Sure we reported all of the DS Lite’s technical details and specs a few weeks ago, but there’s nothing quite like getting your hands on the thing. Is it really that much lighter than a normal DS? How do the new buttons feel? Are the new brightness settings really that much better? Does the new bigger stylus improve gameplay? All these questions and more will be answered in our in-depth analysis and photo comparison.
The biggest difference between the DS and the DS Lite is obviously the size [CENTER]and weight. The DS has finally managed to pass that magical portability barrier where it can fit comfortably in your pocket. Plus, the significantly lighter weight means you can actually hold up the system longer with less fatigue. And let’s not forget the unquestionable ramp up in sexiness of the system. This is definitely something you’re going to what to show off to people rather than hide.
The face buttons noticeably stick out farther from the system, and actually push in smoothly compared to the instant click of the current DS buttons. The D-pad seems almost identical to the Game Boy Micro’s soft and glossy feel. Even though the Lite’s D-pad is smaller than the current one, it somehow feels more responsive and tight. I was able to make quick work of ghastly ghouls in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, while also whipping out more power slides in Mario Kart DS than I was ever able to do before. The power switch now works similarly to a PSP. You just flick it with your thumb and it will spring back into place instead of have two distinct on/off positions like the GBA SP.
Not too much has changed as far as the feel of the touch screen. It seemed slightly more slippery than the regular DS, but that could be chalked up to the fact that the Lite I played was brand new compared to my well worn DS.
The new fatter, longer stylus is truly a godsend. Instead of cramping your fingers around that crappy little toothpick of yore, the new stylus feels beefy and substantial. Of course, there have been plenty large peripheral styli available at stores. But none can compete with the portability of something you can stab into the side of a DS and take anywhere.
But perhaps the Lite’s most shining feature, literally, is the freaking incredible new backlight. The colors in bright games like Mario Kart DS and The Rub Rabbits! are so rich they almost burn your eyes. It’s like looking at Medusa, only instead of turning to stone you turn into Mr. Happypants. Seriously, going back to a game on the regular DS looks like there’s a murky fish tank between your eyes and the game.
The only thing I can even think that people might have a very small problem with is the fact the GBA games jut out from the bottom of the system when fully plugged in. This in no way hinders gameplay, but it’s a slight aesthetic annoyance.
The difference between the DS Lite and Nintendo’s many GBA redesigns is that there seems to be little to no tradeoffs whatsoever. The SP introduced a backlight, smaller size, clamshell case, and rechargeable battery to the GBA family. But the lack of a standard headphone jack, and cramp inducing shoulder buttons really cheesed a lot of gamers off. Even the Micro, despite its sexy look and crystal clear screen, had to sacrifice screen size and hand comfort for maximum portability. The DS Lite is better than the DS in every conceivable category, and I say this without reservation. Sure there will inevitably be those who prefer the classic DS’s beastliness, but these are the same type of people who have dedicated themselves to the original Xbox controller and refused to accept the ergonomically superior Type S controller. I just can’t imagine someone trying a DS Lite and saying, “You know, I think I’ll buy a standard DS instead.”
I almost wish I never got the chance to play the Lite. Now that I know for sure how ridiculously awesome it is, the many months until the U.S. release is just going to be that much more agonizing.