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Nintendo's Mystery DS Portable Revealed 391

Posted by simoniker
from the damn-straight dept.
Thanks to GameSpy for its story revealing the first information on the dual-screened, portable Nintendo DS, the previously rumored 'mystery console' that's been lacking any concrete details up to now. According to the piece, the DS "features two separate 3" TFT LCD display panels, separate processors, and semiconductor memory of up to 1 Gigabit. It's scheduled to launch worldwide before the end of 2004." The article further explains: "Players can look forward to being able to simultaneously manage their game progress from two different perspectives, enhancing both the speed and strategy of the challenge. For example, players will no longer be forced to interrupt game play to shift perspective, such as moving from a wide shot to a close up, or alternating between a character's ongoing battle and a map of their environment." A concurrently released official Nintendo press release confirms this information.
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Nintendo's Mystery DS Portable Revealed

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  • Why two screens? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by connsmythe96 (576445) <slashdot@adam k e m p.com> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:56AM (#8040213) Homepage
    Why not just a wider screen that the game can split into two??
    • Re:Why two screens? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by moronga (323123) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:00AM (#8040233)
      They can probably make it fold up in a way that a single big screen can't.

      This sounds pretty cool. You could do some really interesting things with RPGs and strategy games.
    • Cheaper components (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jpnews (647965) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:03AM (#8040257)
      Two 3 inch screens are less expensive than one 6 inch screen. And they probably have a large backstock of them from the GBA.
    • Marketing, of course!
      Nobody cares about the screen size, but 2 screens, ooohh!
      Of course, it'll use twice as many batteries, but I doubt marketing will insist on that feature...
    • Can you really focus on two screens at once? I can't. If you are going ot want to screens have a second video buffer and some button that swaps between the two. (Not anywhere your going to hit it by mistake to many times, or have a safety etc). You hit hte button secondary video buffer is displayed instead of the normal one. I dont' see how this would be almost as easy as looking at another screen. Plus this way your controls are mapped to only the current screen.
      This seems like a solution that could be imp
      • by NanoGator (522640) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:18AM (#8040675) Homepage Journal
        "Can you really focus on two screens at once? I can't."

        Do you get a lot of speeding tickets?
        • by Afrosheen (42464) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:52AM (#8040863)
          Probably, but he can only see one at a time, so the answer is no.
        • Re:Why two screens? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Chemical (49694) <{nkessler2000} {at} {hotmail.com}> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @04:46AM (#8041257) Homepage
          When you're driving, you can't focus on your speedometer and the road at the same time. You focus on the road and occasionally glance at the speedometer.

          It is hard to give your full attention to two screens at once. For most games, the second screen on the DS will probably end up being more of an information window that you occasionaly glance at. It seems rather unnecessary on a portable.

          Nintendo does this kind of gimmicky stuff all the time. They come out with something truely innovative and clever but ultimately useless and neglected. See also ROB, SuperScope, SuperGameboy, VirtualBoy, e-Reader, 64DD, and GBA-GC link.

          • Re:Why two screens? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by leifm (641850)
            I can see this being fantastic for something like SOCOM(one third person view, one first person or map or whatever), but I'll be interested to see what they use it for in a portable.
          • Strategic Reasons (Score:5, Interesting)

            by cgenman (325138) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @11:55AM (#8043429) Homepage
            Actually, all of the above were launched for strategic reasons.

            The ROB was released to get the NES out of department stores and into electronics stores, and at that it succeeded admirably (they never intended to support it, sadly). The GBA-GC link was an attempt to use the success of the GBA to drive sales of their new system. The SuperGameboy took some of the edge out of the criticism that the Game Boy was not actually a color device, during a time when it was under a very real attack from the Lynx, the Game Gear, and the TurboExpress. It also attempted to leverage the success of the GB to the SNES, in the same way that the GBA-GC link would later fail to do. The 64-DD was an experiment in optical re-writable technologies, as a response to criticisms of the storage capacity of cartridges and the then obvious future for networked gaming. The e-Reader sold and still sells well in Japan. Selling barcodes for 5 bucks sounds like a good idea to me. The SuperScope was Nintendo's attempt to make and promote a gun to shed their kiddy image, but to make is so laughably non gun-like (and ergonomically challenged) as to not offend parents. Gunpei Yokoi, who helped found Nintendo's interactive ambitions with light gun shooting galleries and created the original zapper, was responsible for the SuperScope. He also (ill)concieved the VirtualBoy was during a time where JaguarVR and the Genesis/SegaCD/32X VR system was perceived as a threat.

