Crispy Gamer

Your Console and Handheld Guide: Nintendo DS Lite

Despite Nintendo creating and then ruling the portable/handheld gaming market since the late 80's with the GameBoy and then GameBoy Advance systems, fans and pundits alike scoffed at the Nintendo DS system when it was first announced. Why? The graphics are only marginally better than the now old GBA, the stylus was very much unproven in gaming, and Nintendo had stumbled with the GameCube. How could an underpowered, gimmicky little device like this possibly survive against Sony's sexy 'PlayStation 2 in your pocket' PlayStation Portable (PSP) system? Who would bet on the underdog? Well, as it turns out, a lot of people, and it was a very good bet indeed. The DS defied prediction by demonstrating that people do want gameplay more than graphics, and proving that there's a huge market of casual gamers out there looking for games that put an emphasis on being clever, puzzling and addictive over Sony's technological marvel. 'The game is the thing!' -- and the DS proves that more than any other console on our list (aside from the Wii, also from Nintendo).

Specs


Nintendo continues to innovate, and this is its first modern attempt to change the way games are controlled. The DS adds a stylus (a small plastic "pen") and an extra screen that responds to rubbing, tapping, and drawing. What seemed like a gimmick has arguably become the best value in gaming today. It plays all of the games available for the GameBoy Advance system, it can go on the Internet wirelessly for multiplayer play, and even better, if you get two or more of them, most games will allow competitive play with only one game cartridge (the backseat on a long trip will never be the same again).

The original DS system was thicker and gray in color and has been nicknamed the 'DS Phat' -- the newer model comes in several designer colors (Pink, Black, White and Crimson and Black) and has a brighter screen.

Peripherals (first-party)


Several kinds of custom skins, shields, protectors and accessory kits are available for the system.

Peripherals (third-party)


Again, skins, shields, protectors and accessory kits are available, and we recommend a container that holds your DS as well as a handful of the small, easy-to-lose and expensive-to-replace cartridges.

Top Games


The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass:
Stop waiting for the next full-fledged Zelda game and pick up this spiritual sequel (it features the cartoonish Link from the excellent GameCube game, Wind Waker).

MarioKart: This is combat racing at its very best, as Mario and company speed through maps both brand-new and as old as the series itself. Wireless multiplayer is a blast!

Tetris DS: Tetris could be the best pure game ever made. It's well worth buying again, because this version does the unthinkable: It improves on the classic by adding truly competitive multiplayer with the innovative Push game that pits you head-to-head against an opponent.

QuickSpot: Representing the quirkier games on the system (think Brain Age) QuickSpot is an innovative puzzle game based on something you used to play back when you subscribed to 'Highlights Magazine.' On one screen you get a picture, and on the touch-screen is the same picture with a single difference. Circle the difference as quickly as you can spot it. Yep, sing it with me: 'One of these things is not like the other...' Then play this game.

Elite Beat Agents: This is a rhythm game with a quirky CIA-meets-anime vibe to it. Basically you've got to tap numbered circles to the beat as real licensed tunes play. It's more addictive than it sounds!

Nintendogs: Buy, name, teach, pet and walk a virtual puppy in this game aimed at young girls but able to captivate the kid in anyone...whether they ever had a real puppy as a kid or not (sigh).

New Super Mario Bros.: The old familiar classic has been lovingly revamped for the 21st century.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: This game features a lot of reading, but the gameplay is so quirky and the graphics so winning that it and its sequels deserve their day in court.

Pok&eacure;mon Diamond and Pearl: Two different games that work great together, its hard to beat Pok&eacure;mon for addictive gameplay.

Brain Age: The first of the 'brain exercising' games that now dominate the shelves, Brian Age was developed by a real neurosurgeon.

Conclusion


With the Nintendo DS Lite, Nintendo has captured the hearts of hardcore gamers; with the Touch Generations line, it's capturing a new audience of older gamers. Offering titles that appeal to people of all ages, the Nintendo DS is a great system to own. Despite its primitive graphics and technology, the DS is doing more to change and expand videogaming than any other system aside from the Wii.