Review by WaterMario222
"I didn't know that GameBoys have Touch Screens!"
*NOTE* This review was made at the beginning of July 2005 and was reviewed by a North American gamer, so I honestly can't explain things that may or may not change when it's released to Japan, Australia, and Europe. Sorry.
With Nintendo, you can expect great gaming hours, console or portable, but to be quite honest, most of them aren't exactly innovative. Sure you got the NES, GameCube, Game Boys, but did they truly hold something that made it different from any other systems? Not really. In fact, most of Nintendo's fame come from its games and not from the hardware itself. Well in 2004, Japan and North America were given this new quirky handheld. It was apparently named the Nintendo DS, and soon after in 2005, it was released to Australia and Europe. The overall mystery was whether or not the touch screen would help the DS's potential. There were only a few launch titles, but right from the first click of the power button, the gaming world changed drastically.
To start out, the Nintendo DS is a portable game system (hopefully, you inferred that already) that has two screens. Does two screens mean double the fun? Apparently so, because not only are they a comfortable size, but the bottom one is sensitive. Extremely sensitive. Extremely sensitive in the way that it's known as the touch screen. Most argue that this is where the DS's true innovation comes from, and they are correct. This feature is taken advantage of in many games, and most have an option as to whether or not you use that or the control pad. There is also a microphone for those of you that have great lung capacities (Wario Ware), and a number of things can be done on them. First you can BLOW!! on them to do some nifty things, and eventually, it'll recognize our voices, which'll truly shine in a couple of upcoming games.
The design shouldn't surprise most Nintendo game system owners (Especially those who have a GBA SP). It's a "clam-shell" design, which means that it can fold up. There are a lot of plugs and outlets on the DS, and they'll be soon put to use when the internet comes in. Headphones can also be plugged in so that the sound goes into your ears, and isn't emitted from the stereo speakers. Plus, wireless multiplayer, two game slots, a sleek and shiny shell, and you got yourself a spanking new portable game system.
So how will you use the touch screen? Don't fret, you won't need your finger, (unless you're a frantic person), but instead use a "stylus" which is a nifty little stick with a small grip and a small rounded point at the end, which you use to touch, rub, slash (just kidding) and other methods. For the majority, it's used as an easy access to menus, maps, and secret stuff. You'll receive two styli with the Nintendo DS, and yes, there is a stylus holder for one of your styli.
The touch screen is durable. If you've seen somebody play one before, and see a couple scratches, that's because a huge amount of pressure was loaded onto the touch screen. And so what if you've tryed those demos at retailer stores? A lot of kids like to abuse the touch screen, and draw all over it (including the top one).
Unfortunately, the comfort of the overall system is a bit lacking. It's a bit bulky, and is a little on the heavy side. The main problem goes to the fact that you constantly will have to hold your DS and your stylus at the same time, which'll cause some discomfort. It's a bit cramped, and you might need to take a small break once in a while to stretch your hands. Although it may not feel good, you'll get used to it as you play it more.
What you'll get out of $150 (Mid 2005) is your choice of an Electric Blue Nintendo DS, or a Titanium Nintendo DS (soon to come is Onyx, Candy Pink, a shade of Red, and some others possibly). With the latter, you'll get Metroid Prime: Hunters and some stores will also give you Super Mario 64 DS for free, with the former, you're guaranteed the Super Mario 64 DS game. You'll also get a thumb strap, two styli, an AC Adapter, a manual, a warranty, and some other "deals" that correspond with Nintendo.
Another cool thing about the DS is that it can play the single-player versions of GBA games. It's compatible with Wario Ware: Twisted, don't worry. You can have a DS game and a GBA game in the DS at the same time, because there are two separate slots. You can choose whether to put the action on the top or the bottom screen.
The placement of the buttons are rather alien to me. The "B", "A", "Y", and "X" buttons are placed in a diamond formation, and sometimes, I get confused and have to look down at the buttons to remember which is which. You got the control pad to the left, nothing special, and the power button on top of that. The start and select buttons are on top of the diamond formation, and the L and R buttons are on the left and right sides of the DS, respectively. You'll receive an AC Adapter with your purchase, which'll recharge your battery when it gets weak, and you can continue playing as well.
When you first push the Power Button, you'll notice that it takes a second or two to turn it on. This is so that you don't accidentally push it during gameplay, and screw up your data. At the beginning, you'll be asked to fill out some information. Then, you'll be taken to a screen that shows the game in the DS slot, if there's a GBA game in the other, Download Play (yeah, you heard me), and PictoChat. PictoChat is sort of a mini-version of a chat system (hence the "Chat" part of PictoChat), where you can talk to other DS owners, some distance away from you. You can also scribble, as well as type (hence the "Picto" in Pictochat). The only problem is that it's hard to find DS owners around you. (Well it's hard for me anyway, how about you?)
Yeah, the DS can be a great tool at times (not to mention Wario Ware: Touched's unique little toys). Once you provide the information, the DS will provide you with a calendar showing the date (assuming you entered the correct information), the time (I always use this), an alarm clock (hey, it's there) and more. There's a lot of stuff you can do on the main menu, which comes to me as a pleasant surprise.
