Nintendo DSi
Handheld game console
Release date
November 1, 2008
Physical and digital

The Nintendo DSi is a Nintendo portable game console released in 2008 that Flipnote Studio is available on. Unlike the earlier DS's; DS Lite and DS, it has two cameras, an SD card slot, a new AC adapter, and no GBA support. The console hadan extremely small library of retail titles, some of which are now rare. Fortunately, it was backwards compatible with the DS. You can also make sounds and also has a virtual store called the DSi Shop and a web-broswing application. It was followed up with the DSi XL (DSi LL in Japan). It is also worth noting that this console supported WPA connections, whereas the DS only supported WEP. That was a larger version of the handheld which came with a larger stylus. Its successor was the 3DS, released in 2011.

Additional Information

While the DSi's design is similar to that of the DS Lite, it features two digital cameras, supports internal and external content storage, and connects to an online store called the Nintendo DSi Shop. Nintendo stated that families often share DS and DS Lite consoles. Its new functionality was intended to facilitate personalization, so as to encourage each member of a household to purchase a DSi. The handheld supports exclusive physical media in addition to DS games with DSi-specific features and standard DS titles. The only exception to its backward compatibility are earlier DS games that required the GBA slot. Nintendo had sold over 41 million DSi and DSi XL units combined.

Reviews of the Nintendo DSi were generally positive; although IGN and bit-tech decried the console's lack of exclusive software and removal of the GBA cartridge slot, its added functionality caused many journalists to recommend it to those who had not purchased a previous DS model. Numerous critics were disappointed with the limited resolution of DSi's cameras, though others such as Ars Technica and GameSpot agreed they were adequate for the handheld's display. CNET and PCWorld considered the DSi Shop to be the most important buying incentive for current DS owners. Some critics believed the DSi XL was not an essential upgrade. GamePro and Wired UK, on the other hand, praised the DSi XL's larger screens for improving the gaming experience and revitalizing older DS games.


Development of the Nintendo DSi started at the end of 2006. It was the first time Masato Kuwahara of Nintendo's Development Engineering Department served as a hardware project leader. Work went at a quick pace to meet deadlines; his team had to devise a theme for the new DS in time for a late December presentation, and by February 2007, most specifications for a chipset had to be completed. Kuwahara reported that his team had difficulty determining the potential market for the handheld during the design process; he said of their goal, "We have to be able to sell the console on its own. It also has to be able to meld into the already-existing DS market." The console's digital cameras were considered early in development: Nintendo president and Chief Executive Officer Satoru Iwata described the touchscreen as the Nintendo DS's sense of touch, and the microphone as its "ears"; a co-worker suggested that it should have "eyes". Kuwahara's team originally wanted one camera with a swivel mechanism, but this was abandoned due to concerns of reliability, cost, and the need of a thicker console. Owing to consumer demand, Nintendo also improved the handhelds' volume and audio quality and made it slimmer with larger screens compared to the Nintendo DS Lite. However, to improve portability without sacrificing durability, the GBA cartridge slot present on earlier models was removed. To compensate, Nintendo continued to support the DS Lite as long as there was consumer demand for it.

The DSi's size was changed midway through development, delaying its release. Its original design included two DS game card slots, because of demand from both fan communities and Nintendo employees, which consequently made it larger. When the console's designs were unveiled to Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development producers in October 2007, it was met with lukewarm reception due to its size. However, Iwata and Kuwahara's own hopes resulted in the creation of a prototype. A quick hands-on investigation led them to abandon the dual-slot design, which made the DSi approximately 0.12 inches (3 mm) slimmer. Ever since the handheld's in-company unveiling, its internal designs were finished along with assembly and durability specifications. Iwata described having to resize the console so close to manufacturing as being essentially the same as making another handheld.

Yui Ehara, designer of the DS Lite and DSi's original casing, had to redesign the revised case. He advocated changing the six speaker apertures, as their circular perforations were redundant to the rest of the handheld's interface. He believed that this alteration also signaled a clearer distinction between the DSi and its predecessors while keeping the unit "neat" and "simple".[9] Ehara hoped the DSi's added features would not interfere with his desired iconic image of the Nintendo DS product line: two rectangles, one on top of the other, with each half containing another rectangle inside.[9] This model was publicly revealed at the October 2008 Nintendo Conference in Tokyo, along with its Japanese price and release date. While the DS product line's worldwide yearly sales figures consistently surpassed those of its primary market rival, Sony's PlayStation Portable, demand for it in Japan was decreasing; Nintendo's launch of the DSi was intended to stimulate sales. The company was less concerned with releasing the DSi in other territories, where DS Lite market demand remained high.

