Dazz: Did You Know?
Although the DS was very profitable for Nintendo, the system’s games are one of the most pirated products in gaming history.
In 2010, Japan’s Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association published a list of Japan’s most pirated DS games.
CESA’s findings showed that the 20 best-selling DS games were downloaded almost 20 million times collectively in Japan.
Pokemon Platinum was illegally downloaded almost 2.1 million times.
It figured that nearly matched the game’s 2.7 million regional sales.
Most of this piracy can be attributed to flash cartridges such as the R4,
which allowed users to play DS ROM files using a micro SD card.
Nintendo took measures to combat piracy on their platforms, but with limited success.
In 2008, Nintendo teamed up with 54 other video game companies to take legal action to halt sales of R4 units.
Their lawsuit used Japan’s unfair competition prevention law, and ask that all companies
involved with the R4s to stop importing, selling, and advertising the devices.
Unfortunately, Nintendo’s actions had little effect, and consumers continued to buy R4 devices online.
In 2009, Nintendo publicly called out the governments of China, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, and Paraguay.
A statement was made about each country and how piracy was negatively affecting Nintendo
in each region, in hopes of the governments cracking down on pirates. This, too, seemed to have little effect.
The system has a fairly interesting history. The DS wasn’t originally intended to be the successor to the Game Boy line of handheld consoles.
At the time of its release, Nintendo was still supporting both the Game Boy Advance and GameCube,
and the DS was planned to launch as a third pillar, alongside these systems.
Most likely, this was due to the fact that the DS was a more experimental piece of hardware,
and Nintendo didn’t want to risk devaluing the Game Boy brand, should the new system fail.
The DS also marked a major turning point for Nintendo as a company.
While speaking about the upcoming release of the DS, former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi stated that
Nintendo’s goal at that time was to help lift Japan out of economic depression.
They plan to do this by re-energizing the game market, though they were uncertain about the future of their own company.
Yamauchi even went so far as to state that…
“If the DS succeeds, we will rise to heaven, but if it fails we will sink to hell.”
Despite all concerns, the Nintendo DS proved to be a massive success.
As of 2018, it is officially the number one best-selling game system in the United States
and the second best-selling system in the world, after Sony’s Playstation 2.
The DS went through several different code names while in development.
Its earliest iteration was known as “Iris”, a name that predates the system’s dual screens.
The official Nintendo DS emulation software was called “Ensata”, named after the Iris Ensata flower commonly known as simply the Japanese Iris.
As former Nintendo president Satoru Iwata described Iris was just the codename of next generation hardware designed to succeed the Game Boy Advance.
It’s often speculated that the Ensata emulator was developed by Intelligent Systems.
However, there is little evidence to prove this. The code of Ensata only has copyrights relating to Nintendo, which implies it was developed in-house.
The source of this confusion may have been the fact that Intelligent Systems developed the hardware tools for the DS.
Before the handheld was officially revealed, leaks indicated that its final name
kept going back and forth between the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Nitro.
In an Iwata Asks interview, Iwata confirmed that Nitro was one of the code names used for the device.
As a holdover from when it was codenamed the Nitro, the serial numbers printed on DS game cards all begin with the letters NTR.
The final name for the system, the Nintendo DS, actually has two meanings.
On the surface, it stands for dual screen, however, according to Nintendo, it also stands for developer system,
as it was meant to give game creators brand new tools which will lead to more innovative games.
In 2004, Nintendo filed a trademark for game hardware under the name “City Boy,” suggesting that this might have been another name considered for the DS.
According to games journalist Emily Rodgers, the City Boy name was meant to help market
Nintendo’s handheld systems to a younger more modern demographic.
It was also chosen to compete against the growing mobile phone game industry.
The Nintendo DS also has the unique distinction of being physically carried to the highest point on Earth.
Mountain climbers Neil Mueller and Chris Grubb brought their DS systems with them during their ascent of Mount Everest.
