Why the DS lite is the best handheld ever made

The DS

The Nintendo DS is the second best selling gaming platform of all time. Though the phenomenal sales figures it inevitably did the predecessor to the Gameboy SP was not always the titan that it became. It went through some changes that I believe ultimately made it the system I fell in love with. When I got my first DS It was one of the original ones, big gorgeous and silver. I didn’t have many games for it at the time but I managed to enjoy classics like castlevania, Metroid and Tetris. At the time I thought the system was perfect, only lacking one thing that came 3 years later, Pokémon. With Pokémon I got a new DS, the Lite. The DS Lite was launched a year before Pokémon and my brother had gotten one which he then give to me to replace my then gone original DS (don’t ask, sad memories). With Pokémon on the system we saw a blast of sales. This was the first of the new generation of Nintendo’s famous franchise, and we, my friends and I bought it up like hot cakes. Pokémon you see is a system sell and with the new DS lite there was no stopping the freight train that Nintendo had created. The DS easily demolished its only completion the PSP to become the bestselling handheld gaming platform ever. All the while gamers were saying there are not enough games for the system or that it only had shovelware.

So why was the DS so popular? Why is it the best handheld ever?

Ok take note at my description down DS memory lane. Notice I have not mentioned the DSI? Yes its part of the DS line and a part of the sales come from those, however I do not think fondly of the DSI. Yes I had one, but it lacked a few of the things that I think makes the DS/DS lite so amazing. The DSI was a system that I think was marketed at gamers that may have bought PSPs, not the gamers that wanted DS. Cameras, larger screens and thinner design were not on the top list for any serious DS fan, it wasn’t on mine. What was awesome about the original 2 DS systems was the ability to play classic titles via the GBA slot while still being able to play the then current titles. This addition of two slots was also systematically important to the success of the system when Pokémon was launched. You see by having both ports on one system players were able to simply transfer their previously train companions to the next game in the series. This sense of keeping earlier progress was important to the culture of the game and ensured that gamers that had the previous titles would be interested in getting the newer games. It is that possibility of carrying your personal progress over to the next game in a series, that made games like Mass Effect and Dragon age so popular, and the same can be said about Pokémon who did it before them 😉 .

The evolution of greatness
The evolution of greatness

The DS lite was also not only a device for Pokémon lovers, and it probably will not be remembered for that either. How it most likely will be best remembered for its not so gaming titles like brain age, that got everyone in the family wanting one, even grandad. The DS was considered the gaming platform that anyone no matter age would be interested in having. It was neat enough to fit in a purse, yet powerful enough to play Mario Kart on the bus ride home. The close screen style of the system made it quite attractive to none gamers too, because it was not so easily identified as a gaming system unless it was opened. The accessibility of the system is what caused it to be such a great system seller. ASs it covered all the bases. Hardcore gamers got Pokémon, Zelda, Call of Duty (it was actually good) and Mario Kart, while the indie gamer got professor Layton, and phoenix wright, and brain age. This accessibility and the huge library of great title available for the system made, and still makes it a highly logical buy for the gamer that wants to play on the go, or maybe on the Loo 😉 .

What are some of your favourite DS memories? Mine all have to do with me finding out I could play “the world ends with you” on the loo.  

Qudduws Campbell

That messy hair bloke: Romantic, Food lover, Gamer, Sports Fan, Manga Reader, Tech Head, Podcaster... Pretty much do a bit of everything.


  1. DS Lite was so superior to DSi it’s ridiculous. The DS Lite plays two enormous libraries of games (the DS and GBA libraries) and is also the only way to play GBA games with both a backlit screen and headphone sound. It’s a MUST HAVE.

    DSi sucks. I mean, totally sucks. It removed the GBA functionality, added useless functionalities like camera and SD card slot (this would be a useful thing for homebrew it it was acessible for that, but it’s not so wfc) and has a very annoying lockout from changing settings if you buy a used one.

  2. A fantastic machine, DS + GBA, good screens, stereo speakers, surprisingly long battery life, compact… there are plenty of good games for GBA, not so many for DS (huge catalogue but a lot of mediocrity) but both combined makes it an RPG heaven. And no regional restriction, for example you can run a japanese Pokemon White on any DS Lite, but the next consoles (DSi, 3DS) are restricted because that game uses some DSi functionality.
    The PSP was also a great machine, I think with a better catalogue than the DS.

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