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Wei Man takes a look at what Nintendo's first- & second-parties have to offer

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Nintendo DS Lite
Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: 3/2/06
Region: Japan

"Let there be light"

Such a phrase is well-known here on Earth and who are wii to think Nintendo wouldn't take this too literally.

We've seen three new re-models come out of the Nintendo HQ within the last year. Firstly the lesser-known GBA SP with a brighter screen, secondly the breakthrough in pocket gaming in the GBA Micro, and finally, my talking point, the brand new DS Lite.

Nintendo definitely thought ahead with this re-model, as it's ready to be the brother of their next home console, Wii. Resembling the look of Apple's iPod, it gives off a very mature posture about it, desperately reaching for the palms of gamers and non-gamers alike.

Slickness, a smaller size (not by a lot, admittedly) and neatness are the ingredients for this recipe, as everything has been tuned and tweaked to near perfection. The most noticeable change when you lift open your new clam is that the microphone is now in-between the two screens, making blowing, talking and just generally playing a lot easier on the player's eyes. (1)

Using the newly-positioned power switch on the side, you'll notice the new and improved stylus inserted beside it. The new stylus is larger and easier to hold, and really helps the gameplay for games who rely on the touch screen.(hover) Providing the player with the placement of two important functions of the DS next to each other gives a clear indication as to the vitals for this machine. It might only be a tiny adjustment, but giving the player easier access to the stylus after turning the machine on sets it apart from the original model, especially for first-time buyers entering the world of dual-screen gaming.(hover)

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The power indicator is now clearly visible at all times. It is cleverly placed on the hinge piece of the machine, allowing players to easily see how their battery is doing on all charge, standby and play modes.(2) Speaker size has also been reduced, but this doesn't come at a cost to the quality of audio, as it sounds better than ever.(3)

Button layout is essentially the same, though with minor changes to the Start and Select buttons. The buttons' sizes have been decreased, and they are easier to push in. This doesn't particularly affect the gameplay, however. Gone is the clicking inherent to the GBA SP's directional pad and all of the DS's buttons, which may please some gamers.(4)

The screens are definitely the biggest selling point of this redesigned machine. Offering much brighter and crisper screens at the cost of a few hours of battery life is a reasonable sacrifice. Among the added features includes a brightness toggle, in which four settings are optional.

Nintendo have definitely thought through this redesign, and have succeeded. Everything from the new quality of screens, to the bonus plastic GBA slot dust protector(hover), is present. With the DS Lite, care and precision is the order of the day, but in the end, is it worth a purchase?

Obviously things have changed for the better. There isn't one single alteration that downgrades in comparison to the original design. However, I can't help but feel that something is missing from it all. It's not too great a leap over the original design, and the new features don't truly warrant spending out if you already own the old DS. Needless to say, however, if you aren't currently an owner of the original design and are indeed thinking about getting in on this fresh handheld wonder, then I highly recommend you purchase a Lite instead. You won't look back.

For original DS owners: 7.0
For new DS players: 9.0

- Darren Gargette, contributor

High-Res Pics
DS Lite Closed
DS Lite Figure
DS Lite Pose

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