Pink things are fun to play with. This isn’t too dif­fi­cult to under­stand; it’s really not much of a rev­e­la­tion either, I suppose.

I really like play­ing with mine. My favorite thing to do, in fact, is whip out my pink thing and start play­ing with it when­ever I have a few min­utes. Not just at home — at work too, in the bath­room, in the office, at lunch, even wait­ing in line for movie tick­ets. (And, of course, in the the­ater before the show starts.)

My pink thing is sur­pris­ingly heavy, though not too much so, and glossy too. Most peo­ple admire it, though some prob­a­bly think I’m too old to obvi­ously get so much plea­sure from play­ing with it so fre­quently. (These peo­ple have no sense of humor or discernment.)

The end­less hours of joy I get from my pink thing, turn­ing it on, pok­ing it, prod­ding it, delight­ing in the sur­prises it cease­lessly deliv­ers … I just can’t say enough good things about my pink thing.

Hey, you know what?

I like it so much I’ve even put some pic­tures here so you can see why I love it so.

Here’s what it looks like just before I start play­ing with it.

DS Lite coral pink (closed)

…and here’s what it looks like when it’s ready to go.

DS Lite coral pink (open)

Of course it’s a DS Lite in Coral Pink. What the hell were you thinking?

Nintendo has done a damned fine job, over­all, with its hard­ware releases. They seem to under­stand that their audi­ence is pretty wide; the DS series games are loaded with the kinds of titles you expect for video games, but there are some sur­pris­ingly intel­li­gent inclu­sions, hand-​​held adven­tures that require con­sid­er­ably more intel­li­gence and inter­ac­tion from the player than point-​​n-​​shoot capabilites.

Some of this prob­a­bly has to do with the evo­lu­tion of the hard­ware. The touch­screen on the DS is well-​​done and respon­sive, and both dis­plays have very bright back­light­ing, user-​​adjustable to four lev­els. The 64-​​bit graph­ics are clean and the stereo sound is much bet­ter than you’d expect given the small speak­ers and min­i­mal sep­a­ra­tion between them.

The DS will also inte­grate with Nintendo’s Wii, and was obvously designed by a com­pany that knows the unit will be pur­chased by many peo­ple who more or less lit­er­ally grew up with the Game Boy. While there may not be a lot of over­lap in titles avail­able for the DS ver­sus its only real com­pe­ti­tion, the Sony PSP, it’s the DS that keeps mov­ing steadily off the shelves.

No won­der, too; while the DS will play every Game Boy Advance game ever made*, the PSP will only play titles that run in the PSP … and nowhere else. (Why? Because Sony didn’t have a cou­ple decades’ worth of titles in hand­held units already before releas­ing the PSP.**)

Brand loy­alty isn’t just about hav­ing a given toy because it’s made by a given man­u­fac­turer. Brand loy­alty has to be earned, and over­all Nintendo has done a good job of earn­ing cus­tomer loy­alty, cer­tainly in the hand­held arena if nowhere else. The DS Lite is a well-​​engineered machine that shows a lot of thought and effort, some­thing per­haps Sony (still hurt­ing with its sec­ond major mis­take, the too-​​early release of PS3) would do well to pay atten­tion to.

UPDATE: Sony’s blam­ing decline in prof­its on the fact that they are sell­ing the PS3 — a machine that retails new for $600 — for less than it costs to man­u­fac­ture it. If that’s it’s below-​​lowball price tag, what’s the actual retail value of the damned thing?
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* But not GB Color or orig­i­nal GB games, so hang on to your GBA SP if you want to play any of those older carts. They won’t work in the DS.

** Sony seems to be releas­ing all their game hard­ware too soon and with insuf­fi­cient sup­port. You can have an Xbox 360 and a Wii, with about $50 left over, for the price of a PS3, and the Xbox has equally-​​good graph­ics, much bet­ter inte­grated net­work­ing, sta­bil­ity, and a far richer depth of titles; plus, the Wii is just a hell of a lot of fun.

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