Nintendo DS Portable Gaming System

Nintendo DS

Photo Courtesy of Nintendo

Nintendo has long been the dominant force in handheld gaming. Their Game Boy products have maintained a fierce following, owing to their low price point and extensive software lineup. With emerging challengers like Sony and its highly regarded PSP due to take center stage next year however, Nintendo can ill afford to sit and watch.

Enter their next generation gaming handheld: the DS.

Priced at $199.99 and reportedly available by the end of November, Nintendo highlights the DS?s main features as dual screens, touch screen input, voice recognition and wireless gaming.

With the clam shell design the DS sports, the dual three-inch, backlit screens are perhaps the thing most noticeable right away. Nintendo sees this feature as a way to experience two aspects of a game at the same time. For example, according to some Nintendo press literature, a person playing a role playing game could be engaged in 3-D combat on the lower screen while being able to view their inventory on the upper one.

Another functionality of the lower screen will be touch sensitivity. With some of the gaming titles in development, Nintendo envisions options like on screen menu navigation and selection without using the physical buttons. A stylus will be included with the DS for those who wish to use one.

Communication options, both for the self and with friends, will be another DS staple. A built-in microphone will allow interactive voice control through recognition for hands off gaming. It will also let users chat with other users over the Internet and through a local wireless network.

Nintendo has big plans for the wireless aspect, allowing up to 16 players to compete against one another within a guaranteed range of 30 feet. Since 802.11 will be supported by the DS, a user will be able to connect at a local Starbucks, for example, and play a game against someone online.

Other features highlighted for the DS include 3-D rendering at up to 60 fps, 16-bit stereo sound, rechargeable batteries with sleep and standby modes and support for DS and Game Boy Advance cartridges. All of this will be supported by dual ARM9 and ARM7 onboard processors.

With regards to lineup, the DS will have an impressive line of titles backing it. According to a recent press release, there are over 120 new titles in development. Popular franchises like Madden NFL, Castlevania and Rayman will be available, along with a host of new games which are first runs on the DS.