Friday, July 06, 2012

Let's Play: 'Which Portable Looks Best?'

All of this recent chatter about the 3DS XL/LL prompted me to consider something only a loon like myself would bother considering: That being which of Nintendo's many dual-screened portables looks best?

Yes, a good number of them are similar superficially, but most sport subtle design differences that keep them from looking like mirror images of one another.

Given all of that, let's take a gander at the six dual-screened handhelds Nintendo has supported since 2004 and then grade them in terms of best to worst (or most to least appealing).

For starters, here's the original Nintendo DS:

Two years after the system above was released, Nintendo followed it up with the oh-so-svelt DS Lite:

The similarly sexy DSi (striking a pose below in hot pink) hit the streets just two years after that:

And, then, of course, there's Nintendo's first jumbo-screened portable, the DSi XL, launched in 2009:

Everyone has seen the company's latest dual-screened product, right?

Finally, there's the 3DS XL (3DS LL if you live in Japan), which will land on store shelves later this month or next month, depending on where you live:

As for which design I like best: I'm going to go for the DS Lite and DSi this time around--due to the fact that they're sleek as can be but also completely portable (something that can't quite be said for their successor, the DSi XL/LL).

That said, I'm also pretty fond the original DS' design. I know it's by far the most toy-like of all of Nintendo's clamshell handhelds, but I've long had a soft spot in my heart for it. (Now if I could just find a "candy pink" one in like-new condition...)

Anyway, those are my thoughts on this completely unimportant matter. What are yours?


diaglyph said...

I'm such a Nintendo fanboy!
I didn't want to wait, so I imported the Japanese phat DS when it came out!! I think I ordered it from that online store Lik Sang and they put instructions inside on how to set language back to English :)
I felt very cool and nerdy for doing that LOL So I'll remember the original DS fondly just for that ;)
But thinking about it now, its not very pretty lol!
My next DS was the blue DS Lite.
When DSi came out I got the red/black version and then I got the all black version (I think I gave the red/black one to someone else). This was also back when I had a job LOL
I never got the DSi XL as that was when 3DS was announced and I thought it pointless get the DSi XL.
I currently have the aqua like 3DS.
When the 3DS XL comes out, I'll be getting the red/black option :)

Viewtiful_Justin said...

I think the DS Lite is my favorite, but maybe that's only because I spent many many many hours with the thing. My least favorite, no surprises here, is the 3DSXL.

Like you, Bryan, I find some charm in the clunky original DS. It comes in at a close second, for sure.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Igor: Thanks for sharing all the details of your DS obsession :)

I love that you imported a DS 'Phat' from Japan. I'm surprised I didn't do the same to tell you the truth. I guess I just wasn't all that interested in the DS at first, which is kind of amazing when you consider how much I love the system today.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Justin: The DS Lite has a great, simple design, if you ask me. I guess some might see it as a bit generic, but that's probably the worst that could be said about it.

I'm glad to hear that you, too, like the original DS design. I used to hate it, but now I find it really appealing for a number of reasons. Oh, hindsight...

I understand your dislike of the 3DS XL, of course, although I will say that seeing it 'in the wild' makes me think it's more attractive than it first appeared in photos.

Still, I won't be buying one anytime soon. Next year, though? All bets are off! :P

Viewtiful_Justin said...

Hey, did you see they're releasing a hot pink 3DS? I just saw it on Kotaku.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yeo, saw it yesterday. Only a Honk Kong (and somewhere else) release, though. Honestly, it's a bit too hot pink for me. Why can't Nintendo release a straight-up pink 3DS/3DS XL like they did with the original DS? I even liked the coral-ish pink DS Lite that was released. I'm so sick of hot pink and rose :|

Kimimi said...

How about a Princess Peach themed 3DS instead?

In any case, my personal favourites out of that selection are the DS Lite and the DSi - they just work. I still can't believe the original DS got out the door considering how sleek the GBA SP and the GB Micro looked, and I really don't like the way the 3DS innards (don't) match up.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Don't get me started on those Nintendo-themed 3DSes, Kimimi. We didn't even get the chance to win them here in North America :(

As for the original DS: You know, I can't help but agree with you about the design of that one being a bit weird when compared to the sleekness of the GBA SP and Micro. I wonder if they changed up the design in order to differentiate the DS from its predecessors?

That said, I really like the DS 'Phat' design. I am glad they eventually made the think more sleek and sexy, though.

Part of me thinks Nintendo did the same with the original 3DS, BTW -- i.e., they made the original 3DS kind of ugly so it wouldn't look just like the DS/DS Lite/DSi/DSi XL.

I wonder if this means they'll eventually release a 3DS Lite? Sure, it would be kind of weird, considering they're about to release a 3DS XL, but not everyone is going to want an XL due to its lack of portability, etc.

Kimimi said...

Considering the way Nintendo have managed their handhelds since... since they realised people would get excited about the GB Pocket if they released it in enough colours, really - a 3DS Lite announcement in the next 12 months wouldn't surprise me in the slightest.

