Features// Japan Video Games: Olsen Gets a DSi

Posted 13 Nov 2008 15:14 by
People buying the DSis.
People buying the DSis.
I managed to get a DSi in the end, you know. Yep, never mind Tsutaya – Bic Camera was the place to get sorted for DSi’s and wizz. And was it all worth it – the queuing, the cramp in my little toes, the bleary eyes, the sense of utter stupidity lingering nastily behind the upgrade from DS Lite to DS-not-Lite-but-i? Um, yeah, it was, now you mention it!

This new contraption out of Kyoto looks a lot like the gizmo that has sold nearly 25 million units in Japan already (the aforementioned Lite), but it’s subtly different. And it’s in the subtle differences that you’ll find Nintendo’s genius. Alright, there isn’t much you can do with the DSi right now – you can take pictures of things and mess around with the snaps, you can listen to music streaming from an SD Card and mess around with it by adding shoulder-button percussion, and you can play standard DS games – but there will be more. Oh, there will be.

The DSi screams “Potential! Oi, I’ve got potential!” and I’m inclined to believe every word of it. (Especially the “Oi” bit.) Logging in to the DSi Shop, which is this handheld’s version of the PSN Store or XBL Marketplace, you’ll find only one item available for download – but it’s free. It’s the Nintendo DSi Browser. Download this to the machine’s built-in in 256MB of flash memory and you can read SPOnG while you’re on the bog. Great. Unfortunately, it’s not capable of playing net-based audio/video, so you can forget about Youtube. Still, the point is: it’s FREE.

Better even than free stuff, Nintendo is crediting DSi Shoppers’ accounts with 1,000 DSi Points (worth 1,000yen, which if the exchange rates keep on at this pace will by next week equate to about £250…) just for the fun of it. NoJ, as Nintendo of Japan’s friends call the company when being pally, is going so far as to commit to giving away 1,000 DSi Points to every new DSi owner right through until March 2010. That’s a lot of points. And what will people be able to do with ‘em, you’re wondering? Buy games and shit is what. As of next month, the DSi Shop will begin ‘stocking’ (in a virtual but very real sense) microgames, applications and – potentially – anything Nintendo sees fit to put on its binary shelves.

One of the first downloadable DSi exclusives due next month is something called Ugoku Memo Chou (in other words, Moving Memo Pad), which is a kind of diary that utilises both the DSi’s camera and its mic as well as its touchscreen, although this won’t cost any DSi Points either. As for DSiWare that costs money (the first 1,000yen of which Nintendo has kindly contributed anyway, remember), well, we’re promised a new range of Art Style games at 500yen apiece. These are from Chibi-Robo developer Skip, so you can presume brilliance.

People buying DSis
People buying DSis
Beyond those, camera-linked WarioWare games are on the way as well as a new version of Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training and Iwata knows what else. The theme of DSiWare seems to be ‘cheap, cheerful and deliberately utilising the DSi’s intriguing feature set’. Sounds like a great theme to me, and I can’t wait to see it developed. DSi in pocket, I’m feeling confident in Nintendo’s near-future plans. Bring it on, Satoru.
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