Backstage: An aside on portable games of 2004 | iLounge Backstage

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Backstage: An aside on portable games of 2004

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Monday, August 16, 2004
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picI just might be the only person in the world who plays the iPod’s built-in Solitaire game, and that’s mainly because it’s the only title that doesn’t destroy battery life or blur a bunch on the screen. As a lifelong gamer, I’m one of those people who hopes against hope that Apple will toss some better video hardware into the iPod, if only so that Tempest 2000 could appear on the machine. Since that’s not happening any time soon, I’ve been watching the only new portable games platform likely to show up by year’s end… Nintendo’s DS (Dual Screen) quasi-sequel to the Game Boy Advance.

I’ve owned Game Boys since the day the first one was released in the United States, and as a collector have kept an almost complete Virtual Boy hardware and game set in my collection for years. That said, having played 90% of the NDS’s demo games at E3, and even having thought that its chances of success were most likely higher than Sony’s with the PSP, I’ve recently come to feel that NDS might be the first Nintendo platform I skip entirely. A US$179.99 retail price has been the consistent buzz over the last couple of months, and I consider that number to be something close to suicide for a portable platform with no killer apps and features (stylus? two screens? bigger size? less battery life?) that consumers haven’t been asking for. Most clued-in industry people I know have been assuming that it would sell for $129.99, and hoping that it sold for $99.99, which incidentally are my “I’ll think about it” and “I’ll buy it at launch” price points.

From my perspective, there are of course reasons to price a portable game system at more than twice the current retail of the Game Boy Advance (and $70 more than the original GB’s launch price): you don’t have enough to meet demand, you want to gouge early adopters, or you’re really, really stupid or forgetful and don’t mind being blamed for another Virtual Boy-style debacle. (Yes, the VB launched at $179.99, had no killer app, and offered a two-screen gaming experience no one knew that they wanted. Purely coincidence, though.) Even at the same price, I doubt that the NDS will be a VB-caliber flop, mostly because the newer device has better third-party support, but what do you guys think? Would you shell out $180 for a DS? Or wait until the price drops? Or skip it altogether?

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Comments

1

Im from the UK and ill be importing from the US. I think personally $180 really isnt that much because the GBA SP over here retails for about $150 USD.

Iv got a Japanese Famicom GBA SP but when the DS launches in the US ill definitely get one.

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Posted by iPodphreak in UK on August 17, 2004 at 2:04 AM (PDT)

2

It seems they overcharge alot in the uk—

$179.99 seems a bit high, especially since i hardly touched the gba/gba sp i bought, and in more than one occasion had to resell them at a loss… 

Unless they let you watch two different movies on the dual screens.. i say i’ll pass.  =)

(sorry i dont really have much prior knowledge of what the DS can actually do so my opinion prolly isnt worth it)

Posted by Jeff MOdell on August 17, 2004 at 3:30 AM (PDT)

3

I’m not sure, the whole duel screen thing seems like a gimic and it will be a cold day in hell when i play metroid with a stylus, but if they get the whole wireless gaming working i could see the need for a second screen for chat and such but frankly if i had to choose between the psp and the ds the verdict would come down to games

Posted by Zer0cool in Cold City AntArctica on August 17, 2004 at 6:24 AM (PDT)

4

I-... I play Solitaire on my iPod.  But, on a more related note, I’ll probably wait until after the PSP is out just to make sure that I’m making the right choice before purchasing anything, and even then I’ll most likely wait for the price to drop first.

Handheld video games are something I stopped caring about some time ago after my GBA broke.  I have patience, and I have time.  Might as well just wait and see what happens.

Posted by phantompenguin on August 17, 2004 at 11:30 AM (PDT)

5

I wouldn’t pay that much for that thing. Why do you want 2 screens? And th thing looks bulky and ugly. I’ll definatly pass on this monstrosity!

Posted by jasontho on August 18, 2004 at 8:52 AM (PDT)

6

I think Nintendo will get its game together. Usually failed products teach the company a lesson, and they follow up later with a breakthrough. But personally, I haven’t played the thing, but it looks quite interesting. If it doesn’t totally blow me away (which it should for $179.99), then I’ll wait for a price drop/ killer app.

Posted by Sam on August 18, 2004 at 11:04 AM (PDT)

7

i play solitaire on my ipod too…sometimes. it’s the only game that you can actually win, unlike parachute and brick. btw, i got 699 points on brick if anyone has beaten me.
but, recently, ive found better games, namely: iPodLinux!!! i play othello and tetris all the time on there, as well as minesweeper when i have time and pong when i feel retro. asteroids i also have, but it burns battery power.
so with all those games, i dont really feel like a gameboy advance, not half as programmable either.
just my 2 cents,
-Pete-

Posted by peterburk in Geneva, Switzerland on August 19, 2004 at 4:28 AM (PDT)

8

The DS isn’t a sequel to the game boy.  It is an entirely different line of Nintendo.  That is what all the game magazines have said repeatedly.  Look at my model below.


        DS
        /
Nintendo—- Regular consoles
       
    Game Boy

Later,
TC

Posted by supercarrot900 on August 19, 2004 at 7:33 AM (PDT)

9

That didn’t show up right, but you get the idea

Posted by supercarrot900 on August 19, 2004 at 7:35 AM (PDT)

10

Personally I don’t want to play 3d games on the go. I’m happy to play NESish games, with cartoonish graphics and colorful sprites.

I like the good old days! :D

Posted by raZmus on August 19, 2004 at 3:57 PM (PDT)

11

You only left two options.. skip it or wait.  Well here’s what I’m going to do, buy the Sony PSP instead.  Of course, this is assuming it is a gaming machine after all.  The double screen thing doesn’t appeal to me.  Also, nintendo hasn’t done much to target 18-25 year olds and look what it has gotten the GameCube, a measely 17% of the market-share with failing support from more and more developers.  Super Mario may be fun to a ten-year old but for christ’s sake release more than a handful of games adults will enjoy.

Posted by drew on August 22, 2004 at 1:57 PM (PDT)

12

You won’t be buying a Sony PSP any time soon. grin

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on August 23, 2004 at 3:20 PM (PDT)

13

Actually drew, the 18-25 yo market is the largest audience for the GBA SP. So much for not doing much to target them

Posted by Nathan on August 24, 2004 at 6:25 AM (PDT)

14

$149.99 it is, with free included software and smart marketing strategies beginning to emerge. And so Nintendo has a prayer.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on September 20, 2004 at 8:43 PM (PDT)

If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods or accessories, or if you sell or market products, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators. Wondering why we're talking about something other than iPods? Check the Archives: Backstage has been here and kicking it since 2004.

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