Review: DSi XL Super Size Me

The DSi LL, (DSi XL in the West) is the latest addition to the hugely successful Nintendo platform. "LL" is the Japanese equivalent of "XL", or "extra large". But is bigger really better?

Released in Japan in late November, the DSi XL features 4.2 inch screens that are 93 percent larger than the DS Lite's screens. It is also bundled with an extra (and larger) 5 inch touch pen. The redesign comes at the request of customers who said they wanted a larger screen — however, the pixel count is the same. Nintendo claims that the bigger screens make it easier to watch others play.

The DSi XL is available in three colors: Dark Brown, Wine Red and Natural White. While the handheld has been announced for The West, the colours have not yet been announced. The Japanese version is also packed with three DSiWare titles pre-installed: Two brain training games (one for humanities, the other for sciences) and DS Easy Dictionary.

Loved The Big Screens: Even though Nintendo is touting the DS XL's screen as making it easier to watch others play, the most refreshing about the new, bigger screens is how they breathe life into old titles. While the graphics are the same, old favourites like Mario Kart look wonderful (and not blown out) running on the XL's screens. The extra size both adds to the experience and creates an entirely new experience. The screen size is also well-suited to younger players who often stare over each other's shoulders when watching a friend play.

Brain Age also feels surprisingly fresh on the XL — a larger touch screen means a larger space to write. That, certainly, is a welcomed addition.

The Big Pen: The XL's new Touch Pen feels like, well, a pen. The DS Stylus, traditionally, has been on the small size — not so great for game that require writing. To overcome this issue, players have, in the past, had to find third party solutions. For those looking for a larger pen that's easier to grip, the XL has that. But if you are happy with the traditional DS Stylus, the portable is bundled with that as well.

The Buttons: As with the regular DSi, the buttons are clicky — in a good way. They're responsive and certainly don't feel mushy.

The Finish: The top of part of the DSi XL's clamshell has a glossy, smart finish. Looks great. However, the rest of the portable has a matte finish, making it practical. It's easy to hold and isn't a fingerprint magnet. The contrast works well, too.

Hated Not So Portable: Yes, yes. The DSi XL is big. That's the point! And while it works great playing it at your kitchen table or sitting on the sofa, it's heavy and less great to lug it around outside of the house.

Nintendo, it often seems, makes reiteration after reiteration of its products. The DSi XL might simply be that — the latest iteration until the next one comes along. As customers, it's hard not to feel that we are directly involved in Nintendo R&D process (more so than with other companies), that the company sometimes releases products just to see if they catch on with consumers (ditto). In Japan, the DSi XL does seem to be catching on as the product posted strong initial sales. The extra large DSi could very well be here to stay — which means that this must be one of the first examples in which a Japanese company has released a bigger version of its products to commercial success.

The larger screens are great. If only Nintendo could shave a bit off the DSi XL's thickness, making a slightly slimmer and lighter DSi XL, if only. DSi XL Slim anyone?

The DSi XL was released in Japan on November 22 for ¥20,000 (US$222). It is scheduled to be released abroad in early 2010. A unit was purchased by Kotaku for review.

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Comments

    You mean DSi XL Lite, right? :)

    Well lap it up until they bring out the DSi XL(s). Which is basically the same thing but slimmer and not as large. Doesn't make sense, but Nintendo are good at doing that.

    They've gone back to the DS stages to work their way up to the DSi but on the XL scale.

    Sad.

    Bigger screens, yes we get that, yet no comment on how that affects battery life..?? Kinda think thats important

    So how does the (Japanese obviously) price compare proportionally to the DSi and DS Lite? Does it offer on par value for money as the existing versions?

    Hardly a well timed release for the West, just after Christmas. Son wants a DS for Christmas but I'm particularly reluctant considering the XL's imminent release and truth be told probably means a purchase will be subsequently deferred until an even later special occasion.

    The battery life is actually longer than the DSI battery life, an important point which no-one seems to mention.

    While the size is not ideal for a pocket, it is fine to go in a bag, even a small one and I think it is not completly unportable.

    It is not an upgrade from the DSI, rather it is another option instead of the DSI. I think its a great idea.

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