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Review: Nintendo DSi – a good upgrade

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I got my first and only DS from eBay right after the US launch in 2004. That was 3-4 months before the Norwegian and European launch. Nintendo revolutionised handheld gaming with its two screens, where one was a thouchscreen. The DS have been a great success for Nintendo with 100 million consoles sold.

Nintendo DS was launched as Nintendos third pilar, but soon it looked liked it was the only pilar. DS Lite was launched in 2006. For a long time I was thinking of upgrading to a DS Lite. But last October 2008 the great new of the DSi was released. I found out that I could wait some months.

On Friday April 3, 2009 the Nintendo DSi was released in Norway and Europe, two whole days before USA. It have been discussed on forums if the upgrade to a DSi is worth the money. For me this have not been a question since I upgraded from a Phat grey DS. For me the upgrade to Nintendo DSi is worth every Norwegian Krones.

Here is my small Nintendo DSi review. 

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The biggest news is that the DSi have two cameras (one on the inside, one on the outside), it can use SD-cards, build-in storage, you can download software and it have bigger screens. DSi is also missing the GBA-port.

Some of Nintendo DSi’s specifications (Wikipedia.org):

  • CPU: ARM @ 133 MHz (DS – 67 MHz)
  • Screen: 256 x 192 pixels, 3,25 inch (DS – 3 inch)
  • 16 MB RAM (DS 4 MB)
  • 256 MB internal storage + SD-card (support SDHC)
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11b, DSi support WPA and WPA2, DS still only support WEP

The screens are bright and clear. The inner camera and mic are placed between the two screens. This works great. The speakers are placed on each side of the upper screen.

Nintendo DSi Camera

The DSi cameras are only 0.3 megapixel, 640 x 480. This isn’t much, but I don’t think that is a problem. Nintendo also had internal discussion about the hardware. The DSi isn’t ment to replace a compact camera. If the DSi cameras had had higher resolution, the DSi might have been a bit bigger and it would use more processor power to handle the picture, and that would have give less batterylife. The picture look good on the DSi screens, and OK on PC too.

The built in software have some function to play around with: Disortian, Graffiti, Colour, Colourpad, Mirror, Mischief, Emoter, Merge og Resembalance.

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The photos bellow was taken with the DSi camera.

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Nintendo DSi Sound

With Nintendo DSi Sound you can play with sound. You can record upto 10 seconds soundclips. These can be used when playing music. Fun. When playing a song you can adjust tempo and pitch. You can also play music with four different filters: Radio, Intrumental, Echo og 8-bit game.

DSi can only play AAC files, no MP3s. This is a bit strange since MP3 is the most common format. But again, Nintendo removed MP3 playback from the Wii. But there should be no problem converting your music to the AAC format.

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Nintendo DSi Shop

When you log on to the Nintendo DSi Shop for the first time, you get 1000 DSi points which is very nice. You can buy more points with your Visa/MasterCard or buy Nintendo Point Cards at your retailer.

There are four price categories; Free (which we all like), 200, 500 og Premium (that is 600 and over). There was not that many titles available at the European launch.

These was the titles available at the European launch on April 3, 2009: DSi Browser (free), Paper Plane, Pyoro (200), Art Style: AQUITE, ArtStyle: CODE and WarioWare: Snapped! (500).

Rumors also have i that GameBoy and GameBoy Advance games will be available for download. But that is only a rumor.

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Nintendo DSi Browser

DSi is missing the GBA-port, so the old DS Browser won’t work. But as it happens, you can download DSi Browser for free. The DSi Browser won’t replace your desktop browser, but it does a good job. It’s faster than the old browser.  And you can still not play video, flash or soud with the browser. But I don’t see that as a problem, since this is not my main browser.

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PictoChat

Local chat and the same as previously DS. But it now support rainbow colour.

DS Download Play

With this function you can play multiplayer with only one gamecart.

You can also download DS demos from Nintendo Wii. But it would be cool if you could download demos from the DSi Shop and store them on the SD-card or the internal storage. When using Download Play the content will be erased from memory when you quit the demo.

Conclusion

Nintendo DSi also have two new nice features. You can now hot-swap games without turning off the DSi. This is very usefull. With a fast press on the Power-button you quit the game/software you using, and you come back to the main menu.

With two cameras, 256 MB internal storage, support for SDHC memory card, internet, downloadable games; I think Nintendo have a new hit. Nintendo DSi have already sold 2 million units in Japan. They must do something right.

The DSi is missing the GBA port so games like Guitar Hero won’t work and you can’t play GBA games. But how often do you do that anyway now? DSi Enhanced games will come that will work on “old” DS and have extra functions on the DSi. At some point DSi only games will also come. They will be region locket. All DSiWare is also region locket, and the only way to play japanese only DSiWare is to import one.

So the question is: Should you upgrade to a DSi? That depend. If you have a DS Lite today, you can wait and see what the downloadable software and games will be over the next months. If you don’t have a DS today, or you are like me and still have the Phat grey DS, I can recommand the Nintendo DSi.

