Review by Otacon001

"An Extensive Review"

Two years ago, if you had told me that Nintendo was planning to release a dual-screened portable wonder with touch screen and graphics greater than that of the Nintendo 64, I would have called you crazy. Since November 21, 2004, however, I have accepted the Nintendo DS into Nintendo's successful and effective line of video game products, and let me be the first to say, the potential is all too real.

Nintendo's highly-anticipated mobile gaming console boasts two fairly-large Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) screens, which are frontlit (as opposed to the GameBoy SP's backlit screen), This really has a positive effect on the games. You can easily tell a difference, especially on old GBA games. The DS also is the first mobile Nintendo console to possess stereo, or dual, speakers. This provides a much better, crisp sound, especially when compared to the GBA/GB/GBC's "beeps and clicks." The sound quality is almost identical to that of a television. One of the DS's unique features is its touch-sensitivity. The lower screen of the DS is touch-compatible with the use of a stylus (included), making video games completely different. An external microphone is also present on the exterior of the DS's hardware. Games are about to get much more unique, ladies and gentlemen.

Let's talk about input. The DS's input device is once again a cartridge, like all of Nintendo's portables, and is almost identical to that of your standard flash cartridge. It is quite small, and, granted, easy to lose. I recommend purchasing a case for your DS and its games. The DS is also backwards compatible with Gameboy Advance games, which have their own separate slot on the DS's exterior, however, Gameboy/Gameboy Color games cannot be played on the DS.

I'd like to go over the actual exterior of the DS briefly. The device is sleek, compact, and sexy. Nintendo is most likely loosing money for each system sold, because the system feels expensive in the hands, and at only $150.00, it seems like a wonderful deal. The DS, like the SP, involves a clam-shaped design, meaning it opens and closes like the SP does. This provides built-in screen protection. After four months of owning a DS, not a single scratch is on either of my beautiful screens. The system is fairly large...about two SP's (folded up) placed side by side on a table. The first thing I noticed about the DS is that its paint job is more of a pure Silver than the SP/GCN's Platinum. Granted, the paint job scratches just as easily as the Platinum SP does. Once again, I recommend purchasing a case (my DS's paint job is flawless). The front of the is adorned with the same Nintendo Logo sticker that is on the SP. Turning the unit upside-down, we see the battery case (it is recommended to NOT take the battery out), which is your standard lithium-ion rechargeable battery, good for about 500 charges. I should mention that you do need to charge your DS fully before you turn it on for the first time. Not doing so will result in a cut of battery life, which is about $100.00 out of your pocket only about a year after purchase. Also on the back of the unit is your Nintendo sticker, including all the specs of the unit and its battery, as well as your serial number, which if removed can and will void your warranty. On the top of the DS (right to left), we see the Left Shoulder Button, your standard Nintendo power-supply jack, the slot for your DS carts, the small crevice for your thumb strap (we'll talk about that later), the stylus slot, and finally the Right Shoulder Button. I should mention that the Shoulder Buttons are not like the SP's Shoulder Buttons. They are large and feel nice in your fingers. On the bottom of the DS (right to left), you'll see the headphone jack (universal, unlike the GBA:SP's headphone jack), the remote-control jack (for a remote control for volume, etc, much like the iPod remote), the GBA slot, and the volume control switch, which brings back the SP's "sliding bar" rather than the older "volume wheel."

Continuing with the exterior, we'll now open the DS. The first thing that stands out is the DS's two gorgeous LCD screens. They are just about the same size. The touch screen is very resistant to scratches, but be prepared for fingerprints and dust galore (nothing new here)!. The top half of the DS boasts only the top screen, and the two stereo speakers on either side of it. The bottom half is where the fun begins. From right to left, we see the standard Super Nintendo button layout (clockwise starting with the top): X, A, B, Y buttons. Above those we see the Start and Select buttons (very thin and sleek). We see the touch screen smack-dab in the middle, and the classy Nintendo DS Logo below that. The the left of the touch screen is the directional pad (standard) and above that is the Power button. The Power button is unique in that while the unit is on, you must hold the Power button for about a second for it to turn off. This makes it impossible for one to "accidentally" turn off their DS while playing. On the bottom of the bottom half, we see the external microphone, and on the opposite side, the Power and Battery Life Indicators, which go from Green to Red when out of Power.

Now that we're done with the exterior, I'd like to turn the DS on and talk about it. When the DS is turned on, the top screen shows the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Logos, and the bottom screen talks about health warnings. The gorgeous stereo speakers play the Nintendo DS's catchy opening chime, which you'll soon memorize and sing along with. Touching the screen or pressing any button will take you to the main menu. There are tons of options here. You can play a DS game, indulge in Pictochat, a wireless chat program that Nintendo includes in the hardware for free, "Download Play," which lets you play multi-player games with only one cartridge, play a GBA game, turn on and off the frontlight, change options, or set your alarm (yes, there is an alarm clock feature). The top screens shows you a clock (digital and analog), a calender, the date, your battery life, and some other useful info. The rest is all in the gaming.

One final subject I'm going to cover is what is actually included in the DS package. If you purchase a DS, you will receive a VERY small box, adorned with pictures of the DS and information. Inside, you will find several goodies: The DS itself, standard manuals and information, an extra stylus (apart from the one already in your DS), your standard Nintendo Power-supply adapter (5.2 V input and 1.6 watt battery), and Thumb Strap, and either a Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt Demo or a Wario Ware: Touched Demo, depending on what package you bought, where you bought it, and when you bought it. The Wario Ware: Touched Package was never available in NA, I believe. The Thumb Strap is a unique device which attached to the back of your DS. You wrap it around your thumb and tighten it, and the small piece of plastic attached to the end of the strap acts as a stylus which you can use on the Touch Screen, which in turn simulates an analog stick. This is wonderful. It makes everything a lot easier, since the DS doesn't include an analog device. Like I said, remember to charge your DS right out of the box.

Quickly, we shall do a quick runover of the current games available for the DS system. Firstly, the rare gems: Super Mario 64 DS, Wario Ware: Touched, Yoshi's Touch and Go, Feel the Magic XX:XY, Asphalt Urban GT, maybe Ridge Racers, and I suppose Mr. Driller. These are all recommended games that I would pick up. Other games, such as Spider Man 2, Madden 2005, Ping Pals, and Robots aren't particularly recommended by myself. The DS seems to be lacking third party support at the moment (all hit games are first party...good old Nintendo), but that is bound to change. Square Enix has some great stuff planned for us, as do several other companies. We will have a great amount of stuff out by the end of this year. Look forward to games such as Animal Crossing DS, Metroid Prime Hunters, and Mario Kart DS. Pokemon Diamond and Pearl are also highly anticipated titles, but aren't due for a good while.

That's all, ladies and gentlemen. I thank you very much for reading this review, and I wish you well with your gaming. I would like to close this review by commenting on the recent "handheld wars" for lack of a better phrase. I believe it is ridiculous. The Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) will be an amazing system, with incredible capabilities. I chose the DS simply because I already had a portable .mp3 player, and I have no use for a portable DVD player. All I can say is, just have fun. Whatever you choose...be it the DS, the PSP, the N-Gage...whatever...just enjoy yourself. Don't let other people tell you how to game. Just get up, and game.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/19/05


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