The DS Lite

Working at 500% capacity due to ever decreasing size of my team here at the office means that those moments I would choose to update are becoming more and more scarce. It’s not that I have less to say, far from it, it’s just that I have so much less time to say it in.

My workplace has kindly offered to help out by blocking pretty much every website I normally visit in my working hours and a few more just to be on the safe side. This, the fact that I’m doing the work of at least three people whilst remaining underpaid in the first place and a number of other factors are not helping my mood.

I’ll always make some time to deliver some critique of Nintendo’s latest moves though, of that you can be sure.

Whilst expectations of a redesigned DS were high Nintendo apparently snubbed them with a statement indicating that no information would be forthcoming at this years E3 show, they firmly denied any such redesign would be available. In a move that barely conceals their smugness they announced the DS Lite, due for release on March 2nd in Japan.

Of course, this confirms that there is no need for an unveiling at E3 in May due to the unit having been available for two months by that time. Nintendo, once again, enjoying the delivery of misinformation to their industry and consumers and the bizarre psychology whereby thousands of gamers thank them for such treatment. I remain unimpressed by such behaviour and fully expect some mention of the DS Lite at E3 regardless of Nintendo’s claims.

So, barely a year after it’s initial release, Nintendo have redesigned the unit, moved a few things around and make it look as much as an Apple product as the Revolution appears to be. I guess Apple-chic is probably a little more important if you’re going to be out and about trying to look hip with your iPod and DS at the same time. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before Mr. Jobs and Mr. Iwata get into bed together and spit out some MP3 playing DS compatible gizmo that is the size of your fingernail and comes with the complete works of Pixar pre-loaded and launches with a re-release of Mario 64. God, I bet some of you would love that.

Will the DS Lite follow in the same footsteps as the GBA’s redesign into the SP and mysteriously lose some basic functionality that can only be restored by buying a Nintendo made adaptor? If you’re not sure what I’m going on about, try locating the earphone socket on your GBA SP. I’m all for improved design (although, frankly, I’d rather they got it right the first time rather than staggered out their designs to an easily swayed public) but not at the expense of basic features. It becomes a game of smoke and mirrors:

Look at our lovely redesigned DS. Don’t you want it? You WANT it! See how sleek it is, how cool it will make you feel. You will say WOW

“Erm.. ..where do I plug my headphones in, dude?”

See it sleek and pale design. Just like other top luxury product! You can play GBA games! You can play DS games! You can run Linux!

“Headphone socket. Where?”

See how it will compare to Nintendo Revolution in appearance. All this is better! All this is new! This is not as it was before! BUY NOW!


OK, so I’m being overly harsh towards this redesign. Once bitten twice shy, right? I mean, if Nintendo hadn’t already pulled that stunt once then I wouldn’t have reason to question their morals. Oh, and before you feel sorry for Nintendo and claim that they simply didn’t have space in the GBA SP to fit a 3.5mm headphone jack it’s worth bearing in mind that the redesign didn’t happen by accident. It’s not like they said “We must make it this size, not 1mm larger”. The exclusion of the earphone socket and it’s decision to be replaced by an adapter at an additional cost was no accident of design – it was premeditated. Not only that, but in the GBA SP’s current design it would have been possible to fit an earphone socket.

My final concerns on the redesigned DS is it’s name. Nintendo state that the term DS Lite is in reference to the pale complexion and lighter weight of this new machine. In the English language, both those qualities would be described using the word “lighter”. Logically, this would suggest a name of DS Light instead of DS Lite. Whilst “Lite” is a trendier term and, perhaps less easy to confuse with a lamp or torch it is tends to be associated with a product lighter in features or limited in some way when compare to the original. A consumer might read “DS Light” and think “torch” but, crucially, a consumer might read “DS Lite” and think “less”. I recall that press conference with Reggie Fils-Aime lumbering around on stage giving definitions for the term “DS”. Everyone instantly assumed “Dual Screen” but the man from Nintendo tried to convince us it stood for, amongst other things “Developers System”. I don’t think anyone believed him.

For the reason’s stated above, I don’t believe “Lite” stands for lighter weight and lighter appearance. It may be the most poorly chosen of names from a company who have a tendancy to consistently abuse their position as industry icons.

Apart from that, I wish it every success.


I just wanted to drop a note to any readers of the site to say that updates will be forthcoming. I’ve been a wee bit busy lately but have another two movie posts and possibly an Opera (not the browser) post to subject you to.

My current workload, search for alternative employment and enjoyment of GTA: San Andreas are the culprits for the lack of updates. GTA on a PC with decent controls (finally!) and hardly any loading time is just too good ! 🙂

See you soon.

A musical interlude

Videogames related, of course!

