The Nintendo DS (ニンテンドーDS Nintendō DS) often shortened to NDS and DS (short for "Developers' System" or "Dual Screen"), is a Nintendo handheld video game system. Development of the DS began in mid-2002 The Nintendo DS features a clamshell design, similar to the dual screen Game & Watch games and the Game Boy Advance SP. It competed with the PlayStation Portable and Gizmondo throughout its lifetime. The handheld is noted for having two screens, the lower one being a touch screen. In addition to the touch screen functionality, the DS also includes a built in microphone and, a first for a Nintendo handheld, Wi-Fi capabilities. A stylus comes packaged with every Nintendo DS system that can be placed into a slot when not in use. Being the first model in the DS series, four iterations of the Nintendo DS have been released including the original piece of hardware, the Nintendo DS Lite, the Nintendo DSi, and the Nintendo DSi XL (Nintendo DSi LL). The original DS and DS Lite are backwards compatible with GBA games. However, multiplayer is not supported and like the Game Boy Micro, original Game Boy and Game Boy Color games cannot be played. All the models were discontinued worldwide in 2014, following the release of the Nintendo 3DS in early 2011.

The Nintendo DS was the first system by Nintendo to use Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. With Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, people can play with gamers all around the world, and can register them as a friend via the Friend Code system. Several games made use of Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, including the fourth and fifth generation Pokémon games, Mario Kart DS and Animal Crossing: Wild World.

With over 150 million units sold worldwide, the Nintendo DS is the best-selling Nintendo console, the best-selling handheld, and, overall, the second best-selling video game system only behind the PlayStation 2. This includes all of the redesigns, but not its successor, the 3DS. It has also sold over 943 million units of software.

Since May 20, 2014, online play for many Nintendo DS and Wii games has been discontinued due to the closing of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service.[12] The DSi Shop was later announced on March 31, 2016 to be discontinued on March 31, 2017, with the gainable points discontinued on September 30, 2016.[13]

The graphical capability of the DS is said to be on par with the Nintendo 64, albeit with enhanced 3D modeling, but more pixelated textures due to lack of texture filtering.

The successors to the Nintendo DS line, Nintendo 3DS, are handhelds similar in appearance that can produce 3D graphics without the need for glasses and are also backwards compatible with DS games, except some that require the GBA slot.



The Nintendo DS is a bulky clamshell handheld. The design of the Nintendo DS was greatly influenced by the dual screen Game & Watch games like Donkey Kong. The lower portion of the Nintendo DS features a touch screen that can be used via the stylus. There are four face buttons including A, B, X, and Y, all to the right of the touch screen. The D-Pad is to the left of it. Above the D-Pad is the power button, which is used to turn the system on and off. Above the four face buttons are start and select. When open, the shoulder buttons, L and R, are behind the top portion of the system, but are placed at the top of the bottom half of the clamshell. The button control is very identical to the controller of the SNES. The top portion includes the top screen and two stereo speakers.

The microphone is placed below the touch screen on the DS, though its placement on the four different iterations of the DS differs depending on the handheld. On the original DS, it is at the lower left-hand corner, right below the screen. On the DS Lite, it is at the middle in between the two screens. On the DSi and DSi XL, this position is replaced by the Camera, and the microphone was moved about 2 cm to the right. Its function is to accept audio input. The microphone can detect sounds and blowing. Some game software can recognize certain words that the player says, such as in Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!

Technical specifications[]

Size (closed) 5.85" wide (14.625 cm)/3.33" (8.325 cm) long/1.13" (2.825 cm) high.
Upper screen Backlit, 3-inch (7.5 centimeter), semi-transparent reflective TFT color LCD with 256x192 pixel resolution and 0.24mm dot pitch, capable of displaying 260,000 colors.
Touch screen Same as the top screen, but with touch sensors.
Palette 18-bit RGB (262,144 colors)
Wireless communication IEEE 802.11 and Nintendo's proprietary format wireless range is 30 to 100 feet (9.15 to 30.5 meters), depending on circumstances; multiple users can play multiplayer games using just one Nintendo DS game card (select games only).
Controls Touch screen, built-in microphone for voice use, A/B/X/Y face buttons, plus control pad(d-pad), L/R shoulder buttons, Start and Select buttons.
Input/Output Ports for both Nintendo DS game cards and Game Boy Advance Game Paks, slots for stereo headphones and microphone.
Other features Built-in PictoChat software that allows up to 16 users to chat at once through wireless connection; built-in real-time clock date, time and alarm; touch-screen calibration.
CPUs One ARM9 and one ARM7.
Sound Stereo speakers providing virtual surround sound, depending on the software you're using.
Battery Lithium ion battery delivering 6 to 10 hours of play on a four-hour charge, depending on use power-saving sleep mode; AC adapter included with system for charging.
Languages English, Japanese, Spanish, French, German, and Italian.



