Review by JonWood007

"Failed expectations"

In 2004, when the DS came out, I had high expectations of it. I saw it as a portable N64 with the touch screen. I saw great potential in its capabilities and saw that many great games could made for this system. Two years later, I am a bit disappointed in the direction the DS has taken.

Graphics- 7/10

With the stunning demos we were given in 2004, how can I give this a 7/10? Well, the thing is, the DS does deserve more, and it could get more, except that we rarely see the graphical potential of the DS. The DS is capable of graphics slightly better than the Nintendo 64, but few games really use the graphical potential of the DS. It is capable of rendering excellent 3D worlds like in Super Mario 64 DS and Metroid Prime Hunters, but instead of these games setting a benchmark for games in follow, very few even come close to these graphics. The majority of games are mini-games which do not use the graphical potential or 2d games which cannot really use it either. If the average game lived up to what the system is capable of, I would have probably given this area a 9/10. But what good are graphics or any other feature of a gaming system if they are rarely used?

Audio- 9/10

The audio for this system is excellent. It is pretty much equal to the Nintendo 64 in this regard. I dont see much voice acting, but I think it is possible in this game. Some of the games have great music in them, and some of them have good sound effects in them.

Controls- 6/10

First off, the controls are sort of uncomfortable. It is hard to play this system for more than a few minutes at a time or you will get hand cramps. There aren't really enough buttons on the system, but the touch screen makes up for that in some regards. As for the touch screen, it is a nice feature that can do great things, but it is grossly overused. For example, Star Fox Command. The controls for star fox command are not that bad, but they do require you to use the stylus A LOT. As a matter of fact, the only thing you DON'T do with the stylus is shoot. Oh yeah, you cannot change the controls. Many games force you to use the stylus and do not make alternate control schemes. Sometimes, it's not that bad, but try playing Metroid Prime Hunters in a car. Maybe I turned up the sensitivity too much, but I can't shoot straight while in a moving car. It jumps all over. MPH has alternate control schemes where you can get around this, but some do not, and it is rather annoying. Overall, the DS doesn't really offer you many innovative games with its controls. It offers you strange ways to play the same old games, and if you ask me, joysticks and buttons work out better. However, since it is a portable, it works out because how would we put a decent joystick on a portable gaming system without making the design crappy? The score could have been better if some games offered more flexible control options in their games.

Games- 13/20

Don't get me wrong. The DS has a lot of great games. However, it doesn't have nearly enough and games often fall short of what the DS is capable of. This goes back to graphics a little bit. Here, we have a system capable of rendering awesome 3D worlds, but instead, we get a bunch of remakes and games that would be capable to have on the Game Boy Advance. In my opinion, portable 2D gaming peaked with the GBA. I did not pay $150 for a portable gaming system just to play the same old games. But instead of getting a NEW 3D Mario game, we get 2D ones like New Super Mario Bros. Same thing with the Sonic series. Sonic Rush could have been great 2D, but instead, we basically get a Sonic Advance 4. I am not saying these games are necessarily bad, but they were developed for the wrong system if you ask me. They would have been perfect for the GBA. But the DS is capable of more than the GBA ever was. It is like releasing Nintendo 64 games on the Xbox 360. You also get games that are totally lame, like Brain Age and Warioware touch. I mean, I can play mini-games online for FREE, why should I pay $20-40 for a similar game just because it has Mario in it? Games are expensive for me, and I want blockbusters. I don't want to spend my money on 2D games and rehashes when it is possible to get N64-ish games for the same price. We need more games like Metroid Prime Hunters, Star Fox Command, and Super Mario 64 DS. I think we should be making these 2D games on the GBA instead, because that is the perfect platform for them. It's not the games themselves that makes me give the game portion of this review a low rating, it's the fact that there are so many of them. If the proportion of 2D/mini-games to 3D games were reversed, the DS would get a more favorable review for graphics and games. Regardless, I would have to say that the DS does have a better library than its competition.

Backward compatibility- 9/10

The DS is backward compatible with all GBA games, which already has a massive library. However, it does not play the original Game Boy games. Oh well...I don't think many people will miss them when we have GBA and DS games now.

Value- 17/20

I would say that overall, the DS is worth it. It's only $130 now which for the amount of games it has it is worth it, seeing how there are at least a half dozen good 3D games and dozens, maybe hundreds, of decent 2D games. And when it is coupled with the GBA library, you can probably find enough games you will like, and that is worth it.

Design- 18/20

The overall design of the DS is pretty good. It is small enough to fit into your pocket, the lighting is good for the most part (unless the sun glares into your eyes while playing), the battery life is good at 6-10 hours of game play, and it is extremely durable. I mean, this system is built like a tank. The only vulnerability is the touch screen, which is protected when you close the system up. Just don't stab the touch screen when playing and you should be fine. The system also has a number of interesting features. First off, the DS has wireless multiplayer and this thing called pictochat. Basically, if you are within 100 feet of a friend with a DS, you can chat with the person in a chatroom type setting. It might be largely useless, but I guess it could be useful if you are on the other side of a room from someone and need to be quiet for some reason... Another feature the DS has is that with a wifi adapter, you can play with other DS users over the internet. I never tried this myself, but I heard that it can be incredibly fun. Another feature is that you have a microphone that you can use to interact with some games. I kow you can make your own voice acting in Star Fox DS, and I heard you can use this feature to blow out virtual candles in another game.

Overall- 77/100 = 7.7/10

Overall, the DS is a good portable gaming system and all. I would recommend buying it. However, as good as it is, it could have been much better. However, most of that is up to the developers, and not the design of the system itself.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 01/17/07

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