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Thursday 9 December 2004

Nintendo DS - handheld envy [Brit]

Driving from Ossining (just outside Manhatten) to Cape May is a tedious affair, especially when you're thirteen and the car is crammed with everything your American cousins can rip out of their town house. The epic 'max 60kph' voyage was made bearable by the presence of an original Gameboy, its tinny Mario music annoying the hell out of the adults up front more effectively than anything we could come up with.
That was fifteen years ago and I can't honestly say I've even given a second thought to handhelds since. I dabbled briefly with the Lynx (whilst a mate had a brief foray into the world of Neo Geo) but always went back to my PC. Verily, handhelds sucked.
Until last night, when at a bash thrown by a supplier one of their techies sidled up to me and produced a Nintendo DS (courtesy of a Canadian mate of his who had delivered it to him that very afternoon). I can't say first impressions amounted to much; a slab of bevelled silver plastic which whilst weighing convincingly in my hand looked like part of a wheel clamp - visually pretty, it isn't.
I'd seen photos of course - but up until that point hadn't actually seen one in real life (let alone played it). Super Mario running across the dual screens is fantastic and visually looks very lush indeed; the quality of the screens and the colour reproduction were bloody brilliant. I've no idea what it sounded like of course, I was trying to balance a Kir Royale with one hand, drive a baby dino round with my thumb and, most importantly, remain upright after some serious drinkage.
I assume there is audio however ;)
The deal was sealed when I realised that I could make my chap move by using my thumb - as the screens are touch sensitive too. This is something of a marvel since one thing that's always bugged me about handhelds and indeed consoles is the inability to simply click on the appropriate icon and go where you want to go... usually you're left steering a highlight box of some sort round a defined tab order.
Of course, the touch screen niceness would be a good idea regardless; what makes it a great idea is the fact that it works so well you can intuitively play games using it rather than the traditional (and somewhat clunky) four/eight point directional pad. It was a bit wierd at first, but dead easy and I realised that I'd been playing it for twenty minutes whilst all around me stared on bemusedly and poured booze down their necks.
Handhelds shouldn't be like this - for god's sake, this rocks!
I'm going to see what the games are like (the DS owner tells me there are only ten available currently and most of them are quite poo) in Q1/Q2 of next year - hopefully they'll be great, because I want one. Oh yes.

1 comment:

  1. I ordered a DS from on saturday evening, the thing shipped on the monday and had arrived in the uk by sometime tuesday, which was quite impressive. Amusingly, a uk etailer had taken roughly the same amount of time to reply to an email asking if they even had them in stock, which they did. Their price including one game just so happened to be the same price i'd already paid for a DS and 3 games though.