi Shop. Apparently, customers will get 1,000 points free upon purchasing the console that they can spend at the DSi shop, which do not expire until March 2010. Games (and other such things) in the shop fit into four categories: Free, 200 points, 500 points and 800 points. The top level, I assume, will be for premium games such as new releases. This is fantastic news. If I understand correctly, it equates to at least one free game upon purchasing the console!
One final thing I have heard regards the built-in camera. Although I find 0.3 mega-pixels terribly disappointing (couldn't they fit in a 1.0 mega-pixel camera, at least?), it's a nice addition. A lot of people have critisised the decision to introduce a camera into the DSi, stating that most people these days have at least one device that can already do that, and better (a typical mobile phone these days has a camera at least five times better). I suppose they didn't want to include a camera capable of massive resolutions due to the lack of storage space on the DSi. It was probably part of the reason they chose to include an SD Card slot on the console just for memory. Oh, and another thing: photographs taken on the DSi can be put straight into your "Photo Channel" on a Nintendo Wii console.
Overall, I'm happy with the announcement. I think the games are the clincher, especially a new Kirby game and of course Chrono Trigger. The camera, I couldn't really care less about. The lack of a GBA game slot? Hmm, we'll it's a shame that the old Advance generation has been put to sleep by Nintendo, but it has to happen at some point. I am interested in how well Activision are going to take it however, since their new-ish "Guitar Hero on Tour" requires the GBA slot for their fret peripheral. The improved audio capabilities are welcome — although, I play many DS games with the volume off. Perhaps the new sound capabilities will have me turning up the sound, or using headphones. Larger screen, yes, good. Lighter? Doesn't bother me too much. Thinner? Good I
suppose, but a lot of this just feels superfluous: I just want it to play games. One genuine improvement over the original though, is two touch screens. I can imagine that will make the next iteration of Wario Ware a lot of fun!
So what do you think of the new console? And have you heard anything else as laughable as Apple's claim? Leave me a comment.