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.

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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!

PlayStation 2 Retrospective

-by Dylan DiBona

In case you missed it, I spoke on the GameCube how it’s small success still left a huge impact on players around the world. Funny thing is, I didn’t grow up with a GameCube. I was a dedicated Sony kid who loved his PlayStation 2. The only “bad” thing about my early PS2 experiences was my complete lack of taste. I was busy with licensed games like Jimmy Neutron: Attack of the Twonkies. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized just how important the PS2 is.

The Immeasurable Library

Image result for ps2Being the highest selling system at a stunning 155 million units is more than just an achievement, it was a sign of something bigger- a console with an immeasurable library

The PlayStation 2 was the birthplace of many Sony staple series like Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, Dark Cloud, Kingdom Hearts and Katamari. Unfortunately only two of those series (Ratchet & Kingdom Hearts) still live today with new entries, but if you were there to play those games at the time, there was nothing quite like it.  Do I even need to mention the Guitar Hero craze?

Already existing series still thrived on the system, Grand Theft Auto made a momentous shift to 3D, Metal Gear Solid wrapped up a powerful trilogy and Final Fantasy X made a huge splash at the time.

Socially Relevant

There may be no other system except for the Wii and DS that were so socially relevant. Everyday me and my best friend down the block would play some PlayStation 2. We would discuss simple cosmetic aspects of the games and then go outside to pretend that we were heroes. Those games pumped imagination into our little minds and for that I am eternally grateful. A lot of the time my friend would have me just watch and support him, but even watching PlayStation 2 games was a blast.

I still vividly remember going to another friends house and learning that Spider-Man wasn’t just a movie character- he had games! Playing Spider-Man 2 all day and then going out to the kitchen to eat Kid Cuisine is a memory I never want to shake. Another friend of mine showed me Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas; needless to say I was stunned games could do that. We would laugh and then look for the rumored Bigfoot for hours.

My non-gaming sister sometimes invited friends over to play Crazy Taxi down in our basement. Even if you didn’t have any family members who played games, odds are they used the system to play DVDs. It’s objective to say that the PlayStation 2 was a cultural stamp of the early 2000’s. But how is it today?

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Not my cup of tea, but amazing art.

The Library Today

It’s my personal belief that plenty of the literal hundreds of good PS2 games that came out at the time were just that- good at the time. I picked up the entire Ratchet and Clank trilogy for PS2 and had a great time, but they aren’t mind-blowing games by today’s standards. Part of the reason I like the Super Nintendo so much is because I believe that there are a lot of games that still stand up today as the best ever on it. As I got older I realized that there were still amazing games to be found on the PS2, and so I still delve into the library today.

Persona 3 and 4 stand out as landmark JRPGs, some of the greatest of it’s genre for focus on story and unique social gameplay aspects. Shadow of the Colossus as of this day is still unique for it’s enormous boss battles and ambiguous story. Silent Hill 2 is usually #1 on Top Horror Games lists. In short- there are plenty of reason to still click that hard black switch on your PlayStation 2.

What seemed like millions of amazing games when we were kids may actually just be twenty or less masterpieces today. But you know what? That’s still truly remarkable. The PlayStation 2 undoubtedly left the biggest mark that any gaming console could- and it deserved to.

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Any fellow PlayStation 2 lovers here? What are your favorite games that stand strong today for the system? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply!

 

GameCube Retrospective

-by Dylan DiBona

Growing with a PlayStation 2, I had no idea that there were other consoles, and I didn’t even know what companies really were. I became aware of Nintendo when I was given a Game Boy Advance SP for Christmas one year, I then realized there was such a thing as a GameCube. A GameCube seemed kind of silly to me, the discs were puny and it had none of my favorite games. There was no Kingdom Hearts on GameCube, no Jak and Daxter or Ratchet and Clank. Why would I ever get a GameCube?

About a decade later in late high school I became infatuated with Nintendo and it’s IPs, having run out of patience for Nintendo to put GameCube games on the Wii U Virtual Console, I decided to hunt online for a GameCube and a copy of Super Mario Sunshine. I don’t play my GameCube too much but I just ordered a game for it online and somehow I’m feeling nostalgic over the little purple cube.

