After all the fanatical fanboy fever surrounding the first showing of the DS in Los Angeles, it would be plain silly to deny the opportunity to have another go. So when Nintendo Europe set up a DS demonstration in a London hotel, SPOnG was there immediately, poring over each demo stand with sweaty-handed enthusiasm. There wasn't much in the way of new information, but it was a good chance to test out the machine without the inebriating novelty factor clouding our normally sober judgement.
Memories of Game and Watch?
There is little doubt that the scope of the touch-screen and stylus interaction is almost infinite. As Kevin Ray, Vice President of Majesco, rather neatly put it in the corporate video trailer, "It's a blank canvas for game designers". The tech-demo games on show attempted to suggest a few possible directions for DS games to follow, and many of these creative concepts do seem to work well. The 'submarine' demonstration illustrated how a straightforward stylus control method could simplify what would normally be a convoluted process. By displaying a full cockpit control panel on the touch sensitive screen, and simultaneously showing the 'action' on the upper screen, the DS can clearly cope with the sort of games that would normally be unsuitable for a handheld with a small screen and only a few buttons. Because these controls are commanded via the touch-screen, they become strikingly simple to understand, which is something that could also help the DS seduce non-gamers.
At the other end of the scale, the Pac-Pix demo uses the touch-screen as a central gameplay feature. The player has to scribble a little pac-man shape, which then follows the direction in which its facing, chomping all the ghosts in its path. To redirect the self-drawn Pac-man, the player simply draws a barrier in its path: at which point Pac-man turns around and the munching mission continues. Whilst these types of game are going to demand much greater innovative prowess from developers, it will be this sort of thing that really sells the console. You simply won't be able to play a game of that kind on any other machine.