While most of the team’s electronics were ruined during the climb, their DS systems survived the entire ascent.
The devices managed to endure the bitter cold, fierce winds, and having curry spilled
directly on them while the team’s Sherpa guides played them in the kitchen.
A large part of the DS’s international appeal was its lack of region locking,
as all DS systems can play any game from any region.
The only exception to this is the Chinese version known as the iQue DS.
This version of the DS can still play games from any region, but games released specifically for the iQue DS
are region locked and cannot be played on regular DS systems.
Attempting to do so will simply trigger a message that says, “Only for iQue DS”.
Oddly, this region locking only functions on the original DS, as all versions of the DSi and 3DS can play iQue DS games without issue.
Only six games were released for the iQue DS; Super Mario 64 DS, New Super Mario Bros., Yoshi Touch & Go,
WarioWare Touched, Polarium, and a version of Nintendogs that came pre-installed on the upgraded iQue DSi.
Another region specific quirk can be found while setting up the DS’s Wi-Fi connection settings.
Japanese DS systems have an option to connect to the Internet using a portable Wi-Fi router.
Because these routers are used almost exclusively in Japan, the option to use it was removed internationally.
However, there is a workaround for users to access the option outside of Japan.
In order to do so, the user has to specifically calibrate the touchscreen incorrectly by touching
the bottom right corner of the screen when asked to touch the middle.
While on the Wi-Fi setup menu, this option can then be accessed by touching the very top left corner of the touchscreen.
This is still possible to do, even in the 3DS’s version of the menu.
The Nintendo Wi-Fi connection instruction booklet included with the DS also contains an interesting secret.
One page of the booklet explains the steps to input a WEP key, in order to connect to a wireless router.
In the example picture, the code used for the WEP key is 8675309.
This is a reference to the 1981 pop song 867-5309/Jenny by Tommy Tutone.
This isn’t the only easter egg for the DS system. If the player starts up their DS on their birthday, the boot-up sound will have a slightly higher pitch.
[DS’s original boot-up sound]
[DS’s higher pitch boot-up sound]
And if they continue into the Pictochat application and go to a room, they will receive a happy birthday message.
Although having multiple brightness levels was an advertised feature of the DS Lite,
later shipments of the original DS actually had support for multiple brightness levels as well.
However, there was no way to actually take advantage of it outside of Homebrew applications.
The DS and DS Lite eventually received a significant hardware overhaul in the form of the DSi, which included new features such as cameras and SD card support.
The system’s name was inspired by the Nintendo Wii with the single “i” meant to convey individuality
and emphasize the idea of players personalizing their own systems.
The sound editor was included as a last second addition at the insistence of Shigeru Miyamoto, which actually contains an interesting easter egg.
While on the sound selection menu, if the player highlights one of their recorded sounds and waits for about a minute,
the sound editor will start playing a rendition of the Super Mario Brothers theme, composed from the highlighted sound.
[Super Mario Bros. theme playing, slightly changed]
The DSi’s cameras were a key component to the system’s redesign.
Satoru Iwata compared the device’s microphone and touchscreen as its ears and sense of touch,
so the cameras were intended to give the system eyes.
The DSi included two cameras, one on the front of the system and one on the back.
These cameras actually take pictures at a resolution two and a half times greater than the resolution of the DSi screen,
so the pictures could be zoomed in without losing detail.
Originally, the design team only intended to include one camera and make the top screen able to swivel around,
in order to take pictures both in front and behind the system.
However, the swivel mechanic was deemed too expensive and impractical, so the decision was made to include a camera on both sides.
Another feature that had to be cut was a second game slot, something that had been heavily requested by both fans and Nintendo employees.
Upon the first presentation of the DSi prototype, however, company executives expressed concern
at the system’s bulk and the second game slot had to be removed in order to make the DSi smaller.
Did you also know that the Game Boy Advance was planned to have Internet access?
Or that the Advance was designed by a French man?
For more facts, check out our video on the Game Boy Advance.