First off is a great interview with the legendary Yuzo Koshiro. Koshiro managed to make 16 bit machines sing. His titles include the Streets of Rage series on the Sega Megadrive and also the Actraiser games on the SNES. He’s still a busy guy today but clearly keeps a lower profile.

Secondly I’d like to point you to another video located on The game is Rez, the video is of the final stage being played to perfection. You can see it here. I think Rez is a stunning piece of work and more of an experience than just a game. Admittedly, the gaming side of things is fairly simple but the overal sensory package of incredibly realised visuals, thumping sonics and a vibrating controller working overtime to such a degree that it makes your hands ache is simply unrivalled. This game was way ahead of it’s time and is well worth picking up if you can find it. I’ve lots to say on Rez – none of which is going to change your mind if you don’t like it of course. But, hey, that’s your loss.

Brokeback Mountain

This is my first cinema-going experience of 2006 and I figured it might be entertaining for me to keep track of such stuff at With the “all-you-can-eat” style cinema pass my wife and I have subscribed to I’m expecting to see a lot of stuff on the big screen that I might otherwise have dismissed.

I’d heard plenty regarding Brokeback Mountain but wasn’t particularly bothered about seeing the movie. If anything, all the critical acclaim being gushed over it around Hollywood’s Oscar season made me suspect that the praise was more political than anything else. After all, what about that year when the best actor and actress awards when to black actors (Denzel Washington and Halle Berry) ? I’m not saying they were undeserved but, come on Hollywood, you could try to make things a little less obvious huh?

I’m glad I saw the movie and recommend it without hesitation.

Visually, the scenes of the plains, moutains and other frontier vistas are as eyecatching and impressive as you would expect from a director of Ang Lee’s pedigree. To be honest, outside of those scenes there wasn’t much directorial flair on show but there certainly weren’t any gaffes or areas where things didn’t work.

The story of two 1960’s ranchers that fall in love with each other is unconventional to say the least. It’s an idea that you may have needed to be told twice before it sunk in. It’s a huge credit to the movie that, despite the unorthodox theme and unforgiving social context for it to be set in that it’s delivered in such a believable manner. There is absolutely nothing alarmist and exploitative in the pivotal scene where the two main characters realise their feelings – although it may make some folk feel mildly uncomfortable. The film has better things to do than pander to any viewers lascivious tastes however. It moves on dealing with the emotions of these two seperate characters (one quiet and withdrawn, the other more free-spirited) and how their lives proceed over the next twenty years.

Like much of the initial scenery, there are vast expanses of open, empty space in the film’s dialogue and it succeeds in telling it’s story and conveying the growth, frustrations and sadness of it’s two main characters as much as in what isn’t said as in what is. There’s always plenty to concentrate on behind the eyes of the protagonists and much of it is sad and melancholy.

This is not to say that this is a depressing film. It certainly isn’t a happy one but it is weighed down with the burdens of responsibiliy and conforming to what is expected in a society at the expense of personal gratification.

I was genuinely moved by the film and the story it told and would encourage anybody looking for a serious, mature but less mainstream movie to see it sooner rather than later.

Oscars? Nominations – certainly, but I suspect with some more political movies floating around such as Munich and Good Night and Good Luck the Academy may indulge their political and historical leanings again when it comes to making a final decision.

Gotta smack ’em all!

Posted around the internet in a variety of news sources, this excerpt from an article from the Independent on Sunday really makes me wonder about certain people’s parenting skills.

Good ol' mom!

Well, at least when Germany invaded Poland they were out and about doing something.

Any kids reading this, I suggest you hold out for more – if your parents are insisting you drop Mario and pick up a needle then why not haggle for some street girls and a sherbert dip?

Giant Killing

Guys and girls, get ready for some spoilers!

Although the majestic Shadow of the Colossus isn’t available in Europe for another few weeks it appears to be getting the speed-run treatment in the far east.

I’ve not seen all the footage yet but the fact that the last Colossi can be beaten in a mere 2:18, a time that includes the hazardous approach as well as the ascent, is pretty astounding.

I love speed-runs at the best of times, and I love Shadow of the Colossus. This stuff is great!

Shadow of the Colossus – Speed-runs

It goes without saying that if you watch this stuff without having already beaten the game then you’ll ruin some surprises. Typically, the speed-runs do stuff in a way that breaks the expected path through the game – you won’t necessarily learn the intended way of beating the game by watching these – but you will definitely dampen the effect of the game if you intend to play it yourself.

Whilst on the topic of lesser-seen bits of Shadow of the Colossus you may want to have a gander at the NICO concept reel. NICO was the original project name for SotC and this footage is great. It shows that the original concept must have been pretty sound a good three and a half years ago as there doesn’t seem that much that’s changed from what’s was presented in this video. You’ll swear the opening vistas are real-world footage too. Enjoy.

