30 Days of Gaming, #11 – Gaming system of choice

Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh.

This one was a no-brainer despite loving many various systems over the years. In fact, I find my experience with console and portable gaming systems to be interesting, if nothing short of a mixed bag. I grew up on neighbor’s NES and then my own SNES (Nintendo fanboy), then saved up my money as a young lad by scooping ice cream, busing tables, and doing clerical work for a PlayStation and PlayStation 2 (Sony fanboy), and then ended up doing a bunch of cartoon commission work (I drew cartoons of all the authors, not the cover art in case you were curious) to get enough money for an Xbox 360 (Microsoft fanboy) when I was in my mid-20s. Along the way I also had a GameBoy, a Nintendo DS, and now a Nintendo 3DS. This is more than just a roll call, as I want it to be clear that I’ve dabbled in multiple videogame pools. Which one reigns supreme? Why, the one with the double screen.

My journey to getting a DS started on a whim; one day, I just decided to go get one, and so off I went, and to demonstrate what happens next I’m posting some comics from the MyLifeComics archive:

Wow, I can’t believe I got this thing like four years ago.

So I picked up a newly minted Nintendo DS Lite, a copy of Mario Kart DS, and an extra charger. I was unaware that the system itself came with a charger in its box so now I have two. Wee. Thanks, mindless Target employee for the tip. Upon arriving home in my teeny tiny studio apartment, I curled up in my comfy chair, flipped the system’s lid open, turned it on, and heard–for the very first time–a sound that would soon provide me with comfort, stability, friendship, and sanity. It went like doo-doou-doooooo. I quickly got the feel for the system thanks to some heated online races in Mario Kart DS, and slowly grew my collection, picking up a range of titles from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin to Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords to Flash Focus. There is literally a game genre for everyone. But the system wouldn’t hit home for awhile until I discovered its not-so-dirty secret: it loved roleplaying games.

Obviously, I’m a huge fan of RPGs, and over the years the DS has put up an excellent fight against the PlayStation 2 for the trophy of MOST RPGS EVER. Seriously, you can’t flick a stylus at a GameStop shelf without hitting a Nintendo DS RPG these days. And besides RPGs, the system has a slew of gaming experiences you can find nowhere ese: Professor Layton’s puzzles and hidden coins, Picross 3D‘s mind-numbing puzzles, The World Ends With You and its duel-screen action, Scribblenauts with its wordy fun, and so on. Many skeptics believed that the touchscreen was just a gimmick, that it wouldn’t work, but they all turned out to be wrong; it’s fun to touch the screen with the stylus, to control things and move them around, or flick them away.

Gaming on the go is a great idea, and this is literally that. The Nintendo DS Lite is perfect for pockets, with a good battery life and not being too heavy; the same cannot be said about its “upgrade,” the Nintendo 3DS. Ever since I graduated college, I’ve found myself constantly in my car, constantly traveling, constantly being away from all my creature comforts. Packing up the Xbox 360 every time I went down to my parents’ house was always a pain. Thankfully, with the Nintendo DS, I was able to bring a piece of gaming with me wherever I went.

This system of choice is also important to me for another reason. Seeing me play it so much and so often–and with such glee–convinced my mother to get one. I let her try out some of the minigames from the New Super Mario Bros. DS as we flew out to Arizona over the holidays to see my sister, and she fell in love with tapping the screen, especially during the minigame where you had to move colored bob-ombs into specific cages. Arriving in Arizona, we immediately headed out to a nearby Target (again with the Target!) to get her one. About a day later, my sister Bitsy also got one, and here’s the two of them at the zoo, “DSing it up” as I called it:

The Nintendo DS connected me with my sister and mom in a strange, new way, one that I never imagined. With Bitsy, we bonded over Animal Crossing: Wild World, entering each other’s worlds and sending each other gifts; it helped bridge the distance from Arizona to New Jersey, and was a nice thing to constantly keep up on each other over. For my mother, well…it opened up new branches of conversation. She checked Amazon for new games or asked me to keep an eye out for any titles she’d like; her favorites were puzzlers, the hidden objects kind, where the story was forgettable, but finding baseballs and irons and handcuffs in a jungle scene was amazingly addicting; she always wanted me to play the game she just beat, or help her past a tough part of her current one.

As human beings, we develop attachments to many things: people, places, smells, sounds, tastes, everything. It’s inevitable. And it’s not silly for me to feel such a connection to my DS Lite, which has, unfortunately, not gotten as much love over the past few weeks with the 3DS in the limelight. I will return to it, surely. Just writing this makes me feel guilty for such neglect. This mesh of circuit boards and chips and plastic bits and screens and d-pad that hurts my thumb after awhile has always been there for me, and in return I have treated it well. When that charge me red light comes on, I hop to it. I always place it in its carrying case, an early birthday gift for me from my mother, and I would never in a million years trade it in for money or store credit or the answer to the universe and everything else, no matter what. The Nintendo DS is my favorite gaming system, and will remain so for as long as I can make it happen. Please bury me with it.

3 responses to “30 Days of Gaming, #11 – Gaming system of choice

  1. Great story, and totally agree about your system of choice. The DS Lite is probably the ultimate portable system: small size, excellent screens, and a huge library of games with both DS and GBA available. Love my DS. Funny thing is, my original one came with Mario Kart DS packed in and I only played it once. Haha.

  2. Fun post. I also have fond memories of the DS Lite since it is the biggest reason I got back into gaming. I love that some of my favorite franchises have received awesome sequels on it — Contra 4, the Castlevania games, etc. — and I am happy to be able to play a bunch of games that I missed over the years like Chrono Trigger and the early Final Fantasy titles. Seriously, this is just an awesome little system.

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