The Nintendo DS (dual-screen) gaming system is a handheld device with an interesting concept. The DS stands for Dual Screen and it is the dual screen that makes this game device so unique. The clamshell-type case opens to reveal two screens -- a regular color LCD on the top and a color LCD touch screen on the bottom.
The two screens work together to enhance the gaming experience. In general, the upper screen is used to give an overview of the game while the lower screen lets you zoom in on one particular element. Characters and objects can move from one screen to the other. You use the included stylus to interact with the objects and characters on the bottom screen. Depending on the ingenuity of the game creators, the two screens can coordinate with each other in many different ways.
Like other gaming devices, there are buttons and controls but some games can be played almost entirely with the stylus. The Nintendo DS comes with wireless capabilities so you can send notes and drawings to other DS users. You can also play some games with others wirelessly. Nintendo has made a deal with McDonald's to let DS owners use the McDonalds wireless network for free. This will allow DS gamers to sit in McDonald's and eat some fries while playing Nintendo games with people from around the world.
The Nintendo DS has a rechargeable battery that last about ten hours, stereo sound capabilities, a calendar, and alarms. It also has a headphone jack and a microphone jack. The microphone jack is often used ingeniously in the games. In one game you can blow into the microphone to blow out the candles on a birthday cake. In another, you blow into the microphone to blow bubbles when the bubble maker is on the screen.
The DS has some great games. Of course there are fast-paced games for the twenty-somethings, but there are also wonderful games for boomers and beyond. The Nintedog game let's you adopt a virtual pet and feed and train him. You get to call him by name and you can pet him by running the stylus across him on the screen. There are several Super Mario games that everyone can enjoy as well as football, golf, and music games. Each game comes in a hard plastic case that contains a small instruction book and the game chip, which is about the size of a postage stamp. There is also a slot on the bottom of the unit that can accommodate the larger GameBoy Advance cartridges. Although the GBA games don’t take advantage of the touch screen, they work flawlessly with the DS.
I like the functionality of this device and I also like many of the games. The game is highly portable so you can use it while you wait for a flight or whenever you have a spare moment. Game developers keep coming up with new ideas for the touch screen and microphone, so the DS games get better and better. Try one for yourself, or buy it for the kids and grandkids but make sure they let you play!