As some of you probably recall, I was somewhat underwhelmed by my PSP. It was a powerful machine and I had some fun with it, but ultimately I didn’t find enough games for it to make me want to pick it up on a regular basis. It just didn’t really cut it for me as a portable gaming platform, so I sold it.
Over the past month, though, I’ve paid more and more attention to the Nintendo DS. It’s astonishing to me that I see absolutely no one who owns this thing complain about its chops as a gaming platform. So, with the DS Lite now on shelves, this past week I used some birthday money to pick one up. (Ack. 32. I’m now firmly entrenched in my 30s.)
I’m little bit star-crossed on this thing, but ultimately, I think the buzz is 100% dead on. It’s really the best portable gaming platform I’ve ever seen or used. No, it’s not a hardware savant. But the microphone, touch screen and form factor make it, oh I don’t know… about a billion times more enjoyable to use than a PSP. It’s a damn Picasso. I really can’t put words to how much I love gaming with a stylus and touch screen.
The only thing that gives me the tiniest bit of pause is that as sophisticated as the design is, the games really aren’t. It is, after all, Nintendo. They’re geared to appeal to a G-rated audience. So far I’ve played Brain Age (not really a game, but loads of fun nonetheless), The New Super Mario Brothers (retro Nirvana) and Advance Wars DS (how can something so cheesy be so much fun?). They all sport writing/dialogue that is on the basic side of simplistic, which I know is by design and supposedly part of the charm. But as an editor for guys who get paid to write, it makes me cringe. Advance Wars in particular makes me want to strangle the game’s writer, run him over three times with my car, burn his remains and use his ashes for kitty litter. And I would too. But the gameplay is just too damned good.
I’m a little scared to dig into the sports gaming scene for the DS, however. The consensus seems to be that those titles are a little lacking, but frankly, I’ve rather enjoyed my break from sports games of late (OOTP excepted).
Until the past three months I just couldn’t have imagined myself ever owning a piece of Nintendo hardware. The last console of theirs I had was a Super Nintendo for god’s sake. But I have to admit, this whole DS thing is a damn fine system. If you’re on the fence I simply can’t speak highly enough about it.
PS: I feel like I’m channeling some kind of unspoken bond right now with Tony at buttonmashing.com. If you want a corroborating opinion on this thing, well, here you go.
PPS: I’m running late and didn’t have time to proof this post. Please excuse me if the typo list is even longer than usual.