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Portables (Games) Businesses Nintendo

How To Make the DS Even Better 82

Posted by Zonk
from the add-a-totally-wicked-spoiler dept.
Next Generation has up an interesting piece considering ways to make the ultra-successful Nintendo DS even better. Thoughts include streamlining the needlessly complicated 'friend code' system, adding internal flash ram to the device, and rolling out a virtual console system ala the Wii. Their best idea, I think, is to use the GBA slot on the system for a cartridge including all of these new elements: "The advantage over typical 'system upgrades', like the ram expansion for the N64 or the PS2 hard drive, is that this cartridge should have little direct effect on game software; it would simply transform the DS into a more useful and personal tool. Such an update would also weed out the necessity to offer a whole new DS model, further annoying people who felt forced to upgrade to the DS Lite - itself only a cosmetic adjustment."
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How To Make the DS Even Better

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  • just great I think, although what Nintendo would say?
  • by B00yah (213676) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @05:57PM (#18450519) Homepage
    but not officially. Companies like m3 and Flashloader make devices that plug in to the gba slot on the ds, fit flush, and either have a set amount of onboard flash, or have a slot for an SD card (regular for the original ds, mini or micro for the lite). You can run homebrew applications off of these, as well as listen to music (with the winamp equiv. in moonshell), and play emulated games (though some snes games won't run full speed due to the fx chip issue).

    Now, this doesn't simplify the friends code issue, and it's definitely border line illegal, but it does exist.
    • by dbIII (701233) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @10:09PM (#18453441)
      True - with a 2GB mini-sd card I use mine mostly as an mp3 player via Moonshell and DSOrganise. Moonshell is the better player but doesn't have a slide bar that lets you pick up where you left off in the middle of a 1 hour podcast you heard half of the day before.
    • And recently there are slot1 (DS slot) loaders, reducing the need for the slot2 (GBA slot) cart.
      It gives perfect compatibility for DS software, less cluttered and more power efficient compared to previous solutions.
      The only thing you lose here is the ability to run GBA software (I mean home brew of course, no piracy.. no not me!). This too can be solved, using a reverse pass-through device to allow GBA software to run from the slot1 cart :)

      That said, rumors floated around for an official media player based
  • by Sciros (986030) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @06:00PM (#18450567) Journal
    If the DS in the US gets a browser that would basically make it kick so much more booty than it already does that I think even Batman might give it a slot in his belt.

    And yes I agree with adding rumble to make it vibrate. Then Batgirl might give it a..yah...
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      And yes I agree with adding rumble to make it vibrate.

      Rumble already exists. I got the rumble pak for free with Metroid Pinball. However, it's power is fairly weak.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      But both of those Things ALREADY exist. True, the browser hasn't hit the US yet, but it has been released. Also, the rumble pack just needs a lite makeover, but it's already been released state-side, too.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Endo13 (1000782)
      Official release date for a browser is June 4. It's going to be a version of Opera.
      http://press.nintendo.com/articles.jsp?id=11634 [nintendo.com]
      http://www.opera.com/pressreleases/en/2006/02/15/ [opera.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Gramie2 (411713)
      I have a Japanese version of the Opera browser, and let me tell you, no one is seriously going to use the thing for surfing the web. It is dog slow. The front page of /. might take a minute, maybe two. Even though my connection is high speed, fetching and rendering takes you back to the days of 28.8K modems. It's cool that it can do it, but once you show off to your friends, it doesn't get used again.
      • by Yvan256 (722131)
        Depends on how you use it. While I agree it's quite slow, it's still the smallest non-PDA/non-cellphone device with a real browser. If you use the RSS mode, it's a lot faster, too. And if you disable images, it's even faster. Opera users will know what I'm talking about (RSS is like switching to "user mode" instead of "author mode"). In RSS you get content in both screens (instead of 1:1 in one screen and zoomed content in the other screen), makes it easier to read content. Scrolling is a lot faster in RSS
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by grumbel (592662)
          Get a flash card, copy DSlinux to it, telnet or ssh into the next computer and use links, w3m or links, not as pretty as Opera, but you won't have any issues with rendering speed.
      • I agree 100% I tried out the Japanese version a few months back. While I was happy to see that most of the popular pages (YouTube, Slashdot, Gmail) all worked. It was painfully slow to use. I think what made it worse was that it wasn't just the connection speed that was slow, there was a feeling of sluggishness with the entire package. I hope they've improved it for the US launch.
      • I have the UK version (I am Scottish), and while its not fast, its fine for slashdot and sites that are mostly text - high graphics sites take time though. I had heard bad reports about how slow the Japanese version was before I bought mine, but I went ahead anyway, and I find it great for just checking little things while watching telly. I wouldn't want it as my only browser but I use it more than Opera on the Wii
    • by Xanlexian (122112)
      Metroid Prime Pinball includes a 'rumble pack'.

