When Nintendo initially announced its release of the DS handheld, all that the people were aware of was just that it had two displays and then over the next few months, more and more of new feature speculations started pouring in like touch screen, stylus, 802.11 wireless capabilities, post- E3 redesign and even Voice Over IP compatibility came in. And all these features culminated in the announcement of the console’s price tag too. Though it is true that there are many other gaming consoles that costs much higher than this console but does much lesser, we still have the feeling that Nintendo has added these features just to fill in the column on “Features” in the console’s specifications. So let us see if the final product lives up to the expectations and the price tag.
Not an ultra portable console:
At the very first look at the Nintendo DS Handheld Console , the thing that strikes you apart from the silver sleek design is its two LCD displays. The Nintendo DS has roughly got the same size of the original GameBoy Advance, but its clam shell like design makes the device look bigger. Unlike the SP which was an ideal example of the portable gaming console, which would easily slide inside any pocket, the DS can be carried around only in your back pocket or your shoulder bag. Yet another example of a very portable console was the Tamagotchi. Though the size has been increased, the device is not that bulky, it weighs just 275 grams. Since you will be using either the thumb pad or the stylus, the device has to be held with both your hands. However, the additional weight can be easily managed. Though the directional pad, face and shoulder buttons are all easily reachable, that doesn’t really stop you from wanting a more sinewy unit.
Buttons and controls in Nintendo DS:
The following is the list of controls of the device from left to right: volume control, cartridge slot for GBA, the front of the device is occupied by the headphone and microphone connectors. In the rear houses the shoulder buttons, the DS game slot and an AC adaptor slot. By having a dual slot, the device has retained its compatibility with all the existing GBA games, but the device can also accept the latest smaller DS game cards. On opening the DS in the front, the top panel hosts the main LCD display together with the stereo speakers, while the bottom panel sports a power button, directional pad and touch screen together with the 6 functional buttons that include A, B, X, Y, Select and Start. Two pen shaped styluses come with the package, one slides into the DS body in a PDA-style. This pen like stylus works better while drawing and writing messages in a PicoChat and the thumb stylus extremely good at the time of playing games.
Displays and sound in Nindendo DS Handheld:
The two displays, each have a resolution of 256 x 192 and 260,000 colours. The display is simply glare free even when the top screen is pivoted as far as it can go and both the displays seem to work seamlessly when the top screen is slightly tilted. Both the displays are terrific and you will not be able to find any of the eerie white glow seen in the GBA SP’s display that is front lit and the backlighting of the DS makes the graphics outstanding. The game’s beautiful full motion video sequences seem to take complete advantage of both the screens. One of the major advantages of elongated form factor is that, the stereo speakers work in a great fashion. There is a very clear separation of notes between the left and right speakers and it has very well done surround sound effects.
The first few steps:
The first time you turn your Nintendo DS Console on, the console asks the gamer to input a variety of details that includes your name, the current time and date, your favourite colour, that turns into your background colour by default and your birthday. It saves your birthday to offer you with a pleasant surprise on that special day of yours. Once this information has been inputted, the user is greeted to an extremely user-friendly interface that gives the gamer access to a Nintendo DS game, DS Download play for multiplayer games, run PictoChat or launch a GBA game.
Nintendo DS Features:
The DS Gaming Console runs on two powerful ARM9 and ARM7 CPUs running at 67Mhz and 33MHz respectively. The unit has 4 megs of memory and a BIOS. Another impressive feature is that the unit also has the ability to download software from another DS unit which means that some two player games only require one cartridge to play between two or more people.
The Pico Chat comes in as a very attractive distraction for the gamers. This application has a lot of interesting features that combine DS’s wireless features and its touch screen capabilities. Once the program is started, a number of available rooms are listed. Typing in the virtual keyboard in the bottom of the touch screen with the stylus is quite natural. The only issue with the pen is that, its tip is too broad to even think of any intricate drawings.
The multi-player mode:
When the multi player mode is used, the DS player surpassed its rated 9m in outdoors and in fact, it manages to go beyond 45m. But through the walls, the range is a little shorter and this is the case when the game cuts out in just 9m. In the Metroid and PicoChat applications, you will be indicated the type of connection you are in with the help of a mobile phone like small signal indicator. Even with only a single signal indicator, the multiplayer games were seamless and lag free. When everything seemed to be nice and happy, we were put down by a bad news, the older GBA multiplayer games will not play head to head over the wireless connection and with the absence of link cable port, you will not be able to wire bond to the older GBAs or the Nintendo GameCube.
The package of the Nintendo DS Handheld Gaming Console including the Metroid Prime: Hunters, Nintendo’s PictoChat software (full version), two styluses that is pen-shaped, a wrist strap that can also be toggled as a thumb stylus and an AC adapter similar to the one found in GBA SP.
Since the Nintendo DS has come out in the strong competing market with Sony’s PSP, it is important that we take a note of its battery life too. The DS managed a game time of about six hours and 40 minutes. The low battery indicator comes on in about 6 hours mark and from then on, in 40 minutes, the device ran out of juice. The sizeable battery life of the console is achieved thanks to the lithium-ion battery, which takes around 4 hours for the battery to be fully charged, a relatively meager price you pay for portable gaming. Yet another smart idea would be to close the unit when not in use putting the system to a sleep mode thereby maximizing battery life.
Nintendo offers the DS console a standard one year warranty.
In conclusion, the Nintendo DS sure is an amazing console that brings about an evolution in portable gaming. On the flip side, the console can get kind of heavy at times with continuous gaming, but then that would be a very meager price to pay in comparison to what you get out of the console. The DS has got the real flavour of Nintendo within it. It has got the characteristics that suit the console’s long list of games. This gaming console challenges developers to utilize the touchscreen, dual display and microphone capabilities to the fullest extent possible. Although the majority of first generation games are aimed at the younger gaming market, there are quite a few adult titles in the market allowing a mature gamer to take full advantage of this console. This game console with the funky design is worth laying your hands on. But if you are asking the question that if you could go for PSP or Nintendo, then we would definitely advice you to go for the PSP. And the justification we have is that, the PSP is much ahead of the DS in terms of graphics, audio performance, display quality and even the attire. And the PSP can also play movies and MP3 tracks for you. Overall, the DS is just not about having the best graphics or even the fastest processor; it is fully about having fun.
Nintendo DS Video Game Console – Specifications, Features
|Game Console name||Nintendo DS|
|Dimensions(H x W x D)||149 x 85 x 29mm|
|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|
|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) demo included.
|Game Cartridges supported||Two slots: one for Game Boy Advance games and another
for DS game cartridges. The DS is not compatible
with Game Boy Color and earlier games.
|Maximum data transfer rate||11 Mbps|
|Battery||Rechargeable lithium ion|
|Box contents||Nintendo DS with battery installed, two styli, wrist strap
with “thumb stylus” attached at the end, instruction
booklet, charger and Metroid Prime DS demo cartridge
|Warranty||Limited 1 year warranty|