FUN FACT: The XL has been out in Japan since last November, where it was called the DSi LL. Why? Because in Japan, LL Cool J > Chino XL. SERIOUSLY.
WHY COMPLEX IS CO-SIGNING: No one rules the handheld market quite like Nintendo. From the Game Boy to the GBA to the DS to the DS Lite, no one else has come close to their sales numbers (more than 400 million worldwide). And somehow, each iteration in the DS line has introduced enough tweaks to keep old users coming back while attracting even more new users. The DSi brought dual cameras and better DLC, and this new XL version, with its 93% bigger screen and upgraded audio, brings the handheld out of the subway and into the home...
After word leaked that Nintendo would be releasing a backward-compatible 3-D handheld sometime in the next year, people have piled on the XL, criticizing it as an in-between device that's not going to attract anyone. Funny how they're not saying that about the iPad—but in a sense, that's the perfect comparison to make. If you already have a DS and think you're waiting for the 3-D joint, you're overlooking the difference a 4.2" screen can make.
• More real estate means no more hunching over the screens. The resolution may not have changed, but DS's prettier games like The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks and GTA: Chinatown Wars still get a boost just by virtue of their graphics having more room to breathe.
• Better wi-fi. Granted, the DSi fixed many of the issues that the DS Lite had, but with the bigger screens it actually makes for a halfway decent Internet experience, whether web browsing or downloading content.
• Great battery life. No more having your DS crap out halfway through a plane ride.
• Surprisingly good speakers. We were never at-home DSers, but the combo of size and sound makes this a viable—no, an enjoyable—couch activity. RPGs can finally get their due attention, rather than just cramming in half a quest between home and work or in the dentist's waiting room.
• The heft isn't as bad as it seems. Coupled with the mattte bottom, we actually felt more comfortable playing with this on the train than with an older and slicker DS Lite. It's a bit unwieldy for games like Brain Age that force you to hold the unit vertically (so the screens are next to each other), but for the usual top-stacked screen titles, the XL has a pleasing sturdiness.
NOT SO DOPE:
• Glossy top material is prone to fingerprints. Did we say "prone to fingerprints"? Sorry, we meant "looks like it was molested by ogres after a pizza party."
• No hardware bump. Call us crazy, but a little more processing power may help justify the larger screens, even for satisfied DS Lite or DSi users.
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