Nintendo DSi XL: Video Game Fun with a Larger Screen
Graphics, Large Screens, Bright, Durable, Fun Options
Some Stylus Issues, No GB Advance capabilities
The Bottom Line:
The Nintendo DSi XL console is a lot of fun. Plus, the brown color looks cool with the large screens.
One of my fondest memories, and one of the few that doesn't evoke camping or other outdoor activities, is when I finally got the original NES Video Game System. A lot of my friends had it for awhile, so when I finally was able to plug it into our living room television, it was an exciting day indeed. I loved Super Mario Brothers and Legends of Zelda, which I spent hours trying to finally win. The competition was fierce when I played my friends in Double Dribble or Tecmo Bowl, and some of us laugh about how far games have come from those days. I had the original Gameboy as well, and remember thinking how "revolutionary" it was at the time. That has certainly changed as well, as either the Sony PSP or Nintendo DS, prove how primitive it really is. The new DS especially, which I purchased last month, and it is a huge improvement for one major reason.
The menu option is a bit different, and you can do so much more with this DS. I love connecting on the "net" at home with this, and the browser is fairly efficient. Its not going to compare to a high speed processor, but its at least as quick as dial up was from back in the day. I've watched videos on it, checked the news, and looked for sports scores with it. My favorite option, is the most juvenile of all. That would be the Nintendo DSi Sound. There's a bird on this feature, and by selecting it, you can either put a SD card with music in there, or record and edit a sound. Its so funny to record foul language, and have it played back in either a low or high pitch, or at slow or fast speeds. You can have your voice played back in robot format, or as a parakeet, along with a host of other sounds. Try the low, high, and synthetic harmony for your amusement.
There's a camera! You can upload your photos to other electronics devices, or Facebook if you desire to do so. There are eleven different lenses, and you can take photographs of yourself, or through the back of the environment around you, or your friends making funny faces. You can add fake mustaches, do distortions that twist a face in several directions, or add mirror effects. You can also add captions, making it a minor league version of "photoshop." This is great for children, and adults that act like them alike. I've actually spent several hours with this feature, and think its one of the funniest ideas ever for a portable gaming system.
The original DS was decent enough, but I had a hard time seeing the screen. Both screens were a bit small, so I decided to trade it in for a Sony PSP. That was fun for awhile, but with the upgrade of the DS XL, I decided to return to my favorite portable console system. According to the folks at Nintendo, this has 93% more screen than its predecessor did. I believe that, as I can finally see any video game that I'm playing without headaches or blurry vision. Games such as Advanced Wars Days of Ruin, which is my favorite, were difficult with the original DS. You couldn't see your military equipment pieces being moved, but this XL makes it a breeze. For my reading game, its been fantastic.
The colors and graphics are enhanced by the two large screens. I was a bit worried at first about them being easier to break, but that's no longer causing any stress. The materials used to make the XL are a lot stronger than the cheaper plastic shell of the original DS. It is a solid structure when opened or closed, and there's not much room of a seal when in the latter position. It closes tight, and with a case, you'll be adding even more protection for this unit. There's of course a slot for the small stylus to go in by the SD card, where you can save pictures, and a larger stylus that's provided with it. I still prefer the smaller one, as the bigger sized one can get a bit bulky, and you can accidentally hit the wrong option in games.
You don't need earphones with this one! That alone is a winning idea, and the volume controls are easy to use. They are on the left side, and the arrow keys, along with the A, B,X, and Y are durable. You can really hit these hard during gameplay, without being concerned about them falling apart or disenegrating into thin air. The start and select buttons are a bit small, but most won't find any issues with this, along with the power button that's on the lower left hand side. Ergonomically, this is a fine machine for a video game fanatic. It does seem to fit better in an adults hands, due to its larger size than the original. Thankfully, most kids will become adept with it as long as they practice with it a bit.
You get two free games with this system. They aren't great, but they are free, and you can burn some time with them if bored. They are Brain Age Express Arts and Letters, and Brain Age Express Math Nintendo. These are games where you can use your good ol brain, to either solve math problems in a hurry to test your cerebral cortex's age, or just to keep you occupied. They are from Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, who supposedly studies the brain at a top Japanese university, according to the game. Who knows if he exists, but this game does offer you some mental challenges. My favorite is the math one, due to my love of numbers, and it calculates your age by how quickly you solve simple math problems. It does take some time to get used to, because with the stylus, the computer might think your number is another one entirely. That could lead to some frustration, but eventually you'll get the hang of it.
Along with the XL console, you get the AC adapter. I usually charge it overnight, and it lasts all day, with a small amount of battery to spare if used often. If used infrequently, a full charge can last the better part of a week. Connecting it can be a bit of a challenge, as the small plug in the back, can be a royal pain to get to. Other than that, its not a huge issue, but those who aren't that coordinated might find it to be annoying. You can of course charge while playing, so that's one way to keep the battery full. The way to determine your battery level, is more than easy enough. There's a small blue battery at the top of your main menu screen, that highlights the bars left. That way there will be no surprises, and it won't occur during the middle of a game.
I think this is a winning product, and I also love the improved brightness of the screens. Nintendo seems to have developed a portable system perfect for anywhere, and this is my favorite small console yet. The graphic and sound capabilities are much better than any I've used, other than fast paced games. It still seems to linger a bit on those compared to the PSP, and the stylus can still cause irritation. Thankfully this has been improved on as well, but sometimes the screen is too sensitive, rather than the old one which wasn't quite enough. Perhaps one day this will be "just right," but at least now it doesn't require maximum amounts of pressure for it to work.
This is my traveling companion. The library of games for this system is impressive, but some of the guitar based ones won't work for this one. That is a minor oversight, as a vast majority of DS games are compatible with it. Unfortunately, old Game Boy Advanced ones are not, much to my chagrin. The original DS has that capability. Yet with those minor disappointments aside, I can fully recommend the Nintendo DS XL. It is durable, and allows you to play video games on the go or at home. I love how easy it is to see, use, and hear. Its a reasonable value at the price it is being sold, and I have to say that its been played for a lot of hours, without any problems whatsoever. Give one a try and see, as it really makes even the original DS of just a few years ago seem quite outdated.