What Is the Nintendo DSi XL?

How the Nintendo DSi XL differs from past DS models

Nintendo DSi XL

Evan-Amos/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0 

The Nintendo DSi XL is a dual-screen handheld gaming system designed and manufactured by Nintendo. It's the fourth iteration of the Nintendo DS and it launched in Japan on November 21, 2009. It became available in North America on March 28, 2010. Here's what you need to know about this version of Nintendo's popular handheld console.

How Is the DSi XL Different Than the DSi?

The Nintendo DSi XL has features similar to the Nintendo DSi, including two cameras, built-in photo editing software, built-in music editing software, and an SD card slot. However, the DSi XL differs from its predecessor in a few key areas.

Larger Screens

The screens on the Nintendo DSi XL are 4.2 inches measured diagonally. This makes them 93% larger than the DSi.

Wider Viewing Angles

In addition to having larger screens, the DSi XL also features wider viewing angles than past iterations of the Nintendo DS. Spectators gathered around the Nintendo DSi XL can clearly view the displayed game's action while it's being played.

Cannot Play Game Boy Advance Games

Unlike the original Nintendo DS and the Nintendo DS Lite, the DSi XL can't play Game Boy Advance (GBA) games. This also means the DSi XL can't play the few Nintendo DS games that require the GBA slot for an accessory, such as Guitar Hero: On Tour.

What Does 'DSi XL' Mean?

The "DS" in Nintendo DS stands for "Dual Screen," which simultaneously explains both the physical design of the handheld and its function. The "i" is trickier to peg. According to David Young, the assistant manager of PR at Nintendo of America, the "i" stands for "individual." While the company's Wii home console was developed so the whole family could play at once, the Nintendo DSi is more of a personal experience. Young explains:

"My DSi is going to be different from your DSi—it's going to have my pictures, my music, and my DSiWare, so it's going to be very personalized, and that's sort of the idea of the Nintendo DSi. [It's] for all of the users to personalize their gaming experience and make it their own."

The "XL" stands for "Extra Large." This describes the handheld gaming device's larger screens compared to previous DS models.

Nintendo DSi XL Features

The Nintendo DSi XL plays the entire Nintendo DS library, with the exception of games that utilize the Game Boy Advance cartridge slot for necessary accessories.

The Nintendo DSi XL uses a Wi-Fi connection for multiplayer sessions and item swapping. It also uses a Wi-Fi connection to access the Nintendo DSi Shop and download DSiWare, which are unique games and applications available in the online shop. Most of these downloads are paid for with Nintendo Points. These can be bought with a credit card or through pre-paid Nintendo Points cards that can be found at some retailers and game stores.

Nintendo Points became irredeemable in 2016 and the DSi Shop closed in 2017, but people who own DSiWare games can still transfer them to a current DS console. Save data cannot be transferred.

The Nintendo DSi XL is bundled with a pen-sized stylus (in addition to the regular stylus), an Opera internet browser, a simple animation program called Flipnote Studio, and two Brain Age Express games: Math and Arts & Letters.

The Nintendo DSi XL has two cameras and is also packed with photo editing and music software. The music editor lets you upload ACC-formated songs from an SD card, play around with them, and then download your work to the SD card again. The SD card allows for the easy transfer and sharing of music and photos.

Lastly, the Nintendo DSi XL has the same built-in features that have accompanied the Nintendo DS family of consoles from day one: The PictoChat illustrated chat program, a clock, and an alarm.

Nintendo DSi XL Game Compatibility

The Nintendo DSi XL can play Nintendo DS games (but, as mentioned, it can't play the Game Boy Advance library). The Nintendo DS's library is celebrated for its variety and quality content. Players have access to lots of great adventure games, strategy games, role-playing games, puzzle games, and multiplayer experiences. There are also quite a few sprite-based side-scrolling platformers, which is good news for retro game enthusiasts. DSiWare games are typically cheaper and a little less complex than games bought in a store at the retail price.

Nintendo DSi XL Competitors

The Nintendo DSi XL's most notable competitors are the PlayStation Portable (Sony PSP), Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch, and the iPad. Both the iPad and Nintendo DSi XL strive to make portable gaming easier by reducing eye strain with larger screens. The Nintendo DSi Shop is similar to Apple's App Store and, in some cases, the two services offered the same games.