Review by Link165
"An updated review on an unbelieveable handheld."
The Nintendo DS. The sequel to the Gameboy Advance. But is it a Gameboy? It is a Nintendo handheld, but not a Gameboy. The DS offers new ideas of gameplay, great sound, and acceptable graphics in one entirely new package. People were waiting in November 2004 to get the latest handheld from Nintendo, who has completely owned the handheld market since 1989 with few opponents. With Sony's PSP also on the market, people are still wondering if Nintendo is finally going to lose the handheld market after so many years. With the PSP being out, I think it's safe to conclude that Sony's PSP has NOT taken it away.
The DS design. Wow it is bad.
Ouch. I love the DS, but this thing is really big and bulky. Think of two GameBoy Advance SPs put side by side, and there is your DS. The first DS looked bad enough, and even with Nintendo improving it's design, it still looks bad.The DS can be very uncomfortable to hold at times. The entire handheld is silver, except for some black on the bottom. Like the GBA SP, the DS folds. The top part of the DS has two speakers in the lower left and right hand corners. The first of the DS's two screens is also in the center. On the other side, my DS has a scratch there(it was there since I got it, but I don't really mind the scratch). A small Nintendo logo is also there. Lets take a trip to the other half of the DS. The second screen, which is the touch screen(TS), is in the center. Above it is the the folding hinge for the DS. To the screens left is the Dpad. I am very disappointed in Nintendo for not putting an analog stick(even a nub, like Sony did with the PSP) here instead of a Dpad, but oh well. Above the Dpad is the POWER button. Not a switch, as seen as on the Gameboy, but a button. Under the TS is a small white DS logo, and further below that is the microphone, a recharge light and a power light. To the right of the TS are the four buttons, Y on left, B on bottom, A on right, and X on top. A and B are grey, X and Y are black. Above these four is the Select button on the left, and Start on the right. Looking at the DS from a 90 degree angle is a direct view of the GBA port. To its left is the volume slider, and to the right is the headphone jack. On a 180 degree view we can see that the DS turns to black, the only other color. The DS's info is in the center. To its left is a small door, behind it is the rechargeable battery. On the top is the GBA port, and the bottom is the DS card slot. The R shoulder button, the thumbstrap slot, and the stylus slot are on the bottom right. On the bottom left is the L button. On a 270 degree view, is (from left to right) the L button, AC adapter port, DS card slot, thumbstrap slot, stylus holder, and R button. The DS is a rectangle shape, with rounded corners. Fortunately, Nintendo announced the DS Lite recently, which looks a little easier on the hands.
First Play; the DS is born, and features
After putting the thumb strap and stylus(both included) into their holders, I turn on the DS by pressing the power button(not hold, press). The top screen shows the Nintendo and DS logos, and the touch screen shows the health risk warning. I touch the touch screen with my stylus to continue. I need to do a couple things before I can start my gaming experience with the DS. I must set the language(can be from six), my birthday, the date, favorite color(used for the menu), time, and a nickname for the DS(used for Pictochat and multiplayer). After this, I go to the main menu. The top screen shows battery power, the nickname, time, and date. A huge square clock is on the left, and a calender is on the right. The TS shows the DS game I have in, which is Super Mario 64 DS(SM64DS), an option for DS download play, Pictochat, and an option to start the GBA game I have in there(Currently, Zelda II and The Legend of Zelda take turns occupying that port). There are three small logos, a sun(turns backlight on or off), a DS(takes me to settings menu), and a clock(sets alarm time).
I boot up SM64DS. After setting up my profile, I notice I have no dead pixels in either one of my screens. I am amazed by SM64DS's graphics, which are clearly better then the Nintendo 64 version of the game. I played SM64DS until my battery ran low(note: you don't have to charge your battery when you get the DS, it comes partially charged or so). I held down the power button until my DS turned off, which was pretty quick. Then I took the AC adapter(also included) and plugged it into a wall outlet, and left the DS alone for a while. When my DS was charged, I took out SM64DS and put in the Metroid Prime Hunters demo that comes with the DS. This game's music was great, and the graphics again were better then N64 quality. This game should be a big hit, especially with the online...with VOICES!!!!
