Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Nintendo DS First Impressions

I've had my Nintendo DS for just over two weeks now. At first I just had the console, and spent the first few days playing my GBA games on it. It makes games like Golden Sun and Racing Gears Advance look better than ever with its super sharp backlit screens (well, screens, but the GBA only uses one of them). The stereo speakers also made them sound better than ever.

Then Super Mario 64 DS arrived, and finally I could put the machine to a proper test. The first thing I did was try each of the 8 mini games that are initially unlocked. The touch screen in conjuction with the stylus is extemely accurate and easy to use, and the games are great fun. My early favourite was Wanted, but now I've unlocked more games I find Sort or Splode and Wario's pachinko games to be the best.

The main adventure mode was next, and it looks fantastic. Imagine and N64, but going through an RGB cable, with more detail and better effects. The controls took some getting used to, I really didn't like them at first, but after I swapped from thumb strap to stylus I find them to be better than the N64's analogue stick. The game itself has loads to do, from collecting all 100 stars to unlocking the other characters and mini games (by catching rabbits).

Yesterday, I received two more packages. One of them was Ridge Racer DS, and the other was a selection of accesories. I'm very impressed with the offical DS headphones by Hori - they look very nice, are extremely comfortable and sound great too, all for about £7 from Lik-Sang. I also received some spare sytli, a UK charger, some screen protectors and a carry case. The case is a bit cheaply made, with a poor zip, but it does the job.

As for Ridge Racer DS, it may not match up to Ridge Racers on the PSP (currently the best game on that system) but it's still good fun and the best choice if you're looking for a racing game for your new DS. The graphics haven't changed very much from the N64 version (it's a port of Ridge Racer 64) but they do run at 60 fps with no slow down now which makes a difference. The music is fantastic, and sounds great through my new headphones (really bassy dance stuff). Until something better comes along, Ridge Racer DS will tide me over quite nicely.

So now it's up to Nintendo to bring some more decent games out before the PSP is officially released in the US and Europe. If they don't, any early lead they may have built up will be wasted. How about updates (NOT ports) of Pilotwings, Starfox or the Mario RPG series on the DS? Nintendo, it's over to you.

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