Review by Kaiden

Reviewed: 08/22/05

Just like the X-Box, for now: great hardware, not-so-great games.

You may say: why am I giving this high vote if in the tagline I've said that there aren't many good games (and there aren't, I'm speaking of great games)? Pretty simple: because this is a hardware review, and I strongly believe that the DS system could support a whole bunch of better games, in full 3D. Actually, I'm a bit sad for this simple reason: even if many games are -finally- starting to appear, there almost isn't the smaller sign of 3D. I mean, if Super Mario 64 DS is a good game or even a great game (not counting the characters), why don't even create a CLONE, at least it'd be 3D. Oh well... I hope we'll just have to wait... maybe some sort of Final Fantasy will come on the DS... or a Kingdom Hearts too... if you're an RpG fan, just wait for Lunar: Dragon Song...

I don't think I can even start this review without mentioning the top news: the dual screens (that's what "DS" stands for): in case you didn't notice before, "hey, there are two screens on this Gameboy!". Firstly, this ISN'T a Gameboy, Nintendo clearly stated that, secondly, yes, there are 2 screens, and what's more important, the bottom one is a touch screen. What does it mean, you say? Simple, you simply (sorry) TOUCH it with your fingertips, your hands, your something (oh please) or just with the enclosed nib. Let's say that with some games (like the Metroid demo), the nib is fairly useless, mostly because it's hugely uncomfortable to use along with the other hand on either one of the pads. I mean, the DS could have 2 screens, but we don't quite have 4 hands... so, another training devoted to make us think what to do in what moment: using the nib, ensuring a steadier touch, or your finger, facilitating the eye-hand coordination? Your choice. What else to say about dual screens? Well, when playing a GBA game (yes, DS can play them. But not GB or GBC games, just GBA. There's EVEN another slot to put them in!), you can choose which screen it will be displayed on. Nice add-on. Mainly, the main portion of a game (the screen where your character is on, for example) is displayed on the upper screen, while other useful informations are displayed on the bottom one.

Now off with graphics: as I've already stated beforehand, the DS can fully support 3D. This has already been proved by games like the very first DS demo, Metroid, Super Mario 64 and such. I'm starting to think that Nintendo just wants to focus on fun instead of games spectacularity. "Fun" is meant for what "kids' fun" is. So, I think that with policy it'll be hard to see a Devil May Cry on the DS (even because it'll most likely be released on PSP... how sad). Anyway, a 3D game (let's take SM64DS) runs very smoothly with no slowdowns at all. I think we'll just have to wait for THE hit. Like Golden Sun was the hit for the GBA. Well, of course we'll have the next Pokemon game, and of course it won't contain any differences from the previous ones. Let's just hope that Camelot decides to release GS3 on the DS, because right now we're suffering a huge lack of good games with a good graphic impact.

Now for the audio part: for the first time in my life, I've noticed that the DS sports sound effects actually better than music tracks, at least this is my opinion: either Metroid or Super Mario, they've got really great sound effects, but the music tracks somehow aren't that good. And I'm not saying that there are bad tracks, I'm just saying that... well... you can't really hear them well! In fact, DS clearly can play beautiful tunes, eventhough often overcome by sound effects. The speakers cross very well overall, giving the famous feeling that there is a "ghost" middle speaker.

Yes, yes: great graphics, great audio, but what else? Is this handheld just like the GBA? Meaning you can just put cartridges (which look more like chips than cartridges) in without any special addons? Well, I've said before that you can choose whether screen you'll utilise for playing GBA games. Whether there is or there is not a cartridge or a card, when you turn the DS on you'll prompted to a selection screen, which lets you choose the DS or the GBA game, enter the Pictochat (we'll discuss that later) or downloading gamedata (the same). The first time you turn the DS one, you'll be able to set it up with language, date and such. You can change all these options another time, if you like, of course.

I've mentioned the Pictochat... well, the Pictochat is actually a real chat, you don't go on-line. It's just a wireless connection between DSs no farther than 30 meters one from the other. You can try turn it on while on your schoolbus on the way to school (or on the way home): if there's someone like you, you'll be able to chat (you use the nib to write down things or to select letters from a displayed keyboard. It's very uncomfortable in this case to use fingertips as the letters are very difficult to hit with our big fingers) with him! There are 4 different rooms to choose from.

And after the Pictochat I've mentioned gamedata download. Yes, no more cable link with lots of bugs to play multiplayer! Oh, just a little note before I begin: you CANNOT play gba multiplayer games on the DS, because there ISN'T a cable link socket. Now, multiplayer depends on the game: you could either need 2 cards or just one. In the last situation, one of you puts the card in, while the other selects "DS download": the DS'll recognize the game data on the other and download it temporarily storing it, allowing you to play with your friend! That's quite amazing, in fact!

It's a little bit sad to end this review with the worst points: the game library. Yes, there is that little jewel of fun (kids fun again) called Super Mario 64 DS, there's that amazing 3D proof called Metroid: Hunters. There's another Wsario game, but other than those you don't really have many choices. Actually there are a Star Wars and a Spiderman game, but... if, like me, you don't like those 2 series at all, you'll have a hard time choosing and buying games. But that's it, we'll just have to wait, again, for the hit.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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