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Nintendo DS: The first five years

2009 – Two new versions?


Year in brief: As the DS Lite reached near saturation point around the world, sales began to slow, prompting Nintendo to search for a new marketing hook. Enter the Nintendo DSi, a slightly larger unit with a built-in camera, no GBA cart slot (replaced by SD memory) and a new Wii-like channels system. The DSi also sports a slightly larger screen, an online shop for downloadable DSiWare games and has a tad more power under the hood. In a bit of a surprise, the DSi took off all over again, despite none of these enhancements affecting gameplay in any demonstrable sense thus far.


Above: Who wants a $170 third DS?

Criticism: Well… the DSi is a bit of a head scratcher, as we still haven’t seen a compelling display of its new abilities. DSiWare is an interesting addition, but the system as a whole reeks of the Game Boy Color – a slightly enhanced, moderately more powerful version of a popular handheld that split the market and was a stopgap solution for the real successor. Why buy this when the true follow-up, one with obvious improvements, will be ready in (possibly) just over a year?


Above: Oh for the love of…

Oh hello there. You must be the FOURTH version of the DS, released this year in Japan and coming to the US and UK in 2010. It’s the DSi XL, intentionally larger for people who maybe have a hard time reading text on the regular DS Lite and DSi. We guess? Either way, we’re now back to a handheld system that’s wider, thicker and taller than the old “phat” model replaced in 2006. Check it here.

Sales: Nintendo sold its 100 millionth DS in March 2009, and as of September has reached 113 million worldwide. Around 10 million are DSi units sold in the last year. For a five year span, that’s incredible. Further proof this thing isn’t going away anytime soon, especially with a new Zelda coming in December.

Nintendo is undoubtedly working on a true successor to the DS, but what it will be is anyone’s guess. Will it retain the dual screen format? Will it be the first new Game Boy since 2005? Will it be revealed in 2010 or is the DS performing so well there’s no need to rush another machine?

These answers, if they even come, will most likely be part of Nintendo’s press conference at E3 2010, currently slated for June 15. We’ll be live-blogging the entire event for sure, so [insert clichéd outro suggesting you check back with us early and often]!

Nov 20, 2009



Nintendo’s most-failingest peripherals
Each and every one will (not) change the way we play games


Console cameos
We track down the real-world systems that hide in your virtual playground


Console codenames: before they were famous
Nintendo Dolphin? Microsoft MARZ? See their embarrassing first attempts

27 comments

  • MB2KSpicules - December 8, 2009 4:33 a.m.

    Brettleston - always with the great articles. I can always count on Ninten-gold on this site when he's writing. But no honorable mentions for M&L: Partners in Time? Its on the pic at the top of the article! I personally prefer superstar saga on GBA, or the 2009 Bowser inside story, but it was still a great game of that year. And no Dementium: The Ward? I hope I'm not alone with Antista with the love for that game.
  • Kytl - November 27, 2009 5:09 a.m.

    getting Spirits Tracks for X-mas...that is all.
  • GameManiac - November 24, 2009 1:24 a.m.

    ...And SHORT LIVE CRAPPY THIRD-PERSON GAMES!!!
  • GameManiac - November 23, 2009 5:12 a.m.

    Wow... I think I have EVERY good game mentioned in this article, except the Advance Wars game (I prefer Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon) and that Castlevania game (i find them somewhat unfitting for me). I was ADDICTED to Pokemon Diamond, adored New Super Mario bros., Super Mario 64 DS, and many of the other games mentioned in this article. As of now, I have a DS Lite (and the regular one, despite the snapped hinge on it). I was actually thinking of buying a DSi, but I may want to change my mind when I learn more about that DSi XL. LONG LIVE THE DS!!!
  • super0sonic - November 22, 2009 8:08 p.m.

    I really like articles like these. Also I kind of want the DSi XL. I really like the ideal of a larger screen.
  • Cybermaster - November 22, 2009 3:09 p.m.

    One complaint: TWEWY should be the game of 2008.
  • lymanzaar - November 21, 2009 10:18 p.m.