Objectively that's a good thing (Nintendo handhelds are popular enough that the demand is there) but I'm personally tired of chasing after the re-revisions myself :/

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, I hear ya (RE: being tired of chasing after portable revisions), Kimimi!

That's why I'm planning to hold off on buying a 3DS XL for some time. Who knows, maybe by the time I get around to buying one Nintendo will announce another revision -- and then I can just wait for that one :)

Personally, I'd rather they limit themselves to two or three revisions TOPS per handheld/portable 'generation.'

It is nice, in a way, to know that Nintendo is going to release them, don't you think? What I mean is, if you know they're going to release them, it can be easier to hold off on buying the initial/original release.

I was all set to do that with the 3DS, but then Nintendo released Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land and announced Luigi's Mansion 2 and Paper Mario: Sticker Star :|

diaglyph said...

I've been seeing a lot of comments where people are saying they'll wait for a 3DS Lite, and really I don't see it happening. XL did not surprise me - it was inevitable. A Lite, not really.
First off, its not really heavy. And I think if I remember correctly the DS Lite was labeled that way cos they got rid of the extra space and improved the innards.
From the spec stuff I've read on 3DS, the 3DS itself is already pretty packed full!!
If there is going to be a 3DS Lite: the way I imagine it, is if you 2 iPod Touch 4th Gens, put them together so their screens touch - something like that. But by then I'm sure there will be the completely new 3DS version 2 instead of just a revision.
Or who knows, portable holographic graphics :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

I don't know, Igor. I could both see Nintendo making a 3DS Lite and not making a 3DS Lite.

Also, I don't think a 3DS Lite would have to be thinner or lighter. I just think it would be sleeker, simpler. You know, take away that overbite, and the three layers, and maybe even the black upper screen. Make it more cohesive, design-wise, a la the DS Lite, DSi and DSi XL.

I'm not saying it's a sure thing, because it isn't. But I'm also not saying Nintendo is going to stop with the 3DS XL. And, really, what else are they doing to to but make the regular 3DS more attractive? They certainly aren't going to make an even bigger 3DS.

diaglyph said...

Yea its really hard to guess what Nintendo plans for the 3DS LOL even though they've publicly said no more changes for now!

What I'm more interested in though are updates/improvements in the OS of the 3DS! Miiverse will be coming by the end of the year and will be interesting to see how that will look/work on the 3DS.
I really really wish Nintendo put in a screenshot tool in the OS! There have been times when I've been playing a game and thought "wow! that looks cool!" or look at this score, etc, and it would be great to be able to take a 3D screenshot! I'm sure devs could probably program it into the game, but why can't it be part of the OS?
I'm also hoping Letter Box/Swapnote and friends list get a major overhaul with the Miiverse update, better management of friends (more friends!), Letter Box really needs more email/IM like functions to organise the notes (like mass deletion). I did find out recently that you can reorganise your friend list inside Letter Box (tap and hold a friend, then drag to a new spot in the list), but it really needs proper friend management.
No one really seems to be talking about the OS that much?!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, I like the way you think, Igor! I'm also interested in how the 3DS' OS changes in the coming months/years. It seems clear Miiverse will be added in some way, and Nintendo's been talking about an account system that will tie together the 3DS and the Wii U, but future Nintendo systems, too (and, I'm guessing, replace the system that's currently in place for the 3DS). Hopefully we'll hear about all of this and more soon. I mean, Nintendo has to talk about it at some point, what with the Wii U coming out this autumn and all...

Matt Sainsbury said...

I personally have a soft spot for the original DS as well. The design of the device is perhaps the least childish of Nintendo's recent efforts - the rest, to me, look like toys.

Beyond the design, the DS also gets the award for being the last Nintendo handheld to have shoulder buttons that don't feel like they're going to get broken by a light breeze.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Matt: Are you talking about the DS line as a whole, or the first/original DS system?

Regardless, I agree with you.

That said, I don't mind that most of Nintendo's previous systems look very toy-like. Sure, I like some more than others, but most of them look pretty great to me (ex: GameCube, GBA SP, GB Micro).

As for the DS having sturdier should buttons than some of the company's previous efforts: YES! And thank goodness for that, right?

Reggie White Jr. said...

The DS Phat was my first DS. Traded in a whole mess of games to get one in 2005. When I bought a DSi used for $60 I couldn't bring myself to get rid of the old girl. We've had so many good times together.

So yeah, I guess I have a special attachment for the DS Phat. It's currently my only means of playing GBA games outside of the GB Player for GameCube.

The DSi is awesome. It has the sleekest design of all the DS models and it looks so sexy. I thought about getting the DSi XL but I really don't need a handheld that huge.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hello again, Reggie! I bow down to you, sir. I love it when people hang onto their 'old' systems as they transition to new ones.

Also, keeping the DS Phat so you can play GBA games is a good thing, too.

Do you like the GB Player for your GC, by the way? I've always wanted one, for some odd reason.

