Holiday buying guide: Nintendo DSThis is the fourth of atypicalgamer’s weekly buying guides, covering so far the Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360. Next time it's the PSP. Note that while I’ve tried to be objective, these posts ultimately represent my own personal opinions. Links take you to Amazon.co.uk, although it’s worth pricing against other online retailers such as HMV.com and Play.com.
The original DS, launched in November 2004, entered a market that Nintendo already owned with its various incarnations of the Game Boy. But it managed to overtake even that with a revolutionary double-screened machine accessible to anyone. According to Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo, games had become too difficult for the average person to be able to – or even want to – play. The DS was meant to change all that, mainly through the so-called Touch! Generations games like Brain Training and Sudoku Master. The chunky plastic model was replaced a year later by the current model, the DS Lite, to be superseded next year by the DSi. Its enduring appeal to the younger generation is demonstrated by the fact it comes in a rainbow of colours.
As with the Wii, Nintendo supplemented these titles for new gamers with some old-timer favourites like Super Mario 64 DS; the handheld’s success now means that it gets its own version of many big name games from other publishers too. This doesn’t mean they’re the same (or the same quality) as the PS3 or Xbox 360 version; it’s a good idea to check before buying. Finally, it offers multiplayer gaming, especially easy for short-range “ad hoc” connections.
Should you buy it?The current DS Lite still plays Game Boy Advance cartridges, but that will be done away with for the DSi, which will have two cameras and an SD slot instead. But if you want multimedia on the go from your handheld, you’re better off with an iPhone or a PSP (see the next post in this series). If you’re simply after the brain training and the games, you won’t be disappointed with a DS.
Summary of pros and cons+ Suitable for any age group, including inexperienced older and younger gamers
+ Plenty of games to choose from, in most genres
+ Can play Game Boy Advance (GBA) games as well as those specifically for the DS
+ Easy to carry, the clamshell design means it’s protected from inadvertent damage when not in use.
+ Built in WiFi for multiplayer gaming.
- It’s a games machine; if you are looking for an iPod or cameraphone, you won’t get it here
- So many games that it can be hard to find the good amidst the dross
Ten games to buy1. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
2. Mario Kart DS
3. Animal Crossing: Wild World
4. Super Mario 64 DS
5. Elite Beat Agents
6. FIFA 09
7. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Justice For All
9. Sid Meier's Civilization: Revolution
10. Dr Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain?
Other stuff to considerThere’s nothing essential, but you might want to buy a carrying case, a spare stylus and some game cases for those tiny cartridges.
© Kate Berens, 2008