in General, Ramblings, Reviews, Tech

Nintendo DS

Last weekend I made a trip to the Unclaimed Baggage store in Scottsboro, Alabama. They gather up all the stuff people leave in their, well, unclaimed baggage at airports and sell it rather substantially discounted off of list price. Flickr pictures are here.

The big find of the trip for me was my Nintendo DS. It has some scratches on the outside, and is missing a couple of unimportant accessories, but the discount made up for it.

After a week of playing with it on and off, I’m extremely impressed. I know I’m a bit late on the bandwagon for the system, but I still feel it is worth talking about. I only own three DS games, and two of them are extremely innovative. This is largely due to the touch screen. The lower of the two screens is manipulated via a stylus, and this new method of control really revolutionizes gameplay.

Super Mario 64 DS is a remake of the Nintendo 64 Mario game with a few extra features. I never really liked the original, so wasn’t surprised when this one underwhelmed me as well. Thankfully, the new mini-games make extensive use of the touch pad and are worth a play. This game came with the system or I wouldn’t own it.

Meteos, my next purchase, instantly claimed hours of my life. The game is a twist on the old “blocks falling from the sky” puzzle style that Tetris made famous. This time you manipulate the blocks directly on the lower screen with the stylus. The gameplay feels more immediate somehow, really putting you in the middle of the action.

Today I celebrated my first paycheck by purchasing Kirby’s Canvas Curse. Unlike Meteos, which has an option to play via control pad, Kirby can only be moved around via the touch pad. The player has to draw paths for him to follow, and tap the little pink dude to nudge him along the way.

Neither of these games would be particularly remarkable, or even playable, if controlled via a standard control pad and buttons.

As a bonus, the DS is backwards compatible with Game Boy Advance games. I scooped up the original Super Mario Brothers game very cheaply. This back catalog is a big plus. And to top it all off, the system is wireless-capable. I don’t know anybody else to play against right now, but this fall’s highly anticipated DS Mario Kart game promises to be enabled for free internet play. Sign me up!

The Playstation Portable may hold the ‘sexy’ spot in the handheld gaming market, but the DS delivers a unique and fun gaming experience at more than $100 less. Kudos to Nintendo for trying something different.

As a disclaimer, Nintendo does have a high nostalgia value for me. I grew up on their consoles, and their consoles alone. It almost feels like coming home again 🙂

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  1. What’s often forgotten about with new games today are fun and playability. I have not yet tried the DS, but I can honestly say that when it came out last year, I thought of it to be a bit gimmicky. However, as you said, the dual screens seem to add that unique new dimension to the gaming experience. I don’t think there’s a competition running between Sony and Nintendo. While Sony has a portable system that is near killer-app status, Nintendo simply expanded a bit on the formula that helped them rule the hand-held market for over 15 years.

    Speaking of killer-app handhelds… what are your thoughts on the nano?

    Also, I couldn’t help but notice… that was THE Chris Pirillo who posted here earlier this week, right?

  2. I think it was, yes 🙂 Brush with celebrity!

    I haven’t had a chance to look into the nano too extensively yet, but I’m sure it lives up to the iPod name. While you lose a bit of storage capacity for the dollar when you go with flash memory, I think the advantages such as being able to jog with it skip-free outweigh the problems. And it sure does look purdy.

    The iPod phone though… crippling it at 100 songs, even if you haven’t filled up the 512mb, seems like an unnecessary annoyance to me.

    My main positive point with the DS is that Nintendo wasn’t afraid to try something different. I hear people complain about the lack of innovation in modern games all the time, and here we have a great counter-example by one of the “big three” themselves.


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