Nintendo DS (Platform) – Giant Bomb

Nintendo ds


Nintendo DS logo

The Nintendo DS was released in 2004 and succeeded the Game Boy Advance. It was the first Nintendo platform to utilize a touch screen display, and the first since the Game and Watch to utilize two screens.

The Nintendo DS features two 3-inch screens positioned vertically in the center of the unit. Every iteration of the console has featured a clamshell design with one screen on either side of the hinge. The bottom screen is a resistive touchscreen, and the system ships with a stylus for use on this screen. The touch screen can register only one point of input at a time.

Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection logo
Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection logo

Every version of the DS features a built-in microphone, and games may require players to yell, blow, or talk into the microphone as a type of input. In addition, Wi-Fi capabilities are built into the system through an IEEE 802.11b device. Most online-capable games for the DS are integrated into Nintendo’s own Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. This service, introduced in 2005 with Mario Kart DS, is completely free, and focused on providing the user with a simple interface for online gameplay. As of today, there are over 90 games released that are online compatible, and that number is expected to grow to a total of 130 games in the near future.

There have been approximately 144.6 DS units sold worldwide as of December 31 2010 (all versions combined). This makes it the second best selling console of all time, behind Sony’s PlayStation 2.

Nintendo DSi

DSi black and white version side by side
DSi black and white version side by side

On October 2, 2008, Nintendo announced that it would be releasing its latest version of the Nintendo DS, the Nintendo DSi. The DSi is 12% thinner than the DS Lite, due to the removal of the GBA slot at the bottom of the system. The screens on the system are slightly larger than those on previous versions at 3.25 inches. The DSi comes with an external 0.3 MP (megapixel) camera and a front-facing camera built into the hinge of the system. The DSi also comes with an SD and SDHC card slot on the side and has 256 MB flash memory built in.

Nintendo also launched the DSi Store, which carries DSiWare games and software. The store uses the renamed Nintendo Points, 1000 of which came free with the DSi until March 2010, and content is priced at 0, 200, 500, or 800 points. Nintendo Points cards can only be used for one platform at a time, and Points from a single card cannot be shared between the two platforms.

Nintendo Points Card

The DSi launched in Japan on November 1st, 2008 for ¥18,900 ($178). It was released in Europe on April 3rd, and in the Americas on April 5th for $169.99.

New Interface

Nintendo has also updated the DS interface menu to accommodate new software. Users were Initially able to access the following programs from the main menu: DSi Camera, DSi Sound, DSi Shop, PictoChat, and download play, although this has been improved upon. The menu also includes icons for starting a game from a DS cartridge and accessing system settings.

The Nintendo DSi comes with a free Web Browser made by Opera which uses built-in RAM, a more efficient alternative to the DS add-on web browser, which came with RAM that went into the GBA port.

The DSi’s menu is based on the Wii Channel interface. Users will be able to add new programs that will be listed on the screen.

DSi Cards & DSi Enhanced Cards

At GDC 2009, DSi project leader Matsato Kuwahara revealed that the company will be releasing two different kinds of DS cartridges. “DSi Cards” will only work with the DSi itself, while “DSi Enhanced Cards” will work with all DS systems, with extra features when used with the DSi. This strategy will allow developers to take advantage of DSi-specific features. Cartridges can now be hot swapped in and out of the DSi system while it is powered on.

DSi Camera

The DSi has two VGA (0.3 megapixel) cameras, one on the inner hinge and

DSi’s camera

one on the outer shell. Photos can be saved to an SD card, shared wirelessly between two DSis, or uploaded to a central server.

The camera is also included in some game elements. Among the features are a facial blending tool, a method for changing facial expressions, and a means of measuring similarity between two faces. The camera itself can be set to take photos in a various modes, including normal mode, “trick” mode, and frame mode.

DSi Sound

Selecting DSi Sound from the menu opens a mini music player, complete with a variety of visualizers and audio tools, including recording and editing capabilities.

Unfortunately, those looking for MP3 support are out of luck, as DSi Sound will only support AAC format.

The DSi XL has louder speakers due to more holes in the system.