DS's most discussed new feature is the touch screen. DS games use the touch screen in different ways. Spiderman 2 uses it as a menu. For SM64DS, it is for movement. In metroid, it is used for aiming the gun/beam/missile launcher/I don't know the real name. Other games like Feel the Magic, Yoshi's Touch and Go, and Warioware Touched!, it is used for the games.
The DS comes with wireless multiplayer and online. The wireless multiplayer is nice, but doesn't have a very far range. However, the online is absolutely unbelievable. It doesn't have very many games that use it yet, but Mario Kart DS is great online(I don't have Animal Crossing DS yet). The DS wifi is integrated into it, you just need either a wireless router, Nintendo's $30 USB adapter, or a McDonalds equipped with a hot spot. The only thing I'm a little negative about is besides Metroid Prime Hunters, not DS games have voices, and the entire friend code system is very dumb, considering there is no way to get a friend code from a person you played online with. The only way to get friend codes is if you and someone else talk it over on the phone, in school, at work, online.
Also included with the DS is Pictochat. Pictochat is a wireless IM system, but is more of a gimmick then a real feature. It can't carry very far, so it will only work if you go over a friends house and talk with it. Other times, you can go into an empty chatroom and draw dirty pictures if you want, but is that really fun? Unfortunately, Nintendo hasn't announced plans to make Pictochat online, so it might just end up a thing being there, but never used. Also, a new web browser and TY Tuner is coming out for the DS, which will be a great option for DS owners. I am very impressed with the DS and it's features.
Graphics. Remember, they aren't everything.
In one year having the DS, I own a couple games for it. Mario Kart, SM64DS, Advance Wars, Nintendogs, and Phoenix Wright are the best games I have. The problem is that developers never want to use the DS's full potential. The dogs in Nintendogs look great. SM64DS is amazing. Advance Wars is a little disappointing here, it's all 2D. Same goes for Phoenix Wright. However, Mario Kart DS is complete proof that the DS can do graphics better then N64(and that Sony fanboys are wrong when they say it's worse then N64). Play Mario Kart 64 on your N64, then play MKDS and then try saying that DS graphics are inferior to N64.
Sound; I might go deaf
What I mean is, these two speakers really can blast sound, they are very loud. The music in the Metroid demo is very good, and the SM64DS music is much better then the N64 version. Sound effects in Metroid and Mario are great, Samus's gun/beam/missile launcher/I don't know the real name sounds funny, kind of like "Pow,Pow,Pow" when she shoots. Mario, Luigi, Wario, and Yoshi still make their normal sounds, and sound very clear. In MKDS, the sound of the karts, characters, the music, and the item sounds are all great. Nintendogs is a little on the lacking side, but the dog barks are all very good.
Games. What more do you want?
The DS didn't really get its first decent post-launch game until several months after it launched. Since then, it has an amazing library of games. Mario Kart is a must have hands down. Games that I don't have, but have heard good things about, include Animal Crossing, Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time, Age of Empires, Castlevania DS, Resident Evil Deadly Silence, and more. Phoenix Wright it probably my second favorite game on the DS. SM64DS is also a good port. In the future, the DS has Metroid Prime Hunters, which should be a huge seller, and New Super Mario Bros. Tetris DS will be good for those who love....Tetris. With a great library of games now, and a great one in the future, the DS games will keep you satisfied for a LONG time.
Price; much better
The DS currently costs 130 dollars, which is better then its $150 launch price, but it is still 10-20 dollars over for a handheld. It used to come with things like the Metroid demo, but I don't know what Nintendo packages with it now besides the stylus, thumb strap, and the AC adapter. No, I'm not going to buy another one to see what I get.
The DS, in my opinion, has completely succeeded. It's very popular, selling over 13 million worldwide. This isn't because of the Nintendo name, it's because of the unbelievable games and fun that it brings. Thank you Nintendo for an unbelievable console that has given me hours upon hours of fun.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 03/28/05, Updated 02/17/06
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