Friday, June 19, 2009
DSi firmware update ideas
The DSi is a great handheld for those willing to make the investment (More details in my review), but there are a few minor shortcomings noticeable in the system's built-in software. It used to be that, when a console shipped with problems like this, it was stuck that way for good. That's no longer the case, though, as the DSi's firmware can be updated much like the Wii's, allowing features to be added and existing software to be tweaked. As of yet, Nintendo hasn't even hinted at an upcoming firmware update for the DSi, but that hasn't stopped me from brainstorming the possibilities. Following are a few ideas I've thought up that would make the DSi that much more great.
SD card compatibility similar to that of the Wii since Wii Menu 4.0
I was really getting annoyed earlier this year. I had to keep deleting games off of my Wii's internal memory, redownloading ones I wanted to play again, and performing the mind-numbingly long task of shuffling others to the SD card and back. Finally, Nintendo delivered with Wii Menu 4.0, allowing lightning-fast play of WiiWare and Virtual Console games stored on the SD card. Since then, all's been good...
...but a similar problem may soon be arising with the DSi. It was recently found out that, if you've downloaded all the DSiWare software available, your DSi is officially full. Of course, much of what's on DSiWare right now is, well, crap, but that could surely change in the near future. In the last few weeks alone, Mighty Flip Champs and Mario VS Donkey Kong: Minis March Again have appeared on the DSiStore, and many more titles are on their way. Eventually we're going to run out of space for it all. Sadly, unlike the Wii, the DSi lacks the ability to directly run software off of an SD card... for now. Surely Nintendo could do the same thing on the DSi as they did on the Wii? Since I see no reason why not, yes, they can do it... And don't call me Shirley*.
Pause gameplay and access the main menu
You're sitting on a park bench, playing a good round of Fire Emblem, when all of a sudden you look up and see a hawk perched on the tree nearby. But you left your camera at home, and your cell phone's recharging! Well, you could just tap the power button and return to the main menu... But that would mean losing your progress in that round of Fire Emblem (And you were doing pretty damn well, too!). Well, it's either that, or miss an awesome picture of a hawk. Decisions!
This wouldn't be a problem, though, if you could just pause the game and jump back to the main menu. Like minimizing a program on a computer, you could duck out, take a pic, and jump right back in. The way I see this working out (Mind you, I'm no tech-expert, so stop me if this isn't feasible) is the game just pausing as usual while the picture's being taken. In fact, this may even be what Nintendo was planning all along. The DSi 16MB of RAM, four times as much as any previous DS model. RAM dictates how much a computer can do at once, and it's sure to be the same with the DSi. With 4MB being taken up by the game, that leaves 12MB to do whatever we want. Surely that's enough to handle taking a simple picture? Theoretically, yes, it is enough... And stop calling me Shirley*.
Now, the next question is, how would this function be accessed? Every button on the DSi is already taken... So why not make it replace the one-tap-to-the-menu function of the Power Button? Instead of a single tap taking you directly to the menu, a window would pop up asking what you want to do: Pause the game and access the menu; shut down the game, lose all progress and access the menu; or simply cancel and return to the game.
A final problem arises with upcoming, unknown software... Nintendo can't have put all that extra RAM just for the sake of this function. Upcoming, more hardware-intensive games are coming, and they'll be using higher amounts of the DSi's RAM. When it comes to this, my system outlined above won't be possible (That is, if it wasn't already rendered impossible by my lack of tech knowledge. Experts, feel free to chime in!). When games like these come along, I propose a new function: A quick-save feature built in to all software... And really, that's all there is to it. Just a quick-save feature. Why don't all handheld games have this already, anyway? It's a portable console, for crying out loud, we should be able to save and quit whenever we need! Pick-up-and-play, people!
MP3 support on DSi Sound, and a playlist feature for music
No matter how hard I tried, I was never able to get any AAC file loaded on an SD card to play on my DSi (Click here, hit Ctrl+F and punch in "Continuing along" for more). With so many hoops to jump through, there's probably somewhere along the way where I made a mistake. Why not just cut all the crap and put MP3 support in there? Post an updated DSi Sound Channel on the DSiStore, charge 200 points to cover the format licensing fee, and we're in business. That's all there is to it.
Sadly, I doubt this will happen. Nintendo seems to be running away from the MP3 format for no reason, straight into the land of AAC. Makes no sense. Whether or not this becomes a reality, though, I still want the following feature to be implemented: Playlists. As it is, audio files can only be played one by one, and in order to change to the next one, we have to fiddle about with the touchscreen. Doesn't exactly make for easy-playing of our music, does it? I know, DSi Sound is more meant for messing around with sounds and stuff than replacing a separate music player, but if the possibility for improvement is there, why not go for it? Toss in the MP3 format (Just do it, dammit), slap a 200 point price tag on it and label it "DSi Sound 2.0". Money in the bank!
Increased volume control sensitivity
I do a lot of my gaming at night when everyone else is asleep. When I was using my DS Lite, I usually had little trouble using the volume slider to find an appropriate volume level that was both loud enough for me to clearly hear yet quiet enough so as to not disturb my family. With the DSi, though, the slider is out, the buttons are in, and my ideal volume level is between two of the settings. The one below it is too quiet, the one above it is too loud, and I really don't like gaming with headphones (No idea why, I just don't). I've heard other people complain about the different volume levels, too, so I know I'm not alone on this. It can't be that hard to just make each press of the button adjust the volume less, so go on and do it, Nintendo!
Easier main-menu image viewing
I take a lot of pictures with my DSi, since I usually have it handy. When I want to go show off those pictures, though, it's a bit of a pain. After starting up the system, I then have to navigate to the DSi Camera channel, select the Album option, wait for the first image to load, then wait for the next image to load, and so on... When right on the main menu I can see one of my many photos. So why not just let me shuffle through them on the main menu?
I'm suggesting a button for the lower screen, maybe called "Random Image". Tap it, and the photo on the top screen would randomly switch to a different one. Of course, this would only select images you'd labeled to show on the upper screen, so that random picture you took of a door but forgot to delete won't be popping up. Surely this can't be very hard to implement (You should know where this is going by now)?
What do you think of my ideas? Are they great? Stupid? Technically impossible? All of the above (I don't doubt someone will find a way to make that possible)? Have your say in the comment section, or in this thread.
*You there. Watch Airplane. NOW.