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How To Make the DS Even Better

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the add-a-totally-wicked-spoiler dept.

Portables (Games) 82

Next Generation has up an interesting piece considering ways to make the ultra-successful Nintendo DS even better. Thoughts include streamlining the needlessly complicated 'friend code' system, adding internal flash ram to the device, and rolling out a virtual console system ala the Wii. Their best idea, I think, is to use the GBA slot on the system for a cartridge including all of these new elements: "The advantage over typical 'system upgrades', like the ram expansion for the N64 or the PS2 hard drive, is that this cartridge should have little direct effect on game software; it would simply transform the DS into a more useful and personal tool. Such an update would also weed out the necessity to offer a whole new DS model, further annoying people who felt forced to upgrade to the DS Lite - itself only a cosmetic adjustment."

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My Idea (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18450413)

What they should really do to make it better is add a touchscreen. That'd be awesome.

great ideas! (1)

cosmas_c (1079035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18450467)

just great I think, although what Nintendo would say?

Replace it. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18451729)

Replace it with a PC and more sophisticated games. The DS is for kids, but it has robbed the market of developers of adult games. (Quicksilver)

Kind of already there... (4, Informative)

B00yah (213676) | more than 7 years ago | (#18450519)

but not officially. Companies like m3 and Flashloader make devices that plug in to the gba slot on the ds, fit flush, and either have a set amount of onboard flash, or have a slot for an SD card (regular for the original ds, mini or micro for the lite). You can run homebrew applications off of these, as well as listen to music (with the winamp equiv. in moonshell), and play emulated games (though some snes games won't run full speed due to the fx chip issue).

Now, this doesn't simplify the friends code issue, and it's definitely border line illegal, but it does exist.

Re:Kind of already there... (3, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#18453441)

True - with a 2GB mini-sd card I use mine mostly as an mp3 player via Moonshell and DSOrganise. Moonshell is the better player but doesn't have a slide bar that lets you pick up where you left off in the middle of a 1 hour podcast you heard half of the day before.

Re:Kind of already there... (1)

Soul-Burn666 (574119) | more than 7 years ago | (#18458919)

And recently there are slot1 (DS slot) loaders, reducing the need for the slot2 (GBA slot) cart.
It gives perfect compatibility for DS software, less cluttered and more power efficient compared to previous solutions.
The only thing you lose here is the ability to run GBA software (I mean home brew of course, no piracy.. no not me!). This too can be solved, using a reverse pass-through device to allow GBA software to run from the slot1 cart :)

That said, rumors floated around for an official media player based on one of these carts...

It has wi-fi give it a browser (3, Insightful)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#18450567)

If the DS in the US gets a browser that would basically make it kick so much more booty than it already does that I think even Batman might give it a slot in his belt.

And yes I agree with adding rumble to make it vibrate. Then Batgirl might give it a..yah...

Re:It has wi-fi give it a browser (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18451029)

And yes I agree with adding rumble to make it vibrate.

Rumble already exists. I got the rumble pak for free with Metroid Pinball. However, it's power is fairly weak.

Re:It has wi-fi give it a browser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18451091)

Seriously. The DS Lite is beautiful. I feel about mine the same way less dorky people feel about their iPods.

Re:It has wi-fi give it a browser (2, Interesting)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18452805)

Seriously. The DS Lite is beautiful. I feel about mine the same way less dorky people feel about their iPods.
The original DS was way too easy to dismiss as a plasticky child-oriented toy. I saw it, and kind of liked the idea, but in retrospect that was one of the things putting me off. Along with the release of games such as Dr.Kawashima and Big Brain Academy, the DS Lite's improved styling was probably responsible for making me reconsider. Superficial, sure, but I'm sure a lot of people felt that way too.

Anyway, I agree, the Lite looks great; I especially like the dual-layer casing. I'll even say (as I guy) that the pink one actually looks pretty nice. (Given how much I loathe most pink electronics- including the pink PS2 and PSPs- this may sound odd, but I think it's the styling combined with use of a paler pink- hot pink is fugly).

Re:It has wi-fi give it a browser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18455095)

the DS light is too small. I have average to larger sized hands and the original DS feels much better.

