Around this time of year, I look around my house and try to decide exactly what tech needs updating and what will last another year.
That includes consoles that might be obsolete e as well as games that my kids have outgrown.
When Nintendo offered a package of the new Nintendo DSi XL and several new games for me to review, I jumped at the chance to try them out and see if they were something we needed and that I could recommend to other parents.
My big question when the Nintendo DSi XL came out was whether it was worth spending the money.
I’d already shelled out funds to upgrade from the DS to the DSi. That was worth it, as my youngest son had great fun with all the new features, particularly the camera. But it seemed like the only advantage offered by the XL was a bigger screen.
It turns out that bigger screens are worth it.
Both my sons said the graphics were far better on the larger screens and they enjoyed their games more on it than the smaller DSi.
If you have a DS right now, I’d say skip the DSi and go straight for the DSi XL.
It’s a tougher call if you want to move from the regular DSi to the XL. A quick check of Amazon showed the DSi available for anywhere between $145 to $182. The XL seems to sell for a more solid price of $179.99. If you have the DSi, you might not want to drop that much money for a larger screen and instead wait for the new 3D version which is supposed to be coming in March of next year.
I also received a new DS game to review for play on the XL, Pokemom Ranger: Guardian Signs.
My youngest son, who’s played nearly every Pokemon game including several made for the Gameboy Color, pronounced it a “pretty good” game. As in other Ranger games, Guardian Signs is based on protecting Pokemon from outside threats rather than out and out duels. With this game, you can now capture Pokemon with your stylus. My son said he enjoys that part very much but pointed out that it’s impossible to play if you lose the stylus. Having back-ups available is a good idea.
The main fun of the PokePark game is that you get to play as Pikachu, the most popular of the Pokemom and the face of the franchise. (He’s my daughter’s favorite Pokemon and I suspect that’s not at all unusual among Pokemon fans.)
You must save PokePark from having the land above fall down on it. The problem, my son said, is that most of the game consists of various mini-games, many of which he didn’t find fun. “It’s all mini-games, dialogue, and walking around,” he said. My son and his twin sister got stuck on a game involving steps and eventually quit rather than finishing it.
If you child really loves Pikachu, this could be a game for them but be warned that you might have to help out now and again on the more challenging mini-games.
It’s a struggle to find Wii games that everyone will play in my house. My kids range in age from seventeen to eleven and I have two boys and two girls, so their tastes do not often mesh.
We all gave Wii Party a try. I hoped that it would have something for everyone. It did. We all didn’t like every game but it was definitely fun and with over seventy games available, one of them is likely to be the right fit for your family or circle of friends.
Our consensus favorites were two version of hot potato. In one, you pass the controller around, holding a specific button. If you shake the controller or miss the button, your character blows up. In the second one, which was a bit less challenging, you pass around the controller and state words from a specific category supplied by the game. We had to state a vegetable, then pass it on within ten seconds. Players can challenge each other’s words, too, and refuse to take the controller. When that happens, you blow up on-screen. That’s literally, as a big bomb goes off.
My son added to his amusement by playing the game as Mii Jesus. His younger brother had found it on the Mii Channel. Mii Jesus never did get blown up.
That somehow seemed amusing to my children. Go figure.