This Sunday the Nintendo DSi XL goes on sale for $190. It’s the latest in a long line of DS relaunches that began with 2006’s DS Lite, which was designed specifically to be lighter, sleeker and much more suitable for on-the-go gaming than the bulky original DS (lovingly called DS Phat).
Above: The DS Lite, DSi and brand-new DSi XL
The XL comes full circle, drastically increasing the size of not just the screens, but also the physical bulk of the unit. That presents advantages and drawbacks, naturally, so if you’re wondering if the XL is worth the cash, we’ve put this article together to help you make the call.
Do you strain to read the Lite screen?
The DS Lite is far and away the world’s top gaming handheld with more than 85 million units sold since launch. That said, its screen is only three inches diagonal, so if you have eye trouble or are looking to buy a DS for someone who probably would have trouble with text on a screen that small, the XL’s beefy screen is perfect.
The drawback: The larger screen still displays games at their original resolution, so overall graphics are a tad blockier and it’s easier to pick out flaws.
Do you have big ol' hands?
As much as we love the Lite, plenty of gamers prefer a handheld with a bit more girth. The Phat, clumsily shaped as it was, fit into larger hands much better. The XL is even larger, so if you lament the rise of the DS Lite, the new handheld could be a better choice.
The drawback: It’s big as hell, and doesn’t exactly slide in and out of a typical pocket. If your primary means of conveyance is a purse, no problem. But a pair of average-fit jeans isn’t going to react well to a six-inch piece of rectangular plastic crammed in there. Coat pockets probably aren’t a concern.
Do you play your DS at home a lot?
Despite it being a handheld, we spend most of our DS time playing at home. Sure we’re on a bus now and then, and definitely take it on a plane, but usually it’s off to the couch or bed, DS in tow. If that’s how you play, again the XL is a smart choice, as its drawback (size) becomes a luxurious boon. Playing Spirit Tracks, Brain Age, Pokemon or New SMB on the XL instills the same feeling as watching an IMAX film – you know this medium shouldn’t be this big, but holy crap is it positively overwhelming.
The drawback: If you travel a lot, and use the DS mainly while en route, the added heft will be more impactful to your pockets.
If you said "Yes" to all 3, buy it!
It’s as simple as that. Everything else about the XL, from the camera to the DSiWare store to the audio software, is the same, so if size is your primary concern and you’ve got $190 to spare, go nuts.
What if I said no?
Then strongly reconsider. We’ve been using the XL as a secondary unit for home and office use, not an on-the-go solution. That makes the XL a very decadent purchase, as it’s not meant to replace your existing DS Lite (or DSi) but rather exist alongside for those times when you really want a big ass screen. Do you want to spend nearly $200 on a second, entirely frivolous DS?
Bottom to top: XL, Phat, DSi,DS Lite
It’s a treat to see and play, but in the end it’s a super-sized DSi, which we already thought was a bit extraneous (online shop aside). If you somehow own no other model, we’d still suggest the DS Lite for portability and all around usefulness. However, if you have an issue with small text, or cramped hands, or really want that screen, the XL is an extravagant way to spoil yourself.
Above: One last attempt at helping you decide
A year-by-year look at the world's most popular handheld
"Black Hole Power" by Yoshito Hirano