Review by Wheelman2004

"DS: A Black/Silver Gem"

One of the most controversial systems to date, the Nintendo DS certainly brings forth a new concept: Dual Screen gaming. Some people claim it would be the next Virtual Boy, or that it will sink because of the PSP. I can proudly say that the DS rises to stardom with its unique concept of "two screen touch gaming".

Concept- 10
The gameplay revolutions that the DS brings to us cannot be ignored. Never before in the history of gaming has a system had touch-sensitive gameplay or dual-screen gaming, and very few systems have had wireless multiplayer. Backwards compatibility with the huge library of GBA games tops off the package. Touch controls for the most part are executed very well, with generally responsive and very accurate control. Many games do not fully execute the touch screen yet, so it can be said that the best has yet to come. As for the highly touted dual-screen gameplay, it also shines. Games like Super Mario 64 DS use the touch screen as a map, and place camera control on the touch screen as well. All the action takes place on the top screen. In games like Feel the Magic: XX/XY, a dating sim, the touch screen is an integral part of the gameplay, adding a whole new degree of fun to gaming. And last, but not least, is the DS's built-in microphone. Very few games currently use this, but the potential of online FPSs (by the way, the DS is currently slated to go online sometime in 2005) using the microphone for voice chat alone justifies having this feature in the system.

Graphics- 9
Nintendo has packed a lot of heat into the DS's visuals. Using an ARM9 running at 67 MHz, and an ARM7 at 33 MHz, the DS can pump out graphics that eclipse the N64. The most noticeable example is the comparison between Super Mario 64 (SM64) and Super Mario 64 DS (SM64DS). With the exception of a few minor textures, SM64DS includes much more detail than the N64 original. And believe or not, it accomplishes this feat at half the polygon count of the N64. How? By including more 3D hardware than the N64, the DS wrings the most out of all the power it has. Considering that this is merely the first few months of the DS's life, much more can be expected from this department.

Sound- 10
Handheld gaming has certainly come a long way in the sound department since the original Game Boy. The Nintendo DS can produce full, realistic stereo sound. Using the placement and angle of the speakers to their advantage, Nintendo has also allowed the DS to do surround-sound emulation. Currently the most advanced sound system in a portable game system, the DS has limitless potential for great sounds and music.

Controls- 9
Unlike most handhelds, the DS includes FOUR action buttons, which means that there will never be a lack of buttons or too many button-holding combos. The DS also has Start and Select buttons, L and R buttons, a D-Pad, and a Power button right above the D-Pad. The general feel of the unit is great. However holding it in your hands too long, or with one hand and a stylus, can get just a bit uncomfortable after a while. Regardless, the buttons have that "clicky" feel that people seem to love, and the D-Pad is surprisingly a great alternative to the analog stick. The D-Pad is in my opinion the best on a handheld system, but if you have to have precision control, the touch screen is where it's at. Using the included thumbstrap, the DS can emulate analog control very well. One thing that could be of concern is the placement of the Power button, right above the D-Pad. Rest assured, though, you won't accidentally kill the power with one wrong press. You hold the power button down for a second to turn the system off, a great feature that I'm glad Nintendo added.

To ice the cake, the DS has a built-in chat/drawing program called PictoChat. Up to 16 players within a 100 ft. range can "type" with the stylus or draw pictures.
The DS can also store information such as the time, a username, profile, and birthday using its built-in menus. Also available is an alarm clock with a loud alarm.

Overall, I believe the DS deserves a 9 due to the revolutionary gameplay that it offers to the gaming world. Polished features such as a touch screen, wireless multiplayer, and backwards compatibility with GBA games ensures that the DS is the perfect handheld for any gamer.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/14/05

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