Nintendo ups its game with slimmer mobile console

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 March, 2006, 12:00am


Related topics

The new, sleek version of Nintendo's portable gaming device, now called Nintendo DS Lite, is making waves among handheld gaming fans.

Released earlier this month in Hong Kong, the DS Lite is being snapped up in droves by gamers. This response is in contrast to the lukewarm reception given to the original DS, which was widely available several days after its debut.

The DS Lite sold out all over Japan in a matter of hours, with one store in Tokyo placing a sign outside its doors within minutes to inform the public there were no more available.

Retailers were given limited supplies, averaging only a few hundred units each. Most of the machines were sold out even before the outlets opened because buyers had placed their orders beforehand.

Many of those queuing up in Japan are otakus (geeks and nerds), but the buyers include teenagers and even the elderly, some of them over 80. This is probably because some of the software titles aimed at the adults, such as Eigo Zuke (English training) and No-o Kitaeru Otona-no, have games that help stimulate brain activity.

GameSpot has reported on its website that second-hand stores are selling units for close to 40,000 yen (US$340), more than double the 16,800 yen (US$143) retail price, and online auctions are averaging about 26,000 yen (US$221) a unit.

In Hong Kong, gamers were able to get the new portable a day before the official Japanese launch, at a premium price of $2,600 at KL Game Shop in the Golden Shopping Centre. The price has since dropped to $1,750. Compared with the $1,000 price of the first generation DS, this is still quite expensive. In fact, for an extra $100 you can pick up a Sony PlayStation Portable.

The DS Lite's dimensions are 133mm x 73.9mm x 21.5mm and it weighs 218 grams. The previous model weighed 275 grams. This makes the gaming device a third smaller and 20 per cent lighter, and it now looks like a gadget that Apple might have produced.

The gaming unit is also better weighted than before - it no longer feels top-heavy.

The DS Lite comes in three interesting colours: crystal white, ice blue and enamel navy.

In addition to the cosmetic upgrade, technical improvements have been made to the dual screens, which are now brighter with four brightness settings that affect power consumption. The problem of the top screen being brighter than the lower has also been fixed.

With the improvements, the Nintendo DS Lite could be the portable gaming device to challenge Sony's PlayStation Portable.