            You did miss a few, though. There was the Power Pad, the Game Boy Camera, the Game Boy Printer, the Super Mouse, the Play Choice 10, the Nintendo Super System, the entire Wizard movie, Killer Instinct for the SNES, the years-too-late mini NES. [fatmangames.com] Some of them, like the RAM expansion pack, or the Satellite, were handled surprisingly well overall. Most of them were just swept under the rug.

            I think we can all guess what the fate of this system will likely be.

      • Re:Why two screens? (Score:2, Informative)

        by digitaleus (654331)
        I use two monitors on my deskop PC, and it's fantastic, much better than using Alt-tab. Given your post, I'm guessing that this would suprise you, mayb it's not something one can really grasp until you've used it a bunch.

        I guess that the dual-screen gameboy would be a similar situation.

      • depends really - suppose for example one of the screens held something you need to refer to, rather than use constantly - as an example an RPG - could have all the stats and inventory gubbins on one screen while the game area is on another - allows you to have potentially useful information available to you at all times while playing the game. Even if they were being used simultaneously you'd be suprised at how easy it is to get used to it, as anyone that uses a dual-head setup on their computer at home kn
      • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @08:15AM (#8041902) Journal
        Donky kong has some. They where LCD games in the 80's or so that folded open and you had two games. I still have one of them somewhere I think that had you playing mario in a bottle factory. Grates would appear at the bottom right and had to be put on a belt wich moved them to the other screen where you had to put them on a higher belt. The trick was controlling both your guys on either screen to move the crates up as they were filled with bottles until finally they went into a truck.

        Worked excellent.

  • Sounds familiar (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Hitler (687112) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:57AM (#8040215)
    Can you say Game and Watch [gameandwatch.com]? Hopefully the graphics will be a little better.
    • Re:Sounds familiar (Score:2, Interesting)

      by PhotoBoy (684898)
      Yeah this was the first thing I thought when I heard it would have two screens.

      The quirkiness of this sounds pretty cool although I am getting visions of the Virtual Boy again...

      My main concern is how powerful it is, the Playstation Portable is allegedly nearly as powerful as a PS2, so will the DS be able to compete? Historically, the B&W GB beat machines like the Atari Lynx, so it will be fun to see if Nintendo can do it again! :)
  • Er - Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dark Paladin (116525) * <jhummel&johnhummel,net> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:59AM (#8040231) Homepage
    On the one hand, that's my first response: What the Hell is Nintendo thinking? A portable system with two screens? I mean - what?

    But on the other hand, I can look at this and say "Well, but - maybe." The idea itself is nothing new compared to playing, say, Descent, Quake, or Baldur's Gate with 2 monitors the way I've always wanted to play them - a menu or map on one side, and the "gameplay" on the other.

    The screens sound about the size of a Gameboy Advance screen. Remember, Nintendo - back light, please Lord backlight. It will require a different kind of thinking for developers.

    Nintendo isn't crash proof (Virtual Boy, anyone?) but this product is certainly interesting, and has some potential for RPG's, strategy games, maybe FPS kind of games. If nothing else, it certainly can give the PSP some interesting introductory challenges to face.
    • by yanos (633109)
      Yes, and if they're smart, they could also put some cell phone technology in it. This could be the their 'online' move, who knows?
    • It will have the side-lighting that the GBA SP sports.

      I only wish the thing supported GBA games (it sounds like it won't - esp as it is using a new type of media).
  • I was hoping for something more then this, and to the sound of it I'll probably keep playing on the GBA or get the PSP once that is out.

    as I do not see that going down my pocket, two screens and all.

    but again pretty neat, but it feels like an other VR-google for the GameBoy.

  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jeffskyrunner (701044) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:00AM (#8040237)
    This may lead to the idea of Picture in Picture for high end game consoles. Wouldn't it be nice to have a bigger, more detailed map on those games like zelda, or have a list of objectives?

    Maybe this will lead to lower prices on other handheld systems which would be nice, even if this system becomes a dud :)
    • you mean like on dreamcast you could see the cards you had in the screen of the vmu in your pad in sonic party games?

