Archive Reviews

Review: Nintendo DS Lite - Part 1 of 2 - Hardware

nintendo DS liteIf you haven't heard about the Nintendo DS Lite, you either hate games or you are stranded on an island somewhere. Let me preface this review by saying how much I disliked Gameboys and Gameboy Advanced systems. I let my son borrow a GB & GBA from his friend this summer, and it was the first time I had laid my hands on a Gameboy. The disappointment was unreal. The screen of the Gameboy was not backlit, and I couldn't see a thing. I cannot fathom how kids spend hours on these things. The Gameboy Advanced was mildly better, at least it's screen was somewhat backlit - yet, it too was one of the most disappointing things I have ever seen, as far as portable gaming goes. Fast forward to July 2006 when Nintendo sent me their latest and greatest new release, the Nintendo DS Lite. The new DS Lite is sleek, beautiful, and re-designed. First Impressions Are Everything! When I opened it, it was a beautiful polar white (matching my iMac perfectly) color, and I was immediately impressed. I had remembered seeing the original DS in the game store, and was mildly impressed with the dual screens, but it was a behemoth of a game system. Like the DS, the new DS Lite has Dual 3 inch LCD screens (the bottom is a touch screen), a stylus, wireless connectivity, Stereo sound, and is backward compatible with older Gameboy Advanced games. Now, here is the good part -- the system is very stylish, fits in the hands well, has a redesigned button layout, BRIGHTER SCREENS, longer stylis, and a redesigned microphone. Don't be misled by thinking you getting a lesser product because of the 'Lite' attached to the end of it. You are getting the latest and greatest of handheld games. I applaud Nintendo for making such a fantastic product. Get the full tech specs here. Group Fun: This thing is built for team play. Many games support downloadable play, via the built-in wireless connections. So for example, if you have the New Super Mario and your friend doesn't, you can simply download the game to him and start playing. This is supported on most of the Nintendo DS games, and I think it's a fantastic feature. Usually it's just a demo of the game, or some type of two player mini-game, but still, it's a great feature to have. Also, if you are in a group, you can do a graphical 'Picto-chat' with up to 16 people in the same area as you are. I didn't find this useful, but I am sure the kids would love it. This is a Mac Site... why are you testing it here? My reason for testing out the Nintendo System was to check into all of the new Adult hype of training your brain. I remember hearing about it on NPR and how adults were picking these machines up and not putting them down. Some of these train your brain games are 'Brain Age' and 'Big Brain Academy'. Bba-Boxartbrain age You play these quick mental games, such as math calculations, Sudoku, or drawing pictures from memory. Basically they make your mind work faster over time, and it's loads of fun. I really feel like I am much sharper now at calculations, abstract thinking, and more. Mac users like to have cool products and like to learn, so this was a perfect fit for a review. Backwards Compatibility: I hadn't really tried playing any of the older GBA games due to the poor display, but now I finally was able to play a couple of Gameboy Advanced games and enjoy them. The beautifully bright 3 inch LCD screen makes them look stunning. If you did have a heavy investment of GBA games, this makes this the premiere choice over any other handheld. Being able to play from the biggest handheld game collection makes this $129 item an incredible value. The DS Lite has been executed extremely well, and in my opinion, it puts the Sony PSP to shame. Everything about the DS Lite rocks - the huge library of games, the look, and the backwards compatibility to the Gameboy Advanced. Is it really that good? The difference the DS Lite hardware makes is astonishing. It's almost like playing new games. The difference of playing a GBA game on a DS Lite is like going from a TV Antenna with all of the snow, to viewing a clear bright HDTV. It is REALLY that big of a difference. Which games did you try? Check out part 2 for what I thought of the DS Games: Brain Age, Big Brain Academy, and The New Super Mario Bros. The Verdict: Nintendo has made the best hand held console on the Market. Redesigning it is the best choice they could have ever made. Not only are kids and adults attracted to the games, but it's stylish as well, so you look good while you are playing it. One person asked me if it was the new iPod Video - it looks that good! I am still amazed by how sharp and vibrant the screens look. With the built in wireless connectivity, it makes hooking up with your friends incredibly easy, even if they don't have the same game. Some of the new Nintendo DS games even support online play with players across the country. I didn't have a chance to test one, but I am sure they are going to become the new standard of handheld online play. Now, you ask.. would I buy one? Well, I can say.. Yes I did. We loved this system so much we had to buy one, and every game mentioned above. Adults that think they don't like games need to play 5 minutes of Brain Age and they will be hooked. It pains me to send back the DS Lite and the games... having two has been working well for us. The mult-play ability is very engaging, and is great family fun, especially when it's educational. If you are considering buying a portable game system, you can't go wrong with the Nintendo DS Lite - it's the new standard for handheld gaming. 5 out of 5