Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A boy has grown up

Ever since the late 80s and early 90s there was a boy around people could play with - wherever they were. I'm talking about the Game Boy, of course.

Nintendo really hit a gold mine with their first hand-held console. Unlike other hand-helds that were sold at the same time, the Game Boy caught on. Soon there was hardly a kid's room without it. And from then onwards teenagers and children could torture their surroundings with strange beeping sounds and pretend not to have heard their parents scream for them to do something.

But as much of a success as the Game Boy and his descendants (the Game Boy Color and the Game Boy Advanced) had, they still were considered 'for kids only'. Some grown-ups had them, but they usually didn't admit it. (I'll owe up to having had a Game Boy and still owning a Game Boy Advanced, but then, I'm not your usual grown-up.)

Last year Nintendo has done it again and brought out another hand-held - but this time it's not just for kids. The Nintendo DS still is a hand-held console (and unlike its rival, the Playstation Portable, it can't do anything apart from playing games), but it's a grown-up variety.

First, there's the look. Unlike the first Game Boy (a grey brick with a green screen), the Game Boy Color (a slightly smaller brick with a dark screen and a variety of possible colours) and the Game Boy Advanced (originally a deep violet thing with a screen that was a bit too dark for comfortable playing, later on a smaller white thing with a flip-up screen that was a bit better), the DS looks good.

It looks a bit like those very elegant and very expensive cell phone/palmtop combinations you can buy. It's got smooth lines and a high-gloss surface - and you can buy it in black, white and pink (woohoo, somebody is trying it again - and with the cute "Nintendogs" they're even making it). It's got two screens, one of them a touch screen. The graphics are really good by now, too (although they were quite good on the GBA, too).

But the touch screen is more than just a gimmick - it's the real reason why grown-up have started to openly use the DS. It allows for more difficult games to be transported on that platform (like the second "The Settlers" soon). Adventures are just as possible as ego-shooters, strategy games, edutainment and other stuff. While the DS can't play movies, it surely can entertain.

And given the fact that someone wanting to watch videos everywhere will more probably spent his/her money on a new iPod, it's no real surprise the DS is doing so well.

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