Nintendo DSi LL • Page 2

Bigger, better, more badass?

Switch the console on, and it's business as usual. The screens may be bigger, but the resolution is the same, and a bit of exploring suggests the only major software change is the bundling of a few DSiWare products: the excellent Flipnote Studio, which is free anyway, the DSi Browser, a couple of the "A Little Bit of..." Brain Training excerpts, and a Japanese dictionary program. Trawling the system menus reveals all the same icons, and the continuing lack of an English-language option on the Japanese models, so import-savvy grans beware (and be especially aware that "Format System Memory" is positioned right next to "System Update").

Games, then, are functionally identical, but for the greater ease with which you can stab at icons and discern details. Things get a little blocky in certain games due to the unchanged screen resolution, but your gran can barely see anyway. That was the point. She's also unlikely to notice the reportedly increased battery life over the DSi (something I've not had the DSi LL long enough to verify), since she'll probably have it plugged in all the time anyway, for which she will appreciate the DSi LL's compatibility with the DSi power adapter - a first for Nintendo handhelds. Will she mind that it weighs 100 grams more than the DSi? I don't know. She may feel I'm labouring the point at this stage.

The size difference between the DSi LL and the DSi sounds tiny on paper, but in reality it feels vast.

But it does feel like the right point to make. Nintendo has said the European price is "expected to be higher than that of the Nintendo DSi" (it's about 30 quid more expensive than the DSi in Japan), but that's between them and your gran really. The DSi LL isn't for you, and it would be weird to criticise it as such. Are you a regular gamer who wants a bigger, heavier DSi? Because if you are, your reasons are likely to be personal and to approximate those I've described. For me, it's a novelty, but I don't feel like a complete idiot for buying one.

Even taking all this into account, however, the DSi LL isn't quite unprecedented. Earlier I mentioned the Game Boy Micro. It was a tiny Game Boy brought to life because Nintendo thought that, somewhere out there, there were people who wanted to play Game Boy games and were being put off by the size and style of the GBA SP. It tanked, and Nintendo president Satoru Iwata eventually said the company "failed to explain to consumers its unique value and they concluded that Micro is not worth the price they have to invest".

In some respects, then, the Game Boy Micro and the DSi LL are alike. Nintendo consoles have traditionally been designed to appeal to as broad a customer base as possible. In the Micro and the LL, however, Nintendo's designers primarily sought to satisfy somebody other than you.

There is another difference, of course. "Because a number of people, distributors, software developers and publishers were all saying that Micro could sell, we somewhat believed that we would just need to take the ordinary marketing approach, say, by saying that we will launch the new Game Boy model," Iwata noted about the Micro. "The fact of the matter is, however, those who were impressed with Micro were the ones who have physically touched and felt Micro in their hands."

The DSi LL - built to appeal to a group of people who want a Nintendo DS but find it too small - makes its case to people at first sight.

The Nintendo DSi LL is due out in Europe as the DSi XL in the first quarter of 2010.

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About the author

Tom Bramwell

Tom Bramwell

Contributor  |  tombramwell

Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.


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