Nintendo DS |OT| Everyone Buys a DSi XL


The problem with the Wii U is that the desire to have a full gamepad-only experience was so popular that any game using the gamepad for some bespoke 2nd screen experience would have to make that entirely optional or not support gamepad-only play.

There are some games on Wii U like Tokyo Mirage Sessions that do some really cool stuff with the 2nd screen (it treats it like the player’s cell phone, complete with a chat app with other characters in the game & it vibrates when you get messages) but for most games it was make the minus button activate off screen play and maybe if you’re lucky a map.

Major Wii U releases like Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, and Breath of the Wild even skipped doing anything useful with the gamepad which is just crazy; in the case of BotW the whole screen is just black and touch acts as a button to turn on off-screen play.


Wow, really? It’s not a map? That’s nutty. I’m playing BotW right now on Switch and I’m constantly toggling to the menu, even with the quick-select menu that’s available on the left-hand face buttons.


Is there a consensus best OG DS RPG? I’ve got a few flights coming up.


All you get is this:

It was going to have some amazing gamepad integration until the Switch port was planned.


Yup, That’s right. Regardless of its bulky ugly design and dim screen, the original DS outsold the PSP and was dominant well before the DS Lite came into existance. Quite Impressive. I wonder if someone actually sat down and took a minute to realise how that was possible given the specs of the PSP. Sony really dropped the ball with the PSP. Interestingly, I did enjoy my PSP when I picked it up before eventually getting a DS for Chrono Trigger.


Well, that’s all speculative. We know some stuff was changed once the port was planned, but don’t know how amazing the original vision for the Gamepad’s integration into BotW would have been.


Yup shit was annoying. In BoTW’s case the rumor was more the game was changed to not use the second screen at all after it was fully moved over to a switch title. Who knows what use it would have had before that.

Really like how it was used in games that did use it. Xenoblade X and Pikman 3 for example. Since I never cared for the “mobile experience” of it that function of it, and the switch, is lost on me, but I also recognize that my views on that are not the general public’s. :c


It wasn’t a rumor:

“A major difference between developing for Wii U and a major thing we had to change for Nintendo Switch was the controls. Wii U has the Wii U GamePad, and we originally envisaged making major use of that for the controls,” said Aonuma. “Of course on Wii U you have two screens - the main screen, and one on the GamePad - but the Nintendo Switch has one screen. That was a major change, but we achieved it a lot more easily and quickly than we expected. In the end we’re happier with how the controls came out, having made those changes. I feel that the control system we landed on was better than what we originally had.”

Remember the footage during Game Awards? The game had a pretty detailed map on the Gamepad.


Right. I just didn’t want to make a definite statement since I wasn’t going to go and verify my claim before posting it. Glad you did the leg work for me. :3


Yup. Link’s Sheikah Slate is the Wii U. Obvious that major Wii U integration was dropped to avoid having that be the superior version functionality-wise.

Also agree on the DS’s (and 3DS’s) dual screens being a perhaps unnecessary design in the long run. I never got over wanting a bigger screen GBA with touch. We don’t see as well vertically as horizontally so I thought the whole concept was sort of forced and inconvenient as soon as I put in a lot of time into Yoshi Touch & Go (really have to focus to keep track of what’s happening on both screens).

As I recall, PSP failed because of a number of factors: easy piracy at no added cost (which became rampant), added cost of the Memory Stick Pro Duo, UMD format and loading times being a hindrance to quick pick up and play, hardware problems (UMD tray), terrible marketing/advertising (“edgy” and controversial), the price of the hardware itself, relatively poor battery life for the time, the demand for “console quality” gaming on the go wasn’t as big as anticipated, disappointing multimedia features (compared to something like an iPod), DS was just plain more popular for simple portable gaming with a much wider demographic than the teens/young adult males tageted by the PSP.


I could write out more later but I think the biggest negative factor for the PSP was that it cost too much to make games for it. Why put the money into a PSP release when you could make a PS2 game instead? Later a Wii game instead.

For all Sony complained about the handheld gaming ghetto that factor allowed for a lot of great lower budget releases on GBA and DS; the standards there were much lower and you didnt need to put a lot of money in to make a complicated 3D game.

That was later combined with the DS expanding the market with Nintendogs and Brain Age.


I agree that touch was the real star, but I think they needed the second screen because one is being obscured by touching. But here the touch area can be dressed up by the game designer to match the use interface or game graphics.

I feel that DS educated a good proportion of mobile developers.


I wouldn’t say it failed though. It sold 70 million units. It just didn’t come close to the success of the DS.


It’s hard to believe that the psp predated the ipod touch by 3 years. The specs on the PSP for it’s time were an unreal value. The UMD and proprietary memory were definitely huge negatives.


