Nov 13, 2004

Playing with toys: impressions of the Nintendo DS.

I was at Best Buy, picking up printer catridges, when I saw a Nintendo DS demo unit hooked up. So I pushed the small child playing it out of the way (he was persistent, but a kidney shot kept him down), and gave it a try.

It looks like a Gameboy Advance streamlined in Apple Powerbook titanium style, with a second screen on top. On the game I was playing, the Metroid game, the top screen showed a first person shooter view, while the bottom screen showed a map. Neato!

Then I pressed the buttons on the bottom of the console (there are four in a diamond like the Gamecube controller), and nothing happened. What the hell? This is the big game of the year? My ox is BROKEN! THIS IS BULLSHIT!!!!

Then the helpful Best Buy saleskid, who obviously saw that I grew up on a joystick with one button, told me that the bottom screen was actually a touchpad, and you touched it to move the sight, and tapped it to jump. Right after that I felt the fire buttons on the back of the game, designed to fit my index fingers perfectly.

Oh. Well, that makes more sense.

So, this thing will obviously sell big. The graphics and sound are really impressive, and the touch pad opens a lot of control possibilities (for example, tapping a part of the screen in this game made your character roll into a ball, and I'm sure other games have similar new controls).

But if I was a kid...well...I had a habit of getting frustrated while playing games, and inevitably, well, hulk smash. The touch screen didn't always respond to tapping well, and of course I didn't understand how the hell to play the game (although that's unfair since I was playing it for three minutes). Let me put it this way; I wouldn't want the responsibility of NOT losing my temper while playing it, and having it end up like the family Rubik's Cube did, when I just pegged it at the wall.

But I'm sure that Nintendo would love it if kids got frustrated and broke them, so they could buy another. And the inevitable $40 neoprene protection case.