Review by StephenYap3

"Original DS: A great handheld...until the DSi stepped in"

Back in the old days, we used to have the Game Boy that spawned with many handheld classics like Super Mario Land 2, Kirby's Dream Land, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, and many others. For each new system released, it was either a more upgraded or compact form of the original Game Boy. And just nearly nine years after the birth of the Game Boy, there came the Game Boy Color, where it not only turned almost any game into bright color, since it introduced a new feature for changing the palette of the old Game Boy titles. Inverted, red, blue, pink, yellow, whatever you choose. And finally after nearly four years, the last of Nintendo's magical handhelds was born as the Game Boy Advance. That one, I mean, THAT ONE took Game Boy to an entirely new direction. It supported all colors, the graphics and sounds were almost as top notch as the SNES, and included a better selection of games to own for your GBA. The GBA was a natural back then, and so were its fathers.

Three years afterward, a new handheld was born as the Nintendo DS. The DS, unlike many other handhelds, had two screens instead of one (not including the rare Game and Watch handhelds). One screen incorporated the main action while the one on the bottom was a touch screen. Along with the inclusion of the X and Y buttons from the SNES and Game Cube, the handheld had a microphone functionality that only worked for a few games, and there were stereo speakers. The DS also has a menu that sort of worked like some handheld on many other devices that are usually cellular phones. The DS was too a natural back then, though it only lasted for about four years before the DSi series came in. Now that we have the DSi and others, I wouldn't say this is anyway a classic to cherish for, but it is not bad either. Here, I write a review about the DS.

Graphics: 7/10
The graphics on the DS are not too shabby, seeing as how much effort Nintendo had put into making this good-looking. The graphics are almost like something you would see on the Game Cube's menu of some sort. Enough said here.

Sounds: 8/10
Nothing special about it, though it does have the nice boot up chime and have the sounds for browsing menus around on the DS. Other than that, there is not much more to say.

Controls: 9/10
In addition to the X and Y buttons, we also get a touch screen and the mouth piece microphone functionality. It is pretty neat on how Nintendo handhelds are progressing to newer features, like having more buttons.

Game Boy Advance backward compatibility: 8/10
The few problems with this are the lack of a control configuration feature, the fact that soft resetting on the GBA is pretty hard to do since the Start and Select buttons are now above the A, B, X, and Y buttons, and worst of all, the lack of a link cable for GBA multiplayer hurts the experience. Other than those problems, the backward compatibility is top notch and you can also change which screen displays the game play of the GBA. You cannot play Game Boy or Game Boy Color titles on here, however.

Presentation: 3/10
Now this is where the DS starts to fall flat. Most of the applications on the DS are dated and while the handheld itself was innovating at the time, it is not so much anymore.

DS Library: 2/10
There may have been a lot of games on the Game Boy era that kept them handhelds as popular as they were intended to be, but it seems that on the DS, good titles are very rare. The only few good titles I could think of are Pokemon Heart Gold/Soul Silver, New Super Mario Bros, Wario Ware D.I.Y., and one more other title that I forgot. Other than those, I could not find any more good titles to own for the DS.

Picto-Chat: 1/10
Picto-Chat is a messenger-like application that also lets the players draw on the paper and send to their friends, and messengers must be close together for it to work, unfortunately. It would have been nice if the application was able to connect around the globe, though that would be the 3DS as of today. Even before the 3DS was announced, I was speculating that nobody does some Picto-Chat anymore, yet I really don't blame them.

Backlight Toggling: 1/10
The button to toggling the backlight of the screens since the Game Boy Advance SP can only be found on the main menu of the DS, after it boots up. It would have been nice if the button was still kept intact from the GBA SP, just in case if we ever wanted to play the game without backlight when the sun or light is shining. Oh well, it just comes to show that we can't everything in life.

Alarm Clock: 1/10
And then, there's the Alarm Clock application. I know this is the very first gaming handheld to introduce that, but like Picto-Chat, who uses this still? People just ignore it and turn off their DS' instead since leaving it in sleep mode for too long may result in a gradual battery life decrease. Again, I do not blame people that do not use this.

Settings: 7/10
Below all this, the settings here are pretty good. For instance, you can set the date, time, and language on your DS. Do the DS save those settings? Of course it does. There is also the ability to put in your birth date for the DS to celebrate on your birthday, making custom messages for Picto-Chat when a player taps on your name on their DS's, and then it all comes down to being able to calibrate your touch screen's sensors. The one flaw behind all this is the fact that you have to turn off your DS by tapping the “Confirm” button in order for those settings to take effect.

--Final Words--
The Nintendo DS was an innovating handheld at the time, but now that we have the further upgraded versions like the DSi and (today, the 3DS), this one had its moments. Once you read this review, chances are that you will go after the upgraded ones like the DSi or the DS Lite, a smaller version of the original DS, if you still have some GBA titles to play.

And now that we have the Nintendo 3DS, all of these problems from the original DS have been solved and further upgraded to near perfection. However, one thing I'm hoping for the 3DS to do well on is the software library since in my opinion I could not find a good DS title anywhere even today, but seeing as how successful the 3DS's sales were apart from its launch title library, it seems that I could look forward to this later this year or next year. I seriously cannot wait to get the 3DS, along with the new Super Mario 3DS, Paper Mario 3DS, and Mario Kart 3DS.

Score: 4.4 out of 10


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 05/03/11

Game Release: Nintendo DS Hardware (US, 11/20/04)


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