Good point. I should say far less successful than its competitor – which most initially assumed would get stomped. I was admittedly a huge DS fanboy --as a day 1 DS owner I was invested in it doing well!-- but I thought the media bias at the time was blatantly in favor of PSP.


Sony really dropped the ball there hahaha.


Some interesting posts over the last day!

I think Nintendo, and the early wave of risk-taking and innovative third party support (Trauma Centre, Goemon DS, Pac-Pix), managed to carve out whole new gameplay ideas and mechanics using both touch and the dual screens. As Matt mentioned, having two screens helped expand the way touch could be used (a single screen would be covered by your hands, and may have been too diminuiative).

The two screens also expanded the number of ways the handheld could be held - think about book mode in Hotel Dusk, or the way Brain Training shows its information on the left hand side while using the right hand side for text input. It’s interesting reading this interview with Satoru Okada and seeing the reaction the team working on DS (then Nitro) had to Yamauchi’s suggestion that the system should have dual screens.

I got both DS and PSP at launch, and both systems felt like very different visions of the future. I think Apple eventually merged what both systems did well into one device - the iPhone, but looking back, PSP was overengineered. It was ahead of its time from a technical perspective, but a lot of that actually hampered the user experience and games.

For instance, Sony’s insistence on going with a widescreen display hurt a lot of the ports that the system got - it wasn’t uncommon to receive stretched visuals or zoomed in, blurry visuals. The UMD drive imposed long load times and short battery life. And the single, high resolution screen - beautiful at the time but plagued with horrible ghosting - was clearly difficult to produce with a decent refresh rate. The PSP did eventually receive a decent lineup of original games and proper remakes (Tactics Ogre!) once it became popular in Japan, but by then the DS had built up a mammoth library of unique games and experiences and iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad were bringing in the next wave of those.

Still, I love generation 7. We had two handhelds doing very different things leading to two entirely unique libraries of games. It was rare to see a game built for both DS and PSP because of that, but the size of the market meant publishers and developers could afford to support both systems with bespoke titles and even bespoke ports. Meanwhile, in the console space, while the 360’s success with online services influenced the PS3, the Wii ended up carving out its own unique library of games too as publishers tried to experiment with ideas that may attract new audiences (Capcom and Zack and Wiki, Marvelous and No More Heroes, Nintendo and Endless Ocean, Konami and Elebits/Dewy’s Adventure, Atlus and Trauma Team, Sega and Let’s Tap).


Honestly as others have alluded to I think being too similar to the non portable systems is what hurt the PSP the most and being so different is what helped the DS the most. Not being just a port machine or having the choice of “why don’t we just make this for the home console”. It gave devs no reason to make a game uniquely for the PSP even if some really did shine on it.

I’m someone who doesn’t really use the “portability” of portable consoles, normally am just playing them in the same space as I would my home console, so my point of view may not really be valid though. Putting a game on the PSP when I could just play a better version of the same thing with no sacrifice to me wasn’t ideal.


That’s the thing, the PSP was very much trying to capture the same experience as Sony’s home machines, whereas the DS ended up playing to the same strengths as the GB, GBA, Wonderswan etc. That is, bespoke hardware that requires bespoke games.

Once the DS built an audience and developers begun discovering new types of games thanks to the combination of buttons/touch/dual screens and microphone, it became increasingly difficult to make these kinds of games for the PSP, if not impossible. Sting’s eccentric bullet-hell RPG, Knights in the Nightmare, was ported to PSP, but it was hard to shake the feeling that the game was designed for two screens and a stylus. I got a similar feeling playing Sushi Striker on Switch after 3DS.

I think the Switch is the realisation of the portable console concept. Nintendo embraced the idea that phones have taken the primary slot in people’s pocket and made a large screened display - allowing interfaces built for TVs to finally work on a handheld (they were just too small on Vita). And it meant the control inputs could be bigger and roomier - there’s the full suite of buttons and clickable sticks. Lastly, the screen size combined with the kickstand and detachable controllers enabled a truly portable solution for console local multiplayer for the first time ever. Switch enabled me to spend more hours playing local multiplayer games this year (and last year) than I had in the previous decade.

Switch also came at the right time in the sense that game development has become far more homogenous. Games are made around a single set of inputs (the generic modern controller) and built around code portability. Switch plays into that very well. Perhaps Nintendo’s biggest progress with the Switch is making a very conforming machine that’s also easy to develop and publish for. It’s the right machine for 2017 but I don’t view it in the same category as the handhelds of the past - eccentric non-conforming machines survived by their unique library of games. Switch isn’t that. And it could never be that in today’s market.


I think it also helps that Nintendo designs games that are more easily played portable. Sony seemed dead set on replicating the long form home console experience on PSP with more cinematic sequences and lots of non-playable game stuff that just feels like total bloat when played portably. Nintendo focuses on you playing at all times, and when you’re playing on the go, you don’t want to turn on the machine to watch videos bridging the gap between short playable sequences.