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Review: Animal Crossing – Let’s Go To The City

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Animal Crossing started its live on Nintendo 64 as Doubutsu no Mori (aka Animal Forest) in 2001, Japan. The game continued on GameCube (Animal Crossing) later the same year in Japan. US got the GameCube game in 2002, Australia in 2003 and Europe had to wait for 2004 to get the GameCube version. Nintendo DS also had its version, Animal Crossing: Wild World (aka Oide yo Doubutsu no Mori) which came in all region at the end of 2005. Again, Europe had to wait until Spring 2006 before we got our version of the DS game.

The game is called Animal Crossing: Let’s Go To The City in Europe, but I like the shorter US name better: Animal Crossing: City Folk. But enough of the history and game name.

The gameplay, graphics and music haven’t changed that much since the N64 version. But I don’t think that is a problem, since everything fit fine with the game.

You start with a small apartment and you have to work for Nook. You need to deliver different things around your town. And when you’re finished with 5-6 errands, you can do what ever you want. You need to earn money to pay of the mortgage. You can sell fish, fruit, shells and other think you find.

The game never ends. You collect insects, fish and dinosour skeletons which you can donate to the local museum. When you have played by yourself for a while, you want to travel or invite people to your town. You need a friendcode from people to travel to their city.

My code is: 0388-2615-7909, name: Frank and city: PalmCity. Native fruit: Pear.

I don’t like Nintendos way of handeling friendscode. But that is another discution. It’s fun to play online and it’s easy to communicate with others using the onscreen keyboard with Wii-mote (you could probably use a USB keyboard, but I haven’t tested that). If you have the Wii Speak (sold either with Animal Crossing or seperatly), you can talk to each other. If you don’t have it, you can hear them speak.

I like that you can press the 1-button an take a screenshot and save it to a SD-card. All screenshot in this post, is taken this way.

Is this a good game? YES. Does it offer anything new? NO. But I recommend it for old and new Animal Crossing players.

I have also posted a video of the countdown to 2009 in my Animal Crossing city.

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DVD: The IT Crowd – version 2.0 (review)

I loved the first season of The IT Crowd. And the second season is as good. We are still watching Roy and Moss in the IT department with Jen as their boss.  They still try to help out on the IT front, but this in season two we also see Roy, Moss and Jen in real life, outside of their jobs. That is real fun, since Roy and Moss haven’t spendt that much time in the real world.

The IT Crowd is a joy ride, and is very much recommanded. You can see season two with out seeing the first, but you miss a lot of fun, you you should get the 1st season too.

Episodes on the disc:

  1. The Work Outing
  2. Return of the Golden Child
  3. Moss and the German
  4. The Dinner Party
  5. Smoke and Mirrors
  6. Men Without Women

You get Out-takes, audio-commentary for all episodes with write/director/creator Graham Linehan, and Recording the IT Crowd.

Xbox 360: The New Xbox Experience – first test

I was one of the lucky one that was selected for the preview program last week. I updated to the New Xbox Experience on Friday, October 31.

I like the new look of NXE. It’s nice, the menu movies fast and it’s easy to navigate. You have to get used to the new way of navigate your items, but that shouldn’t be a problem after some day of use.

I’ve made a gallery where you can see many screenshoot. They where taken from standard definition recordings.

Download

One thing that I’ve allways liked with the PS3, is that you can queue 16 items for download. The previously 6 on Xbox have been a bit limited for my taste. So I had to check if they had changed that. I added item after item to the download list. So, you can now add 29 items to your queue list, that should be more than enough.

Install to harddrive

One of the new feature in NXE is that you can install games on your harddrive. I’ve installed two games to test, and both weight in at about 4.5 GB each. I haven’t timed it, but loading times are faster. And what is equaly important, the DVD drive don’t spin, so the noise reduction is great.

Avatar

The big new feature is offcourse the avatar. Many have said the Microsoft ripped off Nintendo’s Mii. But Nintendo didn’t sadsd avatars. They have been around for years. They also look like Sims, but I haven’t seen that mentioned anywhere.

You can take picture of your avatar and use that as a gamerpicture. You can invate up to eight friends to a party for chatting and playing games. I haven’t tried that yet, since non on my friendslist have the NXE update yet. Have to wait for November 19.

It’s easy to make an avatar as you can see in the YouTube video I’ve made.

Netflix

Netflix is another new feature, but only for Gold members in USA. It let you stream movies from their movie cataloge.

The Guide-button – The old dashboard

Even though you update to the New Xbox Experience, the old dashboard won’t disappear completely. It will live in the Guide-button. Even in-game, you can press the Guide-button and up pops the old dashboard in a more compact format. You can do everything here as you can in NXE. This is good, and may also work a bit faster with some functions.

Summary

The New Xbox Experience is a great update, and you will soon forget that you had the old dashboard. It will be great when November 19 comes, and everyone can update to the new firmware.

