Retiring my Nintendo DS Phat

ds ConsoleIt's been four years since I received what is probably the best handheld system of all time, the Nintendo DS.  My original DS was the red one that came packed in with Mario Kart DS.  Even though I was obsessed with Mario Kart on the GBA, I only played it on the DS once.  No explanation for that one.

I love this system because it's truly a portable fan's dream, not to mention all the awesome and innovative games available for it.  The best feature of the DS is that you simply close it to put it in standby and open it to start playing right away.  It's like a laptop but works super fast and never fails to come back.  Battery life can last for days with it in standby meaning you can close it up at night and then resume right away in the morning.  There has been many-a-time where I fell asleep playing the latest Ace Attorney game in bed, and the DS fell to the ground and closed on itself.  No need to even save the game!

I was extremely skeptical about the system before I first played it.  The launch of the system was like the launch of the GameCube all over again, and I wasn't falling for it this time.  The only game of note was the port of the best launch title of all-time: Super Mario 64 DS, but that wasn't enough for me to even bother heading to the store to try out the demo unit.  Other launch titles include the dating-sim Sprung and a whacky mini-game collection called Feel the Magic: XY/XX (also known as Project Rub).  Since when were there so many semi-perverted games on a Nintendo system? Since the Nintendo DS.

Eventually, a friend lent me his DS over a year after it launched along with all his games and I was instantly sold.  I even played Feel the Magic and kind of enjoyed it (this statement is one day going to come back and bite me), but I think I left some permanent stylus scratch marks on the lower screen due to some, *ahem*, furious rubbing.

So I put the DS on my wishlist and received one for my birthday in May 2006.  I asked for the red colored one with Mario Kart DS mostly because it was the most unique color available - I've only seen another red one once in four years too, awesome.

Kirby Canvas Curse CoverFirst, the bad

All right, while I think the DS is an awesome system, it definitely has some faults.  I've wanted to write about these forever so here we go.

The power button is in the worst spot ever.  Why would you place this right by the D-pad?  I've hit it on accident a few times, and whenever I let my kid poke the screen while I'm playing he always ends up hitting it.  Ugh.

The volume control is just plain bad too.  Instead of a rotating gear like on the Game Boy Advance, some "genius" decided a slider would be better.  The slider is so loose that the system pretty much has two levels of volume: off and REALLY LOUD.  To make slight adjustments to the volume you have to press it ever so slightly with the tip of your fingernail, but most likely it'll never be at the level you actually want it to be.

Okay, that's all I can think of after four years, the DS rocks.

Elite Beat Agents CoverNow, some great games

Now it was time to catch up on games, first things first was whatever my friends would lend me, and that was Kirby: Canvas Curse.  I will stand by the fact that this is one of the best games on the DS, even years later.  Read my full review of it to see why I love it, but basically the game used the stylus better than what I could have ever imagined.  Yeah, poking at the screen to draw stuff is okay, but actually playing a platformer with it is incredible.

The next notable game was Trauma Center: Under the Knife.  I always hated the board game Operation while I was growing up because getting buzzed always freaked me out; somehow though, I learned to love Trauma Center.  This was one of the most challenging games I had ever played and it was still really fun.  Beating this game was a really satisfying experience and I'll never forget the first time I faced off against GUILT.  The sequel is pretty dang good too.

Hands down, the best game on the DS is Elite Beat Agents.  I can't believe I've never written about this game before except for giving it my 2007 Older Portable Game of the Year Award.  I've played every stage of this game a hundred times, half the time for a high score, the other half just because it's so much fun.  Elite Beat Agents is probably the best combination of fun and difficulty I've ever played.  I get giddy just talking about it.

Trauma Center CoverFinally, the successor

My brother-in-law just purchased a DSi XL, and while at Gamestop making the purchase, he calls me up and says, "Gamestop will give me $60 for my DS Lite, if you give me $61 you can have it."  Having recently priced DS Lites this seemed like a pretty good deal, so I said sure.  Last weekend I picked it up from him thinking I would just use it as a backup or whatever, hey, my DS Phat has been rock solid for four years and has a big old GUSTER bumper sticker on it, I'm not giving it up already!

Well, I popped in the game I am currently playing, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miled Edgeworth, and was blown away by how different the game looked.  There's purple!  Everything is so bright and crisp! Is this really the same game?

It was the same game, and I became a believer of the DS Lite.  The power button was moved to a much more logical location on the side of the system, but the volume control is still a slider (though it appears to be a bit stiffer).  The stylus is now big and fat but I haven't played a game that needed it yet so I'll withhold my judgment on that for a while.

Yeah, I know I'm really behind on technology.  The DSi and the XL are both out, but nothing about either of those seems worth the price (though the XL does look and feel really good, I secretly want one).  Nintendo, bring on the 3DS.