I couldn’t help myself. The urge was too strong. I could hold out no longer and splashed out on a Nintendo DS.
My white Wii has impressed so many that I decided to match it and buy a white DS. Except I couldn’t. For about a week I looked around the town centre and online, searching for the best deals. £99.99 is the RRP and everyone appears to be sticking to it. Even the likes of Play.com and Amazon.co.uk aren’t discounting the unit (well, Amazon have it for £99.98!) Reports had it, that over the Christmas period, shops had sold out of both the Wii and DS. Even now, four months after launch, I have yet to actually see a Wii on a shop shelf anywhere (and I do keep an eye out, out of interest). Fortunately the DS isn’t quite so rare now but I still had some trouble. The best place I could find was GameStation in town. £154.99 for a DS Lite (the newer remodelled DS, much sleeker and less Fisher Price looking) plus any three games. I went in there and of the three colour options (black, white and pink) they only had pink left. Not really my style, so I left grumpilly wondering if I’d find one anywhere else. Then I remembered – the local Blockbuster rental store had a GameStation franchise inside. I rushed off to another part of town, asked the same question I had opened with at the other shop (“Can I include pre-owned games in the 3 game DS bundle?”) and this time I had the reply ‘Yes, we only have black and pink DSes in stock, though’ – much better than ‘Yes, we only have pink DSes in stock, though’! I’d really wanted a white (for one thing the black really shows up the finger marks – as I knew from two colleagues who also have black DSes). Nonetheless, black would do! Little wonder nowhere is discounting the DS – why would they when it sells so easily at full price?
Now I am one more to add to those statistics. A fews days or so before I bought my DS I saw the incredible news story that Nintendo had sold over 3 million DSes in the UK alone. Many news sites also gave the DS as having 68% of the UK handheld market, with the remaining 32% split in some way between the Nintendo Gameboy Advance (still going strong despite the DS’s appearance) and the Sony PSP. This makes me wonder about the PlayStation3’s future in the UK, too – according to the BBC when the PSP was launched it sold almost twice as many as the DS at launch and becoming the ‘fastest selling games console of all time’ in the UK until the PS3 beat it. Now look at the situation with the PSP – less than a million units sold compared to over three million. I don’t think either the PSP or the PS3 are going to disappear (at least not until their natural product life cycles come to an end in five years or so) but it is a testament to Nintendo’s concentration on the devices as games machines and putting the enjoyment factor before the cool gadget features. The odd thing is I am normally the type of person who would go for the gadgets – I’m a natural PSP user. Nintendo really must be doing something right to get me onboard. In fact it is a direct result of how impressed I am about the Wii that I bought a DS. No doubt it will work the other way for DS owners who haven’t yet got a Wii.
The only problem I’ve been having is finding the cream of the crop of games. Two games I wanted to buy with my DS were ‘Advance Wars: Dual Strike’ (note the clever pun on DS!) and ‘Another Code’. Both are slightly older games and universally appeared to have gained ‘top game’ honours at various websites and games magazines. Naturally they were impossible to buy new, their initial publishing run in this country long since having sold out. DS games seem to come in at basically two price points. £29.99 for the top games and £19.99 for the older games and more budget audience aimed games. I’m sure both of these games I was after would have come out at £29.99 and stayed there until sold out. Fortunately both GameStations had one of each game in their pre-owned section. I think one was £24.99 and the other £26.99! More expensive than most new games!! That’s why I made sure pre-owned were included in the 3 game bundle! Advance Wars is Turn Based Strategy game (similar to Civilisation), Another Code is a graphical adventure game (similar in concept to Myst) and the third game I bought was a new game (in the £19.99 section!) called Age of Empires – another strategy game (that many PC gamers will already know – and no, no Microsoft involvement in this port!). All three make fantastic use of the dual screens and touch screen functionality.
Since then I’ve gone on the buy Big Brain Academy and Wario Ware: Touched. The DS is a great little device – all the fun of playing with my wii but in public!