This system is great after you take a few turns getting used to the dual-screen. The top screen is the actual game, and the bottom screen is the map/extras for the game. For many of the games on the system you can use either the touch screen (with your finger or the stylus, which is included with the console) or you can use the D-pad. Some games, such as Metroid, require the use of both.
The graphics quality of the DS is very similar to the Nintendo 64, except the DS allows more detailed animations to be used in both the foreground and background.
To begin with the DS seems quite bulky and heavy to hold. However after continued use, you see that the size makes it 'feel' right, like you are controlling something solid.
The sound from the DS is superb. There are two speakers mounted on the top screen that gives a handheld sound like no other.
Interestingly the DS also has online capabilities. I purchased the DS on release date and began using it right away, unfortunately I have tried over and over to use the built-in Chat, but have not been able to talk to anyone, nor do I know of anyone who uses it yet.
Another cool feature is a built in microphone, with a rumour circulating that there is a game due for release soon in which you must blow into the mic in order to create wind and move your boat! Wow!
Significantly the DS is compatible with the GB and the GBA/SP. There are slots in the DS system for both DS and GBA games to be placed in it at the same time. You choose which game you want to play by using the touch screen if both slots are filled. This is really great because Gameboy owners can update to the DS and not worry about having to switch hand-helds just to play their GB games.
Other tools on the DS include a calendar and clock, which you adjust when you first turn on the system. You can fill in all sorts of personal information such as your favourite colour, D.O.B and items of that nature. I believe there is also, although I have not tried yet, a way to draw pictures on the DS and put them online to share with people.
There are no batteries involved with the DS like there are for the GBA/SP. Instead there is a battery inside the system that needs to be recharged. I play on the train into Manhattan, which is about 45 minutes. I do that twice a day, plus playing throughout the day to occupy time and I still have yet to see the battery light go from Green to Red. The battery lasts at least 7 hours, compared to the GBA/SPís six hours maximum playing time.
Games wise Mario 64 DS is similar to Mario on the N64. However the DS version is superior due to the use of a map on the second screen, more characters and of course, the mini-games! The mini-games are great fun, easy to use and done completely on the touch screen. For the mini-games both screens are used as one big screen, pictures go from the top one down into the bottom. These were a real highlight of the game.
Sadly for everyone that reads this, do not bother even picking up the box for Spiderman DS, the game was horrible and even more so when compared to Mario 64 DS.
Since there are only a few games out for the DS at present it is hard to compare it to GBA/SP which has a massive back catalogue available.
From the time Iíve had with my DS though I would say the DS has proven the new-wave for Nintendo. You have to try it, it is a lot of fun.
In conclusion the DS is far more advanced than the GBA/SP system in graphics, control, sound and design. The games, being just a chip, are only the size of a quarter. Easy to use and carry around but possibly easy to lose too.
All in all the GameBoy DS is great!
Reviewed by Cole Wassner © 2005