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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Iwata Asks: Nintendo DSi

Much like the Wii interview, Nintendo's Global President Satoru Iwata sits down and interviews his minions the DSi design team to get their thoughts on this 3rd interation of the DS.

Despite being interviewed by their boss, there's some candid comments... like how constraining it was to have to try to make a "new" system that wasn't a "new" system:


One thing that was difficult was developing the project while keeping in mind how to sell it. What I mean is, it wasn't a completely new piece of hardware, so we couldn't plan on there being several big titles to be simultaneously released with it.


Because it's not an entirely new platform. It's the third console in the Nintendo DS line.


Exactly. So, to put it simply, 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.

That's right.


That was the source of some frustration for me. I couldn't move forward at full blast, but if I didn't move forward, it wouldn't feel new. It was quite a dilemma.


In other words, you would have felt freer if you could have ignored the technological precedents and the existing market for the DS, but since you had to restrict yourself to the DS platform, figuring out how to be innovative within that framework was a big challenge.

*[this is the part where Iwata goes, "O RLY"... pulls out Kuwahara's employee review file, and Kuwahara recants everything he just said... hehe just kidding.]*

One weird idea: originally the DSi was going to have 2 DS cartridge slots! I'm not sure why they really pushed for this, but when they passed the prototype around, the team really didn't like it... apparently it added a lot of bulk to the system. So they had to do a last minute change to make it the slimmer DSi we (will) know.

Another weird thing: SD card support was not a popular idea, and had to be pushed on them by Shigeru Miyamoto:


Early during planning, software developers in favor of SD cards weren't in the majority. If you use SD cards, the size increases, and at that stage it was difficult to visualize clearly what SD cards would bring to the system and what it would lack without them. But Miyamoto-san wanted to use them. When asked if he was certain, he said yes and promised that he would make the use of it. (laughs)

*The full interview is here, in 2 parts.*

I'm not a big fan of incremental hardware updates and passing them off as "new systems"... unfortunately Apple taught Nintendo & Sony how to scam people that this works.... but the DSi is still an interesting console. If was buying a DS for the first time, I'd probably go with the DSi despite the higher price.... well, I guess it depends on if I had Game Boy Advance cartridges, and a Game Boy Micro (yes on both).... otherwise it is a bit annoying to lose that backwards compatibility.

But for people just entering the handheld market, GBA carts are hard to find anyway so they'd probably just be looking for DS games.... the DSi is likely the best bet for the future....


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