Review by ValleyofAshes

"All of the greatness, with half the fat of a regular DS!"

I must admit, when the regular DS first came out, I was a bit skeptical with its looks. Never mind the dual screens and the addition of a touch screen to the mix. The looks of it just rubbed me the wrong way. It seemed too bulky to be on the same level as, say, the Game Boy Advance SP and the Game Boy Micro (obviously). So, I shrugged this system off at first to see what Nintendo had up their sleeves for redesigning it. After being a fan for years, I knew that they have a tendency to "redesign" their current systems. For example, the Game Boy Color into the Game Boy Advance. The Game Boy Advance into the Game Boy Advance SP, and eventually the GBA into the GB Micro.

So, after a few months of waiting, I got word about a slimmer, sleeker DS which would be known as the DS Lite. I saw numerous launch photos of it and eventually saw a couple at some stores on display and I was sold. Once getting my hands on one (it was very difficult at first. These things sold out like hot cakes), I was very impressed with it. Now almost 2 years later (hey, that's long enough to give a nice detailed analysis of one, right?), I'm here to give you my review of the fabulous DS Lite.

The Handheld
The DS is a clamshell style of handheld, which means that you flip it open to play it. There are two screens: one on the top and one on the bottom. The top screen is a normal type of screen, but the bottom is a touch screen. This is what gives the DS its edge over the PSP (a fine system in its own right, but that's for another day). There is a power switch, volume slider, headphone jack, microphone, and two slots for games. One plays normal DS games and the other has a dust cap over it. This is the slot that plays GBA games. Sadly, normal Game Boy and GBC games are not compatible on this system. But that is such a small flaw that it doesn't really matter. The games would protrude way too much from the bottom slot to even begin to look aesthetically pleasing. Underneath the power switch on the right side of the system is a long slot which holds the DS stylus pen, so you don't have to worry about losing it. It slides in the slot and hides on the side of the system.

Once you open the handheld, you see very few buttons. There's a D-Pad, and A, B, X and Y buttons along with Select and Start. On the top of the console are two additional buttons found on their respective sides: a Right Button (R) and an L Button (L). Also found are two speakers, which are capable of bringing you crisp and clean sound with no distortion.

When you turn this bad boy on, you are able to input your personal information along with other useful stuff (date, time, etc.). Once that is all complete, your system stores this in its memory. From this menu, you can do all types of things, like calibrate the touch screen, adjust screen brightness, and more.

After everything is complete, the real menu can show up. It's divided between the two screens: the top has the date, time and your name on it. The bottom screen shows you what game you have in the system at that moment (be it a DS game, or GBA game, or both), Pictochat, and Download Area.

Pictochat is chat room included with every DS. If someone with a DS is in range of yours, you are going to be able to chat with them on the network. You may either use your stylus pen to write things, or you can use the on screen keyboard. Up to 16 people may be in a room at once, and there are 4 different rooms to choose from. This feature is kind of pointless, but it makes for some good laughs when you are sending your friends funny drawings or messages from across the rooms.

The Download Area is where you can access multiplayer capabilities, and this is a really cool feature. Say you don't have a certain DS game, but your friend does, and it allows multi system multiplayer capability. You can play your friend on his game without having to use his system! His DS will send out a signal to your DS (via your Download Area), and you can access his game! You must stay within 30 feet of eachother, or else you could lose the signal and the game will be dropped.

Also included in every DS is the ability to access the Nintendo WiFi network. If a game has the blue emblem in the corner, it is capable of connecting to the network and allowing you to play that game against people all around the world! The only thing you need is either a wireless router, or go to a WiFi hotspot (these are found everywhere these days). This is probably the best feature of the DS, in my opinion. It really shatters the old boundaries of handhelds.

The Games
Well, a system is only as good as its games, so what does the DS have to offer? This is where the system truly shines. Each category has a relatively strong selection of great titles to boost this system's playing power. Since everyone's personal tastes are different, I won't go into specifics about each game section and selection, but I will give a few of my personal favorite games for this system: Starfox Command, Mario Kart DS, Super Monkey Ball: Touched, Polarium, Tetris DS, Arkanoid DS, Dementium: The Ward, and Trauma Center: Under the Knife, Contra 4.

I enjoy anything that makes creative use of the stylus, but also games that don't require use of the pen.

GBA games looks pretty good on this system, just the screen is too big to display them on, so there will be a frame of black around the game screen. This is easily looked past though.

Overall, the DS Lite is a system worth picking up. It will provide much enjoyed entertainment for you, and its smaller size allows it to be a truly powerful, and portable system.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 07/12/08, Updated 07/18/08

Game Release: Nintendo DS Lite Hardware (US, 06/11/06)

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