Nintendo DS

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Nintendo DS
Nintendo DS logo
Nintendo DS
Manufacturer Nintendo
Type Handheld console
JapanJapan December 2, 2004
United StatesUnited States November 21, 2004
EuropeEurope March 11, 2005
Main processor ARM9 @ 67 MHz; ARM7 @ 33 MHz
Storage media Modules
Online service Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection (discontinued)
Units sold approx. 154.9 million
(as of October 30, 2019)
Most successful game New Super Mario Bros.
(30.80 million)
successor Nintendo 3DS series (3DS, 2DS, New3DS, New2DS)
Packaging of a Nintendo DS game, "Diamond Trust of London" by Jason Rohrer .

The Nintendo DS ( NDS or DS for short ) is a handheld console developed and produced by the Japanese game console manufacturer Nintendo . In addition to other technical innovations, it has two liquid crystal screens (LCDs) and a built-in microphone, which are supposed to enable easier game control compared to previous consoles. The Nintendo DS played a decisive role in the breakthrough of the touch screen and established it in the mass market.

The lower screen (a touch-sensitive touchscreen) and the microphone or a connectable headset made it possible for the first time to control mobile video games by touch or voice input. Other special features are the virtual surround sound and compatibility with Game Boy Advance games (only on Nintendo DS and Nintendo DS Lite). The pre-installed chat program called "PictoChat" allows you to chat and send drawings in four chat rooms with 16 participants each . The owners of other Nintendo DS consoles can play wireless multiplayer games. According to the manufacturer, the transmission range in free space is 10 m. This ability can also be used to connect to a game ( Pokémon Battle Revolution ) on the Wii game console . The Nintendo DS also made it possible to play online games over long distances using the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection internet service . You could connect via WLAN either via the home network or via a hotspot .

The Nintendo DS has sold worldwide about 154.9 million times, making it to the PlayStation 2 from Sony , the second-best-selling game console in the world .


The abbreviation "DS" was originally a working title and meant "Dual Screen" due to the two LC screens . At E3 2004, however, Nintendo also called the console “Developers' System”, because it was supposed to be easy to program and offered many new possibilities for developers.

As the device caused discussion among video gamers even before it was launched, the name quickly became popular, so Nintendo decided to keep it and not change it as originally planned. In the beginning, however, the internal code name was “Nitro”. For this reason the product numbers begin with NTR and not NDS.


Nintendo presented the new system to the public for the first time at the E3 video game fair in Los Angeles in May 2004. A little later, the company announced the final design of the device and its features.

The Nintendo DS was launched on November 21, 2004 in the USA . This was the first time a Nintendo product went on sale outside of Japan. In Japan, the device was only launched on December 2, 2004. It was released on February 25, 2005 in Australia and on March 11, 2005 in Europe.

The Nintendo DS was sold around 24 million times in Europe by September 2008; By then, over 80 million units had been sold worldwide. In Japan, console sales in 2005 significantly exceeded those of the PlayStation 2 and PSP . In 2006, Nintendo DS and Nintendo DS Lite sold together, despite severe delivery bottlenecks in Japan, more frequently than all other available consoles combined. It was not until the end of the Japanese summer vacation in August 2007 that the handheld's delivery problems eased significantly. In September around 70,000 units were sold per week, which is a significant decrease compared to the previous months.

At the beginning of 2008 the NDS temporarily reached market saturation in Japan, the sales figures fell to around 50,000 units per week, which is due on the one hand to the large installed hardware base of the device (over 22 million units in Japan) and on the other hand to the lack of price reductions for the device which has been on the market since 2004 at the same price.

In July and August 2005, an advertisement for Nintendo Online Gaming, which started in autumn of the same year, was shown in over 5000 US cinemas. The motto for this was: “For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction” (German, for example, “For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction”).

At the end of August 2010, Nintendo USA announced that the price of the Nintendo DSi will be reduced to US $ 149.99 from September 12, 2010. At the same time, the price of the Nintendo DSi XL drops to $ 169.99.

Relationship to the Game Boy series

Slot comparison: the compatible GBA slots of a GBA (above) and a DS (below)

According to Nintendo, the DS is not the successor to the Game Boy Advance . Rather, it is a new handheld game that is supposed to enable more interactivity and is being marketed in parallel to the Nintendo consoles already available ( GameCube or Wii and Game Boy Advance). As another device in the Gameboy series, the Game Boy Micro was presented at E3 2005 one year after the Nintendo DS was released . However, this is only a redesign of the Game Boy Advance.

