DSi: Disaster or Delight?

by PocketGoddess on November 4, 2008

I’ve been following the news of the Nintendo DSi launch in Japan quite closely, thanks to the fine folks at Engadget, DS Fanboy, and Kotaku. I’ve always been a Nintendo fan and have owned each handheld they’ve made, starting with the Game Boy Color. I’m quite happy with my Nintendo DS Lite, though I will admit that my Sony PSP has been getting a bit more playtime lately.
On the surface, the DSi is very intriguing; it’s the first Nintendo handheld to include not one but two cameras, in addition to an SD card slot, larger screens, and a slightly smaller size. All of that innovation and improvement comes at a price though–the removal of the GBA slot that allowed users to play a vast library of legacy titles. That isn’t a dealbreaker, but it is a disappointment–I have several GBA games that I still enjoy playing, especially when I’m in the mood for a little old-school fun instead of the newfangled touchscreen goodness DS games offer.
I’m beginning to wonder though if the DSi is going to be another “money printing machine” for Nintendo, or if it will suffer a more limited form of success. I don’t think it’s going to be a total disaster for the house that Mario built, but the early signs aren’t all that encouraging. Most top-tier hardware launches in Japan (and elsewhere, of course) tend to come with a lot of hype generated by the mad rush to get the new product, complete with long lines (with folks sometimes camping out overnight or even for several days if the gadget is hot enough.)
So I was very surprised with Kotaku’s resident blogger in Osaka, Japan, couldn’t find any evidence of that kind of excitement. While several stores were allocating preorder slips to potential customers, there weren’t any lines or crowds to be found. Add to that the same blogger’s disappointment with the camera quality and the sound application, plus the potential off-color use of the DSi camera and I’m suddenly much less excited than I could be about this new handheld.
The good news is that the DSi does have larger, brighter screens than the DS Lite, and the potential for fan-made Wario-style games definitely has me interested in the device. I’m sure that I’ll be picking one up next summer when it comes to the US, but I certainly won’t be importing the DSi, as I did when the DS Lite came out. Play-Asia is currently selling the DSi for $299, a significantly larger premium than I am prepared to pay for a device that I’m not completely crazy about. That opinion may change as soon as I have one in my hot little hands, but for now I’m content to wait and am very thankful that my curiosity can be at least partially satisfied by the photos, videos, and hands-on impressions I’ve been able to dig up so far.
I’m also interested in what you think about the Nintendo DSi, so please leave your comments below!

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