The Nintendo DS is a handheld game console produced by Nintendo and released in 2004. Its main competitor was Sony’s PlayStation Portable during the seventh generation of video game consoles.
The DS, an initialism for “Developers’ System” or “Dual Screen”, introduced distinctive new features to handheld games: two LCD screens working in tandem (the bottom one being a touchscreen), a built-in microphone and support for wireless connectivity. Both screens are encompassed within a clamshell design similar to the Game Boy Advance SP. The Nintendo DS also features the ability for multiple DS consoles to directly interact with each other over Wi-Fi within a short range without the need to connect to an existing wireless network.
Prior to its release, the Nintendo DS was meant to complement the Game Boy Advance (GBA) family and GameCube. However, backward compatibility with Game Boy Advance titles and strong sales ultimately established it as the successor to the Game Boy series.
The Nintendo DS design resembles that of the multi-screen games from the Game & Watch line, such as Donkey Kong and Zelda, which was also made by Nintendo.
The lower display of the Nintendo DS is overlaid with a resistive touchscreen designed to accept input from the included stylus or the user’s fingers. The touchscreen lets users interact with in-game elements more directly than by pressing buttons.
The handheld features four lettered buttons (X, Y, A, B), a directional pad, and Start, Select, and Power buttons. On the top of the device are two shoulder buttons, a game card slot, a stylus holder and a power cable input. The bottom features the Game Boy Advance game card slot. The overall button layout resembles that of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System controller.
It also has stereo speakers providing virtual surround sound (depending on the software) located on either side of the upper display screen. This was a first for a Nintendo handheld, as the Game Boy line of systems had only supported stereo sound through the use of headphones or external speakers. A built-in microphone is located below the left side of the bottom screen.
The Nintendo DS is backward compatible with Game Boy Advance (GBA) cartridges. The smaller Nintendo DS game cards fit into a slot on the top of the system, while Game Boy Advance games fit into a slot on the bottom.
There were various handheld consoles released in the Nintendo DS family:
Original Nintendo DS
Nintendo DS Lite
The Nintendo DS Lite is a slimmer, brighter, and more lightweight redesign of the original Nintendo DS. It was released in 2006 It was the final handheld to have backwards compatibility with Game Boy Advance games.
The Nintendo DSi was launched 2008. Consumer demand convinced Nintendo to produce a slimmer handheld with larger screens than the DS Lite. Consequently, Nintendo removed the Game Boy Advance (GBA) cartridge slot to improve portability without sacrificing durability.
Nintendo DSi XL
The Nintendo DSi XL, released in 2009, features larger screens, and a greater overall size, than the original DSi. It is the fourth and final DS model, the first to be available as a pure size variation. The DSi XL is the longest, widest, brightest, and heaviest DS model. The console features two 4.2-inch (110 mm) wide-viewing-angle LCD screens with the same resolution as the smaller model. It has improved battery life over the DSi on all brightness settings. The handheld is outfitted with identical speakers contained in larger speaker enclosures, enabling them to produce louder sound. The hinges stop the screen at 120° in addition to the original DSi’s position of 155° to allow easier table-top viewing.
All Nintendo DS models combined have sold 154.02 million units, making it the best selling handheld game console to date, and the second best selling video game console of all time behind Sony’s PlayStation 2. The Nintendo DS line was succeeded by the Nintendo 3DS family in 2011, which maintains backward compatibility with nearly all Nintendo DS software except for some software that requires the GBA slot for use.