The number of releases for the Game Boy Advance has steadily declined since the DS came out. Even the company management of Nintendos itself indicated that a separate release of a newer Game Boy would mean too much in-house competition. The end of the Game Boy product line was evident at the latest when the successor to the Nintendo DS, the Nintendo 3DS , appeared.

Despite the position of the device as part of its own series, the Nintendo DS and Nintendo DS Lite (not the Nintendo DSi) have a slot for DS games, another slot for GBA games, so these can also be played, but due to the missing Possibility to connect a link cable, only in single player mode. The Game Boy and Game Boy Color modules cannot be played on the DS. You can specify whether the upper or lower screen is used for the display in GBA mode. Certain DS games can also contact GBA games via the GBA slot. B. Pokémon from the GBA games in the series are transferred to the DS Pokémon games. Even before the successor to the Nintendo DS, which is the Nintendo 3DS , the slot for the Game Boy Advance games was removed from the Nintendo DSi , so it is not possible on a Nintendo DSi, Nintendo DSi XL , or any device in the Nintendo 3DS series Play games of the Game Boy Advance.

Alternatively, the slot can be used for expansion modules, see accessories .

While a Game Boy Advance can be connected to a GameCube by cable, a wireless connection can be established between a DS and a Wii. With a GBA-Gamecube connection, the GBA can act as the controller of the GameCube, but the DS cannot take on this role for a Wii. With both types of connection there are some games that particularly support them. Only with the DS-Wii connection is it possible to transfer demos via them to the handheld console.

Nintendo DS Lite with accompanying stylus


Like the Game Boy Advance, the Nintendo DS has two shoulder buttons (R and L), a directional pad, start and select buttons and the A and B buttons, as well as the X and Y buttons. In some games you can use the A, Use B, X and Y as a second control pad or place these buttons on the left control pad instead.

Most games designed for the Nintendo DS, however, use the touch-sensitive screen. It is operated either with a special input pen - the so-called stylus or touch pen - or with a wrist strap, which is mainly used in first-person shooters . The Nintendo DS Lite offers a larger and thicker stylus that is better in the hand and allows more precise navigation. The touchscreen is highly sensitive to touch. A relatively simple text input is therefore possible using a keyboard shown on the screen. This is useful, for example, in Pictochat or when browsing the Internet. Depending on the program, the stylus can also be used to write texts and draw pictures. The Nintendo DS is thus reminiscent of a handheld PC, but it offers significantly less performance.

Some games also use the integrated microphone to take commands. For example, candles are blown out or dogs are actually called.

Online skills

Identifying Wi-Fi enabled games

Thanks to its full WLAN compatibility, the Nintendo DS can play against people all over the world over the Internet . All online-capable games already use these abilities for their multiplayer mode. The Nintendo DS is 802.11b compatible; the games use a proprietary protocol based on it . In order to conserve the battery and thus improve the runtime, not all of the 11 MBit (available according to 802.11b) , but only about 1–2 MBit are used.

In cooperation with GameSpy, Nintendo offered a free online service that enabled games to be played over the Internet. The service called " Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection " was started at the same time as the release of Mario Kart DS on November 25, 2005 and operated until May 20, 2014.

Access was via a standard wireless access point or a special USB plug-in module from Nintendo. The cooperation with Deutsche Telekom to use the public HotSpots free of charge (in Germany) ended on June 30, 2011.

A major disadvantage of the older versions is that only the extremely insecure WEP encryption is supported, to which you have to switch your wireless network. Nintendo DSi and DSi XL also support WPA encrypted wireless networks.

Online capable games for the DS (selection)

At E3 2005 also has VoIP - Software demonstrated for the handheld. With this voice client software you can communicate via the DS-Mikro. The game Metroid Prime Hunters enables communication outside of the actual game with this software. The voice client software is also built into the Pokémon Diamond and Pearl editions .

There are so-called download stations at dealerships and electrical wholesalers in some major German cities , through which you can download demo versions of games to the DS free of charge. This is also possible with the Nintendo Channel on the Wii .

When the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection was discontinued on May 20, 2014, many online functions of the Nintendo DS were no longer available.


