Everybody is trying to slim down for this summer and the Nintendo game console is not an exception. In our review of the original Nintendo DS handheld reviews, we had mentioned that, the only characteristic of the console that we did not like is its bulkiness and Well, Nintendo heard us! They have addressed this issue with a signature Nintendo remodelling. In fact, it has been given an extra dosage of style, not only has it slimmed down, it has brightened up too. Called the Nintendo DS Lite, it improves upon its predecessor in almost every conceivable way. The launch of the DS back in the year 2004 was limited success; with the release of the DS Lite in the year 2006 giving it a new lease of life and driving the UK market crazy.
We are reviewers, so it is really hard for us to go past without saying the cons of the model. As far as the Nintendo Lite is concerned, the downside is that the enhancements in the console are only cosmetic than anything else, just offers the gamers a light weighed and much more stylish way of getting their latest Magnetica and Super Mario Bros on.
The Nintendo DS Makeover:
The tangible weight and size reductions, repositioned buttons, sharper visual performance, repositioned stylus holder, everything is a welcome addition to the Japanese giant’s celebrated family of pocket friendly gaming console, the Nintendo DS. Aesthetically the Lite looks absolutely terrific.
This Nintendo DS Lite Handheld console that has got a very notable make-over efforts in order to build the identical fashion statement for videogames that the iPod had done for the MP3 players. As in the case of iPod, the Lite too comes in a wide spectrum colours. It is also available in a limited edition Pink supported by the female artist with the same name. But at the time of its release only the black and white models were available. With the DS Lite being available in various colours, it’s probably the lacquered white finish, which shows Nintendo’s new offspring in its best effect and hence the evident Apple comparisons. As in the original DS, the DS Lite too comes with 2 upright tiered displays. The bottom touch screen is the one that you will be using on finger or a stylus to perform operations like selecting the moving options and moving characters. If you are not very comfortable with the touch screen operations, a regular button layout is also available and it gives you a more usual way of control.
It is really lite:
As the name indicates, the console has shredded a lot of weight and is not an even more compact system, measuring (H x W x D) 133 x 72 x 21 mm and weighs just 217 grams. These figures show that the DS Lite console is about 39% tinier and 21% less weighing than its elder brother. In the original model, the bottom half was oversized, but this model has the bottom and top halves symmetrical and rounded corners that are more tampered. Despite the overall size reductions, the marque twin displays have similar dimensions. With these changes made to the design, the DS Lite is now a even more of a compact console.
Finger print and scratch magnet:
The single biggest problem with the DS Lite is that, it comes in a high gloss finish and so is a magnet of fingerprints. Nintendo has also failed to include the rudimentary cleaning cloth in the package. The Black coloured Lite is the device that is most affected by this characteristic of Lite. On the positive side, the clamshell ensures the Lite travels well, minimizing the marks and scratches on the exterior with the dual-touch displays staying completely fully protected.
The layout of Lite is mostly identical to that of Nintendo DS along with some additional advantages. The speaker retains its place in the top half, taking the centre position and in spite of being tinier than the previous gen DS, it sounds as loud as its predecessor. The bottom part of the console feels more flimsy, maybe because we got used to the bulkier model. To the left of the touch screen, you will find the D-Pad that is about ¾ the dimensions of the original, but not reductions in the efficiency. Though the four X, Y, A and B fascia buttons are fundamentally identical, they feel more distinct than the original DS. You will no longer find the semi ovals on the top, as the start and stop buttons are now small circles and you will find them on the bottom. Even the power button has been moved to the right side of the controller, a re-location from just above the D-pad. This change is one of the most welcome changes as the original looks accurately akin to the select and start buttons, and had been placed in the same area on the reverse side; this led to infrequent turn off instead of pausing.
The facia of the DS Lite Console system has been left untouched, you will find the volume control, the in-line enabled headphone port and the GBA game slot. You will find the microphone in the hinge between the screens. The rear of the unit too is essentially the same and the only difference you will notice is that, the stylus holder is moved from the rear of the system to the left of power switch. Though the right and left triggers have been miniaturised, as in the case of the fascia buttons, they are more distinct and much simpler to operate.
The DS Lite Console from Nintendo has its own cartridges that have a size that is in between SD and CompactFlash cards. It is almost fully backward compatible with the GameBoy Advance titles; we had to use “almost” there because the unit does not play multiplayer modes of the GBA games. Though the cartridges of DS are much smaller in capacity than the Sony PSP’s UMDs, the good news here is that they can be played without the wait for the unbearable load times of this proprietary format of Sony.
The GBA slot:
The GBA slot itself has gone through a makeover. Instead on an bare cartridge slot, Nintendo has now included a plastic cover looking like a half size GBA game. It looks as though you will lose it for sure, though it is quite sleek it also put itself in the place of our criticism. The GBA games stick out of the cartridge slot by about a centimetre; the original DS fits the cartridges perfectly. There is nothing very serious to worry about though, as it does not impede the game playing even in the slightest way. And when you consider the fact that the DS is backwards compatible with tons of GBA games, it is really a very small price to pay.
Features of DS Lite:
Forget what the DS Lite does not offer: major interactive feature upgrades, improved quality of games, better software performance or ace out the PSP in terms of whiz bang 3D graphics technology. Instead concentrate on the strides that the system makes like enhancement in the overall quality of gameplay, improvement in visibility and of course more pocket friendly.
