I’ve been spending some quality time (heh) with my friend’s Nintendo DS Lite (NDS) so here’s little a review even though I know I’m late to the game. The “release” of DS Lite in Singapore came rather late, compared to Japan and the US. And even then, the official distributor is only giving an utterly miserly 3 months warranty for these “local” sets. Pathetic but unsurprising, given the dismal state of Nintendo distributorship in Singapore; the Wii is still not officially released and gamers have to put up with over-priced “export” sets without warranty.
Okay, end of rant and back to the review.
I really like the NDS’s form factor. For those with smaller hands, the DS Lite holds very comfortably compared to the Sony PSP. The dual-screen display, of which one is touch-screen (and yes, it does look a wee bit jaundiced compared to the non-touch-screen one), and the integrated mic really cranks up the game play experience. The DS Lite has nice smooth lines and comes in a variety of colours. I like the white one best but the trigger buttons turned a tad yellow just after one week of intensive play by my friend and her sister. I won’t recommend getting the white one if you’re anal about keeping your stuff in pristine condition. If you are, and still insist on getting a white unit, go get a case that offers protection for the buttons (I think the silicone ones do but not the hard cases).
The NDS has pretty good battery life. If you’re a casual gamer, playing an hour or two a day on the bus ride to and from work/school, a full charge can last you a week if you lower the display brightness and volume.
A pristine long-lasting NDS is no good if there’s nothing to play on it. So on to the games, and there were a couple on the DS that were clear personal favourites. I’m not a professional reviewer by any measure so I won’t go into details (for that Gamespot is your friend).
- New Super Mario Bros.– Not much of a gamer growing up (I was mocked by said friend for not having much of a childhood), I have actually never played the original Mario games as a child. Understandably, I was embarrassingly bad at such an old classic. Still the game was fun, and even for Mario Brothers veterans (such as said friend), the game had enough to keep them playing.
- Yoshi’s Island – Again another classic with Mario-style game play, this was really entertaining. The levels feel larger than those in New Super Mario Bros and you can spend quite a chunk of time in each one . Most of the game sprites are really cutesy and not one looked truly villainous. Being the Mario-newb, I was fooled a couple of times before I was given this bit of advice: “Assume that they are all evil even if they look cute.” 🙂 This is my friend’s favourite game currently and she’s quite hooked.
- Brain Age 2 – I haven’t had the chance to try out the original but I doubt I would get better brain age scores. I’m rather hopeless with the memory games and the best I could muster was to keep my “brain age” around the mid-30s. The game relies heavily on the touch-screen and mic but the speech recognition can be sketchy. For example, the Rock-Paper-Scissors game had consistent problems with the word “scissors” and it was incredibly frustrating when you know the answers and the game just won’t register. After a couple of tries, I switched to taking the non-verbal tests exclusively just to avoid getting really sad scores.
- Nintendogs: Labrador and Friends – This was a surprise winner because I thought it would be like Tamagotchi (of which I never got too fond of) for the NDS. The game really shines through the use of the touch-screen and the mic. You can “pet” and teach your puppy tricks using the stylus on the touch-screen. Better yet, like a real life pup, your on-screen pet responds to your calls and commands (after some intensive training). I really enjoy the game, but because of the reliance on voice commands, playing in public is out of the question. 🙂
Like so many others have said, the NDS (like the Wii) is probably not for those who want the best in graphics and technical specifications. The display is more than adequate for games like Mario Bros but for those who are used to hyper-realistic game environments, the NDS will probably disappoint. If you value sheer entertainment above eye candy, the Nintendo DS Lite is a great choice.
Images courtesy of Wikipedia.
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