The release of Nintendo's DS in 2004 marked a rebirth for the brand. Long relegated to the background because of Sony's supremacy in the home-gaming console market, Nintendo carved out a space for itself by outfitting its new handheld console with a touch screen.
The new handheld console ushered in a different way of gaming. Its two displays, which recalled the old Nintendo multi-screen Game and Watch, multiplied the possibilities. Building on that diversity, the game library gradually opened up to a new type of audience. Late in 2005, Nintendogs–a kind of canine Tamagotchi–was released. It's an extremely simple game aimed primarily at non-gamers. This first title in the Touch! Generations line was an unqualified success. A few months later, Dr. Kawashima arrived on the DS scene with Brain Age. The game quickly became popular and can be played by anyone from age seven to 77, according to the company. Nintendo had then succeeded in gaining casual-gaming market share for consoles.
Two versions of the DS have been released so far. The initial version showed no real effort at refined visual design and was nicknamed the DS Fat. In mid-2006, its design was reworked and released under the “Lite” name. The new handheld was thinner and totally sleek, making it an object that could easily be slipped into a bag or purse. Four years after its launch, the DS is still riding high on the charts. As a matter of fact, it’s the best-selling console in the world, with 100 million units sold.
Today, Nintendo is determined to keep the run going with the launch of the DSi, the third version of its portable console. But is it a future success or just a courtesy update? To find out, Tom’s Guide put it through its paces before the release set for midnight April 5.