Are 2 Screens Better Than 1?
<br>Library <br>Quick Charge/Battery Life <br>Controls <br>GBA Compatibility
<br>Can't play custom content <br>Not all games use both screens<br>Tech Specs
The Bottom Line:
This unique concept in gaming supports the best of niché and mainstream. I recommend this console.
What happens when a Gameboy has a one night stand with a tablet? The result is a console that asks for a bad punchline. The DS stands for Dual Screen in Nintendo’s more popular handheld console.
The basic idea behind this console is a blend of traditional gaming mechanics with a touch screen interface. Like the Super Nintendo (SNES), the DS features four buttons on the face and two shoulder buttons. This is great for platformers, adventure titles, fighting, and other genres. As a bonus, Nintendo added a second screen to the system that allows for touch/tap interaction.
With the combination of touch screen and classic controls, gaming takes a different form. Games like Pokémon allow you to quickly choose which pokémon you want to deploy or which attack with a single tap. No complex menus, just tap what you want and you get it. Mario Party blends classic use of the control pad with dragging and dropping objects on the touch screen.
The question of the second screen is a mixed bag. Not a flaw on Nintendo’s behalf, the second screen doesn’t always get used effectively. Games like Mortal Kombat display the move lists on the second screen so you don’t have to remember all the button combinations for gameplay. In Pokémon, attacks and items are used though the touch screen. These are some great uses for the combination of screens, but not all games fair this well.
Ridge Racer displays the steering wheel on the bottom while the main race is up top. If it was a rear view mirror or some notice of where other cars are on the track compared to you, it would be much better. Then there’s Guilty Gear and Contra. Both of these games span the playfield across both screens. This doesn’t work very well as you have to become accustomed to keeping track of what’s happening on both screens. Then there are games like Plants vs Zombies. The entire playfield is on the bottom screen while the top screen displays silly pictures. This becomes a pointless usage of the DS’s resources. I would rather the top screen be shut off.
While the controls and how both screens are used varies, the question ever gamer asks is if there are games they’ll enjoy. The DS Lite has a huge library of titles. With over 1,200 titles, the DS Lite has a little something for everyone. The question is, which are the quality titles? Need help with your weightloss? There’s My Weightloss Coach. Want to stop smoking? My Quit Smoking Plan. Sure, they’re not games, but there are also titles like Super Mario 64, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Brain Age, Guitar Hero, and even Rock Band. There are plenty of options.
Adding to the library, the DS Lite will play most Gameboy Advance (GBA) titles. This means you have access to Dynasty Warriors, Naruto, Metroid Fusion, and other solid titles. The slot for GBA cartridges is formed so it blocks older Gameboy and Gameboy Color titles from being inserted. It is plausible that the DS may have compatibility for older titles, but Nintendo does not officially support this.
A sweet carry-over from the GBA is the single pak play. Some DS titles allow multiple DS’s to play the same title with only one cartridge. Not all games do this well, but the ones that do are a treat. In Plants Vs. Zombies, the player without the cartridge can only play versus mode against the player with. On the other hand, Mario Party allows all four players to fully enjoy the game regardless of how many cartridges there are. The option is great, but the game slows down as every other player must download the game’s information from the player with the cartridge. This means as the host player, your battery life is seriously cut. Never-the-less, this is a sweet feature.
In some cases, you can play games over Wi-Fi. The DS Lite supports WEP and unencrypted networks. Some games have servers that can host matches. This is most prominent with the Pokémon network and its intense infrastructure. Players can trade and battle with others around the globe. While not all games are this advanced, it’s good to know that the DS supports the possibility.
With all these niceties about the DS Lite, one would assume it’s the premier portable system. Being a Playstation Portable owner first, I’ve had time to play with both of them. I’m disappointed that the DS Lite doesn’t support MP3 or Video playback. Sure the GBA had a couple of video titles, but apart from this, the system doesn’t allow you to view custom content. I am also disappointed that the PSP supports downloadable titles while the DS Lite does not. Sony’s Playstation Network has hundreds of titles for download and play on the go, while you can only download a portion of a game to play against friends the DS Lite. I also want to note that the DS Lite features a 67 Mhz & 33Mhz processores versus the PSP’s 333 Mhz. This puts the DS’s quality of games somewhere around the N64. The DS Lite’s resolution is 256x192, meaning that it doesn’t need a strong processor to mimic the N64’s graphics on such a small screen. Still, considering the PSP is the equivalent to a portable Playstation 2, I had hoped Nintendo would’ve beefed up their handheld to match.
I’m also disappointed with how flimsy the hinges feel. While I generally take care of my technology, my son’s DS Lite broke. He now has to keep his system tapped together so it doesn’t separate further. I understand that he can be a little rough on his technology, but with children as the key market for this console, I would have expected something sturdier.
On its own merits, the DS Lite is a pretty good system. I was surprised as to how much I’ve enjoyed mine, especially since I owned my PSP first. While I bought mine for $10, the used price is currently about $50 on Amazon.With a battery that lasts over 15 hours (if you’re not using WiFi) on a 3 hour charge, this certainly is a notable gaming system.
I highly recommend getting a DS Lite, whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart.