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Nintendo's DS: Very First Impressions

Nintendo's DS: Very First Impressions What will we think of Nintendo's new handheld? Sorry, we only know what we think now.

It's not every day that Nintendo launches a brand-new handheld. Heck, it's not even every year, the past two years notwithstanding, so everyone's talking about the upcoming Nintendo DS debut. That includes, of course, our editors hereabouts, so we thought you might be interested in what they have to say.

We collected opinions from staffers all around the building, both 1UP's editors and the writers behind Electronic Gaming Monthly, Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, and the rest of the Ziff-Davis lineup, asking this question: what's your absolutely first impression of Nintendo's announcement last night? As you might expect, we got some interesting responses...

"I hate to say it, but this sounds like Virtual Boy part 2. Nintendo is often too innovative for its own good." - Sam Kennedy, 1UP

"If this thing catches on, in 10 or 12 years optometrists worldwide are going to be absolutely baffled by the wave of cross-eyed kids they'll have to treat. Either that, or kids' eyes will just twitch uncontrollably: twitch up, twitch down, twitch left, twitch right, and on and on. But we really don't know enough yet -- as the last sentence suggests, I'm not even sure how they'll lay out the screens (oh, wait, it's vertical? Okay, up-and-down twitching, then). At the very least, though, Nintendo's E3 press conference will not be boring this year." -- David Smith, 1UP

"...either a groundbreaking new way to get your game on or a gimmick destined to join Virtual Boy and the Power Glove in the annals of Nintendo oddities. Miyamoto undoubtedly has a few tricks up his sleeve, but will anyone else tap its potential?" -- Shawn Elliott, EGM

"My stance? Wait-and-see. I'm sure that NCL can cook up some great games for it, but whether or not it ends up being a Virtual-Boy-esque gimmick remains to be seen. Still, it's kind of a GBA successor (even if Nintendo claims otherwise), so I'm all for improving the quality of handheld graphics. I just hope that this doesn't spell doom for Nintendo's first party GBA development, and that EA doesn't use the second screen to air commercials." -- Shane Bettenhausen, EGM

This calls for a knee-jerk reaction, so here's mine: 'Has Nintendo taken crazy pills?' The DS sounds like a gimmicky system designed especially for particular games Nintendo already has in mind, with no consideration for third-party developers and publishers. Developers have always bitched about dual-processor systems in the past, and the DS ups the programming complexity with its second screen. Meanwhile, Nintendo's gameplay examples -- e.g., spying close-up soccer plays on one screen while seeing the entire field on another -- sound about as exciting as watching picture-in-picture on my home TV. Still, I'm interested to see the DS put to actual use at this year's E3 videogame show." -- Crispin Boyer, EGM

" I'm not very excited yet, although I reserve the right to be in the future. If you could use both screens to display a single image, that could be cool...but probably not possible, since they're powered by two different processors. Nintendo's first-party software will do interesting things with it, of course; I doubt many other publishers will." -- Demian Linn, EGM

"Lately Nintendo is infatuated with gimmicks -- first their GBA/GC connectivity pipe dream, now this dual-screen thing. I hate to say it, but unless it's got some killer software that actually takes worthwhile advantage of both screens, I smell Virtual Boy 2." -- Chris Johnston, EGM

"So Nintendo's releasing a device that competes with their own existing portable, with a vertical instead of horizontal layout of the two screens, and a different processor for each side of the thing? I'm not falling for it this time. Erm, until Metal Gear with a codec on one screen comes out." -- Nich Maragos, 1UP

"What a stupid idea. Yes, I have two eyes, but they can generally only focus on one thing at a time. Looks like the second coming of the Virtual Boy to me." -- Joe Rybicki, OPM

Are you tired of Virtual Boy remarks yet?

"Two GBA-sized screens on one portable device sounds unwieldy to me. I'd be more excited about a new Game Boy with wireless multiplayer capabilities -- hell, even one with four face buttons and a bigger D-pad." -- Paul Byrnes, EGM

"Is it really the best idea for Nintendo to split up its portable game resources right at the exact time the PSP is expected to hit? Otherwise, I've always liked the connectivity idea a little more than some of my co-workers, so I'm pretty interested in this." -- Matt Leone, 1UP

"My first reaction? I just hope it's not another Virtual Boy. And for crying out loud, throw in some backwards compatibility with SOMETHING." -- Ryan Scott, CGW.

"Well, it's certainly "heterogeneous," but is being different for the sake of it really what Nintendo needs right now? It strikes me that they think we love the idea of plugging out GBAs into our Gamecubes rather more than we really do, and have decided to build a whole new machine around that concept. I'm intrigued, but given the threat to Nintendo's dominance in this field, it seems a bit out-of-left-field." -- John Davison, ZD Editorial Director

"I suppose if the little N just made one big widescreen and split the image in two there'd be less for me to laugh at, so DS kind of makes sense. But I'm wondering, if I personally sent out a vague press release assuring people that I too would soon release the greatest thing ever, think I'd also become a god of some games bulletin board? What if I had two heads?" -- Ivan Sulic, 1UP

"It really makes me miss Hiroshi Yamauchi. He was a terrifying, insane old man, but at least he gave the impression of having some sort of overall purpose driving his madness. This, on the other hand, registers a potentially lethal 6.5 on the "WTF" scale." -- Jeremy Parish, 1UP

"DS could be very cool. Instead of having to press pause to go to an overhead map, or your item management screen in an RPG, it'll all be there side by side, or, less ideally, top to bottom. If it's a powerful machine, it could pull a Ferarri F355 of sorts, allowing gamers to look out the side-view windows of a racing game. Of course, they could also solve that problem by simply making a portable widescreen system." -- James Mielke, GMR

There's a long time to wait between first impressions of the Nintendo DS and the final word later this year, of course. Stay tuned for much more on the device (both hard facts and snarky opinions) going into its official debut at E3.

Bi-Beast Says, "Whaddaya Think?" What do you think of Nintendo's new toy? Let your feelings be known. Write in and let us know if the DS is a guaranteed hit or a guaranteed source of Virtual Boy jokes.

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in 1UP.

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