Nintendo DS design, name finalized

The now-sleeker dual-screen portable will officially be called...the Nintendo DS.

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While the Nintendo faithful embraced the early design of the company's new DS portable when it was unveiled at E3, more skeptical gamers held back for the final model. Today the company unveiled the final version (pictured) of the Nintendo DS. The control layout remains essentially the same, as does the placement of the speakers, the lower, touch-sensitive screen, and the upper, standard screen.

However, the DS looks significantly different. Instead of being the boxy gray device shown off at E3, the new-and-improved DS is a combination of glossy black plastic and silver metal in a slimmer, sleeker case. The face buttons and shoulder buttons have been made larger and have been slightly reconfigured. PDA owners will be relieved to know that the device has a new storage slot, while audiophiles will be pleased to hear that the DS speakers now broadcast in 16-channel stereo sound.

In a Japanese press release, Nintendo also reiterated the DS's technical capabilities, emphasizing that the device's dual processors will allow for 3D graphics and that a "newly developed graphics engine" will provide a frame rate of "60 frames per second...outperforming the N64."

Nintendo also used the occasion to reveal the final name of the DS, which had been the device's code name up until now. After rumors of various acronym configurations--including "DGB," "EGB," "GBE," "XGB," "GBD," "XGB," and "WGB"--the company has chosen to call the device...the Nintendo DS. Nintendo outlined its complex reasoning for the choice in a statement: "The Nintendo DS name evokes the idea of a portable system with 'dual screens,' providing the rationale for the final name."

Naturally, the DS's top backer, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, had only good things to say. "The Nintendo DS will change the future of handheld gaming," he mused. "Dual screens, chat functions, a touch screen, wireless capabilities, voice recognition--these abilities surpass anything attempted before, and consumers will benefit from the creativity and innovation the new features bring to the world of video games.”

While Nintendo did not use the unveiling to announce the DS's final price, it did take care to remind the media of the device's vast backing by developers. "Software companies worldwide have more than 120 Nintendo DS games in development," read the company's statement. "Nintendo alone is developing more than 20 titles, and in excess of 100 companies have signed on to create games for the new system."

The Nintendo DS is scheduled to hit store shelves this fall in the US and Japan, with a European release planned for early 2005.

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