Re:It has wi-fi give it a browser (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18451129)

But both of those Things ALREADY exist. True, the browser hasn't hit the US yet, but it has been released. Also, the rumble pack just needs a lite makeover, but it's already been released state-side, too.

Re:It has wi-fi give it a browser (3, Informative)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 7 years ago | (#18451135)

Official release date for a browser is June 4. It's going to be a version of Opera.
http://press.nintendo.com/articles.jsp?id=11634 [nintendo.com]
http://www.opera.com/pressreleases/en/2006/02/15/ [opera.com]

The English language version of Opera is out (3, Informative)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#18453505)

An english language version of Opera is already on the shelves in the suburban shops in Australia - you could order it online and have it delivered by slow boat long before the release date. Since it's here the UK and a few other places probably have it too.

Re:The English language version of Opera is out (1)

vic.tz (1000138) | more than 7 years ago | (#18455241)

I bought the UK version on eBay, and I probably play the internet on my DS more than any other game now.

Re:The English language version of Opera is out (1)

Jtheletter (686279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18457033)

I bought the UK version on eBay, and I probably play the internet on my DS more than any other game now.

Best series-of-tubes game since Pipe Dream! [allgame.com]

Re:The English language version of Opera is out (1)

mbrubeck (73587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18459447)

I bought the UK version on eBay, and I probably play the internet on my DS more than any other game now.
Is the end guy hard [bash.org] ?

Re:It has wi-fi give it a browser (2, Interesting)

Gramie2 (411713) | more than 7 years ago | (#18453127)

I have a Japanese version of the Opera browser, and let me tell you, no one is seriously going to use the thing for surfing the web. It is dog slow. The front page of /. might take a minute, maybe two. Even though my connection is high speed, fetching and rendering takes you back to the days of 28.8K modems. It's cool that it can do it, but once you show off to your friends, it doesn't get used again.

Re:It has wi-fi give it a browser (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18453349)

Depends on how you use it. While I agree it's quite slow, it's still the smallest non-PDA/non-cellphone device with a real browser. If you use the RSS mode, it's a lot faster, too. And if you disable images, it's even faster. Opera users will know what I'm talking about (RSS is like switching to "user mode" instead of "author mode"). In RSS you get content in both screens (instead of 1:1 in one screen and zoomed content in the other screen), makes it easier to read content. Scrolling is a lot faster in RSS too.

I rather like the idea that carrying a Nintendo DS Lite + Opera DS in my pocket gives me web access in case I need it (if there's any open Wi-Fi spot nearby, of course). I won't carry a laptop for such cases and most cellphones suck (still stuck in WAP and/or cost a fortune per minute to access the web).

Re:It has wi-fi give it a browser (2, Informative)

grumbel (592662) | more than 7 years ago | (#18456979)

Get a flash card, copy DSlinux to it, telnet or ssh into the next computer and use links, w3m or links, not as pretty as Opera, but you won't have any issues with rendering speed.

Re:It has wi-fi give it a browser (1)

damagemanual (1072736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18456683)

I agree 100% I tried out the Japanese version a few months back. While I was happy to see that most of the popular pages (YouTube, Slashdot, Gmail) all worked. It was painfully slow to use. I think what made it worse was that it wasn't just the connection speed that was slow, there was a feeling of sluggishness with the entire package. I hope they've improved it for the US launch.

Re:It has wi-fi give it a browser (1)

Filmcell-Keyrings (973083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18464347)

I have the UK version (I am Scottish), and while its not fast, its fine for slashdot and sites that are mostly text - high graphics sites take time though. I had heard bad reports about how slow the Japanese version was before I bought mine, but I went ahead anyway, and I find it great for just checking little things while watching telly. I wouldn't want it as my only browser but I use it more than Opera on the Wii

Re:It has wi-fi give it a browser (1)

Xanlexian (122112) | more than 7 years ago | (#18456181)

Metroid Prime Pinball includes a 'rumble pack'.

But then, I can't use my M3/Perfect.

Re:It has wi-fi give it a browser (1)

Infe (52681) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460717)

> And yes I agree with adding rumble to make it vibrate. Then Batgirl might give it a..yah

Haven't you heard? Rumble is obsolete! Wouldn't you much rather they added tilt detection?

multipass (1)

llZENll (545605) | more than 7 years ago | (#18450699)

Creating an 'internal drive' is a big no no, it opens up piracy way too much, even if you can already do it with non-licensed stuff. What would be cool is a 8-32 slot cartride that you could stuff all your DS games into so they would always be plugged in, the GBA slot might be able to fit this, then no more shuffling and carrying those little game carts around.