Laziness Is The Mother Of All Inventions

This is just too awesome to be true. Finally, no more need to use those aching neck muscles. Why hold your own head when this wonderfully sturdy support can do it for you? Get the edge in your favourite murder simulators now that you don’t need to waste energy fighting gravity.

This guy will put on 14 stone in 6 weeks

Head here for details on this exciting product!

And, whilst keeping with the vaguely jovial tone, allow me to direct you towards a particularly good issue of VG Cats.

Operation Splitfish

I’m sorry to say that my first post of 2006 is not a happy one. As the long, cold winter of this seemingly never-ending bout of console wars drags on the latest ‘event’ is one that I’ve named ‘Operation Splitfish’

Splitfish is the name of a third party peripheral manufacturer who, at the recent CES 2006, showed off a 2-piece game controller for the PlayStation 2 console. Superficially this resembles the same type of freehand control mechanism presented by Nintendo with their Revolution and ‘nunchuck’ extension. Apparently the device will also offer some sort of light-gun / light pointing device.

There is no doubt that the Revolution has influenced / inspired this controller and to suggest any different would be foolish.

Regardless, the news has been greeted by many commentators with the chant of “Sony have copied Nintendo again!”. Amongst the many comments I have read there are many criticising Sony of such a crime when, as a few sensible folk have pointed out, this isn’t a Sony designed product. In fact, arguments persist on the topic of Sony stealing Nintendo ideas and analogue control and vibrating feedback are cited as examples. The issue here is that Sony are not doing the copying – this doesn’t pacify the Nintendo supporters who go on to claim that because it’s made for a Sony product that Sony are responsible for it’s existence. This belief is founded by way of any product requiring approval by Sony for use with their system. Strange then, that wildly popular PlayStation products such as third party controllers, Action Replay cartridges and more explicitly state that they are unapproved, unofficial products not sanctioned by Sony. The Splitfish may well be one of these products – to those that are interested in checking the facts before throwing the accusations. Curiously, it was on Nintendo that non-official products first appeared with the infamous case of the Game Genie for the NES. Nintendo attempted to block it’s existence and took the product and it’s makers to court. Game Genie won the case and the rest is history – thanks to Nintendo it is perfectly possible to make a device for a Nintendo or Sony or any console product without it being officially approved by the console manufacturer.

The most entertaining dismissal of this legal precedent is one comment I read that states “Sony allowed it to happen, therefore Sony are at fault for the copying”. It seems that, like a determined ferret, once a gamer sinks his teeth into their idea of an argument, they’re simply not going to let go. To take that particular line of thinking further it is possible to argue that had Nintendo not got too greedy with the Famicom CD project they partnered with Sony, Sony may not have gone off on their own to produce the PlayStation 1 and 2. Therefore, applying the same logic, it’s not unreasonable to say that “Nintendo allowed it to happen, therefore they are to blame”.

You see, with a modicum of thought, common sense and an appreciation for facts and history it is easy to see through all this excited feedback for what it is: utter nonsense. Throught a whole trail of commentary I read a few posts from people trying to inject some common sense into the comments. It was completely ignored and overshadowed by fingerpointing by others with user names of LinkMaster or x_SAMUS_x.

This example of gamer culture is the portent of it’s own demise. As a culture our credibility is already in question – as are our morals and ethics.

Read the original article, it’s comments and witness the worst gamer culture has to offer

I’m getting truly sick and tired of this war. The whole Sony VS Nintendo thing got into gear with the handhelds and hasn’t ever let go. Each side finds a few specs or sales figures it likes and fires them over to the other side trying to score a hit on some landmark of operational significance.

Every war has it’s casualty and this war is taking CREDIBILITY it’s hostage. It is simply not possible to set foot into the warzone without being stripped of your innocence, your dignity or your credibility being questioned. Neither side will give an inch – it is total defeat or else. There doesn’t seem to be a middle-ground. And, quite frankly, the head honchos are lapping it up whilst the foot-soldiers are throwing themselves into the line of fire, willing to lay it on the line for the sake of a couple of Japanese companies who don’t even know they exist.

I’m going to start my own, dignified, revolution. I’m going to send out a cry for common sense in gamers. Those that are tired of the fighting and the futile, purile trading of insults, specs and landmark titles can join in. Together we can crawl off the battlefied and return to the heart of all of this. Playing videogames.

Of course, I will still state my cases when I feel the need. This site is my mouthpiece after all. But, as always, I’ll fight opinion with fact. I’ll fight hearsay with history..

..and my own bloody minded opinion. Naturally.