Further Nintendo DS developers have gone on record today, commenting on the forthcoming 'Nintendo DS 2' featuring an in-built digital camera and music playback facilities.
Firebrand is considered a leading UK handheld developer for Nintendo, having recently put together a number of successful, critically-acclaimed DS titles including Race Driver Create & Race and Race Driver GRID for Codemasters, Ferrari Challenge DS for System 3, Trackmania DS and others.
Pete Shea, creative director at Firebrand Games told TechRadar all about his initial thoughts and ideas on DS2.
DS mark 2 long rumoured
"This is an interesting development if the rumours are true," Shea told TechRadar. "A DS2 model has long been rumoured but as sales have been consistently high for the last few years, there seemed little reason for Nintendo to introduce a new version of the handheld.
Shea is certain that "adding complimentary features to the existing design makes more sense than completely replacing DS."
He adds, "from a game design perspective this does raise difficulties in that any gameplay elements that make use of these features [digital camera, music playback] need to be optional to the main game, so that it remains compatible with all of the existing machines."
"Larger screens sounds good," adds Shea, adding that they would probably have to still be the same resolution as the existing DS, "or else you run into backwards compatibility problems again."
The DS dev also reminds us that the change in brightness with the (now ubiquitous) DS Lite was very welcome, "and has dramatically improved the quality and clarity of NDS visuals in games. So any further improvements in this area would be great."
"The suggested camera option is also interesting, but it's not clear if this would be primarily a communication device looking back at the user to allow live video chat, or whether it would be more like a phone camera designed to take high resolution pictures.
Face-mapping, improved Wi-Fi
"The ability to potentially have user face mapping or live images in multiplayer gaming sounds good," Shea thinks, "but would put a strain on the existing wi-fi connections, so that may be why the report suggests improved wireless capabilities.
Shea notes that such features haven't really taken off that much in home console gaming, however, which makes him think "if true, Nintendo must have a specific application in mind- a game that has been designed around a camera or video feature."
MP3 support could be a good addition, with user play lists- that is the ability to play your own music in a game, proving very popular on other consoles like Xbox 360 and PS3. Memory could be a problem here, however, unless the console has a memory card slot of some sort, or else much more RAM than the current DS Lite.
DS as Skypephone?
Alternatively, if Nintendo's DS strategy "is more an attempt to make the DS a single device that offers all the features of a phone (potentially with Skype or other internet call services) then I'm not so sure that will take off," says the developer.
"Most people in the UK at least have all of this functionality on their existing phones, and I'm not sure that they would be used on a new DS or that it could ever replace people having mobile phones.
"The strength of the DS is its gaming features, so for me Nintendo should be looking to enhance the hardware's gaming capabilities rather than trying to compete in the mobile phone market which is getting busier and busier with iPhone, other smart phones and a rumoured PlayStation phone on the way."