Review by bluej33

"Lite is Right?"

I'll confess: I'm a total sucker for innovation. There's an important distinction to make between something innovative and something simply new; innovation, at its core, is something that we've never seen before. Something that changes our outlook on some (usually random) aspect of life. Perhaps this preference of mine is why I like Nintendo so much; they're a progressive-minded company, always looking to do something that's new -- and innovative. It's also why I like the DS so much. Of all Nintendo's systems, the DS shows the world most just how brilliant innovation can be. I don't know about you all, but the Nintendo DS completely changed my views on video games in general. And if a system is that powerful to me, you can bet your marbles that I'm gonna review it.

So, the Nintendo DS was released way back in November, 2004, and was met by moderate success. The graphics were impressive for a Nintendo handheld, and the two screens were supposedly cool. As time went on, though, we all realized the real reason the DS was such an incredible little piece of hardware: it gave developers nearly unlimited latitude in terms of developing games. Classic genres like puzzle games were enhanced with the releases of such games as Magnetica, Meteos, and Tetris DS. On top of that, we witnessed the rise of some of the weirdest (and, I might add, the most fun) genres ever to be seen on a video game system. Trauma Center: Under the Knife and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney forever change the meaning of an “alternative” game.

As gamers pick up on the innovative fun that can be had with the Nintendo DS, Nintendo begins to release a line of “everybody games”; they titled it Touch Generations. Games like Tetris DS, Elite Beat Agents, Nintendogs, and Brain Age were considered to be appropriate for everybody. These games were fun not only for long-time gamers, but also for people who've never picked up a controller in their life.

As the Nintendo DS began to attract a larger, more diverse audience, Nintendo decided that their portable brainchild needed a bit of an overhaul. So, in June of 2006, the Nintendo DS Lite was released in North America. It replaced the original DS's boxy feel and annoyingly large size with a smaller, sleeker, prettier system. In fact, if you're at all familiar with Apple products, you may see that Nintendo could possibly have drawn some inspiration from Steve Jobs.

Aside from it's sleekness and ease of transportation, the DS Lite sports a number of improvements over the original DS. Most notably, though, is the improved screen light. With the original DS, the backlight was dim; enough to see, but kind of splotchy and not at all bright. The DS Lite has four brightness settings; the highest one is outrageously bright, but even the lowest one is still brighter than the only setting on the original DS. The improved brightness is nice because it makes your games look so much nicer, especially in games with lots of contrast. Try playing Metroid Prime Hunters on the brightest setting, and you'll see what I mean.

Going along hand-in-hand with the improved screen brightness is a longer, better battery life. The original DS has decent battery life, but the DS Lite's battery blows it out of the water. On the lowest light setting, you can easily get 20+ hours of play time without having to go and find an outlet. On the brightest setting, you'll get only around 4-6 hours, so I like to play on the lowest just to maximize battery life.

Now I start to get a bit nitpicky, but the stylus for the DS Lite is a subtle but much-appreciated improvement over that of the DS. The DS Lite's stylus is thicker and longer, and is easier to hand on to. I can't tell you how many times I've dropped the DS stylus playing an intense game of Metroid Prime Hunters or LostMagic. Luckily, with the new, improved DS Lite stylus, that will no longer be a problem.

That said, though, the DS Lite does have a few issues; in a nutshell, though, the DS Lite is just nowhere near as sturdy as the DS. My original DS has been through the wash, fallen out of a third-story window, fallen out of a moving car onto the interstate, and been thrown against the wall by some angry gaming friends. Aside from a small scratch on the top, though, there's nothing wrong with it. The same can't be said for the DS Lite, though.

The infamous cracked hinge is one of the most annoying problems that plague the DS Lite. The hinge that holds the bottom and top parts of the DS together can begin to crack. If it goes unchecked for long enough, the crack could grow big enough for the DS Lite to break in two, obviously presenting a huge problem.
Now I start to get a bit nitpicky, but the stylus for the DS Lite is a subtle but much-appreciated improvement over that of the DS. The DS Lite's stylus is thicker and longer, and is easier to hand on to. I can't tell you how many times I've dropped the DS stylus playing an intense game of Metroid Prime Hunters or LostMagic. Luckily, with the new, improved DS Lite stylus, that will no longer be a problem.

That said, though, the DS Lite does have a few issues; in a nutshell, though, the DS Lite is just nowhere near as sturdy as the DS. My original DS has been through the wash, fallen out of a third-story window, fallen out of a moving car onto the interstate, and been thrown against the wall by some angry gaming friends. Aside from a small scratch on the top, though, there's nothing wrong with it. The same can't be said for the DS Lite, though.

The infamous cracked hinge is one of the most annoying problems that plague the DS Lite. The hinge that holds the bottom and top parts of the DS together can begin to crack. If it goes unchecked for long enough, the crack could grow big enough for the DS Lite to break in two, obviously presenting a huge problem.

The DS's touch screen can also be a tad messed up, sometimes. The screen isn't very sturdy, and sometimes if you push it, the screen will slide or give; not only does this mess up the screen calibration, but there's a line of light of the bottom screen where the plastic screen is no longer covering the hardware inside. Other minor issues include stuck pixels, stuck control pads, and a myriad of scratches and fingerprints. Luckily, though, Nintendo has great customer service, and you can get most of these problems fixed for free is your DS Lite is still under warranty.

So, the big question: is it worth it to buy a DS Lite? It's a rather hefty investment, at $130. If you do not own an original DS, I'd say go ahead and definitely buy a DS Lite. It's fun to use, there are great games, and you're pretty much protected if something goes wrong. The tough one to answer, though, is for those of you who own an original DS. If yours is still in good condition, and your battery hasn't started to die, then I'd say hang on to the original. The improvements in the DS Lite are not huge, and I just don't think these small upgrades are worth a whopping $130.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/19/07

Game Release: Nintendo DS Lite Hardware (US, 06/11/06)


Would you recommend this Review? Yes No You must register to leave a comment.
Submit Recommendation

Got Your Own Opinion?

You can submit your own review for this game using our Review Submission Form.