Nintendo DS Retrospective

-by Dylan DiBona

Was there anything quite like the Nintendo DS before it showed up? Nintendo has always been the king of the handheld video game market; it’s the sales of their handhelds that still keep them as the number one hardware seller in video games.

The Game Boy and Game Boy Color sold a combined total of 118 million units. These systems revolutionized portable gaming with addicting titles such as Tetris and of course Pokémon.

The Game Boy Advance sold a smaller 81 million units. This finale to the Game Boy line brought us interesting installments in age old series like The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap and Metroid Fusion. Castlevania started its golden age and multiple Super Nintendo classics were brought to the handheld.

And then there was the Nintendo DS.

Standing at a whopping 154 million units sold, the Nintendo DS is not just obviously the best selling handheld system ever made, it’s the second best selling system period. The DS was not even one million units away from topping the PlayStation 2 as highest selling system.

But lets get away from the statistics and jump into the more important things; the games and memories.

The Games

I couldn’t possibly list every noteworthy game on the DS. Legends were born like Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright (in the West), older series were pushed to new limits with the touchscreen a la Kirby Canvas Curse and The Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass. Tons of new ideas and hidden gems were put onto the system like 999: 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors, and Radiant Historia. I haven’t (yet) played half the games I listed, but just go online and you’ll find non-stop chatter about them

Then there were the pieces of software that even appealed to the non-gamer:

The DS was not just a gaming system; it was a lifestyle spice you could carry in your pocket.

We’re talking about a revolution here. With a genius clam shell design and no more need for silly cables, connecting with friends and playing together was easier than ever. Much like with the Wii, this was a system even the non-gaming community bought and tried, because it seemed like a entertainment system rather than just a video game box (a goal Nintendo was trying to reach even in the NES days).

The graphics may not be the prettiest and the sound in my opinion, iconically choppy, but that doesn’t come close to mattering when it came to what the DS represented for enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds.

The Memories

In my elementary school, we had this thing called “The Christmas Pageant” where all classes would put on a 3-5 performance with the theme of Christmas. It was a small private school where each class was only about thirty kids, we all knew each other.

Before and after our time on stage, we got to hang out in our classroom and play DS together. It wasn’t just the boys; girls joined the circle with their pink DS’ and played Mario Kart DS with us. My golden lab in Nintendogs would have virtual playdates with my classmates puppies, and of course we had Pokémon battles.

Image result for white ds lite

Although my first model was the blocky blue one, I’ll never forget my first true handheld love: my white DS Lite. One of the worst days in my childhood was my father telling me he washed it with the laundry because it was in my pocket (you know, the place a handheld gaming machine would be). I was devastated and moved away from the DS. A few months later my dad felt bad and bought me a used gray fat original model. It was a major step backwards for eleven year old me, I wish I cherished that third DS more. The only game I remember being really excited for when I had that ugly gray box was the remake of Pokémon Gold & Silver. God was it a big deal, better graphics and music, two regions and the Pokéwalker! I’ll never forget waking my dad up way too early for him, begging him to drag me to Gamestop and running down the sidewalk to pick up my preorder. When I got home, I jammed myself into a cardboard house I had built in my room and played for hours, I chose Chikorita.

But probably an even more powerful memory for me, and an even more important entry in the series (for me again) was Pokémon Diamond & Pearl. Let me paint you a picture:

I was nine. Me and my dad were in a hotel room, I don’t remember why. I thought my favorite game in the world, Pokémon Leafgreen, was a standalone game. I didn’t have access to the internet or do any research on games before they appeared on shelves. It was dark in the room and I had control over the only source of light, a cruddy CR-TV. Commercials came on, monsters were attacking my home city of New York (at least I think it was New York). It was this:

Months later my parents lied to me and told me we were going shopping all day in the city (how boring!). But really they surprised me with a Diamond & Pearl parade Nintendo was hosting. At that moment I realized what a franchise was, what Nintendo was, and what my DS was- a portal to another world. I’ll never forget those memories, they’re beautiful but also bring a pain of their own because I’ll never be a like that again.

What was the Nintendo DS?

The Nintendo DS wasn’t just a handheld system, it was a way of connection. Pokémon, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Zelda, Mario, Kirby, Advance Wars, Monster Tale, Animal Crossing, Scribblenauts, The World Ends With You and so, so much more.

It was a success. It is a legend. It is memories. It is fun.

There is nothing like the Nintendo DS, and I never thought I would fall in love with another handheld quite the same way, but then a certain three dimensional sibling came along…


So guys what do you think about the Nintendo DS? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply! As always, thanks for reading!

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5 thoughts on “Nintendo DS Retrospective

  1. I loved reading this! And it’s funny timing considering that I just bought a DSi to play Pokemon Pearl! 🙂

    I never had the fat boy DS (and truth be told, even for collecting purposes I’m not really interested. It looks like a bad prototype!) but boy did this system change a lot of things. The touch screen before the touch screen was everywhere. Two screens!? Unheard of! The DS Lite was a gorgeous model and was my first one. So many fond memories of that thing, but it was also around the time I went on my long Nintendo hiatus.

    Since getting into the 3DS two years ago, I’ve been systematically acquiring all of the games from the DS era that I missed. Since I currently have 3 systems to play them on, at this rate I’ll have enough games to fill up my whole retirement!

    Great retrospective, as always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like you had some great memories with the DS! I was lucky enough to get it the day it was released because my husband worked at Circuit City. He put the shipment away and hid one so he could buy it when he was off the clock. He was going to save it for me for Christmas, but he couldn’t keep it a secret for a month, so he just gave it to me when he got home lol! I still love it to this day! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hmm… it’s hard to pick because I have so many games for it, but let’s see…
        Animal Crossing: Wild World
        Clubhouse Games
        the 3 Guitar Hero Games (even though they killed my hands lol!)
        Kirby Super Star Ultra
        Mario Kart DS
        Super Mario 64 DS
        The Urbz: Sims in The City
        Wario Ware: Touched!
        That’s the short list! There are so many games I love for the DS. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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