Optical variants

In Japan the DS was initially only available in the standard design (silver with black underside); this version is now sometimes called "DS Phat" (for a clearer definition). On March 24, 2005, a black and white version was released and April 21, 2005, a blue version with a black bottom and a pink version with a white bottom, together in a pack with the game Nintendogs . For a short time in August 2005 there was a red and black Nintendo DS to match the game "Jump Super Stars". Other color variations are available in the USA and Japan. In Japan, a special edition of the handheld was released in cooperation with Pepsi in the Pepsi colors and matching earphones. This edition was limited to 1000 copies.

Bundles of the blue and pink DS with the game Nintendogs were released in Europe on October 7, 2005 .

There are also mods of the DS with different motifs such as camouflage. Individual sponsors verlos (ed) also limited DS copies, for example, with the MTV - Logo .

Nintendo DS Lite

Nintendo DS lite logo.svg
Nintendo DS Lite
Nintendo DS Lite Crystal White

The Nintendo DS Lite, released on June 23, 2006, is a redesign of the Nintendo DS. However, the technical specifications that are relevant for the representation of arithmetic operations have not been changed. The DS Lite is approx. 30% smaller than the original DS. The battery life is longer. The new, more compact design made a new power connection necessary so that the power supply units of the GBA SP can no longer be used.

The new features of the DS Lite include:

  • brighter and sharper displays (adjustable in four levels)
  • stronger colors
  • Handier touch pen (slot on the right in the device)
  • higher quality workmanship
  • The microphone is now in the middle of the DS
  • The start and select buttons are now below the action buttons (A, B, Y, X)
  • longer battery life
  • Improvement of the loudspeakers, through which, for example, music can be heard well even with the Nintendo DS closed
  • The "on-off switch" is now on the side and can be pushed

It is criticized that the console's screens can still reflect in strong sunlight, albeit less strongly than on the old model. It is also no longer possible to completely switch off the screen lighting. Due to the compact design, Game Boy Advance modules also protrude a little from the device - this also applies to some special Nintendo DS peripheral devices (such as vibration module), although in these cases specially made lite versions are being planned or are already available. So far, the nature of the action and direction buttons has turned out to be an unclear defect, as the quality can vary depending on the model. In general, the sponginess and lack of feeling of pressure on the keys that have to be pressed relatively deeply in order to activate them have been criticized. Buyers, however, often reply that the keys on the original model were simply too “hard” to be played comfortably and that this particular point of criticism was misinterpreted by the media.

The DS Lite was released in the colors white, black, pink, silver, red, turquoise and light green. In addition, various limited special editions were published, such as B. the black and silver one with the game "Guitar Hero: On Tour". In Japan the colors “enamel navy” and “ice blue” were still available.

By the end of 2007, approximately 45,970,000 units of the Nintendo DS Lite had been sold.

Nintendo DSi

Nintendo DSi
Nintendo DS Lite (left) and DSi (right)

On October 2, 2008, Nintendo announced the release of the Nintendo DSi, which was available in Europe from April 3, 2009 in white and black for 169 euros. On November 1, 2008, the Nintendo DSi appeared in Japan for 18,900 yen (around 142 euros).

The most striking feature of the DSi are two VGA cameras (resolution: 640 × 480 pixels = 0.3 megapixels ), one of which is attached to the outside of the lid and the other on the inside can directly record the player.

The GBA slot has been removed. On the one hand, this means that GBA games can no longer be played with the DSi, and on the other hand, other accessories for this slot (for example the Rumble Pak or the Guitar Hero Grip, see DS accessories ) can no longer be used. For this purpose, games can now be downloaded from the Nintendo DSi Shop via the Internet connection (some of them are not available for purchase on normal DS models).

A slot for SD cards has also been added . Images, audio files and downloadable software can be stored on the SD cards. A picture and sound / voice editing program as well as an AAC and music player are preinstalled. The DSi has face recognition and can save the pictures on the SD card so that they could easily be transferred to a computer or uploaded directly to Facebook (an account was required, this feature has now been discontinued). Opera’s DS-Web Browser, which was previously chargeable, is now available for free download for the DSi in an improved version. Wireless networks with WPA encryption are also now supported.

The housing of the DSi is similar to that of the DS Lite: It is just a little lighter and flatter, but at the same time a little longer and wider. The screens of the Nintendo DSi became brighter and increased in area by 17%. In addition, both the maximum volume and the sound quality have been increased by a new codec chip. The old slider that was used to regulate the volume has been replaced by two volume up / down buttons.

The on-off button is now at the bottom left next to the touchscreen and is gray.