Re:multipass (2, Interesting)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18457161)

I'd say even two DS slots would be great - so that you wouldn't have to carry cartridge in pocket.

I like to play several games simultaneously and it would be nice feat to be able start another game w/o need to dig in bag looking for another cartridge. (And probability to lose cartridge would be smaller too.)

More than two is better. But I think two slots would be sufficient for most scenarios.

Forced to upgrade? (4, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18450751)

People felt forced to upgrade to the DS Lite? Bullshit. People CHOSE to upgrade. It's a better, smaller system. It's more comfortable to hold, the screen is a lot bright and more colorful, and it's just over-all a better system. I upgrade only because I wanted to, not because there was some social pressure or something. There was certainly no pressure from Nintendo.

Re:Forced to upgrade? (1)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 7 years ago | (#18459917)

I quite like my original ds, never really liked the ds-lite excepting the awesomely bright screen, mainly due to the d-pad used and physical size is small for my liking.

anyways, nintendo ds browser, ds-lite only, there's an add-on gba cart for memory for it to use to function etc, I'm betting the only reason its lite-only is because of the smaller size of the gba-slot. I'd buy the browser in a moment if it wasn't for the fact I need a ds-lite for it, even though its more or less the exact same hardware. I'd consider that borderline "forced to upgrade" by artificial limitations

Re:Forced to upgrade? (1)

ksheff (2406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18468435)

I thought there was a regular DS version of the browser.

Re:Forced to upgrade? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18485739)

FWIW, there's no way for any (third party at least) software to even tell whether it's running on a DS or a DS Lite. This actually makes it quite hard to select colours for your game because the difference in screen brightness is so great.

Give it a Camera. (3, Interesting)

FMota91 (1050752) | more than 7 years ago | (#18450801)

a la Game Boy Camera. It should let you take pictures, movies, and talk online with "friends", and with the ability to talk through Skype.

I think it's a very good idea.

Re:Give it a Camera. (1)

malkir (1031750) | more than 7 years ago | (#18450849)

Maybe expand gameboy wifi, a little 30ft cell phone would be fun!

Re:Give it a Camera. (1)

dj_tla (1048764) | more than 7 years ago | (#18458423)

I'm not 100% sure if you're being sarcastic or not, but I think giving it a camera would be a pretty bad idea. At least, when you make the analogy to the game boy camera.

To clarify, the social aspect that you're talking about would be very nice, making the DS basically the video phone that we were all promised back in the 20th century (as long as we don't have to call each other by friend code...), but I think making a camera the way the game boy camera was made will never work. If this kind of thing were to fly, I would propose some way to make any old USB webcam work with the DS, some kind of USB to DS converter. Note that I have no technical knowledge of the two connections, so I am in no way saying that this would even be possible. But, if they were to release a video chat type program that I could just plug my existing webcam into, I would be very interested. If I had to buy a Nintendo one, I would probably say no thanks.

Even if it were possible though, I don't know what kind of worm can such a connector would open up; if it could work with webcams, who says we couldn't plug a 250gb external hard drive into it? If it were possible, I would think the DS homebrew community would have explored it by now. Still, it would be pretty cool.

So basically make it a PSP? (0)

feepness (543479) | more than 7 years ago | (#18450899)

But then wouldn't it cost more?

Unlike the PSP... (2, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18451469)

Unlike the PSP, the DS has games that twice as many people find worth playing. The systems aren't even that far apart in price (PSP: $200, DS Lite + R4DS expansion card for playing media from microSD cards: $170), so game quality must be at least a major factor.

Re:Unlike the PSP... (1)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 7 years ago | (#18452039)

If you don't bother we the expansion card (and personally, I don't know anyone with it), $130. PSP doesn't come with an SD card, so you need to buy one if you want to save games, there's more expense for that there too.

Re:Unlike the PSP... (1)

DarkJC (810888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18457077)

I swear the PSP came with a 32 MB Memory Stick, was that removed in later bundles?

