We’ve put together game system retrospectives before for Nintendo 64 and GameCube, but there are some different aspects with this one. Obviously it’s our first handheld retrospective, but more significantly, DS far outpaced anything N64 or GameCube did in terms of sales, years on the market, breadth and quantity of system-selling titles… the DS has been phenomenal any way you look at it. Certainly, my fondest multiplayer memories are on N64, and GameCube had its selling points as well, but DS dominates or ties for first in any other comparisons.
For me that’s rather remarkable given the initial industry reaction to the system. Much like 3DS, Nintendo revealed its new handheld system matter-of-factly in a simple January 2004 statement, and many said the race was already over between DS and the upcoming PSP. The dual screen concept was alien and the hardware wouldn’t be as slick as Sony’s. Even some Nintendo fans were skeptical, but 2004 was the entry point into depths of GameCube failure and self-loathing, so some leeway should be granted. Plus there was that whole Iwata statement that if DS didn’t succeed, Nintendo would go out of business or something, and when you see a new strategy that screams “crazy experiment!” instead of “home run!”, you’re liable to be both afraid and skeptical.
Yet praise Nintendo for being a little experimental. I waited a year to get my DS, frustrated over its pricing and still skeptical of its library, but once I got my “hot rod red” dual screen, the floodgates opened. Adventure games, platformers, RPGs– fantastic genres that I thought had been left behind in the years of SNES or given away wholesale to Sony’s PS1 and PS2– were reborn vibrantly, and on a Nintendo platform no less. And with appealing “why not?” price points of $20 – $30, I got a whole bunch of other games in other genres I don’t follow as closely, and I was again rewarded with fantastic game experiences. How could Zelda or Star Fox or Kirby or Ninja Gaiden or even FPSs work with a touch screen? But oh, they can. Indeed, my DS game library is far larger than I ever would have thought, and that’s thanks to Nintendo’s gutsy hardware design, the unexpected embrace of casuals and elderly, and the swarm of third party support, which created a perfect storm, and, for us gamers, the perfect system.
Alright, it’s not perfect in every way, but it’s pretty close. And while its successor 3DS nears release worldwide, the exceptional DS merits a two-week retrospective for beating the odds and skeptics’ predictions. In our first week, the Nintendojo staffers will address some of what I wrote about above– albeit with greater skill of course– and more. In the second week, we’ll get into awards for the best DS games, concepts and more. You may already have your 3DS pre-ordered, but we hope you enjoy joining us in a celebration for the system that has much to do with why we’re excited about 3DS in the first place. We’re hoping that 3DS can, in the least, come somewhere near the fantastic highs the original DS has provided.
Issue 38: DS Retrospective: A History Celebrated
Humble Beginnings by Andrew Hsieh
A chronology of how DS overcame the skepticism of its January 2004 and E3 2004 reveal– not to mention a weak first-year lineup– and when it truly hit its stride.
Stalling The Game by Matthew Tidman
The DSi and DSi XL were possibly the best band-aid Nintendo could have come up with to extend DS’s life.
DSi aWareness by Robert Thompson
While exclusive to a niche group who have purchased DSi or DSi XL, Nintendo’s DSiWare service has evolved from a modest offering to a force of its own.
Nester64x: Cartridges Rock! by Nester64x
DS used the absolute best medium for the delivery of games… even if Nintendo didn’t call them Game Paks.
A Pillar Too Many by Andy Hoover
Game Boy could have continued its reign for years, if not for Nintendo’s “Third Pillar” known as DS.
Hot Air: Junked by Aaron Roberts
There are more peripherals for DS than you probably know about. Time to lay down some learnin’ on ya.
Not Dead Yet: DS Games on the Horizon by Kevin Knezevic
A look at the most exciting to-be-released DS software and a prediction of its lifespan and success post 3DS launch.
Once Upon A Time: Return of the Narrative by Adam Sorice
Phoenix Wright, Professor Layton, Another Code, Hotel Dusk– the story’s back and it’s here to stay.
James’ Burning Attack: Dual-Screen Sleepers by James Stank
With a library as vast as DS’s, many games are doomed to obscurity. Yet these five gems defeated the odds and became hits of their own right.
Additional features in this issue…
- Nightly News Roundup by Matthew Tidman
- Poll: What’s Your DS Model by M. Noah Ward
- Nightly News Roundup by James Stank
- Dojo-Show-Go! Episode 131 by M. Noah Ward
- Nightly News Roundup by Kevin Knezevic
- Nightly News Roundup by Andy Hoover
- Nightly News Roundup by M. Noah Ward
- Full Focus: Quarterly Review by Abhinay Sawant
Coming Up Next Week…
Issue 39: DS Retrospective: A Library of Excellence
We’re not done spreading the DS love. Come back next week to check out our top games for the system from its entire lifespan.