The Nintendo DS should be rejuvenated, not rejected

Nintendo’s step away from the DS family in favour of the Switch is a step backwards for portable and affordable handheld games

Photo by Chris Ho/The Peak

Written by: Natasha Tar, Peak Associate

When I was 10, I broke open the box of my brand-new Nintendo DS Lite and booted up Animal Crossing: Wild World, the first video game I would play on my very first gaming console. Over Wi-Fi, I would connect with my friend who lived three hours away, and we would play for hours. On long roadtrips, the DS’s battery life would somehow hold up for days without a charge. It was sturdy, portable, and fun. It was the only console I needed.

Today, the DS is still my only gaming companion (along with its siblings, the 3DS and the 2DS XL). But I’m afraid it won’t be long before the DS family tree is completely chopped down, or at least overrun by the insatiable ivy that is the Nintendo Switch.

If you watched the latest Nintendo Direct, you might have noticed it’s all about the Switch, leaving Nintendo’s other available console out in the cold. While this fairly new console seemed oh-so-shiny and incredible to me when I first heard about it, the more I think about it the worse I feel. The Switch claims to be portable, but it’s not a new DS, and it is not anything like one. And losing the qualities of the DS that made it perfect for kids and students is a shame.

As a student, I want two things from a gaming console: affordability and portability. Is the Nintendo Switch affordable compared to the DS family? I go on Walmart Canada, take one look at the Switch (about $400) and the price of one Switch game (about $80), and my eyes water. To put that in perspective, for the price of one Switch I could buy either pair of 3DS XLs or brand-new 2DS XLs for the same cost. Games for the DS and 3DS also end up a lot more reasonably priced, often around $30–60 at most, making the console a far more reasonable investment, and easier to buy multiple of if you aren’t able to share a Switch with family or friends.

As for portability, the Switch is both more expensive and difficult than the DS ever has been. The Switch is basically a tablet, all screen with no folding cover to protect it, so I would have to bleed another $20 for a case. In comparison, DS consoles have always been able to fold closed, protecting the screens and saving you the bother of a case. And would I even want to carry around the Switch? Absolutely not. It would take up way too much room in my already overflowing backpack.

The only alternative to portable games is mobile games, but compared to the Switch and DS these are far from an equivalent. In regard to the DS, Eurogamer editor Martin Robinson explains, “A dedicated handheld device just doesn’t make any sense in this day and age, especially coming from a Japan in which mobile games dominate.”

Perhaps mobile games dominate, but do they have any of the depth of DS games? No. Mobile games that try to be complex are ultimately money-grabbing letdowns. Just take Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery or Nintendo’s mobile games Super Mario Run and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. These were all fun for maybe 10 seconds, but don’t have the lasting value or depth that we’ve gotten on in DS games featuring Mario and Animal Crossing. The DS allowed for something portable, but substantial.

While we got a couple standouts, such as Luigi’s Mansion in October of last year, this year Nintendo has given us YO-KAI WATCH 3 and a Bowser Jr. extension of Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story that no one asked for. Without new titles being announced, I’m willing to bet the latest iterations of the DS are soon to stop production and it’s unfortunate considering how strong each iteration of this console has been for its 15 years on the market.

It’s my hope that companies other than Nintendo will continue to make 3DS games, and that portable and affordable gaming will live just a little longer through the DS family. Maybe one day I’ll get a Switch, but if you want affordable games on the go, it’s still better to spend $40 for the giant library of 3DS games you might have missed.