It’s been a while since we’ve had a proper Retro Redux on the site and you could almost say I’ve been criminally negligent to the feature over the last few months and that will change starting in two weeks. I’ve been so swamped in working on newer games that I’ve neglected the older ones. The Retro Redux will be back proper in two weeks with a look at Star Tropics. One of the readers out there recently played the game and we talked about it and I’ve never played the game so I’m going to jump in and get the Star Tropics experience.
This week, though, you get a special second Tony’s Time and I’m just going to talk about something that happened recently. It occurred at my day job that actually pays the bills. I work for a major healthcare group here in Tulsa that I’ve mentioned before and a strange thing happened at work the other day. I’m known as the tech guy and the video game guy on my floor. If anyone has problems or questions about electronics or video games they come to me. Yesterday one of the women on the floor came to me asking how to unlock worlds 4 and 7. I told her how and she asked if I would unlock them for her, so I did. I say all of this because I want to talk about the device I played New Super Mario Bros. DS on.
I finally got a chance to get some hands on time with the DSi XL and I have to say I’ve got mixed reactions about the device. I ended up playing with it for about an hour. First let me talk about the things I did like. The screens; they’re enormous. I really like the screens. They just make the game feel that much bigger. I didn’t notice any real resolution differences between the DSi XL and the DS Lite, which is what I own. It seemed a little bit brighter and the colors a little more defined. I didn’t have anything to compare it to on hand, so it’s all based on recollections, but the screens do seem to make the games look a little bit better.
The user interface is also very nice. I like the simplicity of it. The DS touch screen would have been a perfect place to replicate the Wii Channel Menu, but the simple straight line layout of the DSi works quite nicely. It was very easy to navigate around to and all of the pre-loaded apps made it very easy to get back to the main dashboard without having to restart the system. I was impressed when I hopped into a Picto Chat channel and was able to log out without turning it off. That’s always been an irritable point with me when it comes to the DS Lite. Being able to reset the system back to the main menu from the game was also very nice. A simple tap of the power button will take you out of a game and back into the dashboard of the DSi.
Holding the system book style was great. I hopped into one of the Brain Age games that came pre-loaded on the system and it felt really nice to have the system held book style. I think the added weight of the device and the increased size really made it feel good in my hands when it was held that way. The bigger screens make it really easy to see myself using the DSi XL as an e-reader if Nintendo ever allowed that capability. I could almost see myself purchasing a device with two screens that was this size to use as a book reader, especially because the second screen gives you the perfect opportunity to feel like you’ve actually got a book in your hands. The touch screen on the right would be perfect to use to turn pages with. It would be a great use for the device.
The one thing I really didn’t like about the device, though, was also the added weight when holding the system normally. It’s considerably heavier than the DS Lite and the original DSi. I could very easily see a lot of people complaining about getting tired holding that system for a long period of time. After about 30 minutes I was starting to get tired of holding it. The DSi XL is a very sturdy system. It felt solid and I think it could take quite a beating with no problem, but it’s really heavy to hold onto for a long time. I think the DS Lite is the perfect size for Nintendo’s portable systems, and it makes me really glad that they’re going back to that size for the 3DS. Thinking on it now it would be very interesting to see if they could do anything with the new system while holding it in book style. I think any of those games will be required to turn the 3D off.
I know it’s a bit late to get hands on impressions with a system that’s been out for quite a while now, but there are still people out there purchasing DSi and DSi XL systems. I’m really bummed now, after getting a chance to mess with the device that I haven’t picked up a DSi. There’s quite a lot of good software available in the DSi Shop to purchase. I would recommend if you’re going out looking for a system right now that you pick up the original DSi. It’s a bit cheaper and I like the size and feel of the smaller system a little better than I do the DSi XL. The only reason I see now to pick up the bigger device would be if you absolutely needed the bigger screens. I like the system, but if I was making a purchase right now I would pick up the smaller DSi. As it stands, though, I’m waiting until the release of the 3DS to make my new portable purchase.