Game On!: Nintendo DSi XL

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Nintendo has followed a similar pattern every few years since it unveiled the classic Game Boy - introduce a new system, make it available in cool colors, then miniaturize it before launching the next-generation console.

There's a reason behind these constant iterations and reintroductions and revisions. Stagnancy is bad for the bottom line when it comes to the video-game hardware market.

In a very different turn of events, Nintendo's latest version of the massively popular Nintendo DS handheld is actually bigger rather than more portable. The DSi XL ($190), a revision of last year's DSi model, has increased screen sizes offering a clearer picture and better color depth.

The DSi XL still includes the built-in camera and downloadable storage that differentiated its predecessor from dual-screen handhelds like the DS and DS Lite. Available in two colors, burgundy and bronze, the unit is a bit hefty. It's better suited for being carried in purses or backpacks than in pockets.

It's pretty obvious that the increased screen size is a means to counter the bias of the older players Nintendo targets with its "Touch Generations" titles. The XL is firmly aimed at making gaming more friendly to those with aging eyes. It's an attempt to expand the market beyond the youths and adults who are already fans of the Nintendo platform.

Also, aside from the traditional enclosed stylus, the XL ships with a hefty pen-like pointer that will feel more comfortable in potentially less-dexterous hands.

As a nice bonus, the XL comes with a few games - two are titles from the "Brain Age" series, one for math games and another specializing in words and language. Since the unit itself has built-in wireless, gamers can buy new titles directly from Nintendo for storage on the internal memory.

The Nintendo DSi XL is not a replacement for anyone who already has a Nintendo DSi system. There are really no new features here, with the exception of the bigger visuals. But owners of the original DS or an aging DS Lite might want to consider purchasing an XL when those consoles die.

That is, provided you don't have a large back-catalog of older Game Boy Advance games - like the DSi, this handheld has removed that backward compatibility slot to offer internal storage and a photo camera.

Nintendo's DSi XL offers all the nice features introduced with original DSi, just with better screens. It's not a must-have upgrade, but it would make a nice gamer present for older family members who keep stealing your handhelds to play Brain Age or Professor Layton games.