Bloody hell, has it really been five years? Five long years since I was there, standing outside GameStation at midnight with a folded reservation receipt in my hand waiting for the staff to let us in for the launch of Nintendoís newest and shiniest console? I remember it well.
In fact, I still have my original DS from launch day. I may not play it as much as I used to, but itís still there along with a range of classics that Iím not tired of. Pokemon
, Mario Kart
, New Super Mario Bros.
, and I donít apologise Ė itís excellent on DS). Brilliant games made even better thanks to you being able to play them anywhere.
I never upgraded to the DS Lite becauseÖ well, to be honest I didnít really see the point. My co-host from Joypod got an imported Japanese one when they launched over there. While it was pretty (and the screens were lovely) I was still OK with my older model. Nintendo then announced the DSi with all its new bells and whistles. Yes, it piqued my interest a little Ė the extra functions (most notably DSiWare at the time) made me think it was time to put the Phat to bed and move on to something newer but it just never happened. The Phat played the games and that was all I needed. Sure, the screen was getting a bit messed up, but it did the job it was meant to do. It was enough.
Then Nintendo upped the ante. The bastards
News leaked a while ago
that they were making a handheld aimed at (for want of a better word) 'adults'. A more luxurious take on the current format with the same functionality of the latest iteration, bigger screens and Ė thank God Ė a bigger stylus. It was confirmed soon after that the DSi XL (known as the LL in Japan) was in the worksÖ and they showed us pictures. And gave us release dates. And thenÖ well, then I knew it was time to upgrade.
Letís cover the negatives first though. Much as I love the XL, itís by no means perfect. Each version of the DS has never really been 100% - for example, screens on the Phat were just a bit too dim. The Lite led to a fair few complaints of cramped hands. Thankfully the XLís issues are less to do with build quality and more focused on what you get in the package.
Nintendo is still insistent on using its terrible browser software, which is one of the worst ways of looking at web pages you could ever choose to use. At least itís built in for free Ė no need to buy the browser software this time or hunt around for the necessary RAM expansion pack Ė but youíll probably end up using it once then go back to something more user friendly. Even the PSPís bloody terrible browser is a better interface, and thatís saying something. Also, like the DSi, thereís no backwards compatibility with GBA games, so do yourself a favour and get a Micro. You wonít regret it.
DSiWare is also an issue. You can use any region carts on the XL, but if youíre looking to try out something from the Japan or the US stores on your European machine, youíre out of luck. I can see why Nintendo made the decision to region-lock DsiWare. After all, itís much easier to charge what it pleases for content in different areas, plus thereís no need to worry about paying for localisation. On the flip-side this means that you canít experience the weird and wonderful stuff developers around the world are putting out exclusively on their regionís store, but Nintendo has pledged to release titles that prove popular worldwide. Hereís hoping.