When I first heard about the Nintendo DS, oh-so-long-ago, I was more than a little skeptical. The dual screen idea seemed a little too gimmicky. Nintendo has also had a pretty shaky track record at times, and this dual screen reminded me more of the Robbie the Robots, Power Gloves, Virtua Boys, and the like than it did of their successes. But lately they have been doing much better; the Gameboy Advance is amazing and I am a fan of the Cube. (Though all that much-hyped connectivity between the two has been a pretty big fart in the wind.) So, even as more information about the DS filtered out, I remained hesitant about getting excited. So the second screen is a touch screen, just another gimmick, right? But when that little sucker hit stores I couldn't help but be curious. Then, holding one in my hand, I got excited. It wasn't even minutes before the evil half of my brain convinced the slightly less evil half that we should have one. No, that we needed one. Oh, how much better life could be if I/we only had a Nintendo DS? I knew I would get one. I just hoped my early concerns would not be justified.
First thing I noticed when I pulled my new DS out of the box was that it was the coolest thing ever. I'm not kidding; I love the little guy. He sleeps with me now (Minds out of gutters people, we just cuddle). I named him (It's a secret name that I can't share with you). We are best friends. My girlfriend says it is unhealthy, but she doesn't complain too much - she's just proud of herself for getting me the perfect gift.
It fits so perfectly into my hand, it's like we were made for each other. My Gameboy Advance SP and I got along real well, but the DS and I are a perfect match. I always found the SP to be a little small, especially when using the shoulder buttons, but the DS has perfect shoulders. It is a design that console gamers will find much more familiar. It is nice to see that Nintendo kept the ideas they learned when designing the SP (like the flip top to keep it small and safe from scratches, the built-in battery pack, and the back light - best idea in years!) and then they learned a few new lessons on top of those.
When I powered on my DS for the first time, it wanted to really get to know me. My friends of the past, the ones I used to have before the DS, were all about themselves, but not my DS. The DS was all about me. It asked me about my birthday, the date that we first met, and even my favorite color (which it quickly changed to its background color, just to suit me). It is the relationship I always dreamed of having.
The DS is so beautiful too. I could stare into its dual screens for hours. Each screen is a 3-inch LCD, with 256 by 192 pixel resolution, and 260,000 colors. Sexy! The graphics have taken a huge jump from the GBA. Now we are playing in 3D. Metroid Prime: Hunters looks nearly as good as its predecessor did on the cube. I can't wait for the full version to come out. (The Metroid Prime: Hunters Demo comes packaged with the DS.)
A stylus is included with the Nintendo DS. It has a nifty little spot in the back to carry the stylus around. It also comes with a spare. As much as I like running my finger tips across the touch screen, the stylus is nice for both control and for keeping the screen clear of smudgy fingerprints. The carrying strap also has an attachment that you can strap to your finger for touching the screen. This is nice for quick transitions from button pressing to touch screen interaction.
The Nintendo DS has brought so much more to my life than just the touch screen. It has a built-in microphone and built-in wireless. The microphone is good for voice sensitive games, obviously, and the wireless allows you to connect with another DS, multiples in fact. The built in Pictochat will let you communicate with up to 15 people. Personally, I prefer that my DS only talk to me. I have a wicked jealous streak. The DS also has a download function. This means that you can go head-to-head with other DS players, at a range of approximately 30 to 100 feet, using only one cartridge. This will open up all new types of gaming experiences, not too mention being much easier on the pocket book than these types of games have been in the past.
As if that weren't enough, the DS sports a calendar, clock, and alarm clock. Unfortunately the alarm clock only works if you are not playing a game. But hey, nobody is perfect. It does work when the top is closed though. When closed, it enters a battery-saving sleep mode. The battery pack lasts up to ten hours and takes about four to charge.
The speakers sound really nice, too. Being on either side of the screen gives them a sense of direction that adds to the gaming experience. There is also a headphone jack, just incase you don't want everybody else to be a part of your private moments together.
As stated earlier, the Nintendo DS comes with a Metroid demo that does a good job of showing off what the DS is capable of, from graphics and sound to touch screen possibilities. There are a handful of games available now, the best of which is Super Mario 64 DS. Lots of fans will be happy to see a Madden football game as well. There's a little of everything. Every gamer ought to be able to find a launch title to suit her or his needs. And because it wants you to be happy, the DS itself is happy to play all of your old GBA games. Just don't tell the Gameboy; he's feeling a little outdated already.
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