Nintendo DS Handheld console

Gaming has its time and place

As I've already stated in my writings about coopreative games, I'd like to see playing games as a social function. Playing with my friends rather than against my friends.
When I sit down and play on my Xbox I'm in the mood for serious entertainment. Big screen, loud sound effects and cool graphics. But playing games doesn't have to be so serious, it can be "a bit of fun", where nobody "wins". In fact, the most loved games in the world are games with simple rules, such as chess, othello etc.
And this is kind of where the Nintendo DS comes in. It's not as elaborate as the Xbox, but it's still cool enough to immerse yourself into the gaming world. It's also portable which means that I don't have to plan to go to the Xbox console's location and switch on music/effects that are so loud nobody can be in the house.
It's also commonly know that Nintendo has always promoted fun gameplay rather than technically advanced gameplay.

DS Trumps

The little DS has a few trumps up its sleeve.

  • Dual screen - This is a bit of a strange feature as you might think that it's quite silly, but it allows you to have one action screen and one map/buttons/info screen. Quite neat actually.
  • Touch screen - This feature adds quite a different dimension to the whole console. You can use the stylus to click, you can drag-n-drop, and you can use it to navigate.
  • Wireless connectivity - This is the best feature to me. Having a connection to other DS' mean that the gameplay can get a bit more sociable. And the latest feature is that you can connect to consoles through the Internet and play games with friends all over the world. Awesome!
  • Stereo sound - While this sounds a bit silly (pun intended), the stereo sound really works. And it underlines the gameplay too. Excellent!

All in all, the DS is quite a little technical marvel with manu unique functions.

Just to compare a bit, the Nintendo DS plays the "Super Mario 64" game that originally developed for the erhm.. Nintendo 64, which had a "blistering 93.75MHz" processor and "64-bit graphics" with "CD-quality sound". Awesome! And now you have that in your pocket, in fact the Nintendo DS actually surpasses the N64 and should not have much to be ashamed for if you compare it to the Nintendo GameCube. Fantastic!

Why did we choose the DS?

Nintendo DS games "console", Click here to view larger image (NaNkb)

The Nintendo DS games "console".

There's always some sort of logic behind a purchase like this. I mean, it's a gadget, which makes it desirable to a gadgeteer like myself, but you can't just buy gadgets because they're gadgets. They have to have some other qualities that make them the "winner".
First thing that we needed to figure out was did we actually need the DS. By "we" I mean myself and my girlfriend. We like playing cooperative games on the Xbox, and generally try to spend as much time together as possible. We noticed that it wasn't so easy to play games on the Xbox. It took a bit of planning, and the games were a bit serious so we didn't play games as often as we wanted. Therefore we wanted a game that we could play anywhere, in the sofa, lying on the bed, on a train, at the airport etc. We also wanted a gadget that wasn't so serious. We wanted to be able to have a quick fun game. We also wanted to be able to play together. Translating these requirements into tech speak it meant we wanted 2 consoles, and they had to be small enough to fit into our backpacks. They also had to have some sort of connectivity, wire OK, wireless better. The "fun aspect" kind of shouted Nintendo to us. Because we wanted two, they had to be fairly cheap.
At the time of purchase there were a few options around, but the Playstation Portable (PSP) was still behind the bend. We could have waited, but we didn't think that the PSP suited our needs, especially when it comes to the "fun aspect" and the price. A fully kitted PSP would probably cost us the best part of £300 each. Too much, and too serious. Not what we wanted. And top that off with Sony's idiotic obsession with using its proprietary storage formats, in the PSP's case its the UMD disk and the MemoryStick. Just crazy and expensive.
The Nintendo GameBoy Advance definitely had the "fun aspect", but the connectivity wasn't really there. And of course the DS had a few other neat features too....

DS it was!

Games and Gameplay

When Nintendo launches a platform you can rest assured that there will be tons of games available, and you can rest assure that these games will play well.

I have got a few games, and I enjoy playing all of them. Some are silly, some are logical some are fast-paced. They all have one thing in common; they play extremely well. They are just perfectly "gelled" to the hardware.

Another thing most of the games have in common is the ability to play them wirelessly against another DS, this means that I can sit in the sofa with my girlfriend and we can have Driller matches (no, Mr Driller: Drill Spirits is a DS game you perv!).

The one that's currently my favourite is Mario Kart DS, which offers Wireless Connectivity, either with a "local" DS or over the Internet. This allowed me to have a race with my girlfriend who was at home and I was at work. Very neat!

All in all...

...We really enjoy plaing games on the Nintendo DS. It can be quite a sociable event. Or it can kill hours off the car journey all the way from Oxfordshire to Scotland. The battery life is excellent, the sound is cool, the screens work really well, and above all, the games are pure fun.
The treshold for playing a game is very low, so we really don't have any excuse to "just play".

Any bad points? Not really. The console is a bit ugly, and it's quite big (everything is relative though), but it still fits nicely into the backpack. Oh, yes, and at around £30 per game you can't just pick up a game just coz you walk past it in a shop, you have to think about it quite a lot. If the games were £20, I would probably have many more.

I can highly recommend a DS if you're after a bit of fun gaming that's not tied to a specific location. There's already tons of cool games out even if the DS hasn't been around for very long.

DS Lite Announced

It looks like Nintendo has done something about the only real complain about our DS', and that's the aestethics. It's not a very pretty console, and it's quite big.

The DS Lite has been announced today (2006-01-26), here are some of the highlights:

  • Same functionality (YAY!)
  • Lighter: 218g vs originals 275g. Nice
  • Smaller: 133mm by 74mm by 22mm compared to 149mm by 85mm by 29mm. That's a lot smaller - Excellent!

Price seems pretty much unchanged too at £82 (converted from ¥16,800 which is $146), expect the price tag in UK stay the same..?!

All in all, good news!