Review by Lord_Yojimbo29

"Nintendo's young handheld is finally starting to develop into an excellent device."

Well, in a few months, the DS will be a year old. So what's been happening on Nintendo's new handheld? It's currently in competition with Sony's multitasking(and significantly more expensive) handheld, the PSP. However, though it may be $150 US, it's starting to be worth those Grants.

Graphics: 9/10
Overall, this is a significant improvement over the GBA, but not as strong as PSP. First of all, this handheld can actually handle 3-D, which was a problem in GBA for FPSs. The DS version of Super Mario 64 looks slightly better(I'd say almost Dreamcast quality) than the Nintendo 64 original, and many other games easily look like N64 or PS1 games. Some other games, such as Kirby:Canvas Curse and Advance Wars: Dual Strike look about the same caliber as good-looking GBA games, but I'll excuse that since the gameplay doesn't require 3-D. Nintendogs and Viewtiful Joe, two other upcoming games, also look pretty.

Sound: 10/10
Wow. The inclusion of dual speakers easily warrants a 9, and if you're on of the people like me who listens on headphones while playing a GBA game, then this will sound excellent. Even games with weaker sound devices such as GBA games sound superb on the DS, especially games with good musical scores such as Fire Emblem. Don't forget about the DS games themselves. I could listen to the soundtracks from Kirby and Meteos for hours. Many of the DS games I own support some type of surround sound. How exactly this works, I'm not sure, but you will definitely have your DS games always set on Surround or Stereo, as most of them sound excellent. A tip of the headphones to Nintendo.

Game Selection: 7/10
Eh? What happened here? While the DS is getting some fantastic games as I write, for those who only want top-quality games, stick with Nintendo games. This is a current list of all of the excellent games for DS:
-Super Mario 64 DS
-WarioWare: Touched!
-Kirby: Canvas Curse
-Meteos
-Advance Wars: Dual Strike

Notice a pattern here? All of the games that are well worth owning, in my opinion, are produced by Nintendo, though many companies, such as Square Enix, Konami, Capcom, Namco, EA, Ubisoft, etc. are producing and/or developing many promising titles, such as Final Fantasy III DS by Square and Lunar: Dragon Song by Ubisoft. Some of the most bizarre game ideas yet seem to be turning out nicely as well, such as surgery-sim Trauma Center: Under the Knife, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney(a law-and order version of those rold school text adventures, plus anime-style cut scenes), and dog-owning sim Nintendogs will definitely deliver if you're looking for something different. Although online isn't up and working for DS,(I'll explain the online capabilities of the DS in a little bit) the line-up sounds impressive for online games, including a Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles for DS from Square, a Tony Hawk game, and Mario Kart from the big N themselves, I have a feeling that DS owners won't be dissappointed.

Unfortanately for those looking for a more conventional handheld experience, your prayers may not be answered with some of the new titles, or you may have to resort to RPG fans(including myself) have a right to feel slighted, but you still have the GBA, although that isn't much consolation as the older brother of the DS is getting left behind. There are already several sports games that were out upon launch, such as heavy-hitters Madden NFL and Tiger Woods, however, I acutally haven't played them, so I have no idea how good they are. There is currently one FPS on the DS, Goldeneye: Rogue Agent. It plays decently, but Metroid Prime: Hunters will be the most promising first-person blast-'em-up for the near future.(the demo version for MP:H comes prepackaged with your DS.) Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory has also come to DS, however, it's not exactly what I've been waiting for. There are 2 racing games already(Ridge Racers and Asphalt Urban GT), but none of them are memorable or even good. My only answer would be to wait for the new games. Namely, if you can wait for a few months, then the DS is for you.

Appearance/Functionality: 7/10
While a little bit blocky, overall, the Nintendo DS is one nice looking handheld. The name Dual Screen ain't for nothing, as the DS offers 2 screens, each one roughly the size as the GBA screens.(the bottom one is the touch screen) The DS also has 4 buttons, a D-pad, and "Select" and "Start" buttons. Also, you don't turn it on and off with a switch anymore. There is a Power button above the D-Pad, and trust me, it's pretty hard to accidentally turn off your DS. There is also a headphones jack and volume control switch near the GBA slot.(more on that later) Finally, the rechargeable battery(the charger is the same one as the GBA SP) on your DS can hold, at most, about 10 to 12 hours of battery life, though after about 500 recharges the battery life will weaken. The reason I gave this a 7 is because the touch screen gets a little scratched by the stylus after games like WarioWare and Meteos.

Others 9/10:
The DS has many extras, though not all of them(as in, the online functions) are prepared right out of the box yet. The DS has a instant messaging device called Pictochat, which uses the touch screen write messages to other DSers in the area. My beef with this is that the DS uses local Wi-Fi for wireless multiplayer and Pictochat. Some devices such as the internet and microwaves can disrupt the wireless connection.(which has a range of about 100 feet anyway.)Some games such as Meteos and Super Mario 64 DS's multiplayer allow a person who doesn't own the game to be able to participate in multiplayer, which is very thoughtful on the developer's part. The online is ready, though there are 2 setbacks.
1.I think you need a wireless router to get online from your house.
2. There aren't any games that support it yet.(though Mario Kart is coming soon)

Scores:
Graphics-9
Sound-10
Game Selection-7
Appearance/Functionality-7
Other-9
__________________________
Final Score(not an average)-9/10

All in all, the DS is becoming a great handheld, with innovative and "outside of the box" games. $150 that will be well-spent now.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/06/05


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