      But then, I can't use my M3/Perfect.
    • by Infe (52681)
      > And yes I agree with adding rumble to make it vibrate. Then Batgirl might give it a..yah

      Haven't you heard? Rumble is obsolete! Wouldn't you much rather they added tilt detection?
  • Creating an 'internal drive' is a big no no, it opens up piracy way too much, even if you can already do it with non-licensed stuff. What would be cool is a 8-32 slot cartride that you could stuff all your DS games into so they would always be plugged in, the GBA slot might be able to fit this, then no more shuffling and carrying those little game carts around.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ThePhilips (752041)

      I'd say even two DS slots would be great - so that you wouldn't have to carry cartridge in pocket.

      I like to play several games simultaneously and it would be nice feat to be able start another game w/o need to dig in bag looking for another cartridge. (And probability to lose cartridge would be smaller too.)

      More than two is better. But I think two slots would be sufficient for most scenarios.

  • Forced to upgrade? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @06:13PM (#18450751)
    People felt forced to upgrade to the DS Lite? Bullshit. People CHOSE to upgrade. It's a better, smaller system. It's more comfortable to hold, the screen is a lot bright and more colorful, and it's just over-all a better system. I upgrade only because I wanted to, not because there was some social pressure or something. There was certainly no pressure from Nintendo.
    • by walshy007 (906710)
      I quite like my original ds, never really liked the ds-lite excepting the awesomely bright screen, mainly due to the d-pad used and physical size is small for my liking.

      anyways, nintendo ds browser, ds-lite only, there's an add-on gba cart for memory for it to use to function etc, I'm betting the only reason its lite-only is because of the smaller size of the gba-slot. I'd buy the browser in a moment if it wasn't for the fact I need a ds-lite for it, even though its more or less the exact same hardware. I'd
  • Give it a Camera. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FMota91 (1050752)
    a la Game Boy Camera. It should let you take pictures, movies, and talk online with "friends", and with the ability to talk through Skype.

    I think it's a very good idea.
    • by malkir (1031750)
      Maybe expand gameboy wifi, a little 30ft cell phone would be fun!
    • by dj_tla (1048764)
      I'm not 100% sure if you're being sarcastic or not, but I think giving it a camera would be a pretty bad idea. At least, when you make the analogy to the game boy camera.

      To clarify, the social aspect that you're talking about would be very nice, making the DS basically the video phone that we were all promised back in the 20th century (as long as we don't have to call each other by friend code...), but I think making a camera the way the game boy camera was made will never work. If this kind of thing we
  • But then wouldn't it cost more?
    • Unlike the PSP... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tepples (727027)

      Unlike the PSP, the DS has games that twice as many people find worth playing. The systems aren't even that far apart in price (PSP: $200, DS Lite + R4DS expansion card for playing media from microSD cards: $170), so game quality must be at least a major factor.

      • by sqlrob (173498)
        If you don't bother we the expansion card (and personally, I don't know anyone with it), $130. PSP doesn't come with an SD card, so you need to buy one if you want to save games, there's more expense for that there too.
        • by DarkJC (810888)
          I swear the PSP came with a 32 MB Memory Stick, was that removed in later bundles?
          • by mlk (18543)
            I seam to remember having three choices when I bought mine.
            1) Device, no case, no earphones, no memory card
            2) Device, soft case, earphones, 32M memory card
            3) Device, hard case, earphones, 1G memory card.

            I went with option two, found out the earphones were useless on the tube (ear-safe or somesuch) and a 2G card on the internet was dirt cheep. Should had gone for option one.
      • by Abcd1234 (188840)
        I find it very bizarre that you talk about games "people find worth playing", and then include a microsd card reader with the DS price, despite that fact that the *vast* majority of DS owners have probably never heard of those devices, or have any interest in owning one...
        • include a microsd card reader with the DS price, despite that fact that the *vast* majority of DS owners have probably never heard of those devices
          If I didn't include the microSD reader, then people who use their PSP primarily as an iPod substitute would bitch about lack of feature parity between the DS and the PSP. Besides, Popular Science recently mentioned the microSD reader.
  • by Kawolski (939414) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @06:43PM (#18451161)
    It should be soft and cuddly.
    ...with lots of firepower!
    ...and it should have telescopes! No, periscopes! No, microscopes!
  • Three Screens! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by freakmn (712872) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @07:49PM (#18451981) Journal
    I know how to make the DS better! Three Screens! That is what makes it better than the PSP, isn't it?