Re:Unlike the PSP... (1)

mlk (18543) | more than 7 years ago | (#18458191)

I seam to remember having three choices when I bought mine.
1) Device, no case, no earphones, no memory card
2) Device, soft case, earphones, 32M memory card
3) Device, hard case, earphones, 1G memory card.

I went with option two, found out the earphones were useless on the tube (ear-safe or somesuch) and a 2G card on the internet was dirt cheep. Should had gone for option one.

Re:Unlike the PSP... (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#18459635)

I find it very bizarre that you talk about games "people find worth playing", and then include a microsd card reader with the DS price, despite that fact that the *vast* majority of DS owners have probably never heard of those devices, or have any interest in owning one...

Popular Science mentioned the microSD reader (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460129)

include a microsd card reader with the DS price, despite that fact that the *vast* majority of DS owners have probably never heard of those devices
If I didn't include the microSD reader, then people who use their PSP primarily as an iPod substitute would bitch about lack of feature parity between the DS and the PSP. Besides, Popular Science recently mentioned the microSD reader.

Easy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18451009)

You buy a 2nd one for your girlfriend and she'll shut the hell up so you can enjoy your DS even more!

Next question.

Re:Easy! (1)

Lane.exe (672783) | more than 7 years ago | (#18454021)

Yeah... that pink DS Lite was a drain on all our wallets, friend.

Imagine the perfect DS. What would it be like? (5, Funny)

Kawolski (939414) | more than 7 years ago | (#18451161)

It should be soft and cuddly.
...with lots of firepower!
...and it should have telescopes! No, periscopes! No, microscopes!

Re:Imagine the perfect DS. What would it be like? (1)

flitty (981864) | more than 7 years ago | (#18457971)

Give me a hug!

Three Screens! (2, Insightful)

freakmn (712872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18451981)

I know how to make the DS better! Three Screens! That is what makes it better than the PSP, isn't it?

All kidding aside, I'd say that the biggest issue that I have with it is the lack of WPA support for the wireless. In order to have wireless access, I need to either change the wireless settings on the router, or have a second router that uses WEP. I chose to have a second router that I only plug in when I want to play. The other issue that I've run into is that some public access points, such as at coffee shops, require a browser to connect to their service. There may be a workaround for it, in some cases, but it's still not that convenient to connect. I don't know if the browser "game" coming later will fix that, but it would be a good improvement. Overall, I think I'm happy with the DS, but it's not perfect.

Re:Three Screens! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18452845)

I've actually got a Safe@Office at home with a "Power Pack" license. That lets me run up to three virtual access points from it plus one native AP, all with different crypto settings and everything. I've got all of my computers on a WPA'd network, then a filtered network just for my DS, my boyfriend's, and some other game-related things we have. It's quite a nice little setup. Though the router would cost most people something like $2000. ;-)

Include WPA ASAP. (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18452869)

All kidding aside, I'd say that the biggest issue that I have with it is the lack of WPA support for the wireless.
They *really* ought to do something about that ASAP. Given what I've heard about WEP, I don't think I'd feel comfortable advising anyone to leave their router on that setting; and turning on and off is a PITA (as well as being a minor security hole for the duration).

Would it be possible to include this capability with a firmware upgrade, or will it need new hardware (in which case us existing owners are out of luck)?

Re:Include WPA ASAP. (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#18459595)

Unfortunately, the firmware cannot be upgraded without closing a contact buried inside the case. The device was not designed to be field-upgradable.

Re:Three Screens! (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18453445)

> I know how to make the DS better! Three Screens!

What the heck, it worked for razors.

WiFi: Support for more than WEP (2, Insightful)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 7 years ago | (#18452193)

For instance, WPA/WPA2 support would be nice.

Re:WiFi: Support for more than WEP (1)

Graftweed (742763) | more than 7 years ago | (#18459745)

This is probably on the top of my wish list too. I wonder how many people, like me, aren't willing to compromise the security of their home network by enabling WEP on them?

The wireless connection on the DS is nifty, but presently it's useless for the security conscious.

Re:WiFi: Support for more than WEP (1)

Winckle (870180) | more than 7 years ago | (#18480561)

As I am in this situation, I use MAC address filtering, it's a bit more secure I know, but how vulnerable am I? I honestly don't know.

