The DSi XL was launched as the DSi LL in Japan late last year. It features two 4.2-inch LCD screens, up from 3.25 inches on a standard DSi, and built-in low-resolution cameras. The DSi XL will be the third handheld console in Nintendo’s DS range, which now features the DS, DSi and DSi XL.
Nintendo has not announced a UK price, though Amazon is taking advance orders at £150. The DSi XL will be available in two colours, red wine and chocolate brown.
The DS is the best-selling games console ever released in the United Kingdom, where more than 10 million units have been sold, almost one for every six members of the population.
Robert Saunders of Nintendo said that the new larger console had been designed in reaction to customer demand. “We find that families like to play games together huddled around one console, and the smaller screen was making that difficult. The new screen also brings a level of detail to the graphics that has never been seen before.”
The new console is also designed to appeal to the “grey gamers”, older players who have picked up the DS for its popular Brain Training titles but whose eyesight struggles with the smaller screen of the standard units.
“We hope that the bigger screen size of the DSi XL will appeal to older players,” said Mr Saunders, adding that the new console comes complete with a fatter stylus, designed to be easier for older players to grip.
Nintendo will no doubt be hoping that the new DSi XL proves popular enough to boost its sales figures, which had been flagging prior to a pre-Christmas price cut on its domestic Wii console.
Slower sales of Nintendo’s ageing console line-up have combined with a strong yen to hit the company’s reported sales and profits. Last October, the company announced six-month sales to September of 548,058 million yen (£3.7bn), down from 836, 879 million yen (£5.6bn) a year before, and net income of 69,492 million yen (£465.7m), down from 144,828 million yen (£970m).
“This is a very smart move by Nintendo,” said Ian Fogg, the handheld devices specialist at Forrester Research. “Rather than release a new device, the company is repackaging an existing product to appeal to a new set of consumers, which is something that Nintendo is very adept at.
“However,” he added, “the market for mobile gaming devices has been re-invented by Apple with its iPhone and iPod touch over the last 18 months, particularly with regard to digital delivery of titles and pricing.
“Nintendo is now in a position where it is competing with a device that predates Apple’s offerings. The DS is now approaching the end of its life-cycle, to the point where the real question is: what’s next? Though Apple has disrupted the market, the disruption is not complete since its machines remain expensive. Nintendo now needs to address digital delivery of content for its next handheld device.”