    All kidding aside, I'd say that the biggest issue that I have with it is the lack of WPA support for the wireless. In order to have wireless access, I need to either change the wireless settings on the router, or have a second router that uses WEP. I chose to have a second router that I only plug in when I want to play. The other issue that I've run into is that some public access points, such as at coffee shops, require a browser to connect to their service. There may be a workaround for it, in some cases, but it's still not that convenient to connect. I don't know if the browser "game" coming later will fix that, but it would be a good improvement. Overall, I think I'm happy with the DS, but it's not perfect.
    • All kidding aside, I'd say that the biggest issue that I have with it is the lack of WPA support for the wireless.

      They *really* ought to do something about that ASAP. Given what I've heard about WEP, I don't think I'd feel comfortable advising anyone to leave their router on that setting; and turning on and off is a PITA (as well as being a minor security hole for the duration).

      Would it be possible to include this capability with a firmware upgrade, or will it need new hardware (in which case us existing owners are out of luck)?

      • by Abcd1234 (188840)
        Unfortunately, the firmware cannot be upgraded without closing a contact buried inside the case. The device was not designed to be field-upgradable.
    • by rlp (11898)
      > I know how to make the DS better! Three Screens!

      What the heck, it worked for razors.
  • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @08:09PM (#18452193) Homepage
    For instance, WPA/WPA2 support would be nice.
    • by Graftweed (742763)
      This is probably on the top of my wish list too. I wonder how many people, like me, aren't willing to compromise the security of their home network by enabling WEP on them?

      The wireless connection on the DS is nifty, but presently it's useless for the security conscious.
      • by Winckle (870180)
        As I am in this situation, I use MAC address filtering, it's a bit more secure I know, but how vulnerable am I? I honestly don't know.
        • by Graftweed (742763)
          Well, WEP has already been demonstrated to be _extremely_ insecure, up to the point of an attacker cracking the WEP key in minutes, which is exactly what gave rise to WPA/WPA2. It deters casual intrusion, nothing more, and it won't stop a determined attacker by any means.

          As for MAC filtering, it's also pretty useless since it's almost trivial to spoof a MAC address. An attacker only has to listen to legitimate network traffic to determine an authorized MAC address and then spoof it. I don't even have it ena
  • It's quite easy.

    Take the Nintendo DS Lite
    build the Play-Yan micro into it (mp3 audio and mp4 video support, but expanded to the DS screen size, also add JPEG viewer support) with built-in SD card slot
    add Opera DS (with built-in Opera DS + RAM carts), so you don't have to carry DS+GBA carts to have Opera on the system.

    Add basic PDA functions (address book, calendar) which can sync in standard files over USB2 which mounts as a regular drive, i.e. OS-independant.

    Overkill/impossible? Aside from the JPEG viewer
    • Guys, you really need a PDA [apple.com].

      Please please please, leave DS for games.

      P.S. Or go buy PSP. Because all what you have said is only what PSP is good for. And it is definitely overall good deal. Though games... But you do not ask for games! You want MP3/MP4/Opera/etc!! WTF. No games? Move on people. We are talking here about "portable game platforms", not cheap handicapped PDAs.

      • But you do not ask for games! You want MP3/MP4/Opera/etc!! WTF. No games?

        The question is "What would you change about the DS to make it an even better device?". I don't think you'll find many people who would respond with "It should be able to play games".

        It already plays games. We know that. But what else could it potentially do as well?
        • Then my personal list would pretty short:

          1. Remove damm mic. Some stupid games try to use it.

          2. Make "Start" & "Select" buttons larger - as they were in original DS. DS Lite they are smaller and hard to press. Some games require you press them often (e.g. Castlevania) and thumb start aching pretty soon into the battles.

