From a Gamer’s Basement 10.13.04

Another week has passed us by and the big news this week was the plethora of information that came down the pipe on the Nintendo DS. The gaming world is literally abuzz as new details poor in about the systems line-up and features, as almost all the major sites and magazines seem to have solid things to say about the system. So, in all honesty, this is not much more I could say that could possibly enlighten you, my readers, any more on a system that has been covered to death. Obviously the jig is up so to speak: I am an unapologetic and unwavering Nintendo follower. It’s just the way I was raised. I believe the DS is going to be a major success, and is also going to be one of the greatest innovative touches to come to gaming in quite some time. The initial line-up of games looks pretty damn good as well. All the major Nintendo franchises seem to be in the works, as well as some very solid third party development. My only concern, oddly enough, is with another handheld system very near and dear to my heart: the GBA SP. I know there are some pretty amazing games still lined up for the handheld that has set the standard for handhelds. One needs not look any further than titles like the GBA version of the Megaman Anniversary Collection, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Pokemon Emerald and the next four “classic” GBA titles to know that Nintendo still has some plans for the SP.

But how much longer will Nintendo produce and support games for this economically appealing system? Obviously the DS is the future of Nintendo handhelds, but does that mean the SP is no longer a viable system? I know what you’re saying though. “A.J., the DS already HAS a slot to play GBA games, so doesn’t that solve your problem?” Well it does and it doesn’t. The fact that Nintendo made the DS backwards compatible is surely a great selling point for those consumers who already own a SP, but the fact is many features (like connectivity) will no longer work when using a DS system. So many of the games that rely heavily on the use of a cable for two player gaming or trading will not work with the newer system. Perhaps I’m just a bit sad. The SP has been, by far, my favorite system to date. No console out there, past or present, has given me as much gaming hours logged or enjoyment as the GBA and the SP have. To see it slowly being phased out it more than a bit surreal. This system came out while I was in high school, and has definitely provided much needed breaks throughout my college career. I know the DS will probably be just as great, but I don’t think it will ever be the same. It’s the same for those of us who remember playing the original Sega system or the NES back in their heyday. I’m willing to wager many of us, me included, look back on those days and wonder why gaming today usually can’t measure up to the experiences we had back then. When it comes down to it folks, the most powerful elixir in gaming in nostalgia, and I wonder if any new console of handheld will be able to impress the gaming masses so much that it satisfies a generation of gamers that can’t find the same experiences they once had in their gaming.

But enough about Nintendoâ┚¬Â¦I fear if I continue talking about them I may be lynched by those who couldn’t give a crap about the Big N. Let’s turn our attention to Sony’s PSP. I have to admit, in the face of a new handheld war between Nintendo and Sony, I am eager to see which system ends up being victorious. Conventional wisdom would give the edge to Nintendo, as the handheld graveyard is literally filled with failed attempts at unseating them from their throne. The PSP; however, stands to offer the greatest competition Nintendo has seen yet. Questions do surround the PSP though. Battery life and pricing seem to be the two main areas that Sony can not seem to give us a definitive answer on. Make no mistake about it, now that handheld gamers have been spoiled with rechargeable built in batteries, most will not settle for less. Price is also a concern. Nintendo is offering the DS for $150 bucks, and the PSP rumored price seems to be around 250-300 dollars. With so much up in the air it’s tough to tell is Sony will be able to compete, although to count them out before things even start is certainly foolish. If Sony can resolve the lingering questions about the battery life of the PSP and offer a reasonable price then certainly the stage is set for a major clash in the handheld market. The only good part about this clash is that the true winners will be us, the gamers. Competition usually means an improved product, so here’s hoping that Sony’s entrance into the handheld market yields nothing but a more improved product from both companies as time goes on.

A little on the short side this week, I know. But I assure you school has killed me, so my excuse is somewhat valid. I will make it up to you. This week I should have two reviews coming your way so be sure to keep on the lookout for them. Until then make sure you pick up the SP and enjoy some quality time with it. It deserves that much at least people.