A Developer’s View On DS

I always say the best way to see everything at E3 is staying home, reading articles and watching videos on the net. So while I was busy writing pages for the Dutch ‘Official PlayStation Magazine’ — yeah I do that too — a Nintendo Watch informant who’s not attending the show sent me his opinion on the Dual-Screen handheld. This ‘Dr. Suna’ is actually a portable games developer himself, too busy with some interesting projects to fly over to LA but apparently not too busy to write in.

“At their E3 press conference yesterday Nintendo showed the Nintendo DS for the first time. Dual Screen? Developer System? Whatever you call it, all has been revealed and everyone has an opinion about it, myself included.

“Looking at the press conference via the webcast I noticed Nintendo seems truly excited about the device and has convinced a fair amount of developers and publishers as well. This actually surprised me, as with the DS I get the same feeling I got when ‘connectivity’ was all Nintendo talked about. And we all know how that turned out. Maybe I’m wrong this time, maybe I’m not.

“Don’t get me wrong, I actually love the ideas behind the machine. The touch-screen for example has got me really excited — I lost lots of valuable sleep last night thinking of all the possibilities. Even though this type of interface has been around for ages on PDAs it has never been used for a pure bred gaming machine. A good analogy is EyeToy. Webcams have been around for over a decade but it took a bright mind at SCEE’s Team London to turn it into the most accessible videogame experience yet. Expect good things from the touch-screen interface.

“The wireless capabilities are great as well. While the obvious star is the Wi-Fi compatibility, I think one little sentence from the speech Reggie gave during the press conference points to a very important factor in the success of the unit in Japan: “DS will even connect for you, springing to life from sleep mode once you’re in range of someone else.” Who remembers the Lovegety from the late nineties? I think we’re going to see a lot of similar applications for DS.

“As for the two screens, I basically see it as a necessity to prevent you from obscuring the playing area while using the touch-screen — I don’t think there is a real need for having two screens at all. I also think that this will be one of the problems Nintendo will be facing when courting developers and publishers. I imagine they’ll require developers to use the two screens, while a lot of developers will just want to make a port of or sequel to an existing game. This will result in half-assed attempts like a lot of the connectivity features on GameCube, and possibly in developers flocking to the PSP.

“Another problem for Nintendo could be the 3D performance of the DS. Based off of the movies released on the internet so far I’d say that the 3D performance is comparable to that of the original PlayStation. While I think Nintendo, referring to the successor of the GameCube, is right in stating that people are not interested in just graphical enhancements, I also think it’s completely different in the handheld market. There the 3D revolution has not happened yet, and the DS will be compared to the PSP because of that. Maybe they should have put the money for the second screen in a dedicated 3D processor instead.

“Ultimately I don’t expect the DS to be around as long as the Game Boy has. I give it a couple of years, producing at least ten must-have titles and ending up as the Dreamcast of the portables — a misunderstood machine loved by hardcore game players and ignored by the mass market consumer.”

Do you have a unique viewpoint on DS or another Nintendo subject? Please write in.