      I just have this one thing to say about this product: BLEH.

      it's virtual boy all over again, cool on it's own level but bleh.
      -
    • It's not a console game but in Battlefield 1942, you can turn on the larger map so it takes up about 1/3 to 1/2 the screen and set the transparency of the map to whatever you like so you can view it all the time while you're playing.
  • Risky move (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dnixon112 (663069) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:02AM (#8040250)
    As much as I applaud Nintendo for being innovative and taking a risk, I can't help but feel that this move will alienate 3rd party developers. On the other hand, Nintendo's first party games are usually very good and without a credible competitor for the moment in the handheld department Nintendo could pull this off. Regardless it's a risky move.
    • Re:Risky move (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NanoGator (522640) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:14AM (#8040656) Homepage Journal
      "As much as I applaud Nintendo for being innovative and taking a risk, I can't help but feel that this move will alienate 3rd party developers. "

      It'll alienate the ones that aren't serious about making good games. Not so horrible in a saturated market.
    • Also this kind of takes away from the Gameboy (and similar machines) "pickup-and-play" aspect. Up, down, left, right and a few fire buttons are what the average people want, with a nice easily understood game area.

      Having two screens just complicates the simple need the machine is supposed to satisfy. Not to mention the additional weight, size and cost. As someone wiser than me once said, KISS.
  • by Paul.Org (728041) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:03AM (#8040252)
    ...hows the power consumption?

    2 screens & 2 processors - thats gotta chew up the batteries pretty quick relative to a standard GameBoy...

    Also how useful will the second screen be in a fast paced game where 'glancing at the second screen' = painful death?
    • It's hard to say. Nintendo usually strives to give their consoles as much battery life as possible. Look at the GBA SP. Ten hours of play-time, with the light on. I think they should be able to get similar with newer technologies.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Also how useful will the second screen be in a fast paced game where 'glancing at the second screen' = painful death?

      Lord knows how many Pikachus I lost doing that...
  • by jbfaninmo (540470) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:03AM (#8040258)
    First the GC->GBA connectvity, which no game developer has been able to come up with a killer app for, and now handheld with two screens.

    How much is going to cost me for a second screen? How is this going to be laid out? Seems like a two screened GameBoy would be pretty akward. And the most important question, will there be a game that use the second screen in a unique enough manner to warrant buying this thing. Please Niintendo, I want to love you. Why must you keep coming up with these retarded ideas?

  • First Thoughts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:04AM (#8040263) Homepage
    Very cool. My first thought was of the old Game&Watch games, some of which had two screens. So not only do we get to have games like that, but we can also have games that use the two screens in different ways. In RPGs you could constantly have your stats/inventory open. In other games you could have the top window be a map and the bottom the area where your working. If they put a few more buttons on, you could head to head on one unit with someone else on simple games. I think this will be VERY interesting to see what developers come up with for this. Puzzle games alone (with two perspectives) could be very intersting.
  • uh-oh, deja vu (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Phyrexia (55710)
    "the new product will be a unique item that is different from any traditional machine", and will be "be [neither] a home console nor a portable machine."

    sounds a little like the virtual boy, doesn't it? :D
  • NES Rep (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:06AM (#8040278)
    I work for a discount retailer and the nintendo representative said May as a projected release date.
    • "I work for a discount retailer and the nintendo representative said May as a projected release date."

      Unless this thing plays existing GC or GBA games, don't count on that.
    • Re:NES Rep (Score:3, Informative)

      by edwdig (47888)
      Based on Nintendo's history, never put much faith in first release date you hear. Your odds are a lot better with the second date you hear, but don't go betting on it.

      Seriously, May is 4 months away and we haven't even seen a picture of the device yet, or any indication of what games they're working on for it. We don't even know if the system will do 2D or 3D graphics. I can't see a May release date as remotely serious.
  • well.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Transient0 (175617) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:07AM (#8040293) Homepage
    it looks like NGage isn't going to be the king of handheld gaming for much longer...
  • Virtual Boy 2 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pilkul (667659)
    2 screens!? I mean, huh? Maybe I've been living in a cave, but I must've missed the hordes of gamers clamoring for this amazing new feature. Even on large-screen consoles/PC screens, I've never once seen a game who felt it was necessary to split the screen in half to have 2 separate displays (2-player games aside --- but being portable, that's is exactly the thing that this system can't do). So what in god's name makes them think this would be at all useful?

    It seems Nintendo management hasn't learned

    • Re:Virtual Boy 2 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mabinogi (74033) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:26AM (#8040413) Homepage
      There's not even a PICUTRE of it yet...don't you think you're jumping to a conclusion or two here?
      Why don't you wait until there's just a little more information and then make your judgement.