Re:WiFi: Support for more than WEP (1)

Graftweed (742763) | more than 7 years ago | (#18481021)

Well, WEP has already been demonstrated to be _extremely_ insecure, up to the point of an attacker cracking the WEP key in minutes, which is exactly what gave rise to WPA/WPA2. It deters casual intrusion, nothing more, and it won't stop a determined attacker by any means.

As for MAC filtering, it's also pretty useless since it's almost trivial to spoof a MAC address. An attacker only has to listen to legitimate network traffic to determine an authorized MAC address and then spoof it. I don't even have it enabled on my access point.

Sorry to sound so dire, but WPA/WPA2 is really the only viable security measure :)

I think Nintendo might have been aiming for DS usage on public hotspots, rather than in secure networks.

Simply integrate the already existing parts (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18453185)

It's quite easy.

Take the Nintendo DS Lite
build the Play-Yan micro into it (mp3 audio and mp4 video support, but expanded to the DS screen size, also add JPEG viewer support) with built-in SD card slot
add Opera DS (with built-in Opera DS + RAM carts), so you don't have to carry DS+GBA carts to have Opera on the system.

Add basic PDA functions (address book, calendar) which can sync in standard files over USB2 which mounts as a regular drive, i.e. OS-independant.

Overkill/impossible? Aside from the JPEG viewer and PDA functions, you can already have it all, and all from official Nintendo hardware. It's just not built into the DS.

Re:Simply integrate the already existing parts (1)

logic hack (800754) | more than 7 years ago | (#18453993)

Done. R4 card + microSD card + moonshell + DSOrganize

Re:Simply integrate the already existing parts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18456623)

Only that DSOrganize, despite its name, is a crap organizer: No end times on dates, no day-spanning events, no repeating events, the address book sucks, and there is no syncing facility (apart from copying over VCF files). So it can play MP3s and MODs. That's nice, but if I want an organizer, do I care? No.

And Moonshell requires re-encoding of videos, which takes ages. A (possibly hardware-aided) MPEG4 player would be much better.

Re:Simply integrate the already existing parts (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18457257)

Guys, you really need a PDA [apple.com] .

Please please please, leave DS for games.

P.S. Or go buy PSP. Because all what you have said is only what PSP is good for. And it is definitely overall good deal. Though games... But you do not ask for games! You want MP3/MP4/Opera/etc!! WTF. No games? Move on people. We are talking here about "portable game platforms", not cheap handicapped PDAs.

Re:Simply integrate the already existing parts (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 7 years ago | (#18458359)

But you do not ask for games! You want MP3/MP4/Opera/etc!! WTF. No games?

The question is "What would you change about the DS to make it an even better device?". I don't think you'll find many people who would respond with "It should be able to play games".

It already plays games. We know that. But what else could it potentially do as well?

Re:Simply integrate the already existing parts (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18458785)

Then my personal list would pretty short:

1. Remove damm mic. Some stupid games try to use it.

2. Make "Start" & "Select" buttons larger - as they were in original DS. DS Lite they are smaller and hard to press. Some games require you press them often (e.g. Castlevania) and thumb start aching pretty soon into the battles.

3. Add second DS slot so that two game cartridges may be inserted simultaneously. (Probably by killing off GBA slot - it's useless anyway.) That would let me in 95% situations avoid stocking DS games in my pockets. I generally carry around one or two games with me, and if they would be all the time plugged into DS itself it would be just great.

N. Do not turn DS into PSP. Leave it simple. DS is first device I have seen female auditory can and actually does use. And enjoy it. Do NOT turn it into PSP, please.

Probably Nintendo might think about releasing bumped up but costlier version of DS with another firmware supporting SD/SDHC/MP3/MP4/JPEG/etc, leaving baseline version as it is now: simple, slim, cheap and dedicated to games.

