Flipnote Studio: Like an Animation YouTube for Nintendo DSi

Flipnote Studio for the Nintendo DSi is a free, downloadable app which just became available in the North American market, and if you like doodling even a bit, you’ll want to check it out. The software turns the DS stylus and touchscreen into a drawing pad with numerous pages, letting you create flip book-style animations, the kind a lot of us used to make during boring elementary school classes. But it’s more than that: You can also use the DSi’s internal microphone to add a soundtrack to your mini-movie, and employ the gaming console’s camera system to incorporate photos into it.

That’s just the start, because you can then upload your animations from the DSi to Flipnote’s web site, where they’re viewable by others on a system which filters user contributions by popularity, views, ratings, and response comments. In other words, it’s pretty much a YouTube for flip book animations. (The videos are even embeddable on other sites.)

Only a day after the U.S. launch, there’s already a number of genuinely engaging, impressive animations (amid the usual thicket of dross.) Unsurprisingly, there are even more epic animations from Flipnote users based in Japan, where it’s been available since last December.

According to the developer, Hatena, Japanese users submitted 1 million uploads in the first six months. If the DSi continues its record sales pace here, where 1.7 million units have already been sold, we’ll likely see similar levels of user-generated enthusiasm from the U.S. market.

In any case, it’s a welcome addition to Nintendo’s Internet connectivity and social-networking features, which have been painfully sparse up to now. That’s even been disappointingly true of the DSi, especially when compared with the iPhone/iPod Touch, which as a platform for games, is steadily eating into the handheld market. With Flipnote Studio and DSi’s recently launched Facebook photo integration, it looks like we’re finally seeing Nintendo struggle to connect with the Web 2.0 crowd. (Better late than never.)