Touching IS Good (Mania.com)

By:James Stevenson
Date: Friday, November 19, 2004

I got my Nintendo DS this week, and it's all I can do to keep my hands off of it. I've spent a ton of time the past few days playing SPIDER-MAN 2 DS (excellent), SUPER MARIO 64 DS (superb), FEEL THE MAGIC XX XY (quirky and fun) as well as ASPHAULT GT (beautiful). But this week I'm going to give my thoughts on the handheld and let you know what I think. Check back in next week for a review round-up of the launch titles.


The DS itself it about what I expected, it's not as sleek as the PSP, but it doesn't look bad either. It is comfortable in my hands, although not quite as comfortable when I am trying to use the thumb pad or stylus on the touch screen. The buttons are all sized appropriately, the sound slider is nice, and I like the power button on the front of the unit (it's funny how many people have looked for the power on the sides).


By far the thing I've been most impressed

Screenshot from SUPER MARIO 64 DS.

by is how well the thumb pad works. On the wrist band for the DS is a little piece of plastic you can strap around your thumb. In MARIO 64 DS, you MUST use this if you want to run. It essentially turns the touch screen into an analog pad and while it's not perfect, after getting used to it I was pretty cool with not having an analog stick.


The best example of this was while playing METROID PRIME HUNTERS: FIRST HUNT. The buttons are used for forward, back, strafe-left and strafe-right while the touch screen acts to move your view. It feels like you are using a mouse and keyboard to move around. With the trigger to shoot (under an index finger no less) this mode is incredible. The only problem is that you can't quickly change weapons (that functionality is on the touch screen in the bottom corner). Even then, this gives me a lot of hope for first-person games on the DS.


I think the biggest draw Nintendo might have, and what may be a thorn in Sony's side, is how this new gameplay style, the microphone, wireless and most importantly touch screen appeal to a wide range of people. Game players dig Nintendo titles, and dare I say women may adore this handheld because the touch screen is such a natural and easy interface. I think it all depends on if Nintendo markets this right and gets people hands on time.


All in all, I like the handheld a lot. My GBA games look awesome on it, the touch screen is excellent, and the launch titles are more than acceptable. Check is out this Monday when the DS hits shelves and check back for our reviews (we'll get to the aforementioned four games, and hopefully THE URBZ if EA gets me a copy this week).


Tidbits



GRAN TURISMO 4 has been delayed until Q1 2005... VIEWTIFUL JOE 2 has been released for the GameCube... A sequel to CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK: ESCAPE FROM BUTCHER BAY is on the way... Manny Ramirez will be a cover athlete for MVP BASEBALL 2005... Sid Meier's PIRATES! Has gone gold...



On Shelves



GOLDENEYE: ROGUE AGENT is on the way and should make Thanksgiving break a lot of fun. PC gamers can get their hands on PIRATES! and WORLD OF WARCRAFT. Otherwise, pick up a NINTENDO DS and launch titles or all the other games you have missed.


 



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