NINTENDO DS REVIEW: DS SYSTEM

Nintendo knows how to hype a system. We have all learned that by now. The hype on this new touch dual screen system had a few of us saying, "Okay it looks nice but how is it really going to work"? After writing previews and some hands on time with the system prior to the launch my attitude changed a bit. After all, if anyone could pull off something like this Nintendo was the company to do it. So off I went to pick up my unit and games. As some of you may know, the only thing that went slightly wrong with the launch was the fact Nintendo did not have enough units as they first announced for the launch date. It happens and they tried to take care of those who missed out on the launch date.

The next units are being shipped by early December and pre-orders for the system are sold out through February. Those who had to wait for the next shipment seemed annoyed but everything went smooth. I had to kill a little time while at the mall. So I started up the system and had the system set up in less than 5 minutes. I also was surprised when I clicked on the chat program. There were a ton of people in rooms. It seems people were sitting around playing with it waiting to get the units home. I enjoyed talking to a few people and it works just as Nintendo promised.

I got the unit home and I noticed that the Stylus was smaller than the ones that were at the demo units in the stores. It was even smaller than the ones they gave out at E3. When I popped in the first game and started to play, my fingers just could not get used to the small size of the stylus. So I called Nintendo and asked if using another stylus would hurt the unit. I was told no as long as it had the soft rubber tip. A quick adjustment in the settings and recalibrating the touch screen to the new stylus and it worked like a charm. The touch screen responds great and works just as Nintendo claimed all these months leading up to its release. When I started playing the games, I was very surprised at the sound quality. For a handheld system this thing has great sound. I was also impressed with the graphics of most of the games available at launch. Although some are better than others, it looks good. Spider-Man looks fantastic and a few others really stand out in the graphics area. The games that used both screens to show off their opening intros to the games were very cool. The unit itself is well built and feels pretty comfortable overall. I will say that it will take some longer to get used to the new design and the way it controls.

I noticed that the system had the slot for the GBA games. Of course we already knew that this would be included. I then noticed that every game box had a slot for a GBA game. Leave it to Nintendo to throw in a few surprises. We are finding out with certain games for the DS if you have another GBA cart in the slot it unlocks some special goodies. The spring loading DS carts are very nice but the small size makes them very easy to lose if you do not return it to its case after playing. Nothing a little common sense can't cure though. The average learning curve on the first 6 launch games I would say will take the average gamer less than 30 minutes to get used to and an hour to get really get the hang of it. Nintendo even thought of adding a calendar and a clock for use as a travel alarm. It can also be set to go off on special occasions. The mike built in works great and will certainly be used more in upcoming games and other surprises Nintendo has in mind for the DS. The new extra buttons and the D-pad respond very well. You may have to get used to the new layout though. I personally think they are well-made and it's nice to have the extra buttons. The 2 side triggers work just like the GBA SP and also respond well.

I was also impressed that even right out of the box I was able to play non-stop for almost 6 hours before having to plug it in to recharge it. The average time of the battery when fully charged is about 10 hours.
The adapter and batter charger is the exact same one as the GBA SP; it is compact and has the same flip out plug out. It looks like Nintendo DS will be a handheld to be reckoned with. I also got the chance to test out the Wi-Fi wireless system with someone who has one right up the street and the transfer took less than 30 seconds for Super Mario 64. It's simple to use and I am sure Nintendo has more plans for this in the very near future.

Now I have a few tips for those who got a DS yesterday or are getting one for Christmas. The dual screens are almost like the GBA SP. It is a lint magnet! You may want to get or ask your parents to go to a local camera shop and pick up micro-fiber cleaning cloth. Professional camera people use these to clean their lenses. It's made specially to remove the lint and clean fingerprints without scratching the surface. If you find the stylus too small as I did, Nintendo is releasing larger ones in a few weeks. I am using one made by Belkin. They are larger and have a metal outside giving it just enough weight. I did go back to the one that came with the DS unit and it felt fine. I only added this to help people get the best use out of their new purchase. My closing thoughts about the DS are simple. The dual screen and the touch controls are different but so far I am very impressed and can't wait to see what else Nintendo and the other developers have in store for us.

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System: DS
Dev: Nintendo
Release: Nov 21, 2004
Review by Chris
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
4.25
CONTROL
4.25
SOUND
5.0
VALUE
4.5