John Walker's Electronic House

Eurogamer: DS, Listen, We Have To Talk

by on Jan.31, 2010, under The Rest

I have a piece up on Eurogamer today looking back at the Nintendo DS. Three and a half years ago I wrote this ‘love letter’ to the DS, celebrating why it was such a strange and interesting platform for gaming, exploring the oddities it was producing, revelling in the glee this produced. Time has passed, things have changed.

So I’ve taken the ‘love letter’ idea more literally this time. It’s a mixture of difficult letter to the console, and article discussing the rise and decline of the games available. I’m pleased with how it’s worked out. It’s also appropriately odd. It begins:

DS, we have to talk. I’m sorry that I’m doing this in a letter rather than face to face, but I need to express all my thoughts and feelings carefully. I need to make sure you understand. I need you to know that I still love you, I’ve always loved you, but something is wrong.

Remember that love letter I wrote you in 2006? We’d been together for a year and I’d never felt so happy. We were still getting to know one another even then, and you had that ability to constantly surprise me. Every time I thought I knew all about you, you’d pull out another twist, another wonderful talent. Of course we knew this wouldn’t last, but then, at that time, it felt like forever.

In August 2006 I wrote a piece of Eurogamer about my unbridled love for the DS. The console had been out for just over a year and what was happening was extraordinary. While the DS was of course home to streams of rubbish, it was also the place to go for your dose of strange. Many spectacularly odd games, ideas that seemed born of fever dreams and lunatics’ fantasies.

It was the memory one of these games this week that suddenly brought the reality of my relationship with the DS crashing down on me. I remembered Rub Rabbits.

Oh, remember that year. We were always hand in hand, laughing, playing. There was so much laughter. The games weren’t always brilliant, but it was about us, how we interacted, how we learned about each other. Those hours and hours chatting with Phoenix Wright. The strange adventures, exploring with Another Code. Painting together with Kirby: Canvas Curse. It was like nothing else. We were young, we had no responsibilities, people didn’t understand us. And we didn’t care.

It continues here.


6 Comments for this entry

  • The_B

    Fantastic piece that rings ever so true to be honest. I wont lie that as much as I enjoy the stuff being released on DSi Ware it’s far from making the inroads I’d hoped (I’d hoped it would mean we’d be able to get some of the more obscure Jap titles as they wouldn’t have to worry about distribution costs.) However, can I be the annoyingly pedantic git who points out the completely inconsequental factual error in the piece? Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t Project Rub the name of the first title launch game mentioned in the piece with Rub Rabbits being the sequel?

  • Rosti

    Excellent wordthinks, John. It hadn’t occurred to me that the lack of creativity on the platform was the thing sapping my interest, but having seen it articulated it makes a whole bag of sense.

    As a case in point, my most played game of 2009 was the Korg DS-10 synthesiser, with no other DS title hitting the imaginary top 10. Sadface.

  • Nick

    My sadness with the DS and the Wii are that most people are just shoehorning the motion or touch controls into their standard game. Although sometimes this actually works quite well, others the game would benefit from not using them.. like the various Castlevanias and their utterly pointless ‘oh, we’d better use that touch screen somehow,I suppose’ it just added nothing. Also as they are viewed as the mythical ‘casual’ thing the amount of shovelware released for both is depressing.

  • Hobbes

    I’m going to edit out the DS-relevant bits and use the rest of the text…

  • Lu-Tze

    I’m still playing Slitherlink, it remains my go to game on the DS when I tire of whatever new frippery they produce. Passing 1000 stars is the best thing i’ve done on my DS.

  • romanista

    love the piece, the end of the era feeling is nicely pictured, at WoS not all agreed though

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