Nintendo DSi XL Reviewed – Size Matters

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DSXL

Over the course of a device’s lifetime it generally gets more refined, smaller and sleeker. That happened with the Nintendo DS, seeing a revised DS lite, and then the DSi, which additionally featured 2 cameras and slightly beefier specs.

Tradition went out the window with the next iteration though. Bucking the trend, the DSi XL did away with any semblance of slimming down, instead opting to supersize the handheld console. When it was first announced, I saw pictures of it and asked “Who the hell would want that?”

Turns out, I would.

Front

Upon opening the package, I was quite honestly astounded at just how large it was compared to the regular DS Lite I’ve been sporting – and astounded for a second time when I open the unit to reveal two bright 4.2” screens. It’s surprising how much of a difference the extra inch or so adds, compounded by the superior and particularly colour reproduction of the new, glare-resistant screens.

The buttons and D-pad, surprisingly, are the same size as those on its smaller DSi counterpart, and not slightly larger as I was expecting. thankfully they have the same well made, “clicky” feeling the DSi buttons sport, and not mushy like the ones found on the DS Lite.

Of course, I fired up a few of my favourite games for the system. New Super Mario Bros looks fantastic on the XL – and I found that the increased screen size actually made it easier for me to time and judge pixel-perfect jumps, purely because I was better able to see what i was doing. Games that require writing or extensive stylus use also benefit from the larger screen, and the new pen-styled stylus included with the DSi XL. It makes for a much more comfortable experience – and I found myself less prone to hand cramps from trying to scrawl with a tiny stylus.

Gamecomparison

Non-gaming software, like the “100 Book Collection” and the incredible “Cooking Guide : Can’t Think What to Eat?” also benefit immeasurably from the bigger screen, making text much more readable.

Unfortunately the larger screen does have a pretty large negative. Despite the monumental increase in size, the resolution is exactly the same as the DSi – meaning that the pixels have just been enlarged to accommodate for the larger screen. Large pixels means games appear more pixellated. Games that were already blocky – like Mario Kart DS – suffer most, but games that look cell-shaded, like GTA : Chinatown Wars, offset the blockiness.

Last Updated: April 13, 2010

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Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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