At the beginning of the year, we got a Nintendo DS to improve the then seven-year-old’s quality of life on the long flight to our Australian vacation. Recently I bought the just-released Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass, and have put in a little time fooling with it.

The DS is a dinky, slow, limited platform, and the experience will never be immersive. Having said that, Zelda’s quite a bit of fun. The UI is radical; you do everything with the stylus on the touch-screen. It uses the other DS capabilities cleverly, too: the map’s on the upper screen, only you can swap screens to scribble notes and landmarks on the map. And to open some doors, you have to blow out candles; so hold the DS up to your face for some huffing and puffing; remember the microphone?

The boy is having trouble. Some of the puzzles require stopping to think and reading the clues carefully, with attention to detail. If he could upgrade his skills in those areas, that would really improve his quality of life. So I’m cheerleading, helping him through the tough bits and hoping he gets the message.

And occasionally picking up the DS for an hour or two when everyone’s gone to bed. Taste the boomerang of death, monsters!



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From: Luiz Rocha (Oct 14 2007, at 08:03)

DS is indeed a limited platform, but I don't see this as a bad thing. A handful of cool things can be born out of a limited platform.

The classic, 8-bit era videogames (NES, Sega Master System) were limited as hell, but games were entertaining.

And while on the subject, if you guys are enjoying Zelda, you should try Final Fantasy III as well. You may like it.

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From: Aristotle Pagaltzis (Oct 15 2007, at 14:09)

I pulled three lost comments from my archive of the comment feed. In chronological order:

Kevin Marks:

Don't underestimate the DS - Andrew showed me the other day that Pokemon has built in voice chat over wifi between players... the way it uses wifi and zeroconf for multiplayer is very impressive.

Other recommended games: Animal Crossing, Brain Age and Tetris - all have good multiplayer versions.

Martin McCallion:

Yes, you should see the way my now-ten-year-old gets immersed in it. And it's very social when he gets together with his friends and they play together wirelessly. He doesn't have that game, mind you, but I can support the recommendation of Animal Crossing.

Dave Mackie:

I'm glad to hear the Zelda is good. That's definitely on my list of "games to get".

I don't know that I'd call the DS that limited of a platform, though. My understanding is that it's basically an N64 stuffed into a very small container. While the graphics will never be top-notch (if only b/c the small screen), some of the first-party games get quite a bit out of it.

Now the Gameboy, that's a pretty dinky platform. I gave my daughter one of those (I have the DS), and the difference between something like Mario Kart DS and the Gameboy version is just unbelievable.

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