Re:Simply integrate the already existing parts (2, Interesting)

Bwana Geek (1033040) | more than 7 years ago | (#18459703)

Hmmm... My thoughts on your list are as follows:

1. I agree the mic is annoying ("@#!* you Kawashima, I said BLUE!"), but I doubt it's going anywhere.

2. Yes. I never had an original DS, but those buttons are way too freakin' small.

3. If they added a second DS slot (which I would love), it would probably go up top. They will never get rid of the GBA slot because -- contrary to your belief -- that slot is very useful. The GBA has a huge library of games that ALL work on the DS. Perhaps more importantly, there are many DS games where you get extra functionality if you have the right GBA cart inserted. One word: Pokémon. They would never get away with taking away the ability to import all your creatures from the previous games -- the franchise is way too popular.

4. I agree, keep it simple. But a browser, appointment book, notepad, etc. all seem entirely feasible (I'm less convinced about all the media capabilities people are talking about; I agree they should just get a PSP if they want that). I doubt any of these changes will come for the current generation, but I would be very surprised if they weren't a part of the DS2.

Re:Simply integrate the already existing parts (1)

Drey (1420) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461017)

> "@#!* you Kawashima, I said BLUE!"

Wow, not just me he can't understand. I usually just hit the "I can't speak" button rather than get that test.

Re:Simply integrate the already existing parts (1)

Bwana Geek (1033040) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461301)

Yeah. Sometimes I can get it okay. But I have to pronounce the words in what feels to me an unnatural way. I just use the test selection cheat and play my favourite tests instead. The Voice Calculation exercise seems to work much better -- the main problem I have with that one is simply answering a problem before the game is ready for it. Although, sometimes I give an incorrect answer and it assumes I meant something else and gives it to me anyways. Apparently, "one" and "seven" are indistinguishable...

I think the microphone works best for games where all it needs to recognize is the player blowing into it or making a simple sound.

Re:Simply integrate the already existing parts (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 7 years ago | (#18486187)

DS Organize has organizer functions, overall homebrew adds some amazing stuff, dsorganize in its latest incarnation adds a text html browser, the scummvm adds a load of adventuregames which feel like a match made in heaven. moonshell adds a decent mp3 playing and overall media playing functionality.

The feature I'd like to see... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18453369)

I'd like the DS to be able to communicate with the Wii (via Wi-Fi) in the same way a GBA communicated with the GameCube (via the connect cable). That way, if I'm playing a GameCube game (like Crystal Chronicles or Zelda:Four Swords) that, in the past, utilized GBAs as "controllers", I can have multiple players wirelessly connected through DSs instead. I think this feature would be very reasonable to add... it seems like it would mostly take a system update on the Wii (though that is just a guess).

ergonomics... (2, Interesting)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18453619)

I have yet to play a handheld that was anywhere as ergonomic as a console controller. The Logitech PS2 controller I have is amazing, so are the GCN controllers and the 360 controllers. Even the Wiimote/nunchuck, which I (although very excited) was worried was going to be hard to hold, I don't have any problem playing with for hours on end. But handhelds are still in the stone age, as far as ergonomics are concerned. They're slightly better than an NES controller... but wow, that's not saying much.

It's a tough one, how do you make a handheld that's ergonomic enough to play for hours on end, while at the same time being regularly enough shaped to be able to fit in a small space.

Re:ergonomics... (1)

DanTheManMS (1039636) | more than 7 years ago | (#18453927)

The regular Gameboy Advance was great for ergonomics, at least for me, and it is partly because of this that I never upgraded to a GBA SP or GB Micro. The frontlighting/backlighting and rechargeable batteries would have been very nice, yes, but I wasn't about to give up the ability to play for hours without hand cramps.

This is also why I chose a DS Phat over a DS Lite. Sure, the screen isn't as bright, and the stylus is smaller, but I like the ergonomics more.

Re:ergonomics... (1)

Yoozer (1055188) | more than 7 years ago | (#18455883)

It's a tough one, how do you make a handheld that's ergonomic enough to play for hours on end, while at the same time being regularly enough shaped to be able to fit in a small space.
A (wireless?) remote control for the games that allow this. I'd love to have a DS, but I hate the joypad and the cramped interface. It may be kind of weird - but not so weird if you think that laptops also come with laptop mice; it's simply a better interface if you have a quiet enough environment for it (e.g. playing it in the back of a car). Distances are small anyway so no need to put in a battery-burning transmitter.

In several games (platformers) the stylus isn't needed and the touchscreen is just extra map space/overview, so having a SNES-like joystick (with better ergo of course) would be ideal for Sonic, Mario, etc.

