I am a child of the early 2010s, and as pretty much anybody alive at that time would know, everybody owned a DS. Your kids begged you for one, your classmates would sneak in a couple of minutes of Pokemon during class, and your teachers picked them off those classmates like you’d pluck Apricorns off the trees near that old guy’s house.

I was a latecomer to the DS/Wii craze, and honestly, I never got much time on the Wii unless it was with family. And while those memories are wonderful and I cherish them fondly – the Wii isn’t a handheld, is it? No, the G-Boy doesn’t count. So let’s get back on topic, to the device that took over my childhood – the DSi.

More accurately, I had the DSi XL. I got it in this classy bronze colour, shown above – though in hindsight I think I would have preferred the burgundy colour they also sold initially. Obviously, this was primarily intended for an, ahem, “older” audience, hence the built-in demo of Brain Training and giant fountain pen-looking stylus, but I was a tall kid with big hands so I guess my parents thought it’d be more appropriate for me.

A size comparison of the DSi XL in Bronze, next to a DS Lite in Silver.

“Wow, that’s really big!” – Random Year 7 girl. The first and, to date, last time anyone’s said that to me. (Source: GamingBits.com)

The DSi and Pokemon: A Perfect Match

Along with the DSi, I got a brand new copy of Pokemon SoulSilver. Yes, it came with a Pokewalker. Yes, of course, I lost the Pokewalker within like 6 months of getting it. Do you think they’d be so valuable now if dumbass kids like us didn’t lose them all?

This technically wasn’t my first Pokemon game – I’d played a few hours of Pokemon Yellow on the living room PC when I was like 6 – but it was my first portable copy, that I really put hours into.

Pokemon in this generation was something special. The pixel art, mixed with low-poly 3D for the buildings, and proper battle animations in Black and White (plus their sequels), gives the games a unique look that’s probably the best the series has looked outside of 3D console spinoffs like Colosseum and Legends Arceus. Kids of my generation all across the world played these games to death, reveling in the atmosphere and fantasy of being a girl I mean Pokemon Trainer.

A screenshot of the gender selection screen in Pokemon Black. The text reads: "You're a girl, right?"

Yes, we know the female option has shorter NPC dialogue, that’s definitely why you picked it at age 12.

I wasn’t one of those kids, though – I dropped SoulSilver about halfway through the game. One game I absolutely played all the way through, though, was Bakugan Battle Brawlers.

A gameplay screenshot of Bakugan Battle Brawlers for the DS. This shows the UI on the top and bottom screens, as the player prepares to 'shoot' their Bakugan.

Nobody’s childhood video game collection is complete without at least one licensed kids’ game, right? From what I remember, this was a pretty decent game all things considered. I was really into Bakugan and Beyblade when I was a kid, so I played the hell out of this and its sequel, Defenders of the Core.

It’s honestly kind of difficult to list out all the games I had for this system. I had all the Mega Drive Sonic games on there via Sonic Classics Collection, it was the way I first played Super Mario 64, Clubhouse Games taught me that poker sucks, and I could go on. But I couldn’t possibly write about the DSi without mentioning the biggest thing that it had over its older siblings – Flipnote Studio.

Flipnote Studio Was Amazing

A screenshot of the Flipnote editor in Flipnote Studio. The top screen shows what each D-pad button does, while the bottom screen depicts a drawing of a shark.

(Source: NintendoLife.com)

I spent hours and hours doodling random crap that I never had the guts to post to the internet (good riddance). I have fond memories of waking up way too early, scrolling through Flipnote Hatena on my DSi on a winter morning before the sun had even risen fully, waiting for my parents to get ready so that we could drop my stepmum off at work. Unfortunately, Hatena shut down back in 2013. All those memories, those animations, great and terrible though they were, are lost to time…

…is what I would say, if not for the Flipnote Archive. They’ve catalogued and preserved over 40 million Flipnotes, and without them, future generations would never know how the hell so many zoomers got into the furry community so early on in their lives. Some of those same furries are posting brand new Flipnotes, every day, on the Archive’s sister site Sudomemo – so if you feel like watching esoteric furry animations made using 15-year-old software, go wild.

So those are the major things, looking back on my time with my DSi. Unfortunately, my childhood console has been lost to time. Luckily, most of the DSi’s special features were carried on to the 3DS – it even has its own special 3D version of Flipnote Studio – so if you have the newer console, you’re not really missing out on anything other than, arguably, a better screen for native DS and DSi games. But logic won’t stop me from missing my old DSi, and reminiscing on the years I spent with the one thing that kept me in the console game, even as I moved on to PC after my years on the PlayStation 3.

Maybe I should get a DSi again…

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