Monday, February 21, 2011

Why I bought a DSi one month before the release of the 3DS

DSi still sounds like a Vauxhall Corsa sports model to me.
So, I am now pretty pumped/stoked/high on hype for PAX East. I still don’t totally believe that I’m ever actually going to end up at it, despite having purchased everything necessary. Something will get in the way. I know it. Nothing that I get excited about ever works out, and it’s painful because, as each day passes, I become more and more excited about the idea of the whole thing. Guess we’ll see what happens, eh? I would love to be proved wrong. But what does this have to do with buying a DSi? Do you know nothing of product cycles? I was getting to that.

PAX, for those who don’t know, is a gaming convention organised by the hallowed folk at It is held bi-annually on opposite sides of the United States, in Seattle and Boston. I am (hopefully) attending the Boston arm of the festivities, which runs from March 11th – March 13th. As a huge and very popular convention, PAX has all sorts of exciting panels and booths where you can try out all manner of wonderment. As a consequence to hosting all this great stuff, there are queues, or as they are known in America, lines. Queues mean standing for in and around an hour to get your turn on things, and a novel solution to this most unpleasant of concepts has been pioneered by PAX attendees – gaming. Asides from games I have no idea about (such as Zombie Dice, a game I keep reading about as popular at the convention), there are a lot of people who stand together playing their Nintendo DSes, be they of the classic, lite, i, or XL varieties. I want to get in on this.

I haven’t treated myself to handheld gaming since I stopped playing my Gameboy colour, about 6 years ago. Even at that, I only used it for Pokémon Red and Link’s Awakening. When the Advance came out, I was impressed with it, but not completely sold. When they tidied up the Advance into the Advance SP, I thought it was a perfect form factor for a handheld console: small, and self-protecting – the screen folded onto the buttons in a clam-shell style. Upon the release of the DS, I got a fleeting chance to play with it, and enjoyed it. Ultimately, however , it was far too expensive for me to invest in. Thanks to having graduated from university and gotten a full-time job, I’m now in a much better financial position than I have been in a long time. So much so, in fact, that I’m able to spend money on a trip to a video games convention, and to casually spend £99.99 on a Nintendo DSi.

The reason that I argued myself into this is pretty simple. The 3DS, due out in March 25th here in the UK is apparently, according to, retailing at £202.00. That’s twice what this DSi has cost me. Further to that, all reports suggest that despite sporting a pretty magical glasses-free 3D technology, the games run far better in 2D, and the battery is not the best – 3 or 4 hours if I remember correctly. All in all, I figured I was happy to be one generation behind. Especially since, given Nintendo’s history, the DS will likely be supported for years to come.

So far, I only have Mario Kart DS for it. After two days of playing, I still think it’s brilliant. The DS’s most serious fault is how awkward Nintendo make gaming online. It turns out that I cannot take my DS online because my router is – wait for it - too secure. That’s right: Nintendo, notoriously protective of children from strangers online, will not let me use my DS because it will be TOO SAFE. Weird. Despite that, I’m really looking forward to trying it out with people at the convention.

It’s put me in a bit of a shopping tizzy. I’ve been eyeing up budget DS games in the £5-10 bracket for the past few days. Games I’m keen to try are Metroid Prime Hunters, Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Trauma Center, and Electroplankton, amongst others. I think the DS might find a safe niche in my gaming habits. Hell, it held off Mass Effect all weekend. In fact, when playing my 360 this evening, I kept thinking about how much I’d rather be playing something on the DS. The only thing stopping me is that I don’t want to burn out Mario Kart too quickly.

I won an eBay auction for Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training, so I hope to get a turn on that before the week is out, at which point I’ll fire another little update up here. Until then, keep fighting the good fight, world.

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