Friday, January 27, 2006

Nintendo Likes Money

Well, they've done it again. Nintendo has officially announced a re-design of their most recent portable, the Nintendo DS. The Nintendo DS Lite will be smaller and lighter, featuring adjustable brightness and with a change in colour to the disgustingly trendy iPod white. But does anyone really care?

Anyone who's at all familiar with Nintendo's portables is aware that Nintendo is no stranger to re-designs. Ignoring the many Gameboys of generations past (trust me-- there's a lot of them), even just their next-most recent portable, the Gameboy Advance, has seen three different versions. It began with the first GBA, which was a great machine with a great library, as its sales can attest to. However, it wasn't back-lit, and was, as far as I'm concerned, essentially broken because of it. I bought one anyway though, because I NEEDED to get my Circle of the Moon on (a common symptom of Symphony of the Night withdrawal). Thus, I was fairly bitter when the GBA SP was announced sometime after that.

The SP fixed the GBA, giving it a backlight, and having a lighter and smaller clamshell design makeover to boot. However, not content to release a complete system, Nintendo inexplicably did not include a headphone port. So, the GBA SP was essentially broken as well. But people bought it anyway. LOTS of people. Many of whom had already purchased a GBA. And believe me, I was sorely tempted to do the same. But I'm a stubborn, stubborn man, so I held onto my money and stuck with my original GBA. So, when I'd play against other people using SPs, they could play worry-free while I twisted in my chair underneath a light so that I could get an angle where I could see most of the screen without a terrible glare. But I gritted my teeth and stood firm-- Nintendo was NOT making me buy the same system twice.

Some time after that, the Gameboy Player was released, an attachment for the Gamecube that would allow it to play GBA games, and I promptly bought one. Now, that might seem like a cop-out at first glance, and it is in some respects, but it had been my plan all along. There had been some precedent for such a device, and I was eagerly awaiting its announcement and subsequent release. You see, I don't actually need a portable system, in that I hate playing video games in public, just as I hate doing anything in public that telegraphs what my interests are. Whenever I did play my GBA, it was at home with it plugged into the wall (and in front of a window desperately trying to catch the sun at the proper angle *grumble*). However, portables have lower graphical standards than other modern consoles, which means they are a haven for the disappearing genres of yester-year that I love, like 2D platformers and old-school RPGs. So, playing those games on my big screen using my Gamecube essentially gives me a modern Super Nintendo, which is really what I want most anyway. I was perfectly happy to start using my Gameboy Player exclusively and retire my GBA, and it's pretty much sat on my shelf ever since.

At last year's E3, the newest GBA re-design was announced: the Gameboy Micro. The Gameboy Micro, as you might guess from the name, was positively tiny. It was a GBA that was roughly the size of a pile of a half dozen credit cards. Now, such a thing was useless to me, since, as I've stated, I don't need a portable gaming device, but it seemed to me at the time that this was the perfect portable. Finally, a portable had been released that wasn't ugly and bulky-- a portable that you could truly just slip in your pocket and travel with. It didn't sell well, and continues to sell poorly. I hate people.

One of the biggest reasons for its poor sales performance, however, was likely the release of Nintendo's newest portable, the Nintendo Dual Screen. Nintendo claimed at the time that the DS was not meant to replace the GBA, and that the two portables were meant to coexist, but noone believed them at the time, and the rapid drop in volume of GBA game releases between then and now would seem to validate those doubts. The DS was, and is, a really slick system. It is a rectangular clamshell shape with a backlit screen on the inside surface of each half of the clamshell. The bottom screen is touch-sensitive, meaning that you can play games by touching the screen. This is generally done using a small plastic stylus that is stored in a slot along the system's top edge, but an attached thumbstrap can also be used for more analog control (although I find that your thumb obscures too much of the screen to be useful). It has a rechargeable battery, an AC adapter for direct power or for charging, and a nifty sleep function that conserves power-- if you get interrupted while playing, you can simply close up the system and it will go to sleep without shutting off and losing your progress. It can also communicate wirelessly with other nearby DSs or with the global DS network if you have a wireless internet connection (or are in a public wireless hotspot, such as every McDonald's in North America, thanks to a McD's/Nintendo promotional deal). This allows people to play multiplayer games using only one copy of the game by transmitting small downloadable multiplayer functionality, or to chat using the built-in chatroom/drawing program. Finally, it plays GBA games, which is a nice touch for those of us who skipped the GBA SP, since it effectively doubles as a backlit GBA.

