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Friday October 3, 2008 3:15 pm
Nintendo DSi: What does it mean for you?
So, as we’ve already reported, Nintendo has announced the DSi, a spiffy new iteration of the DS franchise. There’s the larger screens, smaller profile, music playback, SD card slot…But what’s got everybody in a kerfuffle about it is the 3MP camera embedded in the system, both on the top and between the screens. The burning question now is what exactly Nintendo plans to do with the system, and how they’re going to integrate the features. So, if you want some uninformed opinion about the possibilities and future of the DSi, kindly hit the jump.
The first thing that comes to mind when talking about the Nintendo DSi camera has to be how the games will integrate this feature. As I said in a previous post, there are a few ways it can be integrated, such as the way the cell phone title Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis had you using the camera to craft materia based on the dominant color of the picture. What I’m personally hoping for is the return of the Game Boy Camera - the fact that the DSi now features an SD card slot makes it a lot easier to store said pictures and print them out from a PC, as opposed to the crappy thermal printer they sold with the Gameboy. But knowing Nintendo, they’ll probably kick it off with a WarioWare title or something similar, since we’ve had one with each system launch to show off the capabilities of the new interface (Wii, DS, etc.). And, of course, there’s Pokemon - could you even begin to imagine how awesome it would be to use the camera to catch pokemon or influence game mechanics? Hell, we could even have a new Boktai title that used the camera to capture light, as opposed to the solar panel that was in the previous game carts.
The only problem with all of this is that would leave current-gen DS owners out in the cold, and if Nintendo does anything right, it’s backwards compatibility. What we’ll likely see is a smattering of new games with optional camera features, but still entirely playable on the DS. Things like being able to add your face to the game, or keep in-game photojournals, etc.
The DS already has Pictochat built in, but what else could you do now that you have a camera?
It’s obvious: Skype. How could they not? You have a camera, a built-in microphone, and a well-established online network. Grab a friend code, and being able to videochat through your DS is just a heartbeat away. They would be stupid not to put the pieces together. They’ve already shown that they can do VoIP on the system with homebrew apps and in-game chat. Plus, with the touchscreen, you have the option of whiteboard-sharing, drawing in videos, or networked video chat amongst a group. Why not? Get online, talk to a friend, and invite them to play an online game. Or, even better, use the wireless game sharing options to send the data to everyone in your chat over the internets.
Of course, there are still other options. With a camera, what’s to stop people from geotagging? Snap a picture on the DS, upload it over a wifi network, and have it appear in a Google Maps-esque window for other DS owners. Hell, run Google Maps striaght off the card! Or, for that matter, why not run anything off the card…
This is the problem you bring upon yourself when you allow your system to start using expandable memory. PSP users have been doing it for years, and DS owners have been doing it too via R4 cards. But now, it’s simply a drag and drop operation. Sony has been using forced firmware updates to try and combat the problem, though mostly without success, but with no such concept existing on the DS, it’s easy prey for pirates to download and play any game they want.
The flipside of this, though, will be a thriving homebrew community. Having expandable memory means that budding programmers can flex their muscles on the DSi without much of a problem, and this can mean awesome programs for you, beyond what you’ll be able to purchase in the DSi Shop. Email clients, social networking, mapping software… All with touchscreen functionality, and 2-screen display. This could be the start of something big.
But, of course, there’s the problem of controversy. Along with the widespread software piracy, can you imagine what this means for the mainstream? The DSi is the first gaming system with a camera on the outside. You can pretend to play games and snap pictures - how long do you think it’ll be before the talking heads on Sunday morning news shows and parental advocacy groups start complaining about how people will use the system for inappropriate (read: upskirt) photography? Given, this has been available with cell phone cameras for years, but this is a game system we’re talking about. The news’ job is to get ratings, and they get it easily by scaring people, which is why video games have become the new target for the media. Would you be very surprised to read a headline like “How Child Predators are Using New Game System to Photograph Your Children!” in the morning tabloid? This isn’t much of a problem in the game media, and problably won’t make a ding in the profits, but for a usually squeaky-clean company like the big N, it may call for a press release or two.
So, what do you guys think the Nintendo DSi will bring to the table? Let us know in the comments.
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