Review by shirohane

Reviewed: 08/15/05

Nintendo it worth your while?

On November 21, 2004 Nintendo released the next console of hand held gaming, the Nintendo DS. And, almost a year later, during the month of August 2005, I walked home proudly with my very own Electric Blue DS. Why did I wait this long to buy a DS, you ask? To tell the truth, I never wanted a DS. When gamers first set eyes on the DS they had their doubts. And I had my doubts. But those doubts quickly faded away with my first Dual Screen experience. This system is great. It’s not perfect of course, but it still rolls along pretty nicely. So, if you’re thinking of purchasing a DS (I believe you are, otherwise why would you be reading a review for it?) then let’s take a look-see at why you go through with it…

Price 8/10: First things first, the product itself. At $150, in silver-black or electric blue color, with killer N64 graphics, it’s a pretty fair price, considering what comes with it. When you first get your hands on the DS’ box, you’ll find a bunch of parts and accessories, all free with your new DS. You’ll find the DS itself of course, a thumb-strap, 2 styli, battery, and one AC Adapter. It’s not a bad deal, considering all these parts are replaceable at relatively cheap prices. On the downside, though, you’ve got to assemble all of the parts yourself. But it’s not too hard. There’s a very useful instruction booklet within the box that you should read. True, it’s kind of a hassle at first to find out where to put everything, but it’s not impossible…providing that you can follow directions.

Design 10/10: Next up, the design. The DS has two screens, a regular screen and a touch screen. Opening and closing it is pretty simple. All you have to do is grab the top screen and flip it up. And to close it, all you do is fold your DS up again. When it’s closed, the DS is near impossible to damage so you don’t have to worry about scratches to your screen, like with the original GBA. And, despite the two screens and extra buttons, the DS is fairly light, fits into a jacket pocket, and you can easily bring it with you on those boring car trips.

Battery 9/10: Speaking of car trips, the DS comes with its own battery with the first purchase. These batteries can be recharged by the free AC Adapter you receive with it. Gone are the days where you have to constantly buy batteries for the ol’ GBA/SP; just charge ‘em up and there you have it. The downside here is that the batteries might lose a bit of life if you’ve been recharging a lot, and you might need replacements one day. Anyways, you batteries might take 4 hours to charge up but you can still play your games while it’s charging, a major plus if you absolutely must continue a game.

Control 8/10: The DS has some new and pretty interesting controls. It has more buttons than a GBA/SP; in all the DS has the buttons L, R, A, B, X, Y plus a directional pad (reminds you of the old SNES days, huh?). Also, there’s the added bonus of the touch screen. A little problem here is getting used to the feel. Holding the DS and figuring out how to use directional pad, buttons, touch screen, thumb-strap, and styli can get a bit confusing and might take a bit of time getting used to. The thumb-strap especially feels a bit weird and some people never get used to it. You might even prefer to use the stylus instead or even the directional pad. If it makes you feel better about the controls, you can switch the control layout on most (not all) games to suit your individual needs (anyone left-handed? There’s a whole layout for all you lefties out there in Super Mario 64). Basically, just cater to your style and change things around if you want. You can use the directional pad, stylus, or the thumb-strap, whatever you like. Overall though, the controls aren’t that bad (you’ll learn eventually, I promise) when you’ve got a hang of it.

Graphics 10/10: Here is where the Nintendo DS shines! The DS has a very powerful processor and can display nicely done N64 graphics. When you turn your DS on, gone are the old, flat 2-D images. Rather, you see new, improved 3-D graphics. The DS is back-lit, meaning images are sharp, detailed, and the colors are wonderful. There’s always the risk of the odd dead pixel, but if you do get one the nice guys at Nintendo will replace your DS for you (providing you still have that warranty). All in all, the whole thing is nicely done and those graphics are smoother and better than your N64’s.

Sound 10/10: Nintendo did wonders here. Remember that annoying beeping from your GBA games? Well, it’s long gone here. The DS produces actual stereo sound and great music. Now you can actually listen to the music without that incessant beeping. And, quite possibly the greatest thing about the DS, it somehow manages voice acting! The voice-overs are great and clear; you can easily understand what someone’s saying to you.

Multi-player 8/10: The DS has a built-in wireless communication program. If you are 100 feet (or less) away from another DS owner you can chat with them via the Pictochat system. In Pictochat, you can write messages or draw pictures to another person. Again, this might take a bit of getting used to, especially if you’re going to be drawing. It can be fun to send messages/pictures to you friends if they’re nearby or meet other gamers if they’re within range. But, if you don’t like socializing at all, then you can pretty much ignore this feature.

Connectivity 9/10: What would a game be if you can’t play with your buddies? Another interesting feature of the DS is the wireless multi-player system. If you have one game, your friends can download it on their DS and you can all play against each other. Obviously, the game won’t stay on your DS. You still got to buy it (no cheating here). But it’s still fun because it means not everyone needs a game in order to play multi-player.

On-line 9/10: Yes, the DS will be on-line enabled! That means you can play your DS with your friends over the Internet. It opens up great new possibilities for games and new chances to compete. But as with all on-line games there will be drawbacks. There’ll always be the occasional cheater and sadly, you cannot play your DS on-line if you still have Dial-Up.

Games 9/10: As of now the DS lineup is beginning to look good. New releases that are coming up include the ever popular and highly anticipated Animal Crossing DS and the exciting Mario Kart, both on-line enabled. And of course, a whole plethora of games are coming out soon, making the DS library suddenly a lot more interesting.

The DS is truly an amazing system, a definite improvement to the hand-held video gaming industry. It has a great design and long-lasting battery. Its graphics are spectacular and what it achieves with sound is revolutionary. The DS is multi-player and on-line enabled for those of you who want to play with friends. The controls might take a bit of time to get used to, but once you’ve got it, you’ll have fun with the DS. And there’s a whole library of interesting DS games coming up for you to play. You won’t be disappointed with the Nintendo DS and when you’ve learned the ropes, you’ll have an unforgettable video gaming experience!

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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