Is the Nintendo DS Lite Any Good?

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Unbeatable.co.uk takes a in-depth look at the Nintendo DS Lite, the latest handheld games console from Japan.

The old king is dead; long live the DS Lite. The gaming industry is a fickle market, constantly on the move but it seems like the new King has arrived. The much awaited Nintendo DS Lite has been a long time coming and finally it's arrived over here in Britain. After much anticipation it could have been a let down but luckily, we've not been left disappointed. Everything there was to dislike about the original Nintendo DS has been thrown in the bin and what's left is a sleek, stylish, mean machine that works really well and has plenty of gaming scope. While it might not have all the extras the PSP has, this is King console in our book.

The white clamshell exterior of the Nintendo DS Lite is a joy to look at. It's calling out to be stroked it looks so gorgeously touchy-feely. While there is a black version available there's no point of fighting against the fashion trend of the naughties – after all white is the colour this season. The rounded edges of the Lite simply add to the esthetical appeal and the small dinky controls are small enough not to be over-facing but not too small that it ruins your gaming experience. The light weight (it’s 20 per cent lighter than the DS at 230g) makes it ideal for carrying around.

There’s nothing fancy about setting up. There’s no downloading of programmes or extra gadgets to attach – just switch on and start playing. The only likely problem is when the DS Lite is initially switched on the text is in Japanese which unfortunately no one at Unbeatable speaks. But it is easy to get to the universal section and change the language to plain ‘ol English. From there it's a case of either popping in the new DS Lite cartridge at the back or an older game in the front socket to start playing.

This is going to light up your life (pardon the bad pun but we couldn’t resist)– thanks to its brighter screen. The DS Lite has four brightness settings and at its brightest it sparkles with vivid colours, as if it’s been stroked by the high-definition brush.

There are two tiered screens, of which the bottom one is touch screen. It might feel too flimsy under your fingers in which case there is a stylus which is thicker and longer than the original (and lives in a hole on the side of the machine) and surprisingly while the Lite is smaller than its big brother the screen is still a decent size at 5.25 inches wide. The stylus also doubles up as a doodling pen, if you get bored of games you can use it to draw a picture and then with the built-in PictoChat send it over to a mate and bring a smile to their face.

All DS Lites come with region free support and multiple languages allowing you to swap and change and play games from any country – who knows as well as working out your thumbs you might even improve your foreign vocabulary.

The Wi-Fi system on the Lite is great - without having to set anything up the machine automatically spots when you’re close to a network. This facility allows up to 16 multiple players on a local network – nights out down the pub could have a whole new meaning now.

The controls have been improved on and shrunk down in size but this hasn’t made them any less efficient. On the left is the D-pad which is ¾ the size of the original and to the right of the screen are the four face buttons (X,Y,A and B) to manage movement. The start and select button have been reduced in size too and are now full circles placed on the right of the bottom screen.

The DS Lite comes with two speakers strategically placed on either side of the top screen with a discrete volume button on the front together with a headphone port. To add to this the Nintendo DS Lite is backward compatible and not only allows you to play new games on cartridges that are somewhere between an SD card and a CompactFlash card in size but it also accepts older versions, giving an endless supply of games.

Performance

It would be easy to gush over the performance of the DS Lite all day, but it can be summed up in two word – it’s fab. The quality of image on the screen is brilliant, you’ve got sound and an endless catalogue of games to pick from.

What's In The Box?

Nintendo DS Lite console, adaptor, two stylus, instructions and a strap.

Overall Opinion

There are few things to get really excited about but this is one of them. Why? Because the product is a lightweight, well designed, attractive games console with loads and loads of games. And the Wi-Fi facility means if playing with yourself becomes a bore, there is the option to link up with friends and take them on. While the Lite hasn’t got all the video and audio facilities of the PSP, in terms of a gaming experience this is brilliant. The only drawback is the white clamshell, which while very “in vogue” is a total dirt magnet which quickly starts looking a bit grubby around the collars.

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Hugh Mckinney
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