When Nintendo released the DS handheld console it faced a major problem – the Sony PSP. Not only did Sony’s new console sport PlayStation branding, but it also gave Nintendo an object lesson in design methodology. Put simply, the PSP looked awesome and instilled all onlookers with a desire to own one, and that was before you even considered the superior graphics, sound and multimedia functionality. Yes, the PSP had the DS out-gunned in pretty much every area, but there’s no doubt that the aesthetics of the DS were its biggest drawback.
Even die hard Nintendo fans like myself had to admit that the DS was, for want of a better word, ugly. At the time of its arrival I went as far as saying that I thought the DS looked like a Chinese knock-off, rather than an official Nintendo console. And as if the overall design wasn’t bad enough, both the screens in the DS were dull, while the touch screen had a quite frankly awful viewing angle. Again, when you compared the two screens in the DS to the single screen in the PSP there was no competition – the screen on the PSP was bright, vibrant and a joy to behold.
Despite my early misgivings about the DS, I was ever confident that Nintendo would come up with a better version, and that we’d all be asking ourselves why this new machine wasn’t launched in the first place. After all, that’s exactly what Nintendo did with the GameBoy Advance. The original GameBoy Advance was a huge step forward from the GameBoy, but Nintento’s decision to stick with a non-backlit screen proved something of a disaster, while the form factor made the Advance less pocketable than the outgoing machine. But when the GameBoy Advance SP arrived, everything was different. Not only did you get a better quality backlit screen, but the clamshell design made the new console smaller and more stylish. Now Nintendo has done the same thing with the DS and the new DS Lite really does make me ask the question – why wasn’t the original DS like this?