Happy 20th Anniversary Gameboy!

Nintendo GameBoy 20th Anniversary

20 years ago, in Japan, Nintendo released what it would be the world’s most famous portable console ever: the Gameboy.

Today any cell phone can do 1000000 times more a GB could do at the time, but I’m yet to find a cell phone that amuses me as much as the Gameboy did.

The original Gameboy was my first console and even today it’s my favorite portable system. Playing with the first Gameboy, 20th years ago (well, not 20 because it was only launched on Europe in the 1990) was an exciting experience. It was like playing in a portable NES, since Nintendo ported almost all the major successes of the NES to the GB. It had a screen the size of a sticker, gray and green, but playing Super Mario Land was huge. The sound was lousy compared with today’s standards, the screen was sometimes blury, but it had multiplayer games, a camera add on and a printer that printed the photos on stickers. It sold like hot cakes and the evolution of the system was what made Nintendo what it is today, and it saved the company when the home systems like the SNES and the Gamecube were selling poorly.

The Gameboy was replaced by the Nintendo DS, taking down the name that made the thrills of many gamers but even today it’s still remebered and recognized by the world. I hope one day Nintendo will release another Gameboy console, a new system that takes the DS to a next evolutionary step, a console that will be as innovative as the Gameboy was 20 years ago.

Happy Birthday Gameboy!

Check my Gameboy Set in Flickr.

The New Nintendo DSi

Nintendo DSi

Those of you who “know me” and read my rants about video games, probably acknoledge the fact that I’m a big Nintendo fan. I don’t consider myself a fanboy, my opinions about games and consoles are not supported on some stupid brand based zealotism. I recognize the cons and the pros of each platform and games, regardless of the brands behind them. Having this “said”, this little “disclaimer”, I’m now ready to write about the new Nintendo DSi.

The Nintendo DSi was the first console I ever pre-ordered from a store. Not because I was afraid it might sold out due to high demand, but because I had a hunch that most of the stores wouldn’t stock it in big numbers for the moment. Why? First because it’s Nintendo and Portugal, if you didn’t know, it’s the biggest European market for the Playstation consoles. Second, because there are plenty of Nintendo DS Lite’s stocked in the stores, and they’re trying to sell them all before stocking the new Nintendo DSi.

Was I right? Well, let’s say that I got my DSi on the 3rd, European lauching day, and today there were still some major electronics stores that didn’t stocked the DSi. Coincidence? Perhaps, but my DSi rests safely in my hands 😀

Rants apart… As for the console it self, well, as you might know the “leap” is bigger that it was with the DS Lite. The i on the DSi is probably not for Internet, but it should be since it will be the Internet and the new DSi Ware shop that will fuel this console. You”re still able to play all your DS games, and according to Nintendo, there’re some DSi enhanced games on the way, but the buying games and applications on the DSi shop is the strongest point of this console.

As a token of appreciation, Nintendo is offering 1000 Nintendo DSi points if you register your new console until October if I’m right, points that you can use to download some of the few games available at the DSi store for the lauch. As usual, us Europeans have less to choose for. The DS Internet browser is free, so that should be your first download. I don’t know how it compares to the previous (paid) version available for the DS and DS Lite, but it’s still developed by Opera and it’s funcional as any other mobile browser, you can even Twiit from it 😀

From the 5 games in the DSi store available at launch, the only one that caught my attention and deseverved to be bought is WarioWare: Snapped! If you played the previous WarioWare games you won’t regret playing this one specially when you play it with the DSi camera. At the end of the rounds the game shows you the fun but sad figures one made while playing the game 😀

As for the console it self, it’s smaller than the DS Lite, it has bigger screens, SD card support so you can save your photos, sounds, music (AAC only, no MP3) and backup the games you download from the store. I hope that in the future, Nintendo does the same as it did with the Wii and allows the games to be played directly from the SD card.

Along with the DSi Store, the DSi comes with the usual Pictochat and DS Download Play as well as two new “applications”: Nintendo DSi Camera and Nintendo DSi Sound. The first allows you to use the two cameras (yes two) to take shots and manipulate them with several effects, like frames, distort, color swapping, etc. This application uses face detection in order to make some cool tricks in real time, like showing cat ears and whiskers when filming. Besides this, you can share the photos from DS to DS or copy / shoot them directly to the SD card and it also keeps a calendar / journal with the photos you take.

The Nintendo DSi Sound is the console’s audio player. As I said before, it’s limited to AAC files, no MP3 support. Nintendo already did this with the Wii in some firmwares ago, so no surprise here. You can listen to your albums if you have them on the card (in AAC format) with some cool visualizations, but the best is being able to change the music in real time with several effects. You can also record audio from the MIC and play with it.

These are not awesome features but they are fun to play with, giving for sure some laughing moments, but Nintendo left out one of the biggest features available on the previous DS’s: the GameBoy slot. Now you can’t play Gameboy games or even use all the accessories available for the DS that used that slot. There’re already some rumors that the DSi shop will carry Gameboy games like the Virtual Console for the Wii, but I’m not so sure it will be for now. There’re still too many Gameboys and NDS’s out there to be sold that can play Gameboy games…

Two cameras and some cool audio and photo apps are not what I would call killer features to sell a new app, but the DSi Ware and DSi shop turn the DSi into a very interesting console. Nintendo launched in Japan some cool titles for the DSi like Doctor Mario and Braintraing, other brands like Namco are already supporting the store with titles like Mr. Driller.

The big question is, is it worth buying?

It all depends on what you want. If you don’t have a DS, this is the one to buy. Besides that, it all depends on you love for Nintendo and you hopes on the DS store. The fans are sure to buy it, and in time the DS Lite will dissapear… so, as always it’s a matter of time and money 🙂