DS is a new portable gaming system that is the latest model in the GameBoy
linebut it's really a step beyond GameBoy. This exciting new unit
is loaded with features, including dual screens. The DS is, happily,
backward-compatible with GameBoy Advance games.
There are two cartridge slots
on the unit: one slot for the GameBoy Advance
cartridges, and another for the smaller DS game cartridges.
new wireless connectivity feature is impressive. We have seen the
wireless feature in games like Pokemon Leaf Green and Fire Red,
and the DS has a built-in feature that supports this exciting
technology that has a radius rated at 30-100 feet, depending on
signal interference. Kids love this feature that allows them to
play games with their friends without the need for cables.
Effectively, with the technology built into the
Nintendo DS, players are able to play games through touch (touch
screen) and voice (microphone), monitor two-screen action, and
compete wirelessly with others. Of course, DS games will take
advantage of the unit's technology. We haven't yet seen the voice
recognition feature in action, but expect that future games will
incorporate the technology.
Kid-friendly DS titles that
have already been announced and/or released include such titles as Animal
Crossing, Pokemon Dash, Frogger, and Super Mario 64. Super Mario 64
(for the DS) and The Urbz: Sims in the City
(for the DS) were released the same day as the launch of the
is an application that is built in the DS. It allows kids to
communicate with other DS users by writing with the stylus (words
or pictures), and they can type words/symbols using the stylus to
tap out words. Kids choose a chat name (preferably a nickname) when
they set up the system, and can change the nickname at any time.
Because kids can chat wirelessly with up to 15 other DS users
within range, and their messages might be viewed by strangers
within range, caution should be used. The DS manual clearly states
that chat rooms are not monitored and parents should warn their
kids about receiving messages from strangers. Personal information
should not be shared, even with friends, because it is possible
that that information can be read by a stranger.
dual screens work in such a way that the main game is shown in the
upper screen, and (depending on the game) such things as maps,
stats, and alternative views are displayed in the bottom screen.
Each screen is slightly larger and wider than the GameBoy Advance
screen, and both feature the extremely handy back-lighting first
seen in the GBA SP version. Back-lighting, of course, is a
necessity with the DS because of its two screens.
gaming is best when all systems begin a session within 30 feet of
each other. Gamers can spread out up to 65 feet after start-up.
Each system shows the strength of the signal via an onscreen icon.
little features abound with the unit. For example, the system can
be configured for left-handed kids. When kids play a GBA game on
the DS, they can select whether to play it on the upper or lower
screen. A clock (it's analog!) and a
calendar are featured on the menu screen.
will love personalizing their DS, from whether or not to bypass
the menu screen when a game cartridge is inserted right down to
the color scheme of their menu.
DS has a built-in alarm! The alarm can be set through the Options
screen, and it begins softly before becoming louder and more
unit is heavier than the GameBoy Advance, as is to be expected.
Its wider body makes it somewhat awkward to use for younger
players. In fact, we recommend the system to children ages 8 or 9
and up. The larger price tag is probably a good enough reason for
parents to reserve the DS for their older children. Kids
accustomed to the GameBoy Advance will most certainly take a bit
of time getting cozy with the design of the DS, but this shouldn't
take too longand, of course, they'll happily take that time!
has quite consistently delivered resilient, family-friendly
products, and the Nintendo DS is yet another outstanding
product for kids and families.
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