Excellent WiFi service:
Being introduced just after a year after the game had launched, the WiFi compatibility on the DS is quite solid. As in the case of the original DS, the WiFi setup is extremely simple and efficient in the DS Lite too. The WiFi system recognises most of the wireless connections.
Play with your buddies nearby:
If you wish to create a friends list, just enter a 12 digit friends codes for each game that you would like to play with your buddies. But if you wish to play against the non-friends, it will either be a hit or a miss as you will not be finding a game to join as fast as you will on an online console like the Xbox 360, but as long as you are playing a fairly popular game in a reasonable hour, it will not be long before you locate your competition. You can even have a voice chat using the offered microphone. With the GBA multiplayer games, you will not be able to play head to head over a wireless connection and with the absence of a link cable port, you will not be able to have a wired bond with the older version GBAs or Nintendo GameCubes. This is not possible at least until Nintendo releases an additional adaptor that can be interfaced with the main power port of the DS Lite.
The quality of graphics of the DS Lite games is pretty decent. They are better than the PS1/N64, but were nowhere near the quality of Xbox or PS2 or the Nintendo GameCube. And they are no better when compared to the games of PSP. One area in which the DS Lite over powered the other consoles is in its pioneering characteristics of titles. While the PSP games were much like the games of its siblings, while the touch screen set-up of the DS-Lite that allows the designers to create some really unique game play. It is quite disappointing that the DS Lite does not have the audio, video and browsing features of the PSP.
Games for all:
Nobody can deny the fact that a console is only good as its games and equally it manages to get games that it is worthy of. As far as the Lite is concerned, Nintendo has led by example with its range of touch generations by producing some groundbreaking titles that not just appeal to veteran gamers, but has also managed to entangle few new audiences who are absolutely new to the gaming world.
For instance, the Nintendogs is essentially a pet simulator having some unique features that will allow you to interact with your digital mutt like never before. With the help of the stylus you will be able to actively stroke and tickle your pooch, throwing Frisbees for it to fetch and much more. With voice recognition, you can call the pet and even teach him to obey command and teach tricks by speaking directly into the console.
Nintendo has made some real improvements in the brightness settings by upgrading it to four, whereas the original DS had only two of them. At the lowest setting, the Lite is just as bright as the original DS, but at the brightest setting, it is simply brilliant and is as bright as the GBA SP. But the GBA game’s colours look very much washed out while played with the lite, whereas the good quality backlighting of DS makes the graphics of the games stand out.
For testing the battery performance of the Nintendo DS lite against the DS original, we played an exact same game at the brightest setting and max volumes of each of the systems. The Lite lasted for about five hours whereas its predecessor came out as the winner with about six hours and forty five minutes. It takes about three hours to get the system fully charged and as in the case of the DS original, Lite to goes into sleep mode when the system is closed.
One thing that is annoying about the DS Lite is that it uses a different power supply to the original DS. Given, it is the same PSU as the GBA Micro, but that is not going to help current DS owners that want to upgrade and fancy having a PSU at work and at home.
Nintendo offers its DS Lite with one year manufacturer’s warranty.
If you still do not own a portable gaming device, the Nintendo DS Lite is worth having a consideration especially with its list of peculiar and original titles. So, if you have not yet got the hip to the dual screen diversion’s charms; the touch sensitive titles experienced through top and bottom mounted visual displays using stylus or d-pad and button based front end, this is just the perfect chance. But if you already own the original model, then we would say that the improvements are not very noteworthy enough to shell out another 100 more pounds, unless you are really desperate to get rid of the bulk of the handheld console. If you like to own a portable console with more mature titles with decent multimedia capabilities and web browsing, the Sony PSP is a best buy.
Nintendo DS Lite Console – Technical Specification Table
|Model Name||Nintendo DS Lite|
|Dimensions(H x W x D)||133 x 72 x 21 mm|
|Game Media type||Cartridge|
|Sound Output Mode||Stereo|
|Display||2 Backlit, 260,000 colour, 3? diagonal reflective TFT LCD screens.
Lower one is a touch screen. 2D and 3D video acceleration
|Display resolution||256×192 pixels|
|Input Device Type||D-pad; four buttons plus shoulder buttons
and select and start buttons;
stylus on lower touch screen
|Features||One ARM7 processor and One ARM9 processor.
4 megs memory.
|Audio||Built in stereo speakers with virtual surround sound,
mic and headphone jack
|Software bundle||PictoChat wireless messaging application.
Clock and calendar.
Metroid Prime: First Hunt (first person shooter)
|Game Cartridges supported||Two slots: one for Game Boy Advance games
for DS game cartridges.
The DS is not compatible
with Game Boy Color and earlier games.
|Maximum data transfer rate||11 Mbps|
|Controls||Touch screen, embedded microphone for voice
recognition, A/B/X/Y face buttons, plus control pad,
L/R shoulder buttons, Start and Select buttons.
The stylus is 1 centimeter longer and 2 millimeters
thicker than the stylus of the original Nintendo DS.
|Input/Output||Nintendo DS game cards and Game Boy
Advance game paks, terminals for stereo
headphones and microphone
|Languages||English, Japanese, Spanish, French, German, Italian|
|Battery||Rechargeable lithium ion|
|Battery Life||Five to 19 hours of play on a four-hour charge,
depending on use; power-saving sleep mode
|Box contents||Nintendo DS Lite with battery installed,
two styli, wrist strap
with “thumb stylus”
attached at the end, instruction
booklet and charger
|Warranty||Limited 1 year warranty|