It’s a gimmick! It’s got a stylus, it’s a freaking portable N64! And it’s kicking every other portable system’s ass. It’s the Nintendo DS: The DS stands for ‘Developer System’. You get not one, not two, not three, but FOUR gimmicks to play with.
And every single one is well done, in a rare sort of way.
FOUR gimmicks, oapboap?
Yes, four gimmicks! Two are obvious, one is slightly less obvious, and one I’ve only seen done in one game.
1. Dual screens, means action on BOTH screens!
Although there are two screens, both are rarely used. There’s so much screen real-estate to make gigantic huge levels and worlds, but most people are content on using one screen, and having the other be an item/map screen. Yoshi’s Island did this right, so did Mario and Luigi.
2. It’s good to touch!
We have a touch screen. So do PDAs. What makes this different? Well, not much of anything. Some games ignore the touch screen completely, others make you use it in an odd manner. For example, Super Princess Peach (shut up). Sure, the touch screen let you manipulate Peach to your will; but most the time you had to stop action and hit the corresponding emotion on the touch screen. I don’t stop in platformers. Bad bad bad. Some games use the thing entirely too well. Elite Beat Agents, for example. Entire game, touch screen; stylus needed. It’s not a game for everyone, but using the screen doesn’t take you out of the game. Hotel Dusk also used it well.
3. It has a mic, let’s fuckkin USE this thing!
“Hay guyz, blow into the mic, okay”. Is that the only thing it’s used for? Let’s INNOVATE HERE! The worst place I’ve seen this used is, once again, in Super Princess Peach (shut up). “Hey, blow into the mic while NAVIGATING A MAZE.”
4. Wait, we can close the lid?
Yes, you can close the lid. Generally, the system goes to sleep when the lid is closed. But, hey, let’s put a bit or byte in the game to check and see if the game’s been sleeped, and then act upon that upon wake. Does it not make sense? Alright, let’s put it this way: You got something you want to see the bottom of on your top screen, like you wanna see the back of a puzzle. Well, let’s slap the DS closed here. Open it again. No puzzle in the top screen, where’d it go? It’s now on the bottom screen, and you can see the back side of the puzzle now! We flipped the puzzle by closing the screens! Know what game did this well? Hotel Dusk. It was just about the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen. Let’s have more innovative stuff like this!
I seem to like to go on about gimmicks, don’t I? Gimmicks make games fun and exciting. But if we see the same thing too many times, it gets a little bit old.
But, the DS still prints money, because when things are done good on it, they’re done DAMN good.
Plus it’s pretty awesome to tell rabid fanboys that “Your system got beat by a portable N64 in sales.” Not that I know any rabid fanboys, or anything. But still!