The Nintendo DS - A Retrospective

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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.

My DS (closed)

My DS (open)

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!

Why Your Wii Blows or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying & Get Creative

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The Nintendo Wii

When you look at the picture above, you're either thinking "Great system with a lot of great Nintendo games", "Awful system that's for stupid babies who can't play Call of Duty like a real man" or something in-between the two. However, what I see is a system with unlimited potential that isn't being harnessed by third-party developers because they want to make a quick buck. They want to make shovelware like Carnival Games 2: Electric Boogaloo! instead of games like Super Mario Galaxy or Metroid Prime 3 that show new ways to control your favorite genres.

Don't blame the poor Wii for the lack of awesome third-party games. It didn't do anything wrong. Motion controls are here to stay, as evidenced by Microsoft's Kinect and Sony's Move controllers. The Wii wasn't the first electronic device to use motion control. However, it brought motion controls to the eye of the general public and the general public most definitely responded well. Nintendo grabbed the casual market by the balls when they released the DS back in 2004 and the Wii back in 2006 and now the machines are practically printing money.

The Wii's Virtual Console is also another feature that's been pretty successful. Making past games such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time available to play from the Wii's hard drive any time you want without the need for a disc is pretty awesome. Speaking of online, the Wii's online sucks. Like, a lot. Just ignore it and you'll be fine. The Wii's graphics also pale in comparison to the 360's and the PS3's, but if you're playing your games solely for the graphics you're doing it wrong.

Motion controls are here to stay.

Motion controls are here to stay.

Now that we've realized that the it's not the machine's fault for the lack of good third-party titles (except maybe online play, dear God), let's move on to Nintendo. Nintendo's kinda at fault here for setting the casual shovelware trend by releasing Wii Sports packed-in with the Wii console. Now, Wii Sports is pretty fun. It's not like Super Mario Galaxy fun, but for a game that came with the system, it really shows off what the Wii can do. I really enjoy tennis and bowling, but there's a game for everyone. However, even though Nintendo set the bar low for Wii games, they've also set it ridiculously high with their other first-party titles. Twilight Princess broke the house down with its awesomeness (the motion controls were gimmicky, it was a GameCube port, blah blah blah whine whine whine) while other games followed suit.

One game that really shows off the Wii's control system is Metriod Prime 3: Corruption. After playing this game, it was really hard for me to play shooters on my 360 again (thank goodness for BioShock, my personal favorite game, or I would've had a much harder time) because the controls worked so well. Go play that game and try to convince me its controls suck. Not only did the controls work fantastically, but the game was a lot of fun and definitely a worthy climax to the fantastic Metroid Prime Trilogy.

Another game with fantastic Wii controls is Super Mario Galaxy, one of my favorite games ever (I don't have the sequel yet, but I've heard great things about it). This game doesn't really use motion controls except for one thing: Mario's spin attack. Yeah, sure, you could probably devote a button to this spin attack, but when you waggle the Wii Remote a little and Mario sends a Goomba spinning...something just feels right. It feels natural to do that. Pressing a button would just feel...wrong. Try the game out, if you will. You'll see what I mean. Some of you might not like this game because it's "not mature enough". Yes, because mindlessly shooting a bunch of generic bad guys with blood and guts flying everywhere is very mature. The ladies will crawl to you because of how mature you are.

Games like Metroid Prime 3 take advantage of the Wii's unique control scheme.

Metroid Prime 3 shows off the Wii's shooting potential.

Now, the Wii's motion controls aren't perfect. They aren't 1:1 motion controls that everyone wanted. Nintendo acknowledged this, and came up with a solution: the Wii MotionPlus. To show off this new accessory, Nintendo created Wii Sports Resort. Yesterday, I was playing the fencing part of Wii Sports Resort and I realized "Whoa...this thing actually works." I never thought about it, but yes, the Wii MotionPlus gave us 1:1 motion controls or at least something incredibly close to it. If you don't have a Wii MotionPlus, go get one: you're gonna need it when The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword comes out.

1:1 motion controls, finally realized

1:1 Motion Controls...finally realized

Okay, so the tools for developers are in place. A system with a unique control scheme. Great examples by Nintendo to show off the system's potential. 1:1 motion controls via the Wii MotionPlus. However, not a lot of great third-party games have been made. Why is this? Because they want to make money. That's one of the main reasons people are in this business, to make money. With that being said, Wii Sports is the bestselling video game ever with Wii Play the second and all of the versions of Nintendogs the third. This shows that to make money, you should make casual games. Instead of taking risks and benefiting from flipping the video game industry on its head with an awesome game, third-party developers piggy back off of Nintendo's risk-taking by creating casual crap. It's annoying. The Wii has so much potential for new gameplay ideas because of the mix of motion and button controls, yet nobody but Nintendo is trying to innovate. Here's an idea, third-party developers: take some risks. Make games that nobody's ever seen before. That's why Wii Sports and Nintendogs were so successful: they showed us something we didn't know could be achieved in a video game until the Wii and DS came.

The true face of evil.

Hi, I'm Mr. Carnival Games, and I'm here to destroy new ideas and instead reinstate piggy-backing off of what already worked!

What do you guys think? Love the Wii, hate it, and why? Leave some comments below.