The Thinking Behind DSi Sound

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The Nintendo DSi’s two cameras are the system’s most noticeable feature and are often perceived as the major advantage it has over the DS Lite. However, that’s not quite how Nintendo’s internal development team sees it.

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In the latest volume of Iwata Asks, we learn quite a bit more about the thinking behind the DSi’s sound features. Yusuke Akifusa of the Entertainment Analysis and Development team sees it as the DSi’s second supporting pillar. Says Akifusa-san:


This time, when I heard Miyamoto-san thought Nintendo DSi needed music, it kicked off my own train of thought. I thought, we’ve already got the cameras as one important pillar, so why not institute music as another one, reinforcing the appeal of Nintendo DSi?


Akifusa-san is the man behind “DSi Sound,” the DSi’s music player and its many sound-editing features, which include changing the pitch and speed of sounds. DSi Sound also lets you distort sounds to make them sound like they’ve gone through a voice changer. Hmm… I wonder if I could use that to make myself sound like L’s electronic voice from Death Note.


Also present in the conversation, Miyamoto adds:

We talk about suddenly adding Nintendo DSi Sound, so people might think we just threw it in in a burst of enthusiasm, but it’s not really so. Nintendo has a proper sound team and each of its members perform multiple tests in compression and editing. Akifusa-san’s flurry of activity was able to bring something to shape because he could gather the already-existing sound technology and channel it into the Nintendo DSi system. All at once he brought together the sound technology being developed by other teams around the company.


Miyamoto also mentions that there was talk of using sounds recorded through the DSi’s microphone as startup sounds, which actually sounds very cool. I hope they decide to add the feature through a future update as it falls completely in line with Nintendo’s concept of a customized DSi. There’s a ton of potential for games to use it, too. Coming back to Akifusa-san for a second:


Also—and this is another idea that came from a different in-house team–you can play drums in time with music. The L Button is your bass drum and the R Button, your snare. As you listen to the music, you can be all boom bap bap! ♪


Yeah, he put the musical note in there, too. Speaking of the microphone, I can think of another couple features for it that would be very neat… like the ability to switch between menus and channels using your voice or sending voice messages to other DSi users. It would also be neat to be able to command party members in an RPG using the mic. Keep in mind that the DSi features louder volume settings and “better sound quality” than the Lite, too. Although Nintendo isn’t making a big deal out of the latter, so it probably isn’t as noticeable as one might imagine. I just hope they plan to add MP3 support to that list of sound features someday.


Make sure to read both DSi-related Iwata Asks volumes. The entire feature is pretty enlightening. I’d love to meet the people behind the DSi someday…they all sound fascinating. But more importantly…Daigasso Band Brothers DSi with proper downloadable content, anyone?

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Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.