Nintendo is introducing a new handheld in November, the Nintendo DS. It has two screens, the bottom one is touch-sensitive (a stylus is included, or you can use your finger), built-in wireless connectivity and a microphone, and probably other stuff that I’ve forgotten.
I will, of course, buy one when it comes out. I really wonder about it, though; it looks like Nintendo is throwing all sorts of random ideas at the machine, and looking to see what sticks. I mean, two screens? Nintendo says things like “you can use the second screen for a map!”, but if that were such a great idea, we’d see lots of games out there using half of their screen real-estate on a map. Or a microphone – as far as games goes, its main use would be for voice recognition, which is just a gimmick. (Maybe some games will use it plus the wireless for communication in multi-player games, which I suppose is a good idea, if long-distance connectivity works well.) Wireless support is sensible enough; the Game Boy family has gotten a lot of mileage out of interconnectivity (I certainly wish I had more friends with Game Boys), and it might as well happen without wires.
The touch screen will presumably make or break it. It’s not at all clear to me how games will be dramatically improved by that, but there were some interesting-sounding demos at E3 this year using that feature. And some stupid ones – you can move by touching the screen with your finger, and fire by tapping! Yeah, or you could just move with the D-pad and fire with the A button… Nintendo sometimes has very good, unexpected game ideas; maybe they really do have a series of interesting games in the works that will use the touch screen.
Or maybe not; maybe they’re just flailing around.
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