Review by TomNook20

Reviewed: 12/17/04

You can't spell GREAT without DS. (Well, you actually can, but...)

Once again, the time has come for two rivals to try and kill each other. Sony has now set their sights for the handheld market, after conquering the home console market. This time, Nintendo is prepared. This time, they have the DS. So what does DS stand for? Dual Screens of course! That’s right, a handheld with 2 screens! Now, some of you might say that’s just plain stupid. But it’s not. The DS is a prime example of what Nintendo stands for, innovation. The DS was made with a very different approach to gaming, its main goal if to bring new and entertaining ideas to the world, that wouldn’t be possible without it. Sony’s PSP on the other hand has power set in its mind. Brining the power of home consoles to a handheld.

As you can see, both are very different, and both target a different audience. But the fact still remains that they are bitter rivals in a very competitive market. So let us take a look at how Nintendo’s two screen wonder will be able to hold up against the competition. (If you don’t care what I have to say and just want to see the scores, go to the bottom)

The DS has many interesting features in it. To start of, the bottom screen is touch sensitive. Many games are taking advantage of it, and it really is an awesome thing to have on a handheld. The DS will also have wifi, so you can play wirelessly with your friends. The DS also has a mic for voice recognition, and some games are already using it. A nifty chat game is built into the DS, it’s called picto chat. It’s like having an IM in the DS itself!

Following the trend of other Nintendo handhelds, the DS is was infused with the power of a past Nintendo home console. This time, the N64. The DS’s graphical capabilities are slightly better than the N64's and look a lot better because of the smaller screen. Metroid Prime: Hunters is a great example of what the DS can do. If you don’t stare at it and try to pick out imperfections, it looks much like the Game Cube Metroid Prime. Lots of companies are using many different graphic styles. Compare screen shots from Feel the Magic: XY/XX to Super Mario 64DS to see what I mean. In the end, the DS fails in comparison to the PSP, which has near PS2 quality graphics.

Though it has the power of the N64, the DS cards have twice the space of the N64's carts. Considering all the great games that were made on the N64's small carts, just think of what the DS could get! As far as the size of the cards, they are about half the size of a GBA cart.

My favorite thing, by far, is backwards compatibility. The DS WILL be able to play all your GBA games. There is a separate slot on the system just for them. Unfortunately, it can’t play GBC or regular GB games. But this is good news for those of you with just GBA games. This means you can sell the GBA and use the money for a DS.

Speaking of money, the DS is quite pricey in my opinion. It cost $150, which is a lot considering that is the price of the PS2 and Xbox. The PSP is said to launch around $150-200 in the US, so the DS might be cheaper than it. I personally would wait until the PSP comes out, then we’ll know its price, and the DS might get a price drop.

Now to the important stuff, the games! The DS’s launch line up is, well, not that great really. FtM:XY/XX is an interesting game that make use of all the DS’s unique features. It’s a fun game, but it is really just a bunch of mini games put together. SM64DS is not quite as good as its N64 counter part because of the lack of an analog stick, but it is still a great game. Aside from those two, there isn’t much else out there in terms of quality games. The future for the DS however, looks bright. Square Enix has 6 games in development for the DS. Some of those titles are, Secret of Mana DS, Final Fantasy 3, and Egg Monster Heroes. The RPGs just keep coming, Namco announced that Baten Kaitos, a great card based RPG, would be headed to the DS, along with Xenosaga, an innovative RPG series originally for the PS consoles. Nintendo, of course, will be delivering some great games like, Animal Crossing DS, Yoshi’s Touch and Go, and WarioWare Touched!. The DS has huge third party support, so a lack of games shouldn’t be a problem.

Now for the design of the system. The DS is great! It’s pretty light, very small, and the isn’t anything wrong with it. The touch screen won’t get scratched by the stylus unless you attach a knife to it. The button layout is very left hand friendly when you hold the stylus to touch the screen. A nice thing about the DS is the fact that it has 2 speakers built into the system. This gives you stereo sound without headphones. As for the sound itself, it isn’t that bad. I would expect the PSP to have better quality sound, but the DS is just fine. The battery life is between 6-10 hours depending on what features you are using. Wifi will drain the battery faster, and get you closer to 6 hours. The battery is rechargeable so you should never have any problems with the battery not lasting long enough. The screens are backlit and you can adjust the intensity of the light. The system is very durable, from what I can see. I dropped my friend's DS as I was walking, and it is fine.

Overall, good job Nintendo, the DS is exactly what they needed to combat Sony. As of December 2004, it has already sold over a million copies world wide! If you want to know if you should get a DS or PSP, I’d just look at the systems, and see which meets your needs more. The PSP has more functions, it can play MP3s, and is just more of a multi media device. The DS has many functions to give you a unique gameplay experience. See which system has more games you like, then, when you know which one you want, wait for a price drop! The great thing about competition is price drops, take advantage of them, don’t spend too much money on one system if you don’t have to.

Battery life:9
Overall (not an average):7.7

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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