There’s a similar tale with the sound app, where you can record and then play with audio using the DSi’s built-in microphone or work on tracks stored on an inserted SD card. It is annoying and slightly odd that Nintendo has chosen AAC over MP3 as its sole supported file format, but again this isn’t a fatal weakness for the reason that you’re unlikely to make the DSi your sole MP3 player. Instead, you’re encouraged just to mess around, playing along with the track in real-time to add cat or dog noises to the beats, remove the vocal tracks or alter the tempo and pitch. Record a sound, and you can perform some of the same tricks. This isn’t serious stuff, but it’s not meant to be. It’s quick. It’s silly. It’s fun.
Of course, it’s also slightly gimmicky fun, of the sort that you and/or your friends/offspring will probably tire of within a week or so of having your DSi. Given the £150 asking price, that’s not really enough to recommend splashing out on the DSi in the first place. This is where things get tricky. For one thing, it remains to be seen whether Nintendo and the big third-party publishers can create games that use the cameras as part of an innovative control system or a genuinely entertaining feature. Sure, it’s a long shot, but then we said similar things about the touchscreen controls of the DS. For another thing, a lot rests on the software that flows to the DSi in the shape of DSi Ware on the DSi store.
Here Nintendo is both taking the concept of WiiWare to a handheld format and taking a leaf from Apple’s book. There is a lot of talk about the DSi shop providing smaller apps like calculators, calendars, to-do lists, map applications and translation apps, all of which will be familiar to owners of the iPhone or iPod touch (not to mention the Blackberry, Symbian and Android equivalents). The idea is that DSi owners will be only too pleased to fill up their SD cards and those empty boxes on the home screen with simple, cheap, useful apps. However, it’s also likely that the DSi shop will be the major outlet for DSi-specific games rather than the usual retail points.