I may yet get a DSi or DSi XL. I don't need one, and I'm not even sure why I want one, but I do. Either a red Japanese DSi or a rose NA DSi XL. We'll see...

Unknown said...

The DSi XL is probably the best looking handheld I've ever had. It feels good, too. I love it.

Why no mention of the Vita? :p I really like the Vita's design.

Unknown said...

Bryan, I just have to mention: I know a lady here in Brisbane who got the Princess Peach 3DS!!! She's married to one of the guys that frequents my StreetPass Brisbane meetups. Endless jealousy.

Well, I don't know... I'm partial to my DS lite just because it's what I have... I've never used any of the other DS iterations (passed that DSi XL I got for $40 on to Alois here, he owes me big time ;D).

I personally am not really all that fond of any of these models, to tell the truth. Nothing quite speaks to me like that micro!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Alois: I'm glad to hear the DSi XL is a great system to hold. I want one! Maybe later this year.

As for why I didn't mention the Vita: Well, this particular 'Which Portable Looks Better' post is focused Nintendo's dual-screened systems, that's why.

Don't fret, though, I'm already planning future editions -- which may or may not include the Vita :P

Bryan Ochalla said...

Anne: I love how obsessed you are with your Micro :) I agree with you, BTW -- it's a great, great little system. I'm not sure where I'd put it on my last of 'best handhelds ever,' though. Something to ponder in the future, methinks :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, and one more thing, Anne: You had a DSi XL and you sold it to Alois for $40? Be still my heart!

Unknown said...

Haha, Bryan, you do take all the glory for getting me interested in the micro in the first place!

I'm not sure what it is, but I think it has to to with the no-frills compact design that I like so much. Something about the duel-screen handhelds makes them a bit too clunky for me to consider them the best handhelds out there, design-wise. Though I'm starting to really like that hot pink DSi picture you posted!

And yes, I sold Alois the DSi XL I got for $40. He'd asked me to pick up a $20 DSi back when the same store was doing a previous sale, so I knew he was in the market for a new DS handheld. As for why I sold it... I wanted to fund my mirco purchase and I thought having a DS lite, 3DS, and a DSi XL was a bit, er, excessive. I'm sure someone will disagree with me there! But in the end I think I'll wait to pick up a new DS until my DS lite finally bites the dust. I don't want to retire ol reliable just yet :)

diaglyph said...

I forgot to say in my post, that I don't have any of the old systems in my possession anymore. The only 1 I still have is the all black DSi.
The previous ones, including the phat, I have given to the children of the family for them to play on, and they lasted a while too (goes to show Nintendo creates lasting products!).
You may recoil in horror at this LOL but I'm just not "attached" to these gadgets like other people seem to be (and collect etc). Once I'm no longer that interested in them, I sell them, trade em, gift em. I had my fun, time to move on to the next fun :) (frees up space at home too hehe)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Anne: Oh, yes, the no-frills design of the Micro definitely is a highlight. Also, it's hard to dislike a hot pink system of any sort, isn't it? :)

BTW, I like that you don't want to retire your old reliable (DS Lite). That's admirable! I hate to give up my old systems, too. And why should we? If they still work, keep using them, I say :)

Adam said...

The original DS Lite was the best looking. 3DS would've been close but they kinda mess up the color scheme.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Igor: Well, that's admirable, too (that you give your old systems to relatives). I wish I could say I was as philanthropic as you are.

As for not being attached to your systems: That's admirable and enviable, too, I think. And like you said, it frees up space in your home, too. A double whammy!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Adam! Well, I certainly agree with you about the DS Lite. One of Nintendo's best-looking products, IMO. As for the 3DS: I think they screwed up more than the color scheme there. That said, I like the design well enough to not be bothered by it too much.

Reggie White Jr. said...

I like the GB Player pretty well. Much as I enjoy portable gaming, sometimes it's nice to be able to play a portable game on the big screen. I guess that's why I still have the Super Game Boy. =)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yeah, I hear ya, Reggie. I like playing portable games on the big screen now and then, too. BTW, I'm jealous of your Super GameBoy! I've always wanted one of those, too. Of course, what haven't I wanted when it comes to games? :P

gsilverfish said...

I really like the "phat" best! I like the toy-like quality, I never thought of it in those terms, but I suppose being a gamer of the old school I just feel it looks more like what I think a game console should look like! It's also the most fun to hold, with all those interesting curves and edges, I just like running my hands over it, and unlike my 3DS, thanks to to the matte finish I don't feel like a greasy meatbag when I do it.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, gsilverfish! I didn't mean to use the term "toy-like" in a bad way -- that's just how I think of this design, esp. when compared to the DS Lite, DSi, etc. Like you, I think the DS Phat design is more in line with how game consoles used to look (which I like). I can understand why they've changed that in recent years, mind you, but I still like the occasional "toy-like" system :)

Anyway, I've never actually held a DS Phat :( Hopefully that'll change later this year!