          3. Add second DS slot so that two game cartridges may be inserted simultaneously. (Probably by killing off GBA slot - it's useless anyway.) That would let me in 95% situations a

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Bwana Geek (1033040)
            Hmmm... My thoughts on your list are as follows:

            1. I agree the mic is annoying ("@#!* you Kawashima, I said BLUE!"), but I doubt it's going anywhere.

            2. Yes. I never had an original DS, but those buttons are way too freakin' small.

            3. If they added a second DS slot (which I would love), it would probably go up top. They will never get rid of the GBA slot because -- contrary to your belief -- that slot is very useful. The GBA has a huge library of games that ALL work on the DS. Perhaps more importantly,
            • by Drey (1420)
              > "@#!* you Kawashima, I said BLUE!"

              Wow, not just me he can't understand. I usually just hit the "I can't speak" button rather than get that test.
              • Yeah. Sometimes I can get it okay. But I have to pronounce the words in what feels to me an unnatural way. I just use the test selection cheat and play my favourite tests instead. The Voice Calculation exercise seems to work much better -- the main problem I have with that one is simply answering a problem before the game is ready for it. Although, sometimes I give an incorrect answer and it assumes I meant something else and gives it to me anyways. Apparently, "one" and "seven" are indistinguishable...

                I t
    • DS Organize has organizer functions, overall homebrew adds some amazing stuff, dsorganize in its latest incarnation adds a text html browser, the scummvm adds a load of adventuregames which feel like a match made in heaven. moonshell adds a decent mp3 playing and overall media playing functionality.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'd like the DS to be able to communicate with the Wii (via Wi-Fi) in the same way a GBA communicated with the GameCube (via the connect cable). That way, if I'm playing a GameCube game (like Crystal Chronicles or Zelda:Four Swords) that, in the past, utilized GBAs as "controllers", I can have multiple players wirelessly connected through DSs instead. I think this feature would be very reasonable to add... it seems like it would mostly take a system update on the Wii (though that is just a guess).
  • ergonomics... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 7Prime (871679) on Thursday March 22, 2007 @10:26PM (#18453619) Homepage Journal
    I have yet to play a handheld that was anywhere as ergonomic as a console controller. The Logitech PS2 controller I have is amazing, so are the GCN controllers and the 360 controllers. Even the Wiimote/nunchuck, which I (although very excited) was worried was going to be hard to hold, I don't have any problem playing with for hours on end. But handhelds are still in the stone age, as far as ergonomics are concerned. They're slightly better than an NES controller... but wow, that's not saying much.

    It's a tough one, how do you make a handheld that's ergonomic enough to play for hours on end, while at the same time being regularly enough shaped to be able to fit in a small space.
    • The regular Gameboy Advance was great for ergonomics, at least for me, and it is partly because of this that I never upgraded to a GBA SP or GB Micro. The frontlighting/backlighting and rechargeable batteries would have been very nice, yes, but I wasn't about to give up the ability to play for hours without hand cramps.

      This is also why I chose a DS Phat over a DS Lite. Sure, the screen isn't as bright, and the stylus is smaller, but I like the ergonomics more.
    • by Yoozer (1055188)

      It's a tough one, how do you make a handheld that's ergonomic enough to play for hours on end, while at the same time being regularly enough shaped to be able to fit in a small space.

      A (wireless?) remote control for the games that allow this. I'd love to have a DS, but I hate the joypad and the cramped interface. It may be kind of weird - but not so weird if you think that laptops also come with laptop mice; it's simply a better interface if you have a quiet enough environment for it (e.g. playing it in t

      • They already have a great all-purpose pad... the Virtual Console Controller. Simply make a plug for that, and allow games to recieve data from the device.

        But this won't happen, for a number of reasons. First off, the plug for the VCC is HUGE, so there'd have to be an adaptor, which gets more complicated than Nintendo is comfortable with. Secondly, it'd kill the whole purpose behind the DS: the touch screen. Before you know it, game manufacturer's would be slipping back into old habits and have analog contro
    • by Ant P. (974313)
      I have yet to see a console controller that will easily fit in my pocket.
      • by 7Prime (871679)
        Which is more important? For me, I've usually got a bag on me... so I'd MUCH rather take ergonomics over size, any day.

        I just don't think it's possible to design something that's small enough to fit in your pocket, yet still be ergonomic enough to hold and operate for long periods of time.

        I'd rather see a slightly larger handheld with enough plastic to get my fingers around in a comfortable fashion, yet be about the same weight (or possibly slightly more) than your average console controller. This isn't jus
  • There are a lot of great suggestions in there.
    • Flash. Better yet, removable flash, SD to be exact. This is the key to the DS being able to support a Virtual Console-like feature. And since we've got the memory now. How about an integrated music/video player?
    • Camera. Integrate it so that it can face front or back so you can use the screen as a view-finder or so your opponents can see you as you play. Great possibility for some innovation there as well.
    • Virtual Console. Seriously guys, the DS is more than capabl
    • Virtual Console.