Here's a thought... (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461393)

They already have a great all-purpose pad... the Virtual Console Controller. Simply make a plug for that, and allow games to recieve data from the device.

But this won't happen, for a number of reasons. First off, the plug for the VCC is HUGE, so there'd have to be an adaptor, which gets more complicated than Nintendo is comfortable with. Secondly, it'd kill the whole purpose behind the DS: the touch screen. Before you know it, game manufacturer's would be slipping back into old habits and have analog control as the primary input. In a perfect world, we'd see both input styles, used side by side, but Nintendo is trying to wein game developers off their old habits by not providing them with the old input devices, and so far, it's worked like a charm.

I think by next generation, however, developers will be comfortable enough with the touch screen interface, that Nintendo can bring back analog sticks, and I expect to see a pair of them on the next handheld (Nintendo is insistant about being equally attentive to the needs of left-handed people, especially since some of their primary developers are left handed). It's not impossible to imagine the inclusion a fairly standard, though small, analog stick with indentations in the clamshell to house them when closed.

But I think it would be best if, for a handheld, they started with a simple controller, like the VCC, and then designed the screen into that form so that the basic feel is similar to that of a normal game controller. Obviously, they'd have to make it wider to accomidate for the screen(s). As it is, the buttons are just too damn close to the edge of the moulding, so that you have to balance the unit on your fingers. I have fairly small hands, but even it's uncomfortable for me. The Lite is slightly better, for some reason, and my left hand doesn't end up falling asleep after 5 minutes like it did with the Phat.

Re:ergonomics... (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 7 years ago | (#18466599)

I have yet to see a console controller that will easily fit in my pocket.

Re:ergonomics... (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18466773)

Which is more important? For me, I've usually got a bag on me... so I'd MUCH rather take ergonomics over size, any day.

I just don't think it's possible to design something that's small enough to fit in your pocket, yet still be ergonomic enough to hold and operate for long periods of time.

I'd rather see a slightly larger handheld with enough plastic to get my fingers around in a comfortable fashion, yet be about the same weight (or possibly slightly more) than your average console controller. This isn't just a question of hand size either, it's a question of shape, a perfect rectangle is just awkward.

I don't think pockets should really be any sort of measure, anyway. Almost everyone has some kind of bag if they've got enough forsite to bring their handheld game console with them. Where do you put the games? Where do you put all the other things that you're going to be needing, if you're out long enough to have any need to play a game?

iPods get away with it because:
a) you don't hold and operate them for long periods of time at a stretch.
b) they need to be even more "pick up" and "put down" friendly than a game system, since many people simply go jogging with them, without carrying anything else. I can't remember the last time I was out with a game system without anything else to carry.

Great ideas! (1)

ravyne (858869) | more than 7 years ago | (#18453717)

There are a lot of great suggestions in there.
  • Flash. Better yet, removable flash, SD to be exact. This is the key to the DS being able to support a Virtual Console-like feature. And since we've got the memory now. How about an integrated music/video player?
  • Camera. Integrate it so that it can face front or back so you can use the screen as a view-finder or so your opponents can see you as you play. Great possibility for some innovation there as well.
  • Virtual Console. Seriously guys, the DS is more than capable of running the vast majority console games up through the SNES, and any prior handheld as well. I'd love to see some gameboy classics brought back through GB Color emulation, some portable SNES/NES goodness and some GameGear / Master System greats revived as well.

It may be too late for the DS to gain all these things in an official way (Though a special cartridge would be a possibility) but at the very least I hope Nintendo can keep these in mind for their next portable.

Re:Great ideas! (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18457373)

Virtual Console.

OMG. I think everybody got enough of that "old timer" crap on Wii. End result isn't that good: few new Wii games released - and all what is pushed up is the sentimental junk.

Though of course downloadable games are imminent: WiFi in DS paid off and Nintendo would definitely investigate possibility to make games even more cheaper and accessible. So I think what you say would eventually come true. I just hope it would NOT become another trash collector as Wii's VC.

As for camera. I'm not social type and camera to me is another useless add-on (just like mic now) which only drains battery. (And you do not need camera in ad-hoc scenario (e.g. party) - and that's what most people do right now.)

