Face it, Nintendo has gotten a really bad rap lately (more like for the last 10 years).  First the GameCube largely flopped because of the tiny disks with high prices, lumbering cube shape and relatively few games for the hardcore gamer (also cel-shaded Zelda didn't go over all that well).  Then the code-named "Revolution" got re-named the "Wii" (reminiscent of certain bodily functions) and beyond a couple of games like Wii Sports and Guitar Hero 3 (which basically are only really fun when playing with friends), the integration with Wii-mote has generally been wonky and terrible. 

"Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.....ok, I'm over it.  Seriously."

If you look at both versions of Twilight Princess (I owned both, but sold back my Wii version since then), you'll notice that the GameCube version plays like it was designed for the system (which it was).  The Wii version feels like a very wonky port and it shows especially when you shake the Wii-mote and your sword basically randomly shakes around and sometimes it will accidentally trigger sword shaking when you're not trying to do it.

Yes.  You *DO* look that silly while you're playing Wii.

If you want to go to handhelds, just look at the original grey brick.  It was bulky, required 4 batteries, and had a pretty crappy battery life.  On my original brick, pixels started to fail, and then entire rows started to come out funky.  Eventually, it got so bad that I had to save up money to get a mini gameboy, which brings me to the next point.


What the heck, guys?

Yeah, and the clamshell design kept many a pocketed game system from getting horribly scratched screens.  This was a genius move by Nintendo.  Plus, this was the first handheld that could play original Gameboy games and not resort to silly looking extra attachments to compensate for lack of backlighting.

I actually owned one of these huge hulking things for my Gameboy Pocket that required several batteries and was about as bulky and awkward as an extra neck on a giraffe.

But the SP wasn't all good.  Apparently, when the "genius" designers at Nintendo were creating the SP, they decided that the VERY BEST IDEA would be to completely omit the headphone jack.  Because, you know, it's not like you'll be out and about in public with your handheld and want to keep your game music discreet, right?

Now the first DS was revolutionary.  It had a touch screen that allowed you to interact with the game in a completely new (and, unlike the Wii, intuitive) way.  I remember playing Polarium for the first time on my friend's DS, and was in awe at the easy and simple response of the touch screen to the game.  However, the DS was out of my meager income while I was a starving college student.  Eventually, though, I was able to afford one because I had some saved up gift cards, there was a sale, and I was able to save up just a bit extra to make it.  My first DS was an original blue one and I fixed it up with special stickers and such to make it look very awesome.  Of course, I didn't consider getting a DS lite until a couple of years later when the Zelda bundle came out for Black Friday.  I will admit, it was a bit of an impulse buy, but I was so glad that I got it.  To this day, even after receiving a PSP from my husband for an anniversary gift (my husband is awesome), the DS Lite still remains my absolute favorite system to game on.

The 5 main reasons why the DS is the superior handheld

First of all, the DS lite is much more attractively shaped than the original DS.  It is thinner, shorter, lighter and shaped in a smooth rectangular shape with rounded edges.  But it STILL PLAYS GBA GAMES TOO!

Secondly, the battery life is much improved upon the initial model.  You can also make it brighter than the screen on the original (hence one meaning of "lite").

Thirdly, the touchscreen is wonderfully responsive and the buttons are placed apart just far enough for both children and adults alike. Additionally, the stylus is much bigger and easier to grasp,

Fourthly, there are a huge variety of games for this system, from really small child-oriented games to more hard-core titles.  There are plenty of puzzle games on this system for people to enjoy together.

Fifthly, there's a wireless ability.  You can actually get your DS online even though it is kind of funky, but the place where wireless really shines is when you're playing with other friends nearby.  Back in the day of previous handhelds, you had to get at least ten different cables hooked up to your respective machines just to trade one Pokemon.  Nowadays, it's as simple as clicking and that little light flashes and finds someone.

I've posted this picture before, but that's pretty much how happy I get when I'm holding my DS Lite.

Now many people might ask me what I think about the DSi and the 3DS, but I just have to look back to what Nintendo kept doing with, say, the GBA.  When they came out with the SP, that was something because they added some of the most needed features (backlight, etc), but there were other incarnations of the GBA that were generally just seen as superfluous.  I try to remind myself that this is really just basic Nintendo.  Even back with the N64, they tried to capitalize on gimmicks (do you remember "Hey You, Pikachu!"?) and there were several photo and picture attachments to the original GameBoy and GameBoy Color that were supposed to "add" to the experience of gaming but largely didn't really do much for the system, advancement-wise.

To me, the DSi and 3DS are basically incarnations of this phase.  I've test-played both a DSi and 3DS in stores and do not honestly see much difference between the DS and these supposed "advancements."  Beyond certain "niche" games, there are generally few if any games made for the "special" capabilities of their extra cameras and 3D screens.

And generally, I think that this is how it should be.  Nintendo is basically duct-taping a camera and some silly eye-tricks to a DS lite and telling you that it's something different and therefore jacking up the price.  The DS lite is superior in every way because it is basically the perfected, polished version of the DS generation.  From there on, it just starts getting silly.

So, please Nintendo, stop putting a flowered hat on the DS lite and telling us it's something "new and revolutionary."  Don't duct-tape features (and reduce battery life and increase price by like 100%) onto an already fabulous system and make it more gimmicky and terrible than it needs to be.

Nintendo knows that it basically prints money by throwing slop in the trough that is the Nintendo consumer market, but I still wish that they'd work on something BEYOND what they were doing before-something that not only builds on the DS technology but also stands apart greatly to the point that when you look at it you truly feel a revolution has occurred. 

Just don't expect it to have a headphone jack or a well-placed on-button or some other essential piece of gaming equipment!  Oh Nintendo, when will you ever learn?


So, what, in your opinion, is the pinnacle handheld of handheld gaming? 

Do you think that the DS is better than the Wii? 

And what is your bet on what will truly cause a "revolution" in Nintendo's handhelds that will make it worth it to actually say, "now THIS, this is different!"?