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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this new handheld gaming system connects to the Internet; takes photos that you can store, manipulate, and then share with others; plays music and allows you to record your own; comes with robust parental controls; and can download new software from the online DSi store (in a manner similar to purchasing music from iTunes or the WiiWare store). Because of its connectivity to others, it is important for parents of young children to turn on the parental controls to regulate the communication. And with this device's ability to take photos and then allow users to manipulate or distort them, parents need to consider at what age they want to grant their kids the option to share those photos. We have set the age appropriateness of use of this device at age 7, with the caveat that parents of kids under age 12 activate and use the parental controls. Common Sense Media does not recommend letting kids under age 12 on the Internet unsupervised.
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What's it about?
The DSi is a new handheld gaming system from Nintendo which looks a lot like the old DS. It flips open to reveal two screens, with the bottom one being touch sensitive. It comes with two digital cameras. The one on the inside can take photos and videos of the player to use within gameplay. The other, located on the outside of the casing, has better resolution and can take photos of others. The DSi comes with photo manipulation software which lets you experiment with morphing photos including distorting, adding funny touches (like Mario's famous moustache), and turning a photo into a kaleidoscope effect. This handheld can also play your favorite music from a SD card, and gives you the ability to record, overlay sounds, and manipulate the music's speed and pitch.
The DSi can connect to the internet, and even comes with its own browser. From the Internet, players can access the DSi store where they can download new games to the DSi by redeeming Nintendo Point cards or purchasing the points using a credit card. The games can be saved to the system or to an SD card. The system also has robust parental controls which cover controlling the ESRB rating of games played on the system, and restricting access to the Internet, the DSi store, PictoChat, as well as prohibiting the sharing of photos and user-generated content.
Is it any good?
Since this is the next iteration of the Nintendo DS, we will compare it to its predecessor while explaining the Pros and Cons of the new DSi.
• Takes photos, and comes with fun and amusing photo manipulation software
• Plays your own music, and lets you layer your own sounds over music as well as letting you manipulate sound, pitch, and speed.
• Games are downloadable, so you don't have to go to the store
• Parental Controls are robust. Can keep kids from going online, sharing photos and PictoChat, buying new games, sharing user-generated content. Parents can also set the level of the ESRB rating that kids are allowed to play (ie. if you prohibit the playing of M-rated DSi games, it won't play them. However, this doesn't work for older DS games which will also play on the system)
• Will play the older DS games
• Easier to connect to the Internet than the older DS
• Bigger screen
• Better sound
• Change games without turning off system
• Backward compatible to the over 850 DS titles
• Can save games and photos to SD card
• Costs more than a DS ($170 vs $130)
• Not backward compatible to Game Boy Advance titles the way the DS is
• Parental controls relating to controlling ESRB content is only for DSi games, not DS games
• Has its own new charger so you can't use older DS or DS Lite chargers
• Battery won't last as long as the one in the DS
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.