This list wasn't quite right (2, Interesting)

TwistedSpring (594284) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461531)

While I agree with many of the points the article raised, I have (I think) some more important ones.

1) 802.11g with WPA encryption. Nintendo's official response to this is pretty much "go screw yourself!" but I'm prevented from using many wifi features due to using WPA on my WLAN.

2) Better use of wifi technology. The initial menus should show any DS users in range and what game they're playing when the system boots. Then you should be able to ask to join their game (provided you insert the right cart) by touching one of the games. That main boot menu is unused most of the time because people simply hit the button that starts the game they have inserted. I've seen so many people with a DS on the train when I have mine in my bag, but I can never tell what game they're playing and it's kind of annoying for me to ask them to quit so I could give them a game. Conversely, if a message scrolled past saying "Steve wants to join your game, press START to allow it" (without interrupting their play) they would probably allow it and we might even strike up a conversation afterwards. We can already play strangers on Nintendo WFC, why can't we do it with some agility in ad-hoc play?

3) Don't lock-up the OS when I pop out the cart. This is ridiculous. The system menus boot from ROM and I should be able to swap games without crashing the initial menu system. This is a requirement for point 2 to work. There are interrupts that fire when a cart is removed, but the DS firmware doesn't seem to handle them.

4) The DS browser is very slow due to lack of system memory. An official way of expanding the memory (like a mini SD slot or *officially supported* mini-SD expansion cart for the GBA slot) would be a nice feature.

5) Improve the sound quality, I have no problem with the visuals but the sound quality isn't really good enough for MP3s on headphones. 44khz sampling rates at 16bit would be nice.

6) Allow me to download demos of games with the browser and stream mp3 audio like web radio.

7) Give me a custom avatar to store in my personal data instead of making me draw a different one in every game.

8) Keep everything else as it is and don't try to turn it into a PDA.

DS PDA (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 7 years ago | (#18462453)

How about making PDA software? It's pocket-sized, has a stylus, includes an on-screen keyboard program, and has Wi-Fi support. It's everythign I've wanted in a PDA - except it has no PDA software.

Support for GB/GBC games (1)

Perseid (660451) | more than 7 years ago | (#18463129)

I know it isn't going to happen. And I know most people don't care. But I still want it. :)

Best improvement? (1)

Is0m0rph (819726) | more than 7 years ago | (#18464313)

A slot 1 flash card like the R4, Supercard DS One, M3 Simply, etc. Then you can turn the DS into a PDA, play MP3s, stop carrying game carts around, etc.

Virtual Console (1)

Drfruitloop (929566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18465519)

Just give it an extra 256MB of RAM and use a virtual console-like service and let us download N64 games. Perfect Dark over Wi-Fi!

Cosmetic adjustment? NO. (1)

yoyhed (651244) | more than 7 years ago | (#18465797)

From the summary:

felt forced to upgrade to the DS Lite - itself only a cosmetic adjustment.
Um, NO. I could not fucking see my DS Fat in most lighting conditions, accidentally turning it off instead of pressing Start was common, it was too heavy/big to be carried around in a pocket, the battery life wasn't as good, the stylus was too small to handle precisely and comfortably, and the buttons were too flat and clicky. The DS Lite is MUCH more than a cosmetic adjustment.

Re:Cosmetic adjustment? NO. (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482347)

Why did you buy the DS?

It sounds awful.

Re:Cosmetic adjustment? NO. (1)

yoyhed (651244) | more than 7 years ago | (#18484955)

Haha, that's a good question. It actually did suck for the most part when it came out, because in addition to those hardware problems, there were no good games. Nowadays though, the DS Lite is great hardware and there are plenty of great games. Not that I own one anymore, as I usually gravitate back toward only PC gaming and sell my consoles. I'm also not a fan of the lack of depth in most portable games.

Re:Cosmetic adjustment? NO. (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 7 years ago | (#18486213)

Actually I liked my DS Phat, and still have it, this thing basically is a bombshell, you cannot break it. Perfect match if you go for harder conditions and want some gaming with you. The DS light is way better, I agree, although for long gaming sessions the hands also cramp (every portable console has this problem) I simply have both, for normal use the light, and for heavy conditions the phat, add to that that multiplaying is only possible with 2+ dses... this combo is perfect for guests.
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