One of the best parts (once you get beyond its fantastic physical design) of the Nintendo DSi was DSiWare. Many of you who were sobbing over the fact that DSi graphics were hardly improved over DS missed it entirely, but I just counted and over the DSi's admittedly short-ish lifetime I amassed 61 titles, a number that probably would have been even higher if I'd had the time. (Of course, not all of them are great or even worth keeping—I'd have happily sold some off if I could—but that's DD for you, right?)

So the news that the new Nintendo 3DS will eventually have access to DSiWare, both purchased new and transferred from existing DSi systems, was very welcome. But having delved more into my shiny new 3DS, I'm a little afraid of the what shape the implementation is going to look like come May when the update finally drops and gives us access. In short, I think if you're planning on loading up your 3DS with a library of ready-to-play DSiWare, you might want to temper that expectation a little bit.

The DSi followed the Wii's original, pre-SD-Card-Menu model for storing digital content. Games were only playable when installed to main system memory, and when you ran out of space in that area (a mere 128 MiB is available for DSiWare on the DSi), your only choice was to go diving into the Data Management menu and start slowly (and painfully) shuffling titles on and off an SD card. You could, and I did, keep your entire DSiWare libary "with you," but even with the apparent 16 MiB ceiling on DSiWare title sizes, you could pretty much expect to cap out at 10-15 titles loaded at any given time—and keep in mind that includes non-game downloadables like the Opera web browser or Flipnote Studio. On the Wii, Perrin Kaplan famously referred to this as cleaning out the fridge; with less space and a smaller system to work with, I started calling the DSiWare situation "the mini-fridge."

But now, we have the 3DS, and the news that it will be able to download and run software on the SD menu. Hope springs! Unfortunately, this is not the case for DSiWare. Flip through your 3DS manual and you'll find out that DSiWare must be stored in internal system memory. Even given the likelihood that this is probably required simply due to the way DSiWare was built, there isn't any reference to any kind of SD-Card-Menu-like solution, nor do I expect there to be one. Casting my eyes back a bit on Nintendo's history with DD, I would not at all be surprised to hear that Nintendo has only reserved the same 1,024 blocks of storage that a DSi has—particularly given the 40-title limit noted in the manual, only one more than a DSi can store on its own menu. (Not that you'd ever manage to fit that many in the first place, unless you were downloading exclusively tiny games.)

If you only have small plans for DSiWare, this likelihood is probably fine with you, and that's great, really. But even though I never needed all 61 DSiWare titles I purchased readily available at all times, the 10-15 I could fit were never enough, particularly given how most of it was software one tended to jump in and out of rather than complete in marathon sessions and shelve away. I'm very concerned that matters will be exactly the same come May when I get to transfer my DSiWare collection, and I'm also a little concerned that those new to DSiWare will bang their heads up against the ceiling and abandon the platform entirely rather than screw around with data management, missing out on some really good games they couldn't fit.

Of course, none of this is a reason to avoid DSiWare, and I hope that those of you who are new to the platform have the patience to tough it out and give it enough of a chance to experience its wide range of nicely-priced entertainment. (I'm also still hoping, at least a little, that there will at least be some more space for DSiWare on the 3DS than the meager 128 MiB the DSi had... but as I said, it's a long shot.) DSiWare deserves better than to be roped off like this.