UPDATE: Nintendo comments on the news.
I attended one of Nintendo's DSi preview events this evening and came away with some new information about the latest iteration of the double screen portable system. What we already knew about the system is true: it's smaller and lighter than the DS Lite, sports two 0.3 megapixel cameras, features slightly larger screens, and includes a SD card slot. I had the opportunity to get some hands-on time with the final North American version of the hardware and leaf through the operations guide, and here's what was new to me:
Downloadable Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games are coming
- First-party Nintendo titles only to start
- Save and run from SD card
- Region locked
DSiWare to cost either 0, 500, or 800 Nintendo Points ($0, $5, or $8)
- Includes Super Mario and Animal Crossing calculator programs
- Opera browser not built-in to the hardware, but will be available as a download on launch day
- 1000 free Nintendo Points included with purchase
- Region locked
DSi supports SD cards greater than 2 GB capacity
Reset back to the main DS menu with a quick tap of the power button
As for the event itself, I was a little underwhelmed. I'll openly admit that I'm now completely spoiled for this kind of event after going to E3 multiple times and having some insider access to the video game industry for the past five years. I'm used to getting hands-on time with unreleased games and talking with company representatives who know the hardware and software inside and out. This event was aimed at devoted Nintendo customers who are still on the fence about buying a DSi and want to see how the cameras work. The regional Nintendo representative running the show didn't have answers to many of the technical questions thrown at her, but she knew that cameras are neat, the power button is located in a new position compared to the older DS models, and that SD cards go in the SD card slot. There were no games available for sampling (neither new or upcoming titles nor currently released games), while none of the DSi's online abilities were accessible. If I hadn't had my old original DS in my pocket, I wouldn't have had a game to try on the DSi at all (and yes, New Super Mario Bros. looks bigger and better on the DSi). Honestly, I learned more from leafing through the manual than I did from the product pitch. This kind of event is a nice idea, but the execution needs a little work. As for the Nintendo DSi itself, I can see myself eventually picking one up if/when a DSi-exclusive core gamer killer app comes out. Until then, my old original 2004-era DS is still alive and kicking.