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The Nintendo DS
Written By:
AJ Middleton

So it had begun.  Sony and even Microsoft, the newcomer, were in the leads.  Again, they were behind.  The enemies had a slew of technology at their hands—CD and DVD players, connections across the Internet, more 3rd party support…it seemed hopeless.  All they had was a gaming machine and a small handheld device, which was soon to be challenged anyway.  So, it was up to their R&D chiefs, Jay and Jere, to figure something out.  Something, ANYTHING, to grab the public eye and put them back on top.

Then one day, it came.

Jay came rushing through the double doors holding a giant binder.  “I’ve got it mate!” he said ecstatically.  “I’ve got our brainchild!  This thing here will crush the competition!” He set the folder down.

Jere looked through it as a smile grew on his face. "You’re a genius man!  This is it!  I smell a raise, fame, crushing Micro—"

“I smell lunch,” Jay interrupted.  And with that, the two happy R&D engineers skipped off to tell their boss the news over a nice ham sandwich.

Other workers in the room checked to see if their chiefs were gone.  With the all clear, they rushed back to the golden portfolio.  The Portfolio of Power.  An enchanted item.  Was this enough to give them a first place spot again?  The worker’s hand trembled as he opened the book.

There was no CD player.  No DVD machine.  No remote, hard drive, drier, or solar powered unit.  Instead there was a screen.  Two actually.  The caption under the sketch was read aloud.

“Meet the Nintendo DS.”

Hmm, I dunno what to say.  Everyone was waiting for big news from Nintendo, and we got this.  This…this two-headed thing.   We know that it’s portable, is not going to replace the GameCube or Game Boy Advance, and that it has…ta-daa! two screens.  What a wonder device!

Come on Nintendo!  What are you thinking?!  In a world of combining multiple technologies into one, you go with combining one console with two-screens?  On top of that, it’s a separate, handheld system.  What’s wrong with the GBA?  Why would anyone want to carry around two portable devices, one with an extra head?  In my opinion, this DS would have made more sense as an add-on. 

If I was in that R&D room, I would have been thinking about successful additions to the ‘Cube or GBA.  For example, GameCube is behind partly because it was immediately an archaic device: it only played games.  The modern console plays music CDs (an obvious necessity!), DVDs, and can work through the Internet to play multiplayer with people across the world.  A more practical investment would have been to make an adapter to do one or more of those things.  Or, remember that Panasonic Q?  Ninty could have released something similar to that (and cheaper.)  THAT would have surely competed with Sony and Microsoft.

The DS.  The dual screens.  This feature is advertised as a way to see multiple views at once, stopping the need to manually switch between views.  For example, we all know about that soccer game, where you can now watch your player and the entire field simultaneously.  With an RPG, one screen will probably show the normal field view while the other shows the map.  Ok, neat idea, but honestly, WHO CARES?  Personally, I’ve never had a problem with toggling screens.  The lower screen (the map, full view, etc.) is never important enough to have up all of the time anyway.  Like, in FF7, not only was the map transparent and in the bottom right hand corner, but you could enlarge it at will.  No big deal.  Geez, imagine racing games: one screen from the view inside the car and the other from the track.  Wouldn’t that cause headaches trying to get things straight?

Let’s talk about another time Nintendo had this explosion of creativity.  Let’s see, it was 1995.  The system looked like a pair of red binoculars on a stand.  It was innovative, because by looking through the eyepiece, you could play the games in 3D.  I’m talking about the one and only Nintendo Virtual Boy.  And we all know how THAT went.  The thing is, the Virtual Boy had a more interesting premise than this DS, brought something new to the market, and existed in a more, hmm, “intelligent” gaming era.  Something tells me that the mindless mainstream gamers of today won’t be too impressed by a handheld system with two LCD screens. 

Don’t get me wrong, the DS is a unique idea, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s 1) here at a bad time, and 2) completely random.  Nintendo should be focusing on ways to get on top, not ways to diversify their stuff for the heck of it.  Honestly now, how will adding an extra screen do anything to intimidate competition?

Perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to judge.  Nintendo has said little so far, and more will be revealed at E3.  Back in the day I never would have doubted Nintendo, but all I’ve been seeing recently is one poor decision after another, so I really don’t know what to think.  I cannot comprehend with how this “dual-screen” business could be anything amazing, but only time will tell.

Posted: 3-9-04



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