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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Regular's Return DS

Back from the Big City (like Chicago is something to sneeze at ... wait, was that a pun?) and I'm catching up up on some reading material - blogs, gaming news, my inbox of 200+ messages.

One of those was Robin Hunicke's gewgaw blog. Robin being one of those incredibly attractive, intelligent women who appears to do little but think about games or play them. In other words, she's probably not of this world. In a write up of 2004 gaming, she mentions:

And then there's the Nintendo DS – which blends all my favorite portable game features with a touch screen and ad-hoc wi-fi. I've only managed to play XX – XY: Feel the Magic so far – but it's already got me dreaming about new kinds of gameplay and interactivity.

Which made me wonder ... why don't I like the DS? I also have a fetish for touch screens (couldn't resist putting that mental image in someone's skull, sorry) and it's hard to argue against. In fact, I'm all for gaming devices trying something new or interesting. Hell, I generally insist on it.

But I don't think DS is really trying anything all that interesting. In fact, it feels terribly intrusive to me. Two screens, one being a touch screen - it's shoving Nintendo's idea of innovation right in your face. Imagine a game that didn't try to take advantage of the two screens - you'd have this big dead panel in the middle of your device.

Why doesn't the DS sport a nifty analog stick like most of the other current gen handhelds? Because Nintendo insists you use their touch screen. See what I mean? If they had one screen that was touch enabled and an analog stick, they would have given developers and gamers the best of both worlds - a touch of innovation with some tried and true evolution. As designed, the DS feels something like platform around a gimmick - and I don't want a platform that I have to wonder how each title will make use of that gimmick.

And to keep my oath of making them my underdog of the year ... it should be noted that such a handheld exists. The Zodiac uses both a touch screen and an analog, and they apparently work swimmingly.

I like Nintendo, and I like that they try new tricks with hardware. Lately though, it feels like they've just been trying too hard. I mean ... bongos? Bongos??

1 comment:

Winkyboy said...

I want... the bongos...

Me, I'm partial to the DS and although I don't have one, I do want one. I'll side with you on the analog stick issue, though - they could've-should've added that tried-and-true feature.

With a nod to the Zodiac, I've gotta give kudos to the DS for having a touch screen, as well. It's a lifesaver for any first-person perspective games that they might develop - because controlling such things with yesteryear's interface, analog or not, is a royal annoyance. True, the touchscreen isn't a mouse + keyboard, the most ideal FPS interface, but it's a step up, undoubtedly.

More companies need to be experimental in their designs, in my opinion. Either that, or they need to TALK to the users - get some people who actually play their games to give some real input into what the public wants. I have to believe they already do this, but then, we also see such little innovation. Look at Nokia, for example. I *love* this company - although they sure produce some awful designs from time to time, they also wind up with the BEST phone designs, too. I own a 3650 that has the retarded circular dial pad, but is packed with so many features that it's a butt-kicking piece of hardware. (they made the 3660 with a regular dial pad)

Anyway, here's to touching! (er, wait. That's not what I meant! LOL)