INCLUDING THE Game Boy and its various iterations, from the 1989 Game Boy through the GBA right up to the DS Lite, the Nintendo DSi is the tenth upgrade for the format-holder’s line of domineering games handhelds.
But that doesn’t mean this latest version, which hits the UK in April, is not significant. If anything, it’s probably second only to the introduction of the first DS and its touch screen in 2004.
This is best described as DS 2.0, with a number of key upgrades that represent a serious step forward for the device’s potential according to Nintendo’s UK general manager David Yarnton.
“The first DS was seen as quite radical thanks to its touch screen,” he reminds MCV.
“At that time, we were changing the gaming interface for a richer games experience and opening up more possibilities for developers. The move from the DS to the DS Lite after that was basically cosmetic. At first glance, the DSi doesn’t look much different, but under the skin it represents a much bigger step change than the change to the Lite.
“We have lots of excellent enhancements including two cameras, beefed up sound,
and an SD card slot. Underneath the skin it’s a real leap.”
time for a change
The reasons for these tweaks come for a number of reasons. While Nintendo commissioned the new device as far back as late 2006, the eventual impetus for the revamp came to satisfy both gamers and the industry
“The changes firstly came about through consumer feedback, but also so that we can help developers further expand the types of games they make for the device,” says Yarnton.
Almost every element has been upgraded, with the new device intended to be versatile for users and developers, Yarnton adds.
“There are lots of functions in here which won’t necessarily be used for their original function – developers will be able to try different things. The best designers come at these things from different angles, so there’s loads of scope.
“For consumers the customisation element is very important – you can tailor the menus and make it your DS. We’re trying to make it much more personal for people. It’s probably the most personal games machine out there.”
The whole package will help fuel an even wider userbase for the DS format, he says. While the Lite and DSi will stay on the market at their differing prices for now –
“We’ll let the market decide,” says Yarnton, when asked if the Lite will be phased out – the camera and other functions will win over the remaining DS sceptics out there.
“We expect some people will upgrade, but we also anticipate that we’ll win over people who were still undecided on DS – the extra features will help convince them. There’s an extra incentive.”
He adds: “With the DSi we see multiple consumer types for it. As with everything now, we look at our target market being five to 85, offering different things for different people. The functions of the device really open the platform up to more consumers – it gives the DS format unlimited potential.”