But is it all enough to warrant an upgrade?The system's yet tobe given a firm release date in the West, butwe can still takea look at the Japanese version to find out.
The most obvious addition to the even sleeker casing are the two cameras - one on the outside and the other facing you as you play. With the new SD card slot (which is in instead of the GBA cart slot but not in its place on the casing), you can take, store and transfer pictures easily. See both cameras in action below.
By the way, please excuse the poor quality of the screenshots and video on these pages - we can't take screenshots directly from the new machine yet soour owncamera will have to do.
The camera can even be used in games - using the new DS Shop icon on the system's slick new front end menu, you can buy games (currently from the Japanese shop only), such as a sweet little Wario Ware game. You play it like EyeToy on PS2 and the movement recognition is excellent - but it is embarassing to have the game play back images of you playing it at the end of each go, displaying a weird montage-cut video on the title screen for all to see. It's really well done, though.
One of the other big new additions is the ability to play MP3 files directly from an SD card. But the fun doesn't end there. There's a really impressive pitch and speed alteration tool which seamlessly alters the track in real-time as you drag the stylus across the screen. There are also some nifty digital signal processing effects, although quite why you'd want your small speakers to sound more like small speakers is beyond us. Check out the video.
You can also record your own voice and store sound clips on the SD card although there does appear to be a time limit on these.
An updated version of the Opera DS Browser that was released in 2006 has been packaged in with the new system and runs without the need for a memory expansion card. However, we found it just as slow (slower?) thanthe old versionand we couldn't get some of our favourite sites to even load. GamesRadar does load, but not in its entirety as the browser still doesn't feature Flash. And that's simply inexcusable, seeing as most of the web needs it these days. This isn't as good as the PSP's browser, but certainly better than nothing.
There's an animation program built in which lets you create your own hand-drawn animations using a system of frames. It lets you record sound effects too, although if you record it at one speed and then speed up your entire clip, the sound gets higher too. Funny stuff if you use it right.
Above: Sonic on Nintendo shock! Oh, sorry - two years too late
That shop feature we mentioned earlier is a definite plus point. There are some neat little games and demos available to download directly to your DS from any WiFi hotspot. We particularly like the game with the bird who sticks out his tongue to collect falling objects, and the descending paper aeroplane is simple but addictive. There's even Dr Kawashima and his Brain Training to enjoy, although this doesn't seem to offer anything new from the time we've had with it.
Above: As simple as they get - guide the paper plane through the maze without letting it touch the side. Harder than it looks
Worth a punt
The new DS model is the perfect example of evolution. Looking at the original DS now, its blocky designlooks decades old in comparison. Everything here is clean, bright, sharp and light. It's technologically excellent (except perhaps for that web browser) and it's got something of interest for everyone, from the amateur photographer or animator to fans of 8-bit music. It's still more of a novelty than a serious replacement for your iPod or digital camera, but in terms of handheld entertainment, it's only really lacking a built in video player before it's got the PSP completely cornered.
Is it worth an upgrade? Put it this way - if it wasn't for the loss of the GBA slot, we'd have traded ours already. So if you don't care for GBA games, then yes - upgrade and smile. If not... how does being the proud owner of two DS systems sound?
27 Jan, 2009
Meet the new musicians using old tech to create their sounds
An oooold article but still relevant