The menu displayed on a DS Lite. (The menu looks the same on the original DS).

The menu on the DS is the first Nintendo handheld to have a menu, but the DS menu is very basic. The top screen contains an analog clock and calendar along with a bar at the top. The bar contains your username, a 24-hour digital clock and calendar, and how charged the battery is (green for charged, red for running out of charged, and blinking red for about to die). On the bottom screen, there are several icons. These icons are the programs on the DS. The top icon starts the DS game inserted (attempting to switch the game out while the DS is on will cause the DS to freeze), the icon on the left is for PictoChat, on the right is for DS Download Play, and the one on the bottom starts the GBA game inserted. There is also three other icons on the bottom; the sun icon toggles the backlight (on the DS Lite, this changes how bright the screen is). The second icon with the picture of a DS is the system settings. The third icon is a picture of an alarm clock. It opens the alarm clock.


Nintendo DS Lite[]

Nintendo DS Lite Console

A black Nintendo DS Lite powered on.

Main article: Nintendo DS Lite

A newer model named the Nintendo DS Lite was announced in January 2006, released in March of the same year, and contains all the features of the original Nintendo DS with some new features such as a significantly brighter screen (with four adjustment options), a lighter weight, a smaller overall size (having the negative side effect of a regular Game Boy Advance cartridge protruding out from the bottom, similar to playing a Game Boy or Game Boy Color cartridge in the Game Boy Advance), and the power button being replaced with a power slider and moved from above the D-Pad to the right edge of the lower screen to prevent players from accidentally turning on/off the system. The Nintendo DS Lite sold 89.19 million units as of 2010. It was also the final handheld system to have backwards compatibility with Game Boy Advance games.

Nintendo DSi[]

Nintendo DSis

The Nintendo DSi in black, blue, white, and pink.

Main article: Nintendo DSi

A third model, called the Nintendo DSi, was announced on October 2, 2008 (with development beginning in end of 2006). It is thinner, lighter, brighter, and half an inch bigger than the DS Lite, having removed the Game Boy Advance slot, which caused a lot of disappointment when it came out. However, this also means that the Nintendo DS Rumble Pak, which was used with titles such as Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, cannot be used. Two cameras, music playback functions, Wi-Fi, internet browser, larger screens, and a Wii-like channel interface were added. Additionally, the console supports WPA encrypted networks.

The DSi is also able to download games from the Nintendo DSi Shop, which are then stored on an SD Card or in internal memory. It was initially released in Japan in late 2008 and worldwide starting early 2009. The DSi's front has a camera lens, and another, smaller lens is located where the mic was positioned on the Lite, allowing for photos to be taken with the DSi.

Nintendo DSi XL[]

Nintendo DSi XLs

The Nintendo DSi XL in blue, red, and brown.

Main article: Nintendo DSi XL

In 2009, Nintendo later released the Nintendo DSi XL (called Nintendo DSi LL in Japan), with the "XL" standing for "Extra Large."[14] It was initially released in Japan in late 2009 and worldwide starting early 2010. As the name suggests, it is a larger version of the regular DSi. This is the fourth and final model and also does not support GBA games.

Top Ten Best-Selling DS Games[]


  • It was the world's very first handheld video game system to support 3D polygonal graphics as opposed to only sprites.
  • In a favor of the popularity of Nintendo 64 in the USA and Canada, it was the first ever Nintendo console that was ever launched in North America, before it was launched in Japan.
  • It should be noted that, since the Nintendo DS, all of Nintendo's systems have featured a way to play with more than 4 local players.
  • The Nintendo DS and the 3DS allow up to 16 players, the Wii allows 8 players with 4 Wii Remotes and 4 GameCube controllers (though only few games went up to 5), and the Wii U allows 5 players with 4 Wii Remotes and a GamePad. The Wii U also supports up to 8 players using combinations of the GamePad, GameCube controller (via adapter), Wii Remote and Wii U Pro controllers but only one game supports 8 players.
  • The Nintendo DS was the first video game console to be played on Mount Everest in June 2005. In fact, it was one of the only pieces of electrical equipment that did not fail once during the climb. The game played was Madden DS.
  • The Nintendo DS was the first system to have a game from the now popular Cooking Mama franchise.
  • If the DS or DS Lite is turned on on the date that the user has set as their birthday, a high pitched chime will play. However, the DSi and DSi XL will not do this.
  • At one point, a special "Pink Ribbon" Nintendo DS Lite was released in late September 2008. For every one bought, $5 would be donated to the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Association.
  • One of the possible names for the DS was City Boy. This name made it possible for Nintendo to continue the Game Boy brand (seen as a child's toy) while trying to appeal to an urban young adult crowd.
  • The Nintendo DS is the only handheld system to have neither a Player's Choice or Nintendo Selects label on select video games.

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