      OMG. I think everybody got enough of that "old timer" crap on Wii. End result isn't that good: few new Wii games released - and all what is pushed up is the sentimental junk.

      Though of course downloadable games are imminent: WiFi in DS paid off and Nintendo would definitely investigate possibility to make games even more cheaper and accessible. So I think what you say would eventually come true. I just hope it would NOT become another trash collector as Wii's VC.

      As for camera. I'm

  • by TwistedSpring (594284) on Friday March 23, 2007 @02:02PM (#18461531) Homepage
    While I agree with many of the points the article raised, I have (I think) some more important ones.

    1) 802.11g with WPA encryption. Nintendo's official response to this is pretty much "go screw yourself!" but I'm prevented from using many wifi features due to using WPA on my WLAN.

    2) Better use of wifi technology. The initial menus should show any DS users in range and what game they're playing when the system boots. Then you should be able to ask to join their game (provided you insert the right cart) by touching one of the games. That main boot menu is unused most of the time because people simply hit the button that starts the game they have inserted. I've seen so many people with a DS on the train when I have mine in my bag, but I can never tell what game they're playing and it's kind of annoying for me to ask them to quit so I could give them a game. Conversely, if a message scrolled past saying "Steve wants to join your game, press START to allow it" (without interrupting their play) they would probably allow it and we might even strike up a conversation afterwards. We can already play strangers on Nintendo WFC, why can't we do it with some agility in ad-hoc play?

    3) Don't lock-up the OS when I pop out the cart. This is ridiculous. The system menus boot from ROM and I should be able to swap games without crashing the initial menu system. This is a requirement for point 2 to work. There are interrupts that fire when a cart is removed, but the DS firmware doesn't seem to handle them.

    4) The DS browser is very slow due to lack of system memory. An official way of expanding the memory (like a mini SD slot or *officially supported* mini-SD expansion cart for the GBA slot) would be a nice feature.

    5) Improve the sound quality, I have no problem with the visuals but the sound quality isn't really good enough for MP3s on headphones. 44khz sampling rates at 16bit would be nice.

    6) Allow me to download demos of games with the browser and stream mp3 audio like web radio.

    7) Give me a custom avatar to store in my personal data instead of making me draw a different one in every game.

    8) Keep everything else as it is and don't try to turn it into a PDA.
  • How about making PDA software? It's pocket-sized, has a stylus, includes an on-screen keyboard program, and has Wi-Fi support. It's everythign I've wanted in a PDA - except it has no PDA software.
  • I know it isn't going to happen. And I know most people don't care. But I still want it. :)
  • A slot 1 flash card like the R4, Supercard DS One, M3 Simply, etc. Then you can turn the DS into a PDA, play MP3s, stop carrying game carts around, etc.
  • Just give it an extra 256MB of RAM and use a virtual console-like service and let us download N64 games. Perfect Dark over Wi-Fi!
  • From the summary:

    felt forced to upgrade to the DS Lite - itself only a cosmetic adjustment.

    Um, NO. I could not fucking see my DS Fat in most lighting conditions, accidentally turning it off instead of pressing Start was common, it was too heavy/big to be carried around in a pocket, the battery life wasn't as good, the stylus was too small to handle precisely and comfortably, and the buttons were too flat and clicky. The DS Lite is MUCH more than a cosmetic adjustment.

    • by AvitarX (172628)
      Why did you buy the DS?

      It sounds awful.
      • by yoyhed (651244)
        Haha, that's a good question. It actually did suck for the most part when it came out, because in addition to those hardware problems, there were no good games. Nowadays though, the DS Lite is great hardware and there are plenty of great games. Not that I own one anymore, as I usually gravitate back toward only PC gaming and sell my consoles. I'm also not a fan of the lack of depth in most portable games.
        • Actually I liked my DS Phat, and still have it, this thing basically is a bombshell, you cannot break it. Perfect match if you go for harder conditions and want some gaming with you. The DS light is way better, I agree, although for long gaming sessions the hands also cramp (every portable console has this problem) I simply have both, for normal use the light, and for heavy conditions the phat, add to that that multiplaying is only possible with 2+ dses... this combo is perfect for guests.

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