Development of a large DS Lite model in 2007 eventually led to the DSi XL (known in Japan as the Nintendo DSi LL). Nintendo had designed a large DS Lite model with 3.8-inch (97 mm) screens, compared to the standard 3-inch (76 mm) screens; development of this new handheld advanced far enough that it could have begun mass production. However, Iwata placed the project on hold due to consumer demand for the DS Lite and Wii. He later pitched the idea of simultaneously releasing large and small versions of the DSi instead, but Nintendo's hardware team was incapable of developing two models concurrently. After finishing work on the DSi, Kuwahara started the DSi XL project and became project leader.[16] The DSi XL, a DSi model with 4.2-inch (110 mm) screens, was announced on October 29, 2009. Various names for it were considered, including "DSi Comfort", "DSi Executive", "DSi Premium", "DSi Living", and "DSi Deka" (Japanese for "large"). Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto insisted on "DSi Deka". The handheld has an improved viewing angle over its predecessor, which allows onlookers to see the screen's contents more easily.[19] This feature was absent from the large DS Lite model due to cost issues at the time, which also limited LCD screen size. The cost of LCD screens is determined by how many pieces are cut from a single large glass sheet. To keep these costs within a certain threshold, Nintendo set a screen size limit of approximately 3.8 inches (97 mm), which was later increased to 4.2 inches (110 mm).


On November 1, 2008, the DSi was released in Japan; on April 2, 2009, in Australia and New Zealand, and on April 3 in Europe, all with a black and white casing. It launched in the United States and Canada on April 5, alongside the game Rhythm Heaven. It was the first DS console to launch with multiple colors in North America—black and blue. iQue released a Chinese DSi model in black and white, with a pre-installed version of Nintendogs, in December 2009; the Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun reported that the Chinese and Korean models featured improved security, to combat piracy. On April 15, 2010, the DSi was launched in South Korea in white, black, blue, and pink, alongside the game MapleStory DS. MapleStory DS was also bundled with a red limited-edition DSi, which had characters from the game printed around its external camera. Other countries the DSi was released in include Brazil, Russia, and Turkey.

Nintendo had shipped 200,000 units for the DSi's Japanese launch, and during its first two days on sale, over 170,000 units were sold — the remaining units were either unclaimed pre-orders or reserved for sale on Culture Day. By the end of the month, the DSi sold 535,000 units, in comparison to 550,000 DS Lites sold in its launch month. In the two-day launch period, Europe and North American sales totaled 600,000 units combined. North American first week sales almost doubled the DS Lite's 226,000 units by selling 435,000. In the UK, the console totaled 92,000 sales within two days of release, which GfK/Chart-Track data showed to be the fourth-best opening weekend ever in the region—higher than previous records set by other DS iterations.

DSi launch events were held on the western and eastern coasts of the United States. Nintendo sponsored an official launch event at the Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles and the Nintendo World Store in New York City. The LA midnight launch party featured several events, including merchandise handouts, signings and art galleries from iam8bit, parkour demonstrations, and performances by Gym Class Heroes. Hundreds attended and over 150 stayed until midnight to purchase a unit at GameStop. A human-sized Lego DSi by artist Sean Kenney was on display at the Nintendo World Store.

The Nintendo DSi XL was released in Japan on November 21, 2009, in bronze, burgundy, and white. The former two colors were available for its European launch on March 5, 2010, and its North American launch on March 28. The console launched in Australia on April 15, 2010, in bronze and burgundy. The DSi XL was released in other countries including Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey. Over 100,500 units were sold during the console's first two days on sale in Japan, and 141,000 units were sold during its first three days in the United States.

The 2011 release of the Nintendo 3DS, the successor to the Nintendo DS series of handhelds, was announced on March 23, 2010, to preempt impending news leaks by the Japanese press and to attract potential attendees to the Electronic Entertainment Expo. According to industry analysts, the timing drew attention from the North American launch of the DSi XL. M2 Research senior analyst Billy Pigeon argued the "XL is old news ... in Japan – and Nintendo is a very Japan-centric organization. This is just the corporate parent in Japan maybe not acting in the best interest of Nintendo of America." Iwata dismissed any significant impact when speaking to concerned investors, "those who are eager to buy Nintendo 3DS right after the announcement generally tend to react quickly to anything new on the market, and those who are purchasing a Nintendo DS today tend to react relatively slowly."

Demographic and sales

Nintendo targeted a wider demographic profile with the first Nintendo DS (2004) than it had with the Game Boy line. Comparing 2008 life-to-date DS and DS Lite sales to the best-selling game console, Sony's PlayStation 2, showed potential in further expanding the Nintendo DS gaming population—particularly in Europe and the United States. To further promote the product line while expanding its gaming population, Nintendo created the DSi. Iwata has said that families often share DS and DS Lite consoles, so to encourage each family member to buy an individual handheld, Nintendo added personalization features to the DSi.

