Review by Chunkey Simmons
What kind of concept is this?
The Gameboy Advance SP had been released in 2002, or maybe 2003 if I remember correctly. It was a huge improvement from the original Gameboy Advance, since the system actually had light. The main problem with the handheld systems released before was that the thing could never be played in the dark, simply because there is no light-up screen. If you wanted to play in the dark, you would have to find a flashlight, hold it in one hand, and use your other hand to play the same. Makes perfect sense since you only need to use one hand for the Gameboy, right? Well that was the problem, and unless you could hold a flashlight in your mouth, most people went out to buy the Gameboy SP. I know I did. The system was also small, portable, easy to use, and it functioned exactly the same as the Gameboy Advance. There's a simple concept of having the usual control pad, a few buttons on the side, and a pause button. Having anything more is usually questionable. So in 2004, the Nintendo DS was announced to be released in the United States. I distinctly remember in November, the system was advertised with this commercial of a teenager touching the window of a car, signifying the Nintendo DS' touchscreen. What is a touch screen? What does DS stand for? That's every question that boggled everyone's minds since it was unclear for a while. Anyway, there's a reason the Nintendo DS, on the outside, it's a nice look with good graphics, while in the inside, is a terrible terrible concept.
Two screens is just impossible when it comes to games. What kind of game can you play that needs two screens? They are not even together. They're apart, making games even harder to play. It's nice to have the score on one screen and all, but most games use both screens for the gameplay, and it's hard to look from one screen to the other when needed. A big problem with the dual-screen is that it does not match the format of any other video game system ever made. It started with the early systems where one played the games right on the television screen. We all know the television has a square-shaped screen. Every handheld system followed this concept. Now don't get me wrong, the Gameboy's screen was a little short in width, and the Gameboy Advance's screen was a little too wide, compared to a television screen, so here comes the Nintendo DS... with two screens. It's great that something new is being tried, but there is one problem... it exempts the system from certain things, like the Gameboy Player, which plays Gameboy games and Gameboy Advance games on the television screen rather then on the handheld system. How can you put Nintendo DS games on the television? Either, the two screens would have to be small enough to fit on the television screen, or two televisions would be needed.
If you have Gameboy games but threw away your Gameboy Advance SP, that was simply a big mistake, because while the Gameboy Advance SP can play original Gameboy games, the Nintendo DS can't. The Nintendo DS can play Gameboy Advance games, but not regular Gameboy games, so keeping your Gameboy Advance SP is required so you can still play in the dark. Why do that? Especially coming from me, who plays regular Gameboy games a LOT more then Gameboy Advance games. So overall, if you are looking into buying a Nintendo DS to enhance your Gameboy gaming experience, the Nintendo DS is not a good place to look. Instead, look for a Gameboy Advance SP; they're pretty cheap on Ebay. If you are looking into buying a Nintendo DS to play your Gameboy Advance games on, then the Nintendo DS is a good solution, unless you already have a Gameboy Advance SP system, then you can just buy a DS Lite for DS games.
The whole touch screen thing was a good idea... but wait, you have to be VERY careful with the screen. You could ruin the touch screen forever by tapping it too hard or by using other devices rather then the official touch screen pen. I've seen people use their hand on the touch screen; it's honestly easier. However by keeping the system clean and functional, you need to use a touch screen pen. Yeah, holding one of those things while playing the game is certainly fun. I know some games actually require the touch screen and the pen to function the movement of the character you are controlling, but why would you go through the trouble of scratching your screen with the touch pen when you can just use the control pad and buttons? A lot of times when playing the DS, I drop the touch pen on the ground and have to look for it. Sometimes when I am in the heat of the game, I get to a part where I have to use the touch screen pen. I don't feel like taking that out only to use it for a few seconds. Wouldn't it easier just to use your finger? To have to worry about breaking the Nintendo DS is not fun.
It's great to see that the cartridges are getting smaller. From the Game Gear where the cartridges were pretty big, to the Gameboy, where the cartridges are pretty small. An inch or two is not bad for a cartridge size, but why do the Nintendo DS cartridges have to be so tiny? There is absolutely no reason for the cartridges to be a half an inch wide and long, and not even a centimeter thick. I can brake the thing in half. I've actually came pretty close to trying a few times. What did I say before? The touch screen pens are hard to find? That doesn't even compare to the actual cartridges. Those can be easily misplaced.
The Nintendo DS is capable of a lot. Yeah, the concept is just terrible, but the system is capable of even more then the Nintendo 64, which is amazing. The fact that such tiny cartridges that I can barely see can be put into a system and have it be 3D graphics, great voice quality and sound, and other great capabilities is simply amazing. I will acknowledge the fact that the system can handle a lot, and the system is definitely playable. Yes, you heard me. It's possible to have fun on the Nintendo DS. Despite the misfortunes of two screens and the touch screen, many gaming companies like Konami have managed to work right around them. In fact, most of the companies hate the touch screen idea too, and have an option in the games to use the control pad rather then operate the game with the touch screen pen.
As an ending result, the system is a huge success, no thanks to the touch screen, or the dual-screen, but because of the good graphics, excellent sound, and portability. The capabilities of the system is not the reason for my hatred towards the Nintendo DS, but the unique features like the confusing dual-screen and the hard-to-use touch screen. Most gaming companies probably regarded these as faults and tried to work their way around them. No system should ever have faults. You should never have to work around something. It should be simple and easy to use. This is why the Nintendo DS has received a five out of ten. Sorry gamers.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Product Release: Nintendo DS Hardware (US, 11/20/04)
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