The Nintendo DS Launch Guide – Page3

System Pack-Ins

That’s right. Gamers can bring their DS system straight home without buying anything additional at all and still be able to make use of it. Check out what comes packed in with your Nintendo DS purchase to provide immediate enjoyment right out of the box.

Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt

Metroid Prime is all about Samus. Well that and multiplayer and the touch screen and the whole new DS system for that matter. While the jury is still out on whether you’ll get to peer at pixels of Samus without her alien killing suit on, it still sounds like it’ll be a fun game. Nintendo is going to try to prove it to you by packing the Metroid Prime demo in with the Nintendo DS bundle.

The new way to kill Metroids is with a stylus and your control pad. The two screen feature of the DS system allows you to look at maps and move Samus around as if you were using a mouse. Since there are so many different combinations of game control, the option screen will allow you to choose from up to five different control configurations. Whichever control combination you choose, you’ll still be able to use the familiar arm cannon and flex yourself into ball form to get to those hard to reach places.

The Metroid Prime demo also has multiplayer ability. You can blast away at aliens, go into survival mode, or even test your skill as ball-Samus. All of this is a part of the multiplayer experience. With the wireless connection between DS systems, game play is virtually seamless with little to no lag. It’s great not to hassle with cords; just turn on the game and go. There is a single player part of the demo that is called training mode. It doesn’t look like this takes up the bulk of the demo. It appears that Nintendo wants to wow people with how integrated multiplayer is on the DS and is probably one of the reasons they picked Metroid Prime to debut that feature in the pre-packaged bundle.

Picto Chat

What is Picto Chat? That’s the question that is on everyone’s mind when they run over the specs for the new Nintendo DS. It’s pretty much what it says it is. Picto Chat is a communication-software that comes pre-installed and allows you to send messages and pictures over the unit’s wireless connection.

Picto Chat utilizes the dual screen of the DS by using the top screen to monitor any pictures or text messages that have come through and using the bottom screen as your keyboard and graffiti area. You can use the stylus on the bottom screen to tap out messages and even draw quirky pictures to send to friends that may be within range. All told, it appears to be a step up from text messaging on your phone and right in the same range as a pocket pc in the way you can write messages; using a stylus is a lot quicker than using a ten key. In the future, it may be that this program will be integrated in some newer games, but for the time being it’s an interesting way to chat with your friends wirelessly without a cell phone.

– Geli Warner

EA Sports

EA Sports and Nintendo are teaming up to weasel the DS into the hands of not only trendsetters and fanboys on launch day, but also those of mainstream sports fans. The DS will drop on November 21 not only with the prerequisite Nintendo first-party offerings, but with a surprising volley of quality third-party sports games, led by the one-two punch of EA’s most successful next-gen franchises: Madden and Tiger Woods. Combined with Urban Asphalt and Ridge Racer, the DS looks to be a solid investment for sports fans.

Madden 2005 DS

Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: n/a
Genre: Sports
Release: Launch Title

The DS’s Little Processors That Could are running Madden DS in full 3D on the top screen, with graphics comparable to the N64-era Maddens, for what that’s worth. Translation: expect blocky characters with nothing, aside from jersey numbers, to distinguish them from one another. EA has promised that the graphics will be much sexier when the final version is released, but at the moment it looks rather unimpressive. Game modes include Season, Quick Game, and 2-Minute Drill; in other words, the usual usual. You can also look forward to shaming your friends on the gridiron via head-to-head 2-player mode, without being attached to them by a hatefully-short cord.

The Touch-Screen of Mystery’s primary use here is play selection. This is one of the most obvious applications of the 2-screen system (being one of Nintendo’s primary examples of second-screen functionality when the entire gaming world uttered a collective “WTF?” in response to the DS’s concept), and its functionality makes up for its lack of innovative snazz; play selection no longer has to completely interrupt the flow of gameplay, and the player can clearly watch strategies play out on the bottom screen in the form of Xs and Os and get a clear view of everything happening on the field. The stylus is also coming into play to control replays, with the bottom screen serving as a graphical interface with buttons for camera control and playback. Kudos to EA for making what has the potential to be the first easy-to-control implementation of this feature in any console game.

EA’s clear strategy with Madden ’05 DS seems to be sticking to the tried-and-true rather than pushing for flash and innovation, but this is hardly surprising; Madden is the king of pro football sims for a reason, and a subpar first offering on a new platform can easily kill a series’s chances to establish itself as the king of a new mountain. While this strategy won’t win over many new fans, it will bring the Cult of Madden to the DS en masse, and set them up for more innovative later offerings.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 DS

Publisher: EA Games
Developer: n/a
Genre: Sports
Release: 12/14/2004

As with Madden, Tiger’s graphics look a bit blocky and pixellated from early screenshots, but should be somewhat cleaned up by the launch date. Fans of the console versions will rejoice, as their avatars will again be customizable; although Tiger DS doesn’t boast the sheer volume of character options available in the latest console iterations of the series, the Create-A-Golfer system will still let you build your own pro and tinker to your heart’s content. Obviously one will find the options to play Tour mode or a quick round. Also available is the DS’s much-touted wireless multiplayer, which will allow four golfers to spoil a good walk together, to paraphrase Twain.

Tiger excels, however, in the realm of second-screen functionality. Top screen is the standard 3D view from behind the golfer, but the bottom screen is where the real action is; EA’s making sure that you get your money’s worth out of the touch-screen. Between shots, the touch-screen will show a top-down view of the hole. This gets interesting in that the player can tap the screen at any point to recenter the top screen’s camera, a feature shaping up to be so useful and intuitive that one could easily wonder how they got through a golf game without it. When you’re ready to take a swing, you meet the completely new control mechanics that make the analog stick look downright dated. Briskly rub the boost meter up and down to add some extra kick to your swing, then drag the stylus along the curve of the shot indicator to set the swing’s power (carefully, kids, because your trajectory depends on your handling of the stylus). While the ball is airbourne, it takes over the touch-screen, allowing for frantic rubbing that adds a little last-second spin. Again, intuitiveness and innovation are the names of the game. EA’s launch titles are combining established quality with new ideas to make an impressive impact on November 21.

– Adam

Nintendo DS Launch Guide: Page 4



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