On Sunday the 3DS will be released and my time with my DSi will come to a close. Oh sure, I’ll still have it, but unless the tales of poor DS game performance on the 3DS are right on the money, my DSi will go to my kids, same as my DS did. It seems silly to be melancholy over a console, but so much of my gaming life has been wrapped up in this little machine these past years, I can’t help it…
Oddly enough, when the DS was first announced, way back in 2004, I honestly didn’t see the point of it. I’d had a Nintendo handheld since the GameBoy Color and absolutely loved my GBA SP, but a big honkin’ handheld with two screens? Come on. Who needs two screens? Who needs a touch screen? Buttons are fine!
And so I passed it up, thinking it was all just a silly gimmick. Sure, I’d see it in the GameStop and play around with it from time to time, and I absolutely hated the Metroid Prime Hunters demo, no doubt because I was an idiot as I ended buying the game. As a result I didn’t have the desire to buy one until Nintendogs. Yes, Nintendogs.
I have two dogs and they’re both pretty dang old, old back then too and the ability to play with spry, young puppies tugged at my heartstrings. I love my dogs, but sometimes I miss when they were young, excitable puppies, no doubt because I was a bit of a young, excitable pup back then too. Here though was a game that let me play with puppies, dress them up in outlandish outfits and best of all, I didn’t have to clean up poop, pay exorbitant vet fees or arrange for a petsitter every time we wanted to travel. Talk about a win-win. And so, in August of 2005, when Nintendogs launched, I bought my first DS.
I forget how clunky the original DS was with its strange bevels and odd coloring. It was so much bigger and weighed so much more than my GBA SP yet didn’t have the sexy sleekness of my PSP. Like, remember how the original DS had that thumb-stylus thing you could use? I miss that thing. For reference here’s an excerpt from a piece I wrote about the DS back when I first got it, when I was young and in love:
They’re both pretty much the same size, which means you need cargo pants to carry them around in, or those crazy-big hip-hop jeans that all the kids seem to like. They are handheld in that they can be held in your hands, but so can a watermelon and I wouldn’t want to carry that damn thing around all day. Having some sort of case is essential for both, if only to carry the unit and the games. For the PSP it’s a goddamn imperative because that screen attracts scratches like monkeys attract things that like monkeys.
At the time I got my DS, I had a PSP as well and the drought of PSP games made the DS a no-brainer. That’s a trend that would continue for some time as the DS quickly eclipsed the PSP both in my heart and in my free time. Eventually I would trade in my PSP for my Xbox 360 if memory serves me correctly while I kept my DS until the DS Lite was released.
Through the years with my DS, I had all manner of awesome gaming and personal experiences with it. I remember sitting up at two in the morning, in a hotel room in Yaroslavl, Russia, jet lagged and exhausted yet unable to sleep as I waited with my wife to adopt our daughter the next day. At 2 AM there’s not much on TV, even less when you don’t understand Russian and you can only read so much before even that gets boring. To pass the time I played my DS, specifically Trauma Center: Under the Knife. By the end of my time with that game, I hated it, in part because of the difficulty of the final surgery, in part because it represented sleepless nights in a foreign place, both tired and scared of what was to come.
The DS led to the DS Lite and eventually the DSi and over the course of time, the console grew to become my favorite console ever. I would leave home with it in my work bag, play it at lunch, bring it home and then play it while watching TV. Sometimes, as with Puzzle Quest, I played it in bed. I’m sure my wife hates the damn thing, but I loved it. I loved every minute of it. I loved being blown away by games like The World Ends With You and Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes. I loved that I wrote my first GameShark review (Death Jr. and the Science Fair of Doom) for a DS game and wrote more reviews for the platform than any other. What had started out as a purchase made to interact with make believe puppies became a source of revenue, a source of amusement and a constant companion.
Sure, I have had great gaming experiences on other platforms. I still remember playing Icewind Dale with a party made from my take on the fantasy version of the characters in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I remember fondly the Friday nights of system link Halo in my basement. More recent forays into co-op and achievement hunting with Petey and Hodge have made my 360 so important in my house I got another one to keep in a different room, but as my time with the DS went on, it became my favorite console, a title it holds to this day. In fact, early on in the life of Jumping the Shark, I remember saying the DS was my favorite console and Todd saying he didn’t consider handhelds consoles and I remember being surprised. How can you not consider this, one of the greatest gaming machines of all time a console? What it lacked in size or processing power, it made up for in heart.
And maybe that’s why I loved it so much, because it was never as pretty or as powerful or as sexy as the consoles around it yet it performed admirably and consistently. It was fun to be around and a joy to experience even if it wasn’t the best or the brightest. For someone like me, who has never been the best, nor the brightest at anything, it was hard not to fall in love with such a plucky little thing, and be happy for its success as it steamrolled everything else around it.
It’s silly to invest emotion into these material things as to the people that make them, they’re more representative of numbers on a balance sheet than they are human experiences and had the DS flopped, for all that I loved it, Nintendo would have done away with it and tried again. However it didn’t flop, it succeeded beyond everyone’s expectations and that success allowed it to stay around and give me more wonderful gaming experiences as the years went on.
So yeah, I’m sad to see it go and sure, I could skip the 3DS and stick with my DSi if I wanted to. I still have Radiant Historia to finish and 999 to finish and so much of Pokemon White to experience, not to mention whatever DS games are still to come as the system winds down, but eventually it will come to an end. The 3DS is here and soon the DS won’t be. My kids will have my old ones and I’ll have my 3DS with all of its cool, new technology, and a copy of Nintendogs, to bring it full circle. Still though, I’ll miss my DS and the times I had with it. It was a good machine and it served me well and so much of my life has been wrapped up in it these past years that it’s like a little piece of me is moving on too.
So farewell DS. Farewell and thank you. I’ll always remember what we had together.
I have been, and always shall be, your friend.