The Nintendo DSi lands on UK High Streets this week – and looks set to be the most significant step-change so far for a format which is already the outstanding hardware phenomenon of the 21st Century.
Key new features include two motion-detecting cameras, enhanced sound, game downloads and in-built memory which allows users to customise their DSi.
It will launch with black and white versions, and is the slimmest and lightest member of the DS family yet.
The ‘i’ in DSi is all about individuality. It can take, store, customise and share photos. It can play your favourite music – and allow you to mess about with it. DSiWare software can be downloaded directly from the DSi Shop to make every unit unique in terms of appearance and content.
“With Nintendo DSi it is our intention to launch a new member of the Nintendo DS family that will offer new forms of entertainment and enjoyment, ensuring that customers continue to see the Nintendo DS as an exciting, innovative product,” says Nintendo’s senior product manager for handheld James Honeywell.
“We hope that the various new features will be useful and fun in everyday life and will encourage you to take your Nintendo DSi with you wherever you go. As you start to customise the DSi for yourself, storing your images and sound files in your own DSi, it will increasingly become personal and an integral part of your life.”
It is the presence of the two cameras that will grab most headlines and imaginations. Both take photos at a VGA resolution, but it doesn’t end there. All the pictures can be modified and manipulated.
Even before the shot is snapped, you can use the stylus to draw on, distort or apply filters to whatever the camera is pointing at.
Face recognition software allows you to change people’s expressions, morph them together or add accessories such as glasses or even cat ears.
The camera does more than just take editable pictures, however. Because it’s motion-sensitive, it will also change the way DSi games are played.
It detects players’ facial features and body movements, so action can be controlled by movement alone; a whole new way to interact with the hardware and one that’s already proved hugely popular and inclusive on Wii.
DSiWare – the handheld equivalent of digital distribution kingpin WiiWare – will continue to evolve and expand through quirky and creative add-ons as well as full-blown games, with loads of new stuff yet to be announced.
One application will allow users to make animated cartoons or mini-movies, whilst popular title Wario Ware utilises the camera to deliver a completely interactive experience.
Players get started by connecting to the internet via any wireless connection using the DSi’s Wi-Fi capabilities.
Then they can stock up on the Shop’s currency – good old Nintendo Points. They can collect these either online using a credit card or by purchasing them at retail. Then they can just browse, buy and have fun.
“Although there are many new features, at launch we will be focusing on the camera, sound recording and playback facility and the download service,” adds Honeywell.
“These three features represent the easiest to access and instantly beneficial aspects of the Nintendo DSi.”
The DSi is the grand next step for Nintendo’s world-conquering handheld, and the platform holder is expecting big things – supporting the product with an extensive marketing campaign.
Retail will be stocking up on games, accessories and hardware to capitalise on this Easter’s ‘must have’ product.
It wouldn’t be a Nintendo hardware launch without
a typically massive PR and marketing push.
The DSi campaign kicked off on March 23rd with online pre-awareness leading into a heavyweight TV campaign that began on March 30th. This will run for four weeks.
The TV advertising focuses on the new camera and sound features of DSi. Throughout all activity there will be a search campaign to enable users to easily find information on DSi online.
Point of sale material is also available throughout the launch phase aiming to educate consumers of the new features available in Nintendo’s latest handheld.
Cubes, wobblers and standees have all been produced and an A5 leaflet is available that will explain DSi in more detail.
“DSi will be our biggest handheld hardware launch to date and will easily be our biggest campaign this year,” says Nintendo senior product manager James Honeywell.
“We have already planned our activity throughout the whole year as we plan to drive awareness and communication right through to Christmas.”