Hands On With Nintendo DSiWare

The American launch of the Nintendo DSi brings with it the introduction of the downloadable DSiWare service, Nintendo's handheld foray into digital distribution for games and applications. We previewed four of the initial U.S.-bound offerings.

The Japanese DSiWare service is already going strong in Japan, with a few dozen games and a handful of non-games available for purchase, starting at a 200 yen price point. Expect a similar pricing scheme when Nintendo of America launches DSiWare in the States, although final price points weren't offered when we previewed the Nintendo DSi hardware.

Nintendo has since announced that four different price categories will be offered free, 200 points, 500 points, and 800+ points. DSi owners will be given 1000 DSi Points to spend when they purchase the new handheld.

We got a peek at four DSiWare games.

The first was the (tentatively named) WarioWare Snapped!, a microgame collection that follows the same simplistic, frantic play of the WarioWare series. Snapped! takes advantage of the Nintendo DSi's built-in user-facing camera, letting the player control microgames with their hands and face.

It's easy to control, just position your right hand and face within the lines provided by an on-screen guide, then... do whatever WarioWare Snapped! tells you to do. That includes clearing the screen of coins by waving your hands over them or shaking your head like a madman to shake off water.

The microgames don't carry with them the same frenetic pace and short fuse of previous WarioWare games, but they still provide time-limited fun. Perhaps more entertaining is the post-play animation that shows the player what they looked like while playing. Horrifying, embarrassing glee.

Hands On With Nintendo DSiWare

Also playable was (the also tentatively named?) Code 10, one of the visually simple puzzle games released under the Art Style brand. We've covered it in the past, when it was known as Decode in Japan, but the basic concept is creating a stack or row of digits that adds up to ten.

The trick comes in when swapping 2s and 5s, 6s and 9s, which can be flipped via the touchscreen to change their values.

We'd expect to see more of the Art Style games come stateside, as the localization on these titles is minimal and the mass appeal is potentially huge.

Hands On With Nintendo DSiWare

We also tested Pyoro, possibly the simplest, but also the most potentially addicting of the DSiWare games on-hand. Pyoro is an old-school, arcade-style game, starring the titular bird with an impressively stretchy tongue from the WarioWare series.

The levels of Pyoro we tested were low-concept: simply stop the slowly falling fruit from hitting the ground. Since Pyoro's tongue only fires at 45 degree angles, lining up your shots isn't super easy. Think of it as a cuter, DSiWare take on Missile Command.

Finally, we got a peek at Moving Memo, a flipbook-like application that, well, lets Nintendo DSi users create flipbook animations. It's a surprisingly user-friendly looking tool, with previous animation "cels" overlaying the current cel to give budding animators frame-to-frame reference.

Moving Memo also allows for music and sound effect additions, as well as the option to upload animations to a web site to share with other users. The potential for Moving Memo to showcase impressive works of animated art is exciting, not to mention a great community driven marketing tool for DSiWare's offerings.

The version of Moving Memo we saw was entirely in Japanese, possibly an indication that the Western version is further off than other games and applications.

DSiWare may not offer the sexiest of software to showcase the new Nintendo DSi hardware—many of the games released in Japan are bite-sized versions of already available retail titles—but its the service's possibilities that has us excited. These super short session games will be a good complement to the DS's current software offerings, seemingly priced right for such tiny experiences.