You can view a lot of screenshots in my gallery.

Here is a YouTube video I made showing the new NXE.

Here is the new intro that plays the first time you turn on your Xbox after the update.

DVD: The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

You have probably played Donkey Kong sometime in your gaming career. But for some people this game is more than just a game. This movie shows the rivarly between Billy Mitchell who had the record on Donkey Kong for years and Steve Wiebe who was the first to score over 1,000,000 in Donkey Kong.

The highscore for Donkey Kong changed after the documentary was made last year. According to TwinGalaxies.com Billy Mitchell is now in the lead with 1,050,200 points followed by Steve Wiebe with 1,049,100 points. Pretty amazing scores there.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is a good documentary. Fun to watch and it shows that a game is not only a game. It’s fun to play a game, but for Mitchell and Wiebe it’s more important to have the highest score.

Extras on the disc:

  • Feature commentary with director Seth Gordon, producer Ed Cunningham and associate producer J. Clay Tweel and Luis Lopez
  • Feature Commentary with Chris Carle (Entertainment Editorial Director, IGN) and Jon M. Gibson (Founder, i am 8-bit)
  • Animated Short “A Really, Really Brief History of Donkey Kong”
  • Extened Interviews
  • Arcade Glossary
  • Theatrical Trailer

I can really recommand this movie.

Screenshots from the movie:

DVD: The IT Crowd (Version 1.0)

The IT Crowd was shown on Channel 4 sometime last year (I think, I don’t live in UK). I saw some clips on the net, and it look good. I bought the DVD and it’s great.

The show is about two guys, Roy and Moss, in the IT deparment of a big company. They have their office in the basement and spend most of their time there. From time to time they leave the office to help other employes on the other floors. But if they can, they will stay in the basement vere they feel safe.

I will quote what the back of the DVD cover say:
“Roy and Moss toil in the squalid basement of a huge company, fielding IT help desk calls. Roy has a lousy attitude coupled with an eye for the ladies, while Moss is dressed by his mother and has an earosol can of water clipped to his belt with which to spray his ear when it gets hot.

Into their life of ‘users’, pizza, science fiction and firewalls comes middle manager Jen, a spunky can-do career gal who doesn’t know one end of a laptop from the other. Can she introduce real life to men who email the fire brigade in an emergency, who invent a spycho for an internet dating site and display sympathetic PMT symptoms once a month?”

When they get a call, the conversation goes something like this:
-”Hello, IT. Have you tried turning it on and off again?
OK, well, the button on the side, is it gloving?
Yeah, you need to turn it on.”

This is a very british sitcom and a very good one. The characters are a bit stereotypical, but they are spot on. The IT Corwd is very funny and I laugh all the time. I think you will too. If you buy this DVD, and I think you should, it’s well invested money.

The series have six episodes:

  • Yesterday’s Jam
  • Calamity Jen
  • Fifty-Fifty
  • The Red Door
  • The Haunting of Bill Crouse
  • Aunt Irma Visits

The DVD have some extras: Deleted scenes, Behind The IT Crowd, Hello Friend, Hidden Out-takes and Audio commentaries.

Picture is 16:9 anamorphic, English 2.0 stereo and its PAL region 2 (will work on regionfree DVD players).

A new season will be aired in the UK this autumn 2007.

You can buy the PAL region 2 DVD from Amazon.co.uk.

NintendoDS: Nintendo DS Browser (Opera DS)

I’ve been using the DS Browser for about 2 weeks now. And for me it works very well. I will tell you in a while.

The DS Browser comes with a DS cartridge and a Memory Expansion Pak. Just plug it in and your ready to go. If you haven’t used your DS online yet, you have to set it up. But this is an easy task.

So how does it work? On the touchscreen you have a menubar at the bottom. Here you can select to enter a URL to go to a webpage. If you use that webpage a lot, bookmark it. The page can be viewed in two different ways. The first is Overview Mode. Her you have the page fit into the touchscreen and a zoombox. What’s inside the zoombox is showed on the topscreen. The second mode is SRR Mode. The page is formated to fit both screens, and I think this is the best mode. The keyboard to type in text works very well and you are also able to usehabdwritting recognition. I haven’t used it much, since I’m very good at using the keyboard.

There have been much talk about the speed of the browser. Yes, it’s slow and it can take some time to load the page. It feels like using a 56K modem again. So it cant replace your PC. But for me this software is very good. I often lie in bed using WAP on my cellphone, this ofcourse cost some money. So DS Browser is a good replacement for your cellhpone since you easily can view all sort of pages.

The browser does not support Flash, video, audio or PDF, but that doesn’t have to be a problem. So is it worth buying? I will say yes if you need to have internet access all the time. The price is a bit high thou.

The Nintendo DS Browser is out in Japan and Europe. There is no US release date yet. The browser comes in both a NDS and DS Lite version. You can get all versions a Play-Asia.com.

I’ve got pictures and will post them soon.