Specs Comparison – DSi XL vs. DSi vs. DS Lite vs. DS

Release Date (Americas)

Comparison of the DSi (left) and DS Lite (right), showing off the larger screens, camera and new power lights
  • DSi XL: March 28, 2010
  • DSi: April 5, 2009
  • DS Lite: June 11, 2006
  • DS: November 21, 2004

Total Weight (including battery pack, stylus, and GBA cover)

  • DSi XL: 314 g
  • DSi: 214 g
  • DS Lite: 218 g (21% lighter than DS)
  • DS: 275 g


  • DSi XL: 161 mm * 91.4 mm * 21.2mm / 6.4 in * 3.6 in
  • DSi: 137 mm * 74.9 mm * 18.9 mm / 5.4 in * 3 in * 0.74 in (12% smaller than DS Lite)
  • DS Lite: 133 mm * 73.9 mm * 21.5 mm / 5.24 in * 2.9 in * 0.85 in (42% less volume than DS)
  • DS: 148.7 mm * 84.7 mm * 28.9 mm / 5.85 in * 3.33 in * 1.13 in


  • DSi XL: 4.2 in.
  • DSi: 3.25 in.
  • DS Lite: 3.0 in.
  • DS: 3.0 in.

Battery Life (listed by screen brightness, lowest to highest)

  • DSi XL: up to 17 hours
  • DSi: up to 14 hours, 8-12, 6-9, 4-6, 3-4 (840 mAh)
  • DS Lite: up to 19 hours, 10-15, 7-11, 5-8 (1000 mAh – Reduced battery life after 500 charges)
  • DS: up to 10 hrs (850 mAh)
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Charge Time

  • DSi XL: 3 hours
  • DSi: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • DS Lite: 3 hours
  • DS: 4 hours


  • DSi XL: Five levels of brightness
  • DSi: Five levels of brightness
  • DS Lite: Four levels of brightness: no off in main menu
  • DS: Two levels of brightness: on and off

Stylus Length

  • DSi XL: 129.3mm
  • DSi: 92 mm
  • DS Lite: 87.5 mm * 4.9 mm (side-loaded on the right, just below power switch)
  • DS: 75.0 mm * 4.0 mm

Wrist Strap & Thumb Stylus

  • DSi: None
  • DS Lite: None
  • DS: Wrist strap (Japan: Thumb Stylus)

Button Changes

  • DSi: D-pad and Start Select A B Y X buttons same position as DS Lite, but sit slightly lower. Power button moved to the right side of bottom screen directly across from the Select button, and now has the power symbol (circle with line cut) on it. All have the “clicky” feel similar to the GameBoy Advance SP.
  • DS Lite: D-Pad was reduced in size to 18.6 mm across (16% smaller than DS). D-Pad has lines on it. Start and select buttons were moved from above the A B Y X buttons to below them, and were also shrunk. Power button is now a slider on the right side of the handheld.

Backwards Compatibility & Expansion Changes

  • DSi: No longer has a GBA slot on the bottom. SD card slot on the right side.
  • DS Lite: The depth of the GBA cartridge slot has been shrunk 50% so games now stick out 1 cm. The charging port is now a different size and used only for charging, as opposed to the original that could also be used for accessories.

Microphone Location

  • DSi: Slightly moved over on the hinge to accommodate front-facing camera
  • DS Lite: Between top and bottom screens
  • DS: Below the left side of bottom screen


  • DSi: ARM-9 (133 MHz)
  • DS Lite: ARM946E-S (67 MHz), ARM7TDMI (33 MHz)
  • DS: ARM946E-S (67 MHz), ARM7TDMI (33 MHz)


  • DSi: 16 MB
  • DS Lite: 4 MB
  • DS: 4 MB


  • DSi: 256 MB internal Flash Memory (Also has SD/SDHC card expansion slot)
  • DS Lite: 256 kB Serial Flash Memory
  • DS: 256 kB Serial Flash Memory


  • DSi: Two VGA (0.3 megapixel – 640 * 480 resolution) cameras: inner hinge and outer shell
  • DS Lite: None
  • DS: None

Wireless signal

  • DSi: 802.11 b & g
  • DS Lite: b only
  • DS: b only

Limited Editions

DS Limited Editions

Pink Ribbon edition for cancer research
Pink Ribbon edition for cancer research

Pink Ribbon Limited edition: September 27, 2008

  • Polar white with breast cancer awareness logo on the face
  • $129.99
  • Nintendo will donate $5 for every system sold to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure charity.
  • Nintendo promises a minimum $100,000 donation.

