When mankind finally rips the last of the planets natural resources from its still warm breast and throws itself off into the inky black darkness of space, the only eyes left to bear witness to the destruction of the universe at the hands of a Sun going nova will be the statues and monuments erected in the name of past glories and fantastical triumphs, in celebration of a mammal that got ideas above its station the moment it learned to stop falling out of trees and get on with evolving.
Unless you’re a sci-fi fan, in which case the Matrix will probably be destroyed by an army of rouge Terminators who are eventually bought down by Batman in camo gear and Bluetooth headset (or you’re a Creationist still struggling with the concept of dinosaurs and learning that saying you’re right doesn’t mean you are even if you say it really loudly whilst wearing a rented lab coat).
But ‘Hurrah’ for cheap distractions for the Land Of The Rising Sun, for Nintendo are currently gearing up for the European launch of the DSi, the third and latest incarnation of the DS in their popular Gameboy franchise. Boasting a bigger screen, a camera and no backwards compatibility with previous Gameboy cartridges, Nintendos’ recent domination in the next gen wars with the Wii seems to have spurned them into seeing just how hard the milky teats of its other daisy chewing cash cow can be pulled before they become all withered and flaccid.
Managing to humiliate both its competitors with what is essentially its previous console release but turned sideways with neons seems to taken Nintendo aback somewhat. Having sold enough Wii consoles to choke a bulimic into submission has prompted Nintendo to remodel and relaunch the DS version of its Gameboy franchise for the third time since its launch in 2004 – not including different colours or limited editions.
With the N64 and then Gamecube failing to make anything like a Playstation branded dent on the market it’s arguable whether this generation of gamers would have known Nintendo as anything other than a tag word to type into Google when looking for the definition of ‘Fail’. If it hadn’t been for the Gameboy and a little thing known as ‘Pokemon Mania’ keeping the company going during this time, there would have been no room to breathe as the air of uncertainty began seeping from Nintendo of Japans headquarters, the aromatic wang of failure filling the nostrils with the decaying stench of SEGAs spectacular shit storm implosion with the Saturns abortive offspring, the Dreamcast. Having owned one of the original wind-up ‘Brick’ Gameboys I have been fortunate enough to see every one of its re-imaginings and re-brandings, from Pocket to Present-Day, Color to Custom. Back-lights and lanyards and decal decorated limited editions have a;; helped take the modest handheld from being merely a bleepy-bloopy kids toy to a must-have life-style accessory via touch screen technology and the captain of the Starship Enterprise doing some sums.
Being not just the oldest player in the game but the one who made up the rules as well, Nintendo seem to have now forgotten who held all the aces and are now looking directly into the eyes of its fanbase to see who blinks first. At first glance the spec for the new DSi seems sound and all-too-familiar, but closer inspection reveals a worrying insight into the current mindset of those leading this company. New and improved things are all well and good, and without necessity invention would be merely a twinkling in the eye of potential as it drowned its sorrows down the single bar on a lonely Friday night. Like the PSP and it’s capacity for interchangeable memory storage cards, an SD slot in the DS has the subtle spark of genius raising the hopes. Though allowing you to store media such as films and MP3′s like the PSP it seems a bit of a wasted design on the DS, any number of ‘cheat’ cartridges for the machine currently available affording you the same chance of dashing said raised hopes that it stands any kind of comparison to an iPod, but at a fraction of the price.
I’d like to think the heads of design were all struck down with some sort of illness that only left the work experience kid in charge they day they were thinking of new features, because then I could understand why the camera. I don’t honestly see how anyone but the simple to amuse and under of age will get any benefit or long term use from this function and its ability to add googly eyes and misshapen heads to your pictures, and seems to somewhat go against the current Nintend-ad campaign of seeing independently minded adults engaged in joyful ’Friends’-like fun and grown-up banter with a new DSi the centre of attention. It seems more like an attempt to flesh out the design spec and bring the Gameboy name into the modern day world of absolute integration and interactivity rather than an overdue evolution, the throw away addition of photo manipulation only adding to my belief that Nintendo are still too focused on the kiddie market of shiny and wow for their own good.
Throw in a web browser for Fox news to scare Mid-West American mum’s with stories of porn sites and paedophiles with, and an increased screen size tops the whole thing off. If you are new to handheld gaming or have yet to buy an upgrade for your palming pleasures pastimes then the new Dsi is definitely the best of the Gameboy bunch to buy. If you don’t own an R4 cartridge or similar, then the loss of the Advance slot shouldn’t be giving you any sleepless nights any time soon – and if you do happen to have Oracle of Ages or Minish Cap next to Wind Waker , then I’m pretty sure you’ll already have the ’proper’ console to play them on, leaving EBay for everybody else.
See, one of the Gameboy consoles best features was its backwards compatibility with all its back catalogue of games and since the DS got flack for only allowing you to only go as far back as the Advance, it doesn’t make sense why Nintendo have dropped it altogether this time out. Unless they are trying to market themselves into a world where they’re not perceived as just something your younger, more sticky fingered seven year old brother might own, of course. And why not? The Wii changed the face of console gaming to one that everyone could look at without feeling the need to wash until the stink went away, and the Dsi certainly looks good enough to add subtle nips and tucks in the jowly outlying areas, too.
And if the majority of the free world didn’t own at least three mobile phones each that might have been an easy enough challenge to undertake. The very fact of the matter is the iPhone does all these things and more without making you look like someone who has lost their carer, and you can argue price and practicality until both cash cows have retired between two buns and a piece of limp lettuce but nothing changes the fact that even a cheap phone is more than capable of being so equipped. It just these additions look like a vague attempt at best at keeping a product fresh and interesting, and as multi-functional as its competitors, when all it really needed was a bigger screen with more resolution and a larger memory for better graphics in game.
And larger buttons.
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