So what do you do when you want to play during the nighttime without parents noticing? You do nothing. The DS is backlit, meaning that you'll be able to see the games without squinting your eyes. Both screens hold this tool, and you have the option to turn it off as well in the Main Menu, but I prefer to keep it on, because it doesn't waste that much more battery life. The only problem is that some GBA games don't work well with the backlight, because the GBA was frontlit. By not working well, I mean that the colors may tend to differ, not technical problems.
With all of these great features, a question may come to mind about how much battery life this game system provides. The answer is: 6-10 hours. Per full charge. The batteries can withstand 500 charges, which gives you a total of 3000-5000 hours (which will last you for quite some time). In fact, you may not even use the DS that long, but if need be, you can order another battery pack from Nintendo. Of course, it'll take some time to recharge (approximately four hours), but you can play while recharging (though I prefer to let it recharge faster by leaving it alone, because it takes longer to charge).
Now some technical and important stuff. Nintendo guarantees a 12 month warranty for your Nintendo DS. That means that if gameplay is affected by some scratches, you can send it in for repairs for free. This warranty is void when DS accessories not made by Nintendo is applied to your DS. So don't get those unlicensed styli, nor those screen protectors.
"Can we go to the games already?!?!?!" "Yes!!" Okay, you've been waiting for it, and ye shall receive. The Nintendo DS's game library. At launch, there were a few decent games such as Super Mario 64 DS and Feel the Magic XY/XX, but other than that, it seemed as if Nintendo wasn't trying. Don't fret, there are many great games that are out now. These include the previous two, Wario Ware: Touched, Yoshi Touch & Go, Kirby: Canvas Curse, Meteos, and a lot more. These games not only use the touch screen well, but also makes you feel like you're playing on a console, portable game system style! That's what portable games should do, and I'm happy to say that it's true. You might be impressing a girl by doing stunts, spitting Bob-ombs at a Bob-omb King, picking noses in mad microgames, drawing clouds to save falling red babies, frantically destroying blocks to beat puzzles, making rainbows for a pink ball move, and a whole lot more. I just mentioned a few of the great games that are currently available to the DS, and so many more great games will come out later (covered in a later paragraph) that'll revolutionize the DS, which revolutionized the gaming world. Yes, games are meant to please.
How does sound affect how you buy a system? To me, not much, but the DS is very well polished in terms of sound capabilities. The stereo speakers (two of them) not only give you detailed sound, but also provides a "surround sound" type of music that is pleasing to the ears. From the quacks of ducks to the explosions of bombs, the sound really helps the DS's ability to gain potential.
Unlike sound, I feel that music does affect how I choose systems. The DS is a great example of polished music that is used to help the games hold more quality and depth in it. You'll feelings will change the instant dramatic music comes on, or when light-hearted music controls your DS. Never will the music get repetitive, nor will it affect how well you do in the game. It just goes to show that a lot of little things can make your gaming experience that much more enjoyable.
Graphics. When hearing the word, most think of colorful, yet realistic looking visuals. Well, I can honestly assure you that the colorful part was achieved. The realistic part? It may come in the future, but remember that this is the Nintendo DS, which means that you might have "kiddy" images at times, although certainly not bad. The overall graphics are very nice, about the equivalent to the Nintendo 64's graphics, which is truly remarkable. Plus, since Nintendo's games seem to vary, you can expect different artwork from every DS game.
The DS's potential is high. You won't regret getting this game right now, and you certainly won't regret getting it in the near future. In fact once the DS gets more great games, such as Mario Kart DS, Sonic Rush, Nintendogs, Nanostray, Castlevania, Metroid Prime: Hunters, Viewtiful Joe, Trace Memory, Lost in Blue, Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, Mario and Luigi 2, a new Zelda, a new Super Mario Bros., a lot of sports games, Pokemon Diamond & Pearl, Jam with the Band, Dynasty Warriors, and a whole lot more, it'll completely obliterate past feelings about the DS. Add that with wireless multiplayer, and Wi-Fi connection, and you got yourself an even better spanking new game system.
So how are you doing with deciding between this and the PSP? I'll be blunt, I'm more towards Nintendo than Sony. But in all reality, the DS holds many great franchises such as Mario, Zelda, Samus, Pokemon and a lot more, while the PSP also holds Grand Theft Auto, Lumines, Metal Gear, Mortal Kombat, and some more. The PSP is a great game system and a great media tool, and the DS is an excellent game system as well. At the end, it all depends on whether you like Sony or Nintendo better.
The Nintendo DS. Those three words make me and all other fans excited about what's yet to come and the possibilities that it holds. It's truly a great system, with few to no flaws, that revolutionizes portable handhelds. With all of this, I'll whole-heartedly recommend this system to any video game lover, Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo. It won't disappoint you, and the quality of the games that'll soon come will make up for any other problems.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/14/05
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