Final Fantasy III edition: July 12, 2008

  • Crystal White DS Lite with FF III artwork on the front cover.

Pokemon DAISUKI Club edition: July 13, 2006

  • Crystal White DS Lite Pikachu artwork on the front cover.
Final Fantasy III DS Lite
Final Fantasy III DS Lite

Pokemon Dialga and Palkia edition: Japan: September 28, 2006 North American: TBA

  • Jet Black with a glitter design of two legendary Pokemon on the front, Dialga and Palkia.

Jump Ultimate Stars bundle:

  • Has the words “JUMP ULTIMATE STARS” printed on its case.

Love and Berry bundle:

  • Metallic pink and comes with a card reader.
Winning Eleven DS Lite

Winning Eleven bundle:

  • Jet Black DS Lite that comes with the soccer game Winning Eleven.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong edition

Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings Sky Pirates edition: April 26, 2007

Pirate of the Caribbean edition: May 19, 2007

  • Has the movie logo on the front with a pictures of Jack Sparrow, and the words “Where the adventure comes to life.”

Seattle Mariners edition:

  • Has the Seattle Mariners logo on the front and is available for purchase from Safeco Field.
Pokemon Center Pikachu DS Lite
Pokemon Center Pikachu DS Lite

Pokemon Center Pikachu edition: November 17, 2007

  • A Yellow DS Lite with a picture of Pikachu on the front.

RX-93 v Gundam edition: August 9, 2007

  • A White DS Lite with a logo from the animated film on the front.

Wonderful World edition: July 27, 2007

  • A glossy silver DS Lite with a black It’s a Wonderful World logo on the front left of the DS and the game title on the right.

Kirby: Squeak Squad edition: April 16, 2007

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles DS Lite
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles DS Lite

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates Gemini edition: August 23, 2007

  • Crystal White DS Lite with Ring of Fates line art on the front right and the title of the game on the left.

Nintendo Connection Tour ’07 edition: July 2007

  • Black DS Lite with “Nintendo DS Connection Tour ’07 Champion” on the front. Only 15 exist in the world.

Wario: Master of Disguise edition: September 10, 2007

  • 40 of them are in existence.

Super Mario 64 DS IQue DS edition:

  • Another limited edition release of DS Lite from IQue.
Legend of Zelda DS Lite

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass edition: November 20, 2007

  • A gold DS Lite with a Triforce image in the bottom right of the Cover, bundled with The Legend of Zelda: Phantom hourglass.

Nintendogs edition: November 20, 2007

  • Metallic rose DS Lite with a pink paw on the front of the device, bundled with Nintendogs.

Warhammer 40,000 Squad Command edition:

  • Displays a design that looks like the power armor, worn by the Ultramarines in the game, on the front cover.

Crimson/Black Dragon IQue DS edition:

  • Has images of dragons on the cover.
Guitar Hero: On Tour DS
Guitar Hero: On Tour DS

Guitar Hero On Tour edition: June 22, 2008

  • A Silver/Black DS Lite with the Guitar Hero logo on the front cover.

Bape Milo edition: April 1, 2008

  • Released by fashion designer Nigo from Japan.

Honeyee x Fragment Design: March 19, 2008

  • Displays an design from Hiroshi Fujiwara.

Lock’s Quest Contest:

  • A Black DS Lite with illuminated buttons and flame emblem.

DSi Limited Editions

Kingdom Hearts DSi
Kingdom Hearts DSi

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days Bundle:

  • A Black DSi with a Kingdom Hearts themed Checkerboard design on the top lid, bundled with a copy of the game.

Gyakuten Kenji DSi Bundle:

  • A white DSi with the Taihokun logo on the top lid, and comes packaged with a copy of the game.

DSi XL Limited Editions

  • A red DSi XL with a black trim on the outside top rim and a black bottom. With the Super Mushroom, Fire Flower and Star iconography left of the camera on the top lid.