What Is the Nintendo DSi XL?

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.

The Nintendo DSi XL functions identically to the Nintendo DSi. There is, however, one key difference between the two systems: The screens on the Nintendo DSi XL are much larger than on the DSi or any other version of the Nintendo DS (hence the "XL"--"Extra Large" tag). The Nintendo DSi XL's screens are 93% larger than the Nintendo DS Lite's screens, or 4.2 inches measured diagonally.

Aside from the Nintendo DSi XL's larger screens, it also has a wider viewing angle than any other iteration of the Nintendo DS. This allows for spectators to gather around the Nintendo DSi XL comfortably and watch games being played.

Like the DSi, the Nintendo DSi XL has two cameras, built-in photo editing software, built-in music editing software, and an SD card slot. The DSi XL can access the Nintendo DSi Shop, and download and play DSiWare.

Unlike the original style Nintendo DS (also called the "Nintendo DS Phat") 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--for instance, Guitar Hero: On Tour.

When Was the Nintendo DSi XL Released?

The DSi XL was released in Japan on November 21, 2009. It became available in North America on March 28, 2010.

What Do the Letters "DSi XL" Stand For?

The "DS" in "Nintendo DS" stands for "Dual Screen," which simultaneously explains the physical make-up of the handheld, as well as 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." Whereas the Wii was developed as a console 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" which, of course, describes the handheld's large screens.

What Can the Nintendo DSi XL Do?

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

Many Nintendo DS games can go online with a Wi-Fi connection for multiplayer sessions and item swapping. The Nintendo DSi XL can also use a Wi-Fi connection to access the Nintendo DSi Shop and download "DSiWare"--unique games and applications. Most of these downloads are paid for through "Nintendo Points," which can be bought with a credit card. Pre-paid Nintendo Points cards are also available at some retailers.

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-format 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.

Last but not least, the Nintendo DSi XL has the same built-in features that have accompanied the Nintendo DS from day one: The PictoChat illustrated chat program, a clock, and an alarm. 

What Kind of Games Does the Nintendo DSi XL Have in Its Library?

The Nintendo DSi XL can play Nintendo DS games, but unlike the original style Nintendo DS and the Nintendo DS Lite, it can't play the Game Boy Advance library. The Nintendo DSi's cameras feature as a bonus function in some games--for instance, a game might let you use a photo of yourself or a pet for a profile picture.

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 often show up on Apple's App Store and vice versa. Some popular titles include Oregon Trail, Bird and Beans, and Dr. Mario Express. DSiWare games are typically cheaper and a little less complex than a game bought in a store at retail price, but they're still fun and addictive!

Does the Nintendo DSi XL Have Any Competition?

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 on the eyes with larger screens. The Nintendo DSi Shop is comparable to Apple's App Store, and in some cases, the two services even offer the same games.