General consensus around the industry recently has tipped the imminent arrival of a new DS, whether it's a new model of the existing machine in a GBA SP sort of way, or an entirely new 'DS 2'.
We contacted Nintendo for a comment and they gave us more than the usual 'rumour and speculation' answer. Which was...
"No announcement has been made by Nintendo and everything reported online is pure speculation and rumour. Our hardware development team always work on the next product after we launch one hardware. It is usual that a new model will be brought to the market when we can not offer new ideas with the current model, but we think Nintendo DS is not at that stage yet, and we'd like to keep offering all sorts of suggestions to enrich the lives of people who own a Nintendo DS."
So the official line is that DS is 'not at that stage yet', huh? Well, we beg to differ. In fact, we can think of seven good reasons DS could not only do with an upgrade or sequel, but in fact why there must be one already being prepped by Nintendo boffins.
1) DS has reached saturation point in Japan.
Everyone in Japan owns a DS already. Seriously, Nintendo has sold over 21 million DS consoles in the Land of the Rising Sun, which would equate to 16.5% of the entire population of the country. Considering babies aren't able to buy games consoles, that's pretty much everyone who might buy one. Unless Nintendo can persuade everyone that they actually need two DS consoles (er… it stands for 'dual system', yah). Even if there's no DS2 coming soon, a new model would boost sales all over again as hardcore fans rebuy the system in its new iteration to keep up to date with the latest technology.
2) DS is getting on a bit
E3 2004 saw the DS' unveiling. That's almost four years ago now. We've been playing it for three years and although we love it very much, maybe it's time we looked forwards. It does feel odd not to have a new console from any of the big three on the horizon. Of all the current systems, the one that looks likeliest to be succeeded first is DS.
3) DS game development has gone very quiet at Nintendo
We've already had a new Mario platformer, a new Zelda, Advance Wars (twice) a new Metroid, a new Mario Kart, a new Pokemon… are we really going to go around one more time with each of these franchises on the system? We doubt it. And, seeing as Nintendo seems perfectly content to rehash all their old intellectual properties, we can't really see the current system being flooded with massive, original new titles.
And let's face it - if there were any new AAA games in development for DS, we would surely have caught wind of them by now. No, it makes much more sense to think the development resources are being put to use on games for a new machine. Nintendo told us:
"We've not officially announced any Wii or DS games for Q2, Q3 or Q4 at this time hence there seems to be less first party games than some might expect. We will announce further titles for Wii and DS as part of the Q2, schedule in the coming weeks."
Let's just say it will be very interesting to see what these new games are.