Just bought one a few days ago, so I don’t have a lot of in-depth info yet, but I got FFIV and have been having a blast playing an old-school JRPG. Also got Brain Age 2 and have been having fun with that as well, but it has had some embarsssing monents where my age was showing. Looking forward to “pimping it out” with some add-ons…maybe some not so ahem acceptable, but I’ll leave that for some other place. Great purchase all around.
OK, I’m a huge handheld fanatic. I own many kinds, and the DS is my favorite so far. That said, there are some things about it that bug me, so I’m willing to list pros and cons.
[li] The Lite is a great deal; $130, $100 used. (If you buy used, ask to see the used DS selection and choose one with a nice screen.)[/li][li] The game library is excellent, and if you buy used, you can get stuff very cheaply.[/li][li] The touch screen/mic isn’t gimmicky; the only time it doesn’t work is if the game is lousy.[/li][li] There are some neat accessories to buy, like headsets, cases, and game cards with applications on them (the Opera browser, for one).[/li][li] The ad-hoc wireless play is an absolute blast.[/li][li] Fantastic sound.[/li][li] The touch screen is extremely hardy. You don’t have to worry if you get over-excited and poke it too hard—chances are, it can take it.[/li][li] The entire system is tough as nails, actually. The clamshell design keeps it from getting damaged.[/li][li] The battery life is outstanding. I mean, seriously awesome.[/li][/ul]
[li] The buttons on the DS Lite are slightly spongy compared to the original DS.[/li][li] The online play is not great for most titles.[/li][li] No included extra features (until the DSi is released). That is, you have no emulation, no built-in applications or web browsing, no movie or audio playback. Basically, it’s just a game system. This can be a pro, depending on what you want.[/li][li] The touch-screen can be under-used in many titles, especially those that started out as GBA titles.[/li][li] The mature-rated game selection is growing, but it’s fairly slim at the moment.[/li][/ul]
That’s all I can think of right now. Frankly, I think it’s a better investment than the PSP, if you’re looking for a game system. I have a PSP and a DS, and I play the DS more often. If you want something with a ton of features and the added feature of playing games, or if you just want to emulate old systems, get a PSP or wait for the DSi.
Many folks also look at the cost and opt for the GBA SP instead. But those are still $50, and for an extra $50, you can have GBA and DS games to play.
I love Metacritic. It’s a great collection of reviews, for starters. Also, while the absolute ratings may be shite, how the games stack up against each other in the eyes of professional reviewers is definitely valuable, especially in aggregate. The highest-ranked games of a given genre are generally excellent, and seeing an 83 rating vs. a 70 rating for, say, two platformers is usually indicative of the first game being better than the second.
It’s led me to get Metroid Prime: Hunters (~85 or so IIRC) and Custom Robo Arena (~75, but the reviews let on that they let elements unimportant to me lower their scores) when I would otherwise have passed them up, and I was very happy with both.
It’s not perfect, but it’s a great tool and starting place for buying decisions.