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The International Writers Magazine
: Game Play

Nintendo DS
Danielle Ward reviews the latest gaming toy

Released on 11th March, boasting wireless game play, pictochat and a microphone: It’s called ‘DS’ because of its duel screens, clever eh? Wireless game play with up to 16 other consoles and 6 - 10 hours battery life are all advertised. It sells for around £100. But is it worth it?

At first glance the DS is a silver machine, about the size of a hand. When opened, the console promises an innovative game play. A duel screen is the main feature; the top one providing the main views, with wonderful graphics and the bottom one a touch-screen. Provided with the machine is a stylus and you can use this or your thumb to control the action. There is a d-pad so if you’re like me and take time to get used to the stylus, you can rely on this instead.

On initial power-up of the console you are asked for, among other things, your nickname and your date of birth. Like having your own website you can even change the colours of the screen titles. This nickname then appears on start up, along with your colour, a calendar and the time. It even has an alarm clock feature. Your name will appear on all messages when in pictochat. This is a chat room exclusive for all DS machines, so using its wireless technology it allows you to contact fellow players.
A smooth feature is that it’s what they call ‘backwards’ compatible. This basically means that if you have any Nintendo GBA games in your position then you have the option to play those instead of DS ones. So we’ll all be nicking our mates games for more variety then?

It doesn’t stop there! This new system has a microphone. Yes, weird but true. Remember those Sims games? Well you can make patients feel better by talking to them nicely.
Original and very imaginative pretty much sum up the games, but then they’d have to be with touch-screen technology. They look great with the graphics and adding to the interaction, virtual surround sound. What are they like then?

Super Mario DS
Everyone’s played the Mario games. They all maintain the basic ideas, but it’s slightly more magical when on the DS. This time, if you come across a mushroom you are face-to-face with them as it all plays in 3D. You start in a castle and by completing tasks you can open more games. I love the way the screen ‘wobbles’ as you jump in pictures on the walls. For simple people like me the most enjoyable aspect is the mini-games. These take advantage of the new technology, for example rolling a snowball down a hill with your pen! By beating up the bunnies that run around the castle you can obtain more games.

Ever played bejeweled on the net? This is that game but with animals at the zoo. For those who have no idea what I’m on about this game starts with a screen full of animals, by swapping two round at a time you aim to line up 3 of a kind. Similar to Tetris in a way, I suppose. The DS has enhanced this game because there are variants of the idea, 100 animals, 20 matches in 3 minutes, also appear. On the top screen appears one of the animals and the aim is that if you make a line with that particular animal then you get double points. This game will get you laughing because if you make a line with that animal then it goes a bit mad! Highly addictive and very cool.

Project Rub
This could be compared to the WarioWare games, only to the point that they are a series of 5-second little games. The story goes that there’s a young lady that you, as a boy, is trying to woo. So when the boys race down the hill in trolleys you have to sweep away the mines to impress her. It can be rather sexist but I’m female and I’m playing it! At times the sounds aren’t appropriate for the younger people of the world. For extra challenges, and you probably don’t know about this, you can touch the screen as the game loads and try to find the hidden bunnies. (What is it with DS and rabbits?!) This creates a catalogue that allows you to change the appearance of the object of your desire. It’s just a shame for me that I can’t change her sex!
10/10 for the DS.
© Danielle Ward. April 2005

Danielle Ward is studying Creative Arts at Portsmouth University

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