Nintendo DS: Does Nintendo still rule the portable market? Nintendo dominates handheld gaming. The brand’s handhelds had a strange beginning.
First, the original Gameboy and GameBoy Color looked like toys in children’s hands. The Gameboy Advance was prettier but not more mature. Some people soldered cathode lamps to make the screen useable (yep, that actually happened).
After that, Nintendo (surprisingly) did well. The GameBoy Advance SP’s beautiful and grown-up design revolutionised portable consoles.
Your Gameboy earned admiring stares regardless of your age. Nintendo seems to take design lessons from the Mac with its pocket-sized, attractive console.
Nintendo DS: This made it more disheartening that the Nintendo DS, its newest portable, had become tangled in a tree. Although it’s a revolutionary piece of gear, it’s more likely to elicit laughter than passion.
On the DS’s huge frame, silver plastic looks awful. New colour schemes next year might help, particularly the jet black model, but it’s lost the aesthetic fight against Sony’s PlayStation Portable (PSP). The DS lacks movie and music functionality, putting it behind the PSP.
Nintendo DS: Design
Nintendo DS: But it’s innovative. Its second screen is a PDA-style touchpad, offering users six additional methods to play games: sketching, rubbing, dragging, pushing, pulling, writing…
Nintendo DS: The DS’s second screen is a cornerstone of the DS family, but the hybrid Switch console questions how long that will remain.
The second screen is a PDA-style touchpad, allowing up six additional methods to play games: sketching, rubbing, dragging, pushing, pulling, writing…
Nintendo DS: Display
Nintendo DS: The DS’s touchscreen and thumb cap make it simple to control Mario 64’s primary-colored heroes and Metroid Prime’s first-person viewpoint.
Thumbcap? It’s a plastic nipple on the end of a shoelace-like strap linked to the DS that slides over your thumb so you can operate the bottom screen like a laptop touchpad without leaving greasy, acidic thumbprints.
In actuality, it’s equivalent to using a Nintendo 64 or PlayStation analogue stick and isn’t gimmicky. Using the accompanying stylus to sketch routes for falling puzzle pieces or aim a cartoon catapult towards a bomb-filled sky is even better.
The DS’s most intriguing feature is the touchscreen, not its 3D visuals.
Nintendo DS: Its built-in wifi multiplayer (using a modified 802.11b standard) is nicely handled and intuitive, however you may baulk at competing with a stranger within 20 metres.
The unobtrusive microphone might lead to voice-controlled games.
With surprise sales in its US first week, the DS has escaped the obscurity many projected. Despite its unusual UI, it’s a lot of fun and plenty of potential, making it a better thinking gamer’s portable than the PSP.
It’s hard not to be enchanted, but we wouldn’t blame you for feeling humiliated.