So, unlike the original GBA, the Nintendo DS is not broken. It's actually a nice system with a very slick interface and alot of fun and innovative software. Granted, it is perhaps a bit heavy for the one-handed grip that is necessary to hold it in the air while using the stylus, but it's still quite reasonable, and I usually balance it on my knee or a table in any case. So why do we need a new one already? I just got mine for Christmas, so you might chalk this up to bitterness on my part (and you'd likely be partially right, since I am certainly a bitter, bitter man), but I just really don't see the justification. I don't even want one of the damn things. There's barely any difference between it and the current model, and I like the current silver colour better anyway. Nintendo, I love your systems, and your games, and even your crazy peripherals, but please, stop trying to get me to buy the same things twice.


Anonymous Travis said...

researchable battery?

Do we mean rechargeable?

Friday, January 27, 2006 8:40:00 PM  
Anonymous vern said...

so how's your book coming along?

Saturday, January 28, 2006 1:58:00 AM  
Anonymous NOS said...

The SP has a sleep mode when you closed the clamshell as well, I'm pretty sure. Just incidentally...

The Gameboy micro was an obvious failure from the moment they announced it. This isn't because people are stupid (unless you are included among them) but because nobody actually wants a portable system, really. Or rather everybody who does want a portable system is perfectly satisfied with something as portable as the SP. People want these systems for the games on them, and all the gameboy micro does is only support a subset of them.

Same reason the SP dies when the DS comes out.

Saturday, January 28, 2006 2:09:00 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Do we mean rechargeable?

Typo? What typo? YOU CAN'T PROVE ANYTHING! :-)

so how's your book coming along?

Slow but steady. And I can guarantee you that any future such inquiries to that effect will likely receive the same answer for at least the next year.

Saturday, January 28, 2006 3:14:00 PM  
Anonymous vern said... exists

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 9:10:00 PM  
Blogger Jordan said... exists

Ummm, shouldn't it? Am I missing something?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006 12:32:00 PM  
Anonymous NOS said...

It exists and it wants to open your heart to The Lord.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006 1:00:00 PM  
Anonymous a dave said...

hey guys i just bought a gamecube off of the internet!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006 2:14:00 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

hey guys i just bought a gamecube off of the internet!

Sexy. Zelda, Metroid Prime, and Resident Evil 4 demand your time.

Thursday, February 02, 2006 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous vern said...

How much did it cost?

Thursday, February 02, 2006 3:49:00 PM  
Anonymous a dave said...

i got the system, an extra controller, memory card, clancy's splinter cell, final fantasy and zelda four swords for something like $160. i have no idea if this was a good deal or not.

Friday, February 03, 2006 1:14:00 PM  
Anonymous vern said...

That seems to be a pretty good deal, as long as everything works, not that I really know either.

Friday, February 03, 2006 2:48:00 PM  
Anonymous NOS said...

Actually I think you got a little screwed, in that I'm pretty sure your Final Fantasy and Four Swords games require a Gameboy Advance to play.

Monday, February 06, 2006 4:27:00 PM  
Anonymous a dave said...

four swords:

final fantasy

well nintendo says they play on the gamecube...

Monday, February 06, 2006 10:36:00 PM  
Anonymous a dave said...

jesus...they're on the website, anyway

Monday, February 06, 2006 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

I think that those two only require GBAs for the multiplayer, but I may be wrong.

Sunday, February 12, 2006 1:31:00 PM  

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