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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nintendo DSi - R.I.P. GBA slot

This is the DS Lite model I have, the Crimson/Black DS Lite that came packaged with Brain Age 2. I got mine on the release day in August 2007 from Future Shop which also included a bonus case (it looks nice but doesn't protect the sides so I don't use it anymore) and a bonus game, umm... Monster Trucks or something? It's fun, but I wouldn't buy it on its own.

I'm really liking my DS Lite, the killer app that got me to buy it was Brain Age 2. It's still one of my most played DS games.

So sort of lost in the big announcement of the upcoming release of the DS Lite redesign, the DSi, is that the slot for Game Boy Advance cartridges is now gone. Historically, Nintendo has been very consistent with maintaining backwards compatibility with its systems, up to a point. Sure, with the GameCube switching over to disc-based media, it cut itself off from the previous Nintendo cardridge-based media consoles. And the Game Boy Micro can only play GBA carts, not original Game Boy or Game Boy Color carts.

DSi makes a big step in severing ties to the vast Game Boy Advance cartridge library. A lot of people might think, what's the big deal? New GBA games aren't being released anymore. And with their focus on downloadable content, it looks like Nintendo is going to make GBA games available to download & save on a DSi SD card. So what does it matter? Well..... aside from Nintendo making GBA fans rebuy the games they already own on carts..... there are still reasons why the GBA slot is important, even to the DS.

Even though I own 2 Game Boy Micros, the GBA slot on my DS Lite is still important to me.

The big draw of the DSi for me is the media functions. But really, I *ALREADY* have those media functions like music playback because I have a Play-Yan Micro. I got the Play-Yan Micro for my Game Boy Micro, but it works just fine in my DS Lite (like all GBA carts, it does stick out... in fact it sticks out even in the GBA Micro, so it sticks out EVEN MORE in the DS Lite) It's a pretty good music & video player, plays back content from an SD card. That's all it does, it's very basic but it's nice. There's a good review of the Play-Yan Micro here.

Although, right now my DS Lite's GBA slot is filled with an Ewin Rumble Pack I got from DealXtreme for like $4.20 or so... and shipping was free! It was so cheap, I just had to get it.

I only have 1 DS game that supports rumble, Star Trek: Tactical Assault. The list of rumble supported games seems pretty small. There is at least one other rumble DS game I want, Custom Robo Arena, I've heard reports of it being like $10.00 at Wal-Mart in the U.S.... here in Canada, I can only find it at EB Games for like $40.00! Waaaaay too much. I'm hoping I'll spot it in Wal-Mart or Zellers, places like that for really cheap.

In Japan, they released a paddle controller that plugs into the GBA slot, I heard it's great for games like Space Invaders Extreme & Arkanoid. And even though it doesn't interest me personally, Guitar Hero: On Tour, the DS game relies on a fret-button peripheral that plugs into the GBA slot. That game only came out a few months ago, I think they're even planning a sequel. How do you think Activision feels about the DSi? They're probably biting through wood right now....

Not to mention that playing GBA games on a DS is still pretty fun.


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