Nintendo DS Lite Review Feature - The Next Level

Nintendo DS Lite Review


Article by Patrick Butler (Email)
May 8th 2006, 07:30PM

Let's face it. This is not the first time that Nintendo has had second thoughts about one of its systems design. As a matter of fact, every console preceeding the DS has had remodels of their own -- some aesthetic, others improving overall hardware quality. The original Game Boy with the Micro and Color. The dim-lighted GBA before the SP, Micro and then a backlit SP. And now, the DS Lite. Some would swear against Nintendo over the amount of times they have made us replace our current models, but it really all boils down to whether the change was significant enough to make us completely forget we just bought the same thing twice.

Which is just the case with the DS Lite. Already, the DS was a great system with a fantastic domestic as well as imported library of games. And I for one, will admit that I liked its original design. Sure, the very accentuated top hinge and shoulders reminded me of a 1980 Mazda Familia, but it was still pretty cool to whip out in public, albeit very large. The Lite changes all that with a very sleek and simple design. Round corners, the omittance of a bumpy surface and dimension changes. Two layers of white/navy/cyan plastic overlayed with transparent plastic gives the handheld a very glossy, transparency effect. So even with any kind of debris on the Lite, it'll still give a semi-shimmering glow to compliment it's clean design.

The first thing you'll notice when you open your Lite is how small it is. It's much less apparent until you go back and hold a DS, but its a very huge difference. With the system being a third smaller in size, many have worried if improved hardware would come at the cost of comfort. Thankfully, not so. As a matter of fact, the Lite is even more comfortable than the DS, since it dropped the edged sides and bulky undersurface of the old system. Since the Lite is aesthetically simple and round, your hands curve around the Lite instead of tightly grabbing it like the original DS. It's also much lighter, alleviating the possibility of fatigue after long hours of play.

Another complaint with the DS; the stylus. Almost too small, it took a while to get used to before really settling into it. Plus, whenever you were in the midst of playing a game that prompted stylus use, such as sealing demons in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, it almost felt awkward to fumble over your DS, trying to pull the stylus out. With the Lite, the stylus isn't only conveniently placed under the right-hand side of the system, but it's also much thicker and larger. So it'll actually feel like a familiar writing tool instead of a oversharpened pencil.

Games themselves go in the same ways they did with the original DS. GBA games on the bottom, DS games on the top. Though, since the Lite is much smaller than the DS, something had to give in design to keep all the Lite's inner workings intact, so inserted GBA cartridges now portrude out of the Lite by half an inch or so. Thankfully, it doesn't get in the way while playing, since your hands are completely free from the lower middle regions of the Lite.

Now of course the main attraction for the DS Lite is its new and improved brightness and contrast capabilities. And thankfully, it's a huge difference in comparaison to the original. No one would really enjoy buying a $150 handheld a second time and finding out it's only minimally brighter than the old model, so Nintendo managed to crank four brightness settings on the Lite. The lowest setting being the DS' normal brightness point all the way up to the fourth setting, which would most likely make you go blind. Yes, it really is that bright, but rightfully so, since it adds a crazy amount of vividity and contrast to all games played on the Lite. Playing games on the Lite will make you realize certain colors or details you would have never seen on the DS. Surprisingly, the Lite's battery is also much stronger than the DS', lasting just as long, if not a little longer than the originals, yet at the highest brightness setting.

So there you have it, the latest of one of many Nintendo handheld redesigns. Sure, it can get rather annoying, but it also demonstrates how the company cares about quality and customer content, if not trying to sell a couple more units. This truly is the ultimate design for the DS and will make already big fans of the current DS go even wilder, now that there really is no reason not to own a DS. It not only gives the DS a much needed makeover, but even improves screen quality and comfort. And probably the best reasn of all, Nintendo managed to create a product that would make owners proud to have purchased a Lite and not feel as if it was a waste, but a positive move forward.

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