    When I had gone to surgery in the Summer of '07, I had my best friend give me Superman Returns on my DS. It was so we could both play a $5 dollar game together. It was so stupid, I was laughing. But laughing hurt due to my surgery, so set the game aside til I recovered.
  • Xeacons - November 21, 2009 4:17 p.m.

    Personally, I think the DSi XL should be treated like a new color. It's just a DSi, only BIGGER! So if you already have one, don't sweat it. I don't see it as a new system (or even a new version). I just hope it doesn't kill some great game launch like the DSi did last year (RIP, GTA:Chinatown).
  • TRAVthe3RD - November 21, 2009 1:10 p.m.

    why are you guys shocked bout the constant updates when they did exactly the same thing with the gameboy advance.. think the sp then the micro..
  • QWERTYCommander - November 21, 2009 5:12 a.m.

    Does anyone know what the DSi XL is for? It doesn't have anything that the regular i doesn't, besides better battery life. It's just for people with big hands/poor eyesight.
  • griffed88 - November 21, 2009 5:08 a.m.

    i just got a dsi, but I'm pretty sure I'm gonna swap it out for a psp go. I hate havin to carry games around and I like the games on psp waaaaay more than the ds. I'm not a huge Zelda fan and neither am I a huge Mario fan. Metroid is sweet, but all that shovelware sucks lol
  • church117 - November 21, 2009 4:02 a.m.

    ooo. woops. i mean 14th
  • church117 - November 21, 2009 4:02 a.m.

    third. haha
  • Spybreak8 - November 21, 2009 2:21 a.m.

    This is the Joystiq picture I was referencing: http://tiny.cc/Zm4rP It makes me laugh every time.
  • Vagrant - November 21, 2009 2:18 a.m.

    What? Barely even one mention of Phoenix Wright?
  • Spybreak8 - November 21, 2009 1:59 a.m.

    Nintendo says it's just like Pokemon, collect em all! Lol seriously they marketed the DS to old people and then had to make the XL so they could read the DS Lite's small text lol. I have a DS Lite and sold off my DS along with Mario Kart Super Circuit, since Mario Kart DS has all the tracks (kept F Zero though)! If I had a younger brother (I'm the youngest) I'd get him another DS so we could play wireless locally, one thing I enjoyed alot at college. One thing I'd like is to see my overall driving time for Mario Kart (like Rockstar stat page ha), gawd prob be a solid 2 years. Star Fox Command is a great game but the exclusion to skip those fucking annoying missile missions is the reason its on my shelf and I contemplated selling that sucker. Touch works well with gameplay but sometimes the stylus gets in your way (with Zelda and Metroid), and they're making the stylus BIGGER!? wtf oh and I bought a M3 DS card to play all my games on one card, watch videos/movies and listen to my music on the go. (I do not pirate games on my card, I use it legitimately.) Like to say my fav game of all time on the DS is China Wars and Meteos and Tetris also has an honorable mention. Oh maybe the fact that the DS isn't selling like hot cakes now is the fact that everyone already has at least 2?! lol (You guys should have used Joystiq's DS printing money picture for this article ^^)
  • SuperStingray - November 21, 2009 1:29 a.m.

    I don't see why it's so bad that Nintendo's making a fourth iteration of the DS. It's like complaining that there's at least a hundred different brands of PCs.
  • NotBraze - November 21, 2009 12:46 a.m.

    I have the original 2004 version, and I was tempted by the DSi when it was first announced but the lack of GBA support was a deal breaker for me. I have a few great DS games, but the majority of my handheld collection is GBA games. When I heard about the DSi LL I was hopeful that a bigger system meant that'd there would be room for a GBA slot but of course, there is not. They aren't even going to offer GBA games over DSiWare. Bad move Nintendo.
  • Conman93 - November 21, 2009 12:29 a.m.

    I love my ds. Has some of my favourite games. Prof layton Pokemon and Zelda of course. Hopefully it wont change dramaticaly for another 5 years
  • 510BrotherPanda - November 21, 2009 12:09 a.m.

    I know this might never happen, at least not IRL, but I want something that can play my Gamecube discs like a PSP, Nintendo. Not a huger DS.

Showing 1-20 of 27 comments

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