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ds00I’m not much of a reviewer, I prefer experiential writing to reviewing.  So rather than try writing a proper review, I’m going to do a mini review of every DS game I own.  I don’t like issuing scores, so I shall just order them building up to my favourite. (more…)

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I wasn’t planning on doing another demo overview so soon, but at least it’s for a different platform.

Two things make this a good idea for me:

One, I would love to have what is basically a portable book which can hold various things I might want to read.  Palm and Pocket PCs have been around for several years, but they don’t have many uses, and are not designed for long term viewing.  Another option is the Sony Reader.  I saw one of these in Waterstones and was very unimpressed.  It apparently uses no power when it’s just holding a static image, and whilst this is very impressive, it results in noticeably slow transitions.  Add to that it just didn’t feel right, I know nothing would measure up to an actual book but it felt quite user-unfriendly and at ~£215 it’s very expensive.  This idea is also attached to my wish for a full featured PMP (Portable Media Player), a single device that has multiple uses.

Two, creating new uses for a gaming device.  PC gamers have had this for years, in fact if you add up the time I spend on forums and blogging it would equal my time spent gaming.  Web browsers are an idea, but I’ve never found anything that can match up to a PC browser.  Plus gaming machines are usually either on a TV screen, okay for a bit of viewing but not for spending a long time surfing, or a portable device, where the resolution is too low.  Following on from my previous point it would make sense to use a portable gaming device as a viewer, picture, video, book or otherwise.

Despite that rather positive outlook I went into this trial with negative feelings.  Could a DS really work as a book?

For those who don’t know, the Wii provides downloadable demos for the DS, it basically becomes a wireless access point.  I really like the fact that the Wii can provide demos, I have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of the various ones on offer, and new ones are added every so often.

When the demo first started it asked me which orientation I wanted to use.  This was great, I’m left-handed and it could have been a quite uncomfortable experience.  Plenty of DS games have done this, but some developers still forget so it was a nice surprise to see the option.  Before starting the actual book I decide to take a peek at the other options that are available.  First are the font settings, there is a choice between two font sizes, Small and Large (more on that later) and you can show or hide the remaining pages in the book.  I’m not quite sure why you’d want to do this.  Next are the button settings, there are several choices on offer but I don’t see the benefit, if it were set for right-handed then the arrows would be used, whereas I had the option of changing the action buttons.  There are only two functions you can set, next page and previous, you can change these around but I don’t see why you would want to.  You can also assign the L and R buttons to do this job.  Lastly was the option to change the orientation, nice and easy if you’re sharing the DS with someone.

100cb02The only book on offer in the demo is Romeo and Juliet, although it is the complete text.  In the full version there is a scrolling menu of books.

Now for the actual book.  Before you start reading you are taken to a menu with a picture of the cover on one side, you are given the options to read ‘About the Book’ and ‘About the Author’, I though this was a nice touch.  When you read for the first time, it runs through a tutorial (skippable) which covers the basics of navigating through the book.

100cb03You can either slide the stylus from one direction to the other, or simply tap the edges (as well as the buttons I mentioned earlier).  The book goes through a nice page turning animation, it’s nice and quick so it won’t disrupt your reading.  Touching the top will  bring up the menu and touching the bottom will put up a scrollbar, which you can use to quickly move through the book.  This is also where bookmarks show up.

100cb06This is one of the best features, it’s slightly awkward in that you have to go to the menu to place them, it would have been nice to be able to press a button or insert them from the scrollbar menu.  You can set three bookmarks at any place in the book, once placed you simply tap the bottom of the screen, then tap which bookmark you would like to go to.  100cb05They appear on the left or right hand side, depending on which direction they are from your current position.  This would be a great system for either people sharing, or if you are in school or on a course.  It would be great for bookmarking quotes.

Now for the actual font, I actually found it a bit difficult to read, the letters were slightly blurred around the edges.  This could just be my eyes, but it would have been nice to be able to change the font so that it would suit individuals better.  Also, even though I had it on Small, I still thought the lettering was too big, it only fitted a few sentences on both screens.  I know the DS has a low resolution but I would have thought it could go a little smaller.  (Might even lose the blurring.)

The full list of books:

Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Mansfield Park – Jane Austen
Emma – Jane Austen
Persuasion – Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Shirley – Charlotte Bronte
Villette – Charlotte Bronte
The Professor – Charlotte Bronte
Dombey and Son – Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Martin Chuzzlewit – Charles Dickens
Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott
Rob Roy – Sir Walter Scott
Waverley – Sir Walter Scott
Othello – William Shakespeare
Hamlet – William Shakespeare
The Tempest – William Shakespeare
Merchant of Venice – William Shakespeare
What Katy Did – Susan Coolidge
What Katy Did At School – Susan Coolidge
Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
Kidnapped – Robert Louis Stevenson
The Black Arrow – Robert Louis Stevenson
The Call of the Wild – Jack London
White Fang – Jack London
The Water Babies – Charles Kingsley
Westward Ho! – Charles Kingsley
Lord Jim – Joseph Conrad
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens
Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper
Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
Under the Greenwood Tree – Thomas Hardy
Tess of the d’Ubervilles – Thomas Hardy
The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare
Taming of the Shrew – William Shakespeare
Macbeth – William Shakespeare
Winter’s Tale – William Shakespeare
Much Ado About Nothing – William Shakespeare
Henry V – William Shakespeare
Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
Lorna Doone – R D Blackmore
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Bronte
Agnes Grey – Anne Bronte
Sons And Lovers – D.H. Lawrence
Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
King Solomon’s Mines – Rider Haggard
Tales Of Mystery And Imagination – Edgar Allen Poe
Adam Bede – George Eliot
Mill on the Floss – George Eliot
Silas Marner – George Eliot
Middlemarch – George Eliot
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde
The Woman in White – William ‘Wilkie’ Collins
The Moonstone – William ‘Wilkie’ Collins
Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle
The Casebook Of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
The Old Curiosity Shop – Charles Dickens
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Bleak House – Charles Dickens
Hard Times – Charles Dickens
Barnaby Rudge – Charles Dickens
David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
The Pickwick Papers – Charles Dickens
The Turn Of The Screw – Henry James
The Aspern Papers – Henry James
Cranford – Elizabeth Gaskell
Titus Andronicus – William Shakespeare
The Merry Wives of Windsor – William Shakespeare
Midsummer Nights Dream – William Shakespeare
Anthony and Cleopatra – William Shakespeare
All’s Well That Ends Well – William Shakespeare
Comedy of Errors – William Shakespeare
Richard III – William Shakespeare
Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
Vanity Fair – William Thackery
Barchester Towers – Anthony Trollop
Black Beauty – Anna Sewell
Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Little Lord Fauntleroy – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Caroll
Through The Looking Glass – Lewis Caroll
Loves Labours Lost – William Shakespeare
Timon of Athens – William Shakespeare
King Lear – William Shakespeare
Julius Caesar – William Shakespeare
As You Like It – William Shakespeare
Twelfth Night – William Shakespeare

Overall I think this is a good idea that has lots of future potential.  I could see this working well for comic books as well as literature.  The DS screen or the developers decisions (probably both) sadly makes the font too large, reading a couple of sentences at a time would really take the enjoyment out of it for me.  The selection of books is very good, I personally wouldn’t enjoy reading many of these, but I don’t disagree with the selection since they are clearly ‘Classic’ books.  I hope they release more versions with different selections (Sci-Fi please :mrgreen:).  If you wish to read a number of these books then I could easily see you enjoying this, but we don’t yet have a replacement for real books.

Pictures taken from Amazon UK.

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