December 25th, 2004. I was in the fifth grade, wide awake at three o'clock in the morning because Santa had made his annual visit to our house. I remember that Santa had brought my siblings and I some bikes... I hated bikes. I was in a pretty bad biking accident in the first grade which traumatized me for quite awhile. That year, all I had wanted was a Nintendo DS. To an adult, the DS looked like a machine filled with gimmicks... but to a fifth grader like myself, it was the Holy Grail. Two screens, the bottom one a touch screen? A microphone? No more link cables? 3D graphics? I was thinking up new game ideas every day of the week.
Eight o'clock in the morning. My parents finally woke up (seriously, what were we supposed to do for five hours with bikes? Ridiculous!) and we began opening presents. A few Xbox games, some clothes, some movies, a basketball - Christmas was very stressful that year. I remember the anticipation I had in opening each and every present... This must be my DS, I thought. But alas, to much disappointment, it was never the dual-screened fugitive.
My mom opened the very last present, a ring from her mother. I glanced down at my hoard; there were many nice things, many gifts I had asked for, but none of them were the Nintendo DS. Ah well, I thought, the DS just came out, Mom and Dad couldn't have found one.I should have been happy, but because I was such an ungrateful brat and didn't realize the fantastic presents I was given were awesome sauce, I was heartbroken. But then I surveyed the room and saw my dad staring at me. "Hey Nicky," he whispered to me, "You might wanna check the closet."
I sprinted to the closet with my brother and sister in tow, opened that door like it had never been opened, and noticed three plastic shopping bags labeled GameStop. They didn't, I presumed, They couldn't have possibly found one of these for each of us. Inside each of the bags was a box wrapped in thick red wrapping paper. The paper was no match for my nails because I hadn't clipped my nails for a week (long nails are the best for opening presents). And when I finally dismantled the paper armor, and when I finally looked at what was in my hands, my jaw dropped like it had never dropped before.
It was a Nintendo DS.
I'm probably going to get made fun of in the comments section for this, but I started crying because I was so happy. I remember turning on the DS for the first time... seeing those two screens light up was magical. Taking the stylus out of the back and touching the bottom screen for the first time was one of the most satisfying moments in my entire life. And don't even get me started on when I put in Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt into my DS and I experienced that opening cutscene (the one where she bounces around from the bottom screen to the top until she finally stands up and is on both screens at once).
The next day, I traveled to Target and bought Super Mario 64 DS. I was always a Pokemon guy and I never really bought anything else, so this was my very first Mario game (I never played the original because I never had an N64; whenever we asked for one, my dad always said "Bill Gates is working on a better console, we'll get that one instead). It was really funny asking the sales clerk about it because he was like "Are you sure you want this one? It doesn't work on the Game Boy." It took probably fifteen minutes for me to convince him that I owned a DS. But the experience was similar for me as it was for people who played the original game on the N64. I was awestruck that I was playing a 3D game on a handheld gaming console, especially one that was so much fun. After the Target visit, I went to Round Table Pizza to for some stickers to decorate my DS with. Eventually, I got some Nintendo stickers from Nintendo Power to complete my DS' makeover.
Eventually, the Nintendo DS concocted a sensational library of games. Ranging from the standard fare like New Super Mario Bros. or Chrono Trigger, to the completely new experiences like Nintendogs or The World Ends With You, the DS was not your typical gaming machine. As of December 31st, 2010, the Nintendo DS has sold an astounding 144.59 million systems. That makes it the second best-selling console of ALL TIME, right behind the PS2, and by the end of 2011, it might even top the PS2. I think the reason the DS has been so successful is because it offers a gaming experience not seen on any other console. For example, a game like The World Ends With You isn't possible on any other console - it requires use of both screens at the same time, the touch screen, and the microphone. Another reason that the DS has been so successful is because it offers games for almost everybody. Do you only play games casually? Pick up Nintendogs. Are you a racing nut? Mario Kart DS should be up your ally. Do you crave ****c JRPGs? Chrono Trigger was made just for you. Are you extremely creative? Animal Crossing: Wild World is your canvas. Are you a wannabe space marine? Metroid Prime: Hunters offers you a chance to live out your dreams. The list goes on and on.
Whether or not you like the DS, you must admit that it has shattered everything thought possible in the gaming world. It has forced console makers to rethink how video games can and should be controlled. It has forced gaming developers to take bold risks and try out new ideas that at one time weren't possible. The Nintendo DS is a breeding ground for creative new ideas, and I applaud Nintendo for taking such a ballsy risk.
In a week, the Nintendo 3DS will be released in the United States. It has been over six years since the release of the original, and I must say that it has been a journey I'm glad that I have taken. To many people, their favorite console is always their very first, but to me, it won't be the Game Boy Color, but will instead be the Nintendo DS. I have seen friends come and go, I have seen presidents in and out of office, I have seen babies born and I have seen elders die, but throughout these six years, my Nintendo DS has always been with me. I know that at this point you're laughing, but I love my DS like it were my own child. And in a sense, it was kind of like my own child. I was able to watch it grow from a small little tyke that critics called a gimmick to the second best-selling console of all time. I grew with it, too; whenever I was angry at life, I just grabbed for my DS and started playing. I'm excited for the 3DS and I'm excited for 3D gaming without glasses, but the original DS will always hold a special place in my heart.
What do you think about the Nintendo DS? Awesome, stupid, boring, fun, indifferent? Did you ever have a console that you cried over during Christmas? Post in the comments section below, and thanks for reading!