The surface of the Nintendo DSi appears like roughened metal, but is made of plastic. It accepts scratches easily, but they can easily be removed with a damp cloth.

The processor clock was doubled to 133 MHz and the RAM quadrupled to 16 MB. In addition, an internal flash memory of 256 MB was added.

In contrast to its predecessors, programs for the DSi can not only be acquired via the game module, but also via the DSiWare that is started at the same time . Nintendo has opened the Nintendo DSi Shop for games and programs that users can download onto the DSi via the Internet. The DSi has since been taken off the market.

Firmware 1.4 made it possible to upload pictures to Facebook, improved face recognition and updated the characters of the entertainment software self-control (USK).

Nintendo DSi XL

On October 29, 2009 Nintendo announced a new version of the DSi with the name DSi XL (in Japan with the ending "LL" instead of "XL"). In Japan it has been available since November 21, 2009 for a price of 20,000 yen (then € 151 or CHF 229). The DSi XL appeared in Europe on March 5, 2010. The handheld console was initially only available in burgundy and dark brown. The recommended retail price is 179.99 euros (Germany).

The XL version is an enlarged version of the standard DSi. The external dimensions are 16.1 x 2.1 x 9.1 cm (standard DSi: 13.7 x 1.9 x 7.5 cm). The weight increases by 96 grams to a total of 314 grams. With this enlargement, the dimensions of the two screens also increase significantly. The screen diagonal increases by 2.18 cm to 10.59 cm. Due to the constant resolution of the displays, the representation may appear blurred. The internal hardware specifications are identical to the standard model. On the DSi XL, the DSiWare titles Dr. Kawashima's brain jogging for in between , dictionary 6 in 1 with camera function and the DSi browser already pre-installed. Its top is glossy and the bottom is matte.

Hardware specifications

Main processor: ARM 946E-S (67 MHz, with DSi: 133 MHz)
Subprocessor: ARM7TDMI (33 MHz)
Working memory : 4 MB (with DSi: 16 MB)
Nintendo DSi only: 256 MB flash memory
VRAM: 656 KB
LC screen
Screen size: two screens, 256 × 192 pixels ( RGB )
Nintendo DS and DS Lite: each 61 × 46 mm (3 inches)
Nintendo DSi: 66 × 49.5 mm (3.25 inches) each
Colors: 262.144
Nintendo DS: light on-off
Nintendo DSlite: four levels adjustable
Nintendo DSi: five levels adjustable
2D graphic
BG: four background layers per display
OBJ: a maximum of 128 sprites
3D graphics
Polygon drawing rate: maximum 120,000 polygons per second
Pixel fill rate: maximum 30 million pixels per second
Stereo (for headphones and speakers)
Virtual surround sound through the internal speakers
Built-in microphone or proprietary microphone input
Wireless communication
IEEE 802.11b -based proprietary protocol (DSi supports additional protocols)
Encryption of the WLAN data:
Nintendo DSi only: WPA , WPA2 ; but not usable by previous games.
Command input
Touchscreen (for example by stylus or thumb stylus )
Control pad
Buttons A, B, X, Y, R, L, Select & Start, Power (cannot be used for game controls)
Camera (DSi / DSi XL only)
power supply
Plug-in power supply of the NDS
Power management for 2D, geometry, rendering engine and LCD.
Lithium-ion battery (3.7 V, 850 mAh for the DS, 1000 mAh for the DS Lite and 840 mAh for the DSi)
Plug power supply with proprietary plug (DS, DS Lite and DSi have incompatible plugs)
Size (when closed)
2.87 cm / 14.86 cm / 8.46 cm (H / W / D, Nintendo DS)
2.15 cm / 13.30 cm / 7.39 cm (H / W / D, Nintendo DS Lite)
1.89 cm / 13.70 cm / 7.49 cm (H / W / D, Nintendo DSi)
2.12 cm / 16.10 cm / 9.14 cm (H / W / D, Nintendo DSi XL)

Software offering

The Nintendo DS is primarily a game console like the GameBoy; Nintendo and some third-party developers are also working on programs that will equip the DS with the functions of an organizer , as well as on touchscreen-controlled dictionaries. Furthermore , the Nintendo DS browser based on version 8.5 of the web browser of the same name was developed in cooperation with Opera . This was published at the end of July 2006 in Japan and on October 6 of the same year in Europe. Since the DS is considerably cheaper than most PDAs and organizers currently on the market , the manufacturers expect the software to be successfully introduced and a new market to be developed as the hardware manufacturer.

