Before I start, I just want to say how much of an honor it was for Snackbar to be invited to the Nintendo headquarters. It was very exciting to be one the first to sample some of their upcoming games and gear. I was lucky enough to have gone (Cone and Dots were the first invited to attend this event, but unfortunately they caught a bug and got sick). Having to step foot at Nintendo-a company that has had an impact on my life as a gamer since I was a child-was really awesome. I will give you my first impressions on the Nintendo DS, which is set to hit the stores in a few weeks.
The Nintendo DS is one of the most impressive handheld systems to come out. With so many features and capabilities, I would pretty much call this the Swiss Army knife of mobile gaming. The Nintendo DS not only comes with loads of features, but it looks really slick with its design. For those of you who think this is the next step of the “Gameboy” handheld systems, you are mistaken. The Nintendo DS is a stand-alone system that has the capabilities of playing GBA games, but it’s entirely an all-new generation of mobile gaming.
My preconceived notions of the DS were way off before handling the actual device. As attractive as it is, with its sleek and lightweight design, the DS brings a new aspect to mobile gaming. With shoulder buttons, dual screens (one of which uses touch screen technology), the use of a stylus pen, voice recognition, surround sound speakers, and Wi-Fi technology, the DS is a load of pure awesomeness. When you first power on the device, it prompts you to customize your DS settings. As a side note, your DS will have plenty of juice right out of the box, but it’s always good to charge up before taking it out for the day. The DS uses the same power adapter as the GBA; so if you lose it, you can revert to your GBA’s adapter. Once on, the DS will ask you to adjust the time and date, your system’s name, language, and your birthday. All DS systems will come with a demo copy of [i]Metroid Prime: Hunters[/i]-and might I add, the cartridges are much smaller than GBA cartridges. The color and image quality of the DS is absolutely stunning, with a resolution of 256×192. Both screens on the DS house backlit LCD screens.
Being one of the first people to play [i]Metroid[/i] was very exciting. I was actually a little concerned about how I was going to play the game by using the stylus pen. After a few minutes of practicing the movements, it was almost like playing a PC FPS. Another tool they threw in the package was a thumb strap you could use on the touch screen as opposed to the stylus. The screen’s sensitivity can be calibrated if it becomes too sensitive for either the pen or the strap. [i]Metroid[/i] also contains five modes of control setups to choose from, including one for those who like the classic style of mobile gaming. [i]Metroid[/i] looked stunning, with great graphics and awesome multiplayer types. We all participated in wireless multiplayer “LAN” matches of various types over the built-in wireless connection. [i]Metroid[/i] was not the only game we played on the DS; [i]Super Mario 64[/i] was also a pleasant surprise. With new modes and more characters, [i]Super Mario 64[/i] stays true to its roots. The graphics, sound, and controls were all very impressive.
One of my favorite features of the DS was Pictochat. The wireless chat program allows other DS systems to get together and send messages to one another. Chat rooms are available in order to minimize major traffic. The signal strength of the DS was also very impressive. I literally left the room, walked down the hall, and still had a great signal. The distance of optimal signal strength is 100 feet; anything past that could lose your signal, but it’s worth pushing the limits. Another really cool feature it threw at us were game prompts. If someone is hosting a multiplayer match or chatting within your 100-foot radius, you are prompted to join. This only happens if and only if your DS is powered on and you possess that particular game.
Overall, the Nintendo DS was an all-around splendid system with many exciting features and new technology for mobile gaming. Since the DS will be available in stores at some point next week, I would expect the stores to sell out rapidly. The DS provides a new generation of handheld gaming suited for all generations. I expect Nintendo to continue to dominate the handheld gaming arena for years to come. Personally, I don’t see the PSP standing a chance against the DS. Rock on Nintendo!