June 29, 2006

Little Games in Pretty Boxes

by peterb

As those of you who care may have surmised, I, along with psu, picked up a Nintendo DS Lite the other week.

The original DS was, unfortunately, not actually worth owning. It had some clever games and nice ideas, but was wrapped up in a package about as appealing as a Radio Shack employee's cash register. It was clunky, and too big, and the screen was too dim.

The DS Lite looks like something that was made by Apple. It's all rounded corners and smooth lines, and it's just (barely) small enough to carry around.

If you think I'm focusing on the design rather than the games, that's because the games are, without exception, nothing too special. I mean, some of them are good — I wouldn't trade Advance Wars or Ouendan (thanks, Claire!) for anything — but frankly the second screen and stylus are just curiosities rather than anything truly compelling. At least to me. The design of the machine, however, means that I want to carry it with me, which in terms of a portable gaming machine is really the beginning and end of the issue. A portable you carry with you is (or at least can be) great; a portable you don't carry with you always sucks.

One side effect of the excellence of the design in terms of playing DS games is that it neutralizes the "plays Gameboy Advance games" feature completely. When you plug in a GBA game, it sticks out of the bottom of the case like a wart on a witch's nose. This, unhappily, makes me not want to play any of the GBA games. It makes my nice pretty white box bulky and ugly. I'll probably end up going out and getting an actual GBA to play GBA games just to avoid ugliness-induced psychic distress. There's also the issue that you can't instant suspend GBA games — it's not fair to call that a negative of the DS, but going from playing a game that supports instant suspend to playing one that doesn't is like leaving a sane world for one populated solely by madmen.

In other news, neither the Xbox 360, nor the PS3, nor your desktop gaming PC support or will support instant suspend. That's really all you need to understand to know that the Nintendo DS Lite is better than all of them combined.

Next week: I review the imported "vibrator stylus" that just arrived from Lik-Sang.

Posted by peterb at June 29, 2006 08:43 PM | Bookmark This

Buy a GBA SP for GBA games. It carries even more nicely than the DS, and now has the same nice screen.

Or, you can get an older one whose screen works outside.

Posted by psu at June 29, 2006 08:53 PM

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