      Also, why does everyone keep comparing it to the Virtual Boy?...it's NOT the Virtual Boy, and how ever it turns out, it still wont be the Virtual Boy, so the fate of the Virtual Boy is irrelevant when looking at this.
      • Re:Virtual Boy 2 (Score:3, Insightful)

        by blincoln (592401)
        Also, why does everyone keep comparing it to the Virtual Boy?

        Because the Virtual Boy was also a supposedly "innovative" gaming system that wasn't really very interesting at all beyond the initial gimmick factor, and because this handheld is going to flop almost or as badly as it did.
  • by kisrael (134664) * on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:09AM (#8040315) Homepage
    Heh, reminds me of some of the old dual screen game and watch [ggdb.com]... ...well, better that than Virtual Boy!
  • 3D Gameboy? (Score:4, Funny)

    by overworked+underpaid (743766) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:11AM (#8040321)
    Here's a novel idea - have a different perspective on each screen, hold the unit three inches from your face and go crosseyed! Instant 3D! :-)
  • cell? (Score:2, Interesting)

    they mentioned that this thing uses dual processors. Could these possibly be the long waited for cells? You would think they would have mentioned this in the article if that was the case.
    A side note:
    To me, the dual screen thing does make sense. Someone must have realized that you can't increase the screen size on a portable past what is is without making the form factor unreasonable and realized that a bottom part on a folded portable has more screen real estate. Personally I'm a little disapointed they did
  • by Ruis (21357)
    hopefully the screens are side by side. then if the right game came along, you could just cross your eyes for some 3d graphics. oh wait, virtual boy.. nevermind.
  • I hope this thing has some sort of extremely novel control system, as the console will have no way of knowing which screen the player is looking at. I can't see this being that much of an advantage in any game with fast action except ones designed to use the "keep track of both screens at once" principle as the overall point of the game.
  • by ArekRashan (527011) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:00AM (#8040586) Journal
    I haven't seen this asked yet. I see shock and confusion, and speculations of Nintendo's demise. It would be good to remember that Nintendo has had only one unprofitable quarter in the last 30 years. Microsoft has pissed $2bns down the drain to become a viable competitor in the home console arena. Sony is upset that the biggest threat to their games division is GBA, and wants to compete on that front with their PSP. Nintendo knows what it's doing better than you do. Let it do what it does best, and reap the happy gaming benefit that is your due as a fan. Or not. But if you're one of Iwata's 'Ten percent', make it known.
  • If it's designed so two people can play at once, one screen (& processor) per player, then it's cool hardware.

    Otherwise, I'll wait for the cool software.
  • Maybe Nintendo can open up a .DS_STORE. Thing is, once they open it, they will never be able to get rid of it.
  • the dancing monkey, "developers!, developers!, developers!" will it play GBA games.. otherwise I see issues with this
  • So after the hype over this mysterious new hardware they were going to announce at E3, all they have in mind is a gameboy with two screens, like those old game and watch devices.

    This appears to be the level of thinking here:

    Otto: You know those guitars, that are like, double guitars, you know?

    I mean, it's just *got* too be cooler, right? Reading the article, they are certainly clutching at straws for valid applications for this "innovation." Nintendo, just kill this nonsense now and create a Gameboy wit
    • They've already announced wireless multiplayer support. The wireless adapter will come bundled with the GBA remakes of the original Pokemon games, in addition to being available seperately.

      Games must specially be coded for it however, due to factors such being able to deal with signal loss due to interference.
  • No Pictures? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by AvitarX (172628)
    I have a bad feeling like this.

    Like they just don't know how to put it together, but have developed it and need to release it.

    I mean I know they try not to over hype, but this thing is out soon enough that a little teaser shot would be quite appropriate (unlike my spelling).
  • by Psykechan (255694) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:23AM (#8040698)
    I had been hoping for either a portable Gamecube or possibly some sort of VR/holographic wonder thingy that Satoru Iwata was teasing us with. This is just confusing... maybe once I see an actual product, I'll understand.

    Heck, I thought they were going to use the 8cm discs in thier newer products and for it to be a "de facto standard" [gamerweb.com]. Looks like they are sticking with solid state.

    My first thoughts on the dual screens is so that the device can be closed with the screens touching, thus being protected. However, there may also be other reasons... observe:

    * Playing Battleship the way it was meant to be played. One screen has your ships and the other has where you fired.

    * Flip the screen around and use it for two player games. The unit may even have a second controller for this purpose.

