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 🙂