The "i" in DSi symbolizes both an individual person (I) and the handheld's cameras (eyes); the former meaning contrasts with the "i"'s in Wii, which represent players gathering together.[58] Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said, "If Wii was about gaming for the masses, then think of DSi as creativity for the masses." Iwata has said that the DSi is meant to be a first camera for children, and a social networking device for adults. In response to media commentary following the DSi's announcement, Iwata insisted that its new audio and camera capabilities are not meant to compete with mobile phones, the iPod, or the PSP. He explained their role in the marketplace:

While cell phone and digital camera manufacturers have been trying to compete against each other by intensifying the picture pixel quality and zooming ability of their camera functions, and while music players are making its improvements mainly by making smaller exterior design and by increasing memory storage capacity, DSi is trying to propose a different path of evolution by providing the users with the opportunity to be able to touch and play with photographs and sounds.

The DSi helped maintain strong sales for Nintendo's handheld product line. The DSi accounted for 40 percent of its product line's 2009 UK sales and frequently topped weekly sales charts in Japan during its first year of availability. In the United States, the console's initial three-month sales surpassed those of the DS, DS Lite, and Wii. Average weekly sales of the Wii and Nintendo DS declined slightly in March; Nintendo DS hardware sales stabilized at over 200,000 units for seven months after the DSi's April launch, while Wii sales diminished. Gamasutra estimated that, in October 2009 and February 2010, 50 percent of Nintendo DS unit sales were DSi consoles. In an October 2009 interview, Fils-Aime announced that the DSi had sold 2.2 million units in the United States. He said, "If you give the consumer great value in terms of what they pay, they're willing to spend, and we say [that] based on the experience of launching the DSi". The United States had its highest yearly DS sales in 2009 with 11.22 million units sold. The DSi and DSi XL accounted for 16.88 million of the 27.11 million units sold worldwide of its product line for Nintendo's 2009 fiscal year beginning April 1, 2009 and ending March 31, 2010.

In Gamasutra's United States hardware sales estimate for July 2010, the DSi and DSi XL each outsold the DS Lite. The website reported DSi sales of approximately 300,000 units in July 2009 and February 2010, which remains consistent for July 2010 if combined with DSi XL sales. As a result, the average price consumers were spending on the Nintendo DS hardware family rose to over $165 (in 2004 dollars, $190 adjusted for inflation as of 2010), which is over $15 more than the November 2004 launch price of the original Nintendo DS. Nintendo made its first DSi price cuts in Europe on June 18, 2010, for DSi and DSi XL consoles in Japan on June 19, and in North America on September 12. The DSi and DSi XL accounted for 14.66 million of the 17.52 million units sold worldwide of its product line in fiscal year 2010.

In a United States hardware sales estimate for July 2011 by Gamasutra following the DS Lite's price drop a month earlier, about 60 to 70 percent of approximately 290,000 DS units sold were DSi and DSi XL consoles. Lackluster 3DS sales forced Nintendo to drop its price to match the DSi XL in the United States on August 12. Japan and Europe had similar price reductions. Gamasutra speculated potential DS buyers in the United States opted for the 3DS as a result; DS sales for August 2011 decreased by 45 percent, while it combined with 3DS sales remained steady compared to the previous month. Nintendo made its second DSi and DSi XL price cuts in North America on May 20, 2012. Gamasutra called these price cuts the DS product line's "final send-off" and expects "by this time next year its contributions to the market will be minuscule. After Christmas, Nintendo will effectively be a single-handheld system company, putting all of portable software efforts into the Nintendo 3DS."


All DS games are compatible with the DSi, except those that require the GBA slot. Because of its absence, the DSi is not backward compatible with GBA Game Paks or with accessories that require the GBA slot, such as the Nintendo DS Rumble Pak and the Guitar Hero: On Tour series guitar grip. "DSi-enhanced" game cards contain DSi-exclusive features, but can still be used with earlier models; "DSi-exclusive" game cards cannot. The DSi is Nintendo's first region-locked handheld; it prevents using certain software released for another region. Due to regional differences in Internet services and parental controls, DSi-specific software is region locked. Cartridge software compatible with previous models, Internet browsing, and photo sharing are not locked. Homebrew flash cards designed for previous DS models are incompatible with the DSi, but new cards capable of running DS software on a DSi were available.

Like the Wii, the DSi can connect to an online store. The store, called the DSi Shop, allows users to download DSiWare games and applications, which are paid for with a Nintendo Points Prepaid Card (previously known as Wii Points Prepaid Card). Application prices follow a three-tiered pricing scheme. The service launched with the DSi Browser, a free web browser developed by Opera Software and Nintendo. A DSiWare trial campaign, whose expiration date varied by region, formerly offered 1,000 free Nintendo Points to each DSi that accesses the DSi Shop. As of June 2011, over 350 downloadable games were available, varying by region. Purchased DSiWare on DSi or DSi XL consoles cannot be transferred between units unless that console is repaired or replaced by Nintendo. Most DSiWare can be transferred to a 3DS, however saved data cannot.