There is also homebrew software for the DS, which can be transferred to the DS using special chip cards. So you can expand the DS with many functions, emulate (older) games and systems (such as ScummVM or Descent , C64 , SNES ) or start self-programmed games and programs that are legally offered on different sites. For example, there are homebrew browsers, clients for instant messenger networks or IRC, MP3 players, organizers, calendars, file managers and many other programs.

The DSLinux project, which has set itself the task of porting Linux to the Nintendo DS, should also be mentioned. A so-called GBA Flashcard is required for this, a module for the GBA slot of the console, whereby a memory card can be inserted into the module itself, which then contains DSLinux. Recently, cards have also been offered that are the size of a normal Nintendo DS flashcard and that can also be inserted into slot 1 of the Nintendo DS. These cards no longer require the DS firmware to be patched to run homebrew and are very popular in the homebrew scene.

Storage medium

The games on the Nintendo DS are stored on special Nintendo memory cards. According to Nintendo, games can be produced more cheaply on these than on modules . The memory capacity of the cards is up to 512 MB . With unofficial adapters, common memory cards, e.g. B. SD cards with 4 GB and more capacity can be used.

Actually, the USK symbols have to be printed on all games in Germany . However, because the games are so small, an exception has been made here. You only have to be printed with the notice from a release age of 12 years and it is sufficient to print only one set of information about the game. The games then say: "Approved for ages 12/16/18". However, the normal rules apply to the game packaging.


Various accessories for connection to the GBA slot (slot 2) have so far been released for the Nintendo DS. With the newer DS versions DSi and 3DS / XL, this accessory cannot be used due to the lack of slot 2.

Original Nintendo DS Rumble Pak

For example, there is a Rumble Pak with a shaking effect. The expansion can be obtained from Nintendo Customer Service or as an add-on to an NDS game such as Actionloop or Metroid Prime Pinball. A Rumble Pak for the Nintendo DS Lite can also be purchased through importers, this then has the DS-Lite dimensions and therefore does not protrude from the Nintendo DS Lite housing. A publication for the European market is not planned. A RAM expansion is included with the Nintendo DS browser .

The Movie Advance Player is an interesting accessory . With it, films, music, pictures and texts can be played or viewed. The Movie Advance Player is inserted in the second slot and, depending on the version, contains either a CF or SD card. However, the latest version of this module was not developed by Nintendo, nor is it officially supported. The Nintendo MP3 player is now available as a counterpart to the Japanese Play-Yan , with which you can play up to 240 songs.

In Japan there is a TV receiver for the DS. It never reached the European market because it uses the 1seg transmission standard, which is not used in Europe .

There is also a GBA slot extension called NDSMotion that registers movements similar to a Wiimote. However, this only has homebrew support and there are no commercial games that work with it.

Furthermore, an expansion for the GBA slot is on the market in Japan, which makes a paddle controller available with which games such as "Arkanoid DS" or "Space Invaders" can be played. The extension was produced by Taito.

Also available is a handle bar for the game "Guitar Hero" and a step counter for "My Fitness Coach" - both of which are also extensions for the GBA slot of the DS or DS Lite.


The successor to the Nintendo DS has been around since March 25, 2011 under the name 3DS . In March 2010, Nintendo announced that it would offer 3D functionality without 3D glasses . Switching to a 2D mode is possible, however. It is also backwards compatible with old DS games and DSiWare titles. The device was presented on June 15, 2010 at E3 2010 and was released on March 25, 2011 in Europe. The current models are the 2DS, New 3DS XL and New 2DS XL.

Web links

Commons : Nintendo DS  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Statista: [1]
  2. best-selling DS games. In: Nintendo. Retrieved July 29, 2015 .
  5. , accessed on November 8, 2010
  6. IGN: Nintendo USA lowers prices for DSi and Co. from August 31, 2010, accessed on August 31, 2010
  7. Jenna Pitcher: Nintendo killing Wi-Fi Connection service for DS and Wii May 20. Polygon, February 27, 2014, accessed February 27, 2014 .
  8. Sales figures up to the end of 2007
  9. " Nintendo presents pocket console DSi with two cameras ", Heise -Newsticker from October 2nd, 2008
  10. " Nintendo releases pocket console DSi ", Heise -Newsticker from April 3, 2009
  11. Test report on
  12. Nintendo DS and Linux
  13. Nintendo chief: 3DS will have a 2D switch