Thursday, November 02, 2006

I Love Toys

A few months ago in the height of wedding season when all of my money was going to bridesmaids dresses, gifts and plane tickets Nintendo released the DS Lite. The ads for the new super mario game taunted me in the streets of New York – I had never wished harder for Christmas in July. I was trying very hard to be a financially responsible grown-up so I denied myself portable video games but God obviously wanted me to have one. Luck came in the form of a game show. I ended up on Cash Cab and had all of my potential winnings spent before the first trivia question was asked. Nintendo World here I come.

I’ve had the DS Lite for about 3 months now and no longer have time to read books since all of my ~2 hours of daily subway time must be split between Mario, Sonic and my farm. I’m very happy with how I spent my winnings. The DS Lite, in true Nintendo fashion, does an amazing job of introducing new ways of interacting with the console which have already lead to some exciting game play. I’m not a huge fan of the touch screen mostly because I find holding the stylus uncomfortable – I’m considering buying a different stylus (they make more comfortable versions for the Palm) so that I can get more out of the touch screen aspects of the games. I LOVE the two screens. Brain Age and Sonic Rush probably make the best use of the display. Brain Age uses the regular screen for instruction and the touch screen for input (this is especially well done in the Suduko portion of the game). Sonic allows game play to move between the screens. When Sonic runs down a steep hill he moves from the top screen to the bottom, the graphics stitch together seamlessly and it makes the game world feel huge. The microphone seems like an ok idea but the one time I used it (in Brain Age) the system couldn’t understand my voice well enough for the game to work – it didn’t really bother me since I can’t see myself using it very much anyway. My self confidence isn’t high enough for me to feel comfortable talking to a video game on the subway.

Gaming on the DS is great but I don’t think it’s the most exciting thing about the platform. The wifi capability of the DS is rather impressive and Nintendo has already released a web browser in Japan and even though it has gotten so-so review I’m excited for its release stateside. There’s a DS mp3 card coming soon I love my ipod but I’d also love to be tied to fewer gadgets. In Japan they are using the DS as an electronic museum guide. I recently read this article about how historical museums in the US are desperately searching for a smidge of cool – what could be cooler than handing the kiddies a video game system?

I have read that the DS is bringing more women into games. People are forever making this claim and I’m not sure if I buy it more now than in the past, however if a game company is going to lure woman I think Nintendo is in a much better place to do so than others (except maybe Maxis). On top of having fewer first person shooters and sports games than everyone else Nintendo is more willing than other game companies to do something new and it seems highly likely that new things might lead to girl things. I wish them all the best in their quest since I think having more women playing games will lead to more women in tech. I don’t relish losing my “girl gamer” allure but I suppose this is one more sacrifice I’ll have to make for the betterment of society. It’s hard being so selfless.

In closing -- DS Lite: Totally worth $130 you should get one.


themikestand said...

This is like one of those gameboy things, yes?

It's pretty.

Anonymous said...

though if you were more of a girly girl you would have held out for the pink one...

(and they totally have other stylus options, though they are required by law to be pokemon related)