    * Hook up to special headgear that would position device right in front of eyes to recreate Virtual Boy experience. (my favorite)

    * Plug two Pokemon cartridges (1 screen for each game) into device to trade Pokemon back and forth. It is all about the Pokemon after all.

    These are just a few unique gaming concepts I can think of at the moment. Anyone else care to speculate?
    • by cbirdsong64 (410584) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:06AM (#8040923)
      Think of the SP as a Palm Pilot or the like, the DS as a laptop, and the GC as a desktop.

      Applications of having two screens on simutaneously:

      Metal Gear/Splinter Cell: You hack into a security camera and it constantly displays it on the second screen. Shit, it could even show a bank of security cameras in split screen.

      Racing games: Primary screen shows normal driving view, secondary screen shows a bird's eye view so you could see potential overtakers coming from behind. Or red shells.

      Football: Screen splits into four quadrants and shows your recievers.

      Smash Bros: No more extreme zooming. One screen has your character, the other has a nice overview

      RPGs/Stategy: Stats, inventory. I'm sure there's a more creative use I haven't thought of. Like a second party, or something.

      Strategy, mainly Real Time: The second screen could keep an eye on your base, or you could coordinate two attacks.

      Of course, there's the obvious application of a map/radar, inventory, objectives, health, etc, that could work for ANY game, even a port.

      Now, I came up with all that in the space of 20 minutes, while distracted. I can't wait to see what Miyamoto is coming up with.

      Also, I'm calling it. Pikmin 2 is moved to the DS. Think about it: There are two playable characters. I mean, really. Plus, they've been rather quiet about it lately.
  • Okay, Nintendo's Game Boy games are fun and addictive and all that, but I think the longevity of the platform needs to be called into question.

    3D games. Yeah, "graphics don't make a game", but they sure sell a console. The Game Boy doesn't have much serious competition now, which is why it can survive as a mostly 2D platform. The N-Gage doesn't count as serious competition.

    Looking at gaming history, everything gets passed from higher-end hardware to lower-end hardware over time. For example, there was
  • Concept Art (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rufus211 (221883) <rufus-slashdot.hackish@org> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:22AM (#8040993) Homepage
    Here's some conecpt art [ign.com] thanks to ign [ign.com]
  • The notion of 2 screens is nothing more than a gimmick, but what's most important about this announcement is the specs: 2 processors and up to a gigabit of memory. If the DS is far more powerful than the GBA, it might be worth consideration.
  • aren't.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by katalyst (618126) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @04:40AM (#8041238) Homepage
    they trying a bit too hard?
  • Arcade PunchOut (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cdneng2 (695646) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @07:46AM (#8041783)

    The very first thing I thought of with dual screens was Nintendo's Arcade Punchout, Super Punchout, and Arm Wrestling game. I'm almost betting that the dual screens will be vertical, ie. stacked right on top of each other... with the controls to the left and right of the bottom one (exactly like the "Game&Watch"). Unique concept, IMHO.... but I think taking advantage of the dual screens will be difficult. My guess will be that the extra screen won't be taken advantage of by most game developers because they are simply not original enough, and there's only so much you can do with it. It will probably be typically used for a "status" display, scoring or radar in most games.

    The other question I beg to ask, is will it be backwards compatible with GBA? If so, what will happen with the other screen? I'm hoping it won't turn on, and drain the batteries.

  • Now I'll have equipment to donate to OpenBSD's SMP project! At least they might get it working on the Game Boy. :P
  • by juuri (7678) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @10:19AM (#8042593) Homepage
    The single best reason for Dual screens, info panes.

    I'm guessing most of you who are trouncing this idea are PC game players or people who have never used a hand held game system. In any game with a large amount of information, say every RPG or RTS there is a lot of time spent bring up extra menus or pausing the game to hit a sub menu system. With two screens, one probably located directly below the other near the controls, now you just have to glance down to grab additional info. The LCD screens being used here don't have very high resolution to keep the costs reasonable so a second screen is an easy way to add much more feedback to the game player.

    This console sounds like it is a direct result of the GC-GBA link system. When done right (see Zelda, Final Fantasy Chronicles) it is an amazing thing. The GBA link actually gives us what Sega promised with the dreamcast VMU except in colour and with a lot more than just basic, bland static information.

    Sheesh just imagine a RTS game like Advance Wars where the secondary display shows a zoomed out map area and other random stats but automatically changes over to an info pane when you move your selector over one of your own or an enemy unit. That's not cool?

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