A Special Little Club
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The PlayStation 2 still stands as the highest selling video game console ever made, with a whopping 121 million consoles sold worldwide. The GameCube in comparison sold only 21 million, a measly one sixth of Sony’s sales. For most middle class families, having more than one console was a daydream, and for parents unnecessary. If you had a GameCube you were stuck with it, but that’s not a negative at all.With such a small consumer base by comparison, the GameCube seemed like a special little club; everybody at school was talking about the hot new PS2 games but only a few about GameCube games. Mind you this is coming from a Sony kid back in the sixth generation. I look back at GameCube owners with a slight tint of jealousy. My favorite video game company took a few interesting side steps with their purple box; they weren’t trying to be revolutionary like they would be forever after- the GameCube was Nintendo’s last console where they were just trying to make games, not history. That’s not to say that Nintendo today is bad, quite the contrary, but something about their sixth generation system had charm.

Trying New ThingsImage result for luigi's mansion

For the first time in two generations, a hot new Mario game didn’t launch with Nintendo’s new system; and when it did he wasn’t exploring castles and the Mushroom Kingdom- he was in the tropical locale of Isle Delfino. Instead his little brother Luigi took the responsibility of having a launch title with my favorite GameCube game, Luigi’s Mansion. It’s an odd but fun and charming action-adventure game and it’s considered a cult classic within the realm of Nintendo games.

New and important IPs for Nintendo were birthed on the GameCube. Pikmin 1&2 gave players a highly strategic adventure alongside cheerful music and beautiful scenery. Even if in Japan it started on the N64, Animal Crossing came to the rest of the world on the GameCube.

Also unusual for the company was it’s newest rendition of Super Smash Bros. In Melee it was all about speed, skill and competition, a mindset Nintendo would ditch in the near future. They also countered their N64 mistake of no Metroid with not one but two critically acclaimed games: Metroid Prime 1&2. This duo may very well be the most respected GameCube games to this day, with many considering 1 to be one of the finest games ever crafted. Ever hear of Fire Emblem? Of course not because the series didn’t hit the west until this generation. Fire Emblem Path of Radiance is remembered fondly by fans of the series for it’s intriguing story and combat. Without revolutionary technology, it certainly seemed like Nintendo was trying new things.

The Rare Third Party Exclusives

I could go on and on about the first party exclusives and how Nintendo really was spicing things up (a Donkey Kong bongo drum game and a cartoonish Zelda?!), but let’s move onto third party content. It obviously didn’t seem like a smart business move to have exclusives for the GameCube due to its consumer base, but a lot of companies did it anyway. I really can’t imagine the joy that Nintendo fans had in the early 2000’s when they finally got a non-Mario, non- Zelda, heck non-Nintendo game exclusive to their GameCube. Often labeled one of the greatest game remakes, the GameCube exclusive remake of Resident Evil offered fans a taste greatly different from Nintendo games.

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Imagine how it must’ve felt to tell PlayStation 2 owners that you had a such a “cool” and “mature” game that they didn’t. Want more horror? Try Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, a genuinely unique action-adventure game that plays with spooks, scares and the concept of going insane. The likely case for GameCube owners is that they had an N64, therefore missing out on PS1 classics. As if Resident Evil wasn’t enough, Metal Gear Solid Twin Snakes is a much loved remake of the original Metal Gear Solid. How about Viewtiful Joe? Tales of Symphonia? Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles? There are plenty more but I only wanted to bring up names that are often mentioned today. The rare third party exclusives that were of quality really must’ve been something special to all the Nintendo fans in the day.

I remember going down the block and visiting a friend who had a GameCube. It was after I got my GameBoy so I was familiar with the idea of Nintendo. We would play Super Mario Sunshine, The Simpsons Hit & Run and Pokémon X D Gale of Darkness (another unique spin on a Nintendo IP).

I miss those days, and later this week when I boot up that small purple lunchbox and hear that iconic starting jingle, I’ll remember them fondly.

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So do we have any GameCube fans here? Let me know your favorite games or memories with the system down below! I’d love to hear them. I’ll do my best to try and reply. As always, thanks for reading.