The Null Device

Nintendo DS roundup

The Nintendo DS, sometimes dismissed as the Sony PSP's poor cousin, is starting to look like an interesting platform. For one, whilst Sony's unit is largely dominated by fairly conservative mainstream fare like driving/sports/gang-warfare/first-person-shooter games, the dinky DS, which lacks the raw power to compete in the graphics-machismo stakes but has two screens, one of them touch-sensitive, and a microphone, has been capitalising on this with more conceptual and experimental titles. One which has been raved about recently is Electroplankton, an artificial-life-based algorithmic-music-composition game/toy/tool developed by Japanese multimedia artist Toshio Iwai. Electroplankton was apparently the most popular Japanese import to the US, though now has been released there, and at least one musician has made an album using it, and is using it in live performances.

On a more practical note, the Opera web browser is about to be released for the DS; Opera will be a cartridge which allows users to browse the web via Wi-Fi from their DS. I wonder how long until Skype or someone release a VOIP cartridge, turning the DS into an internet telephony handset.

Meanwhile, some hobbyist hackers have written a personal organiser package for the DS. It's a download, and needs some hacking to get it to work. And someone else is manufacturing and selling cartridges for running homebrew software on a DS. The PassMe cartridges plug into the cartridge port and take a legitimate game cartridge, which they use for authenticating the code downloaded onto them as legitimate; they are used for running homebrew titles, and absolutely not, it must be stressed, p1r4t3d games. It's not quite clear how one downloads the software image onto the cartridge, though; I imagine it may use proprietary software, possibly running only on Windows.

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