2006 – Ray of Lite
Year in brief:
2006 marked the two biggest changes for the Nintendo DS, both of which catapulted it into the far-away lead of any machine this generation. First was the release of the DS Lite, a slimmer version of the system equipped with a brighter screen, easy to reach stylus and a very iPod-like casing. It went from bulky videogame system to attractive personal device almost immediately. Second was Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day and the “Touch Generations” branding that let non-gamers know, hey, it’s OK to play these moving picture games.
Above: The DS Lite was noticeably smaller and brighter
Criticism: Brain Age marked the beginning of Nintendo’s current obsession with self-improvement gaming. On one hand we lament this move, as it’s possibly the reason we’re not playing a new F-Zero right now, but on the other we acknowledge how much this move has benefited Nintendo and the industry as a whole. That said, there was a wicked gap in the summer of 2006, with barely any notable games released from June through August.
Above: The DS Lite and Touch Generations helped make the system a worldwide sensation, not just another handheld gaming platform
Sales: Like we said, Brain Age and Lite made the system appear cool and attainable to people who usually ignore handheld games, so sales were over 35 million by the end of the year. That’s double what they did in 2005. Insane.
Best game of 2006: New Super Mario Bros
The first 2D Mario game in 14 years may have been incredibly easy and slight on innovation, but it was most definitely new, so we got what we paid for. This sucker has sold nearly 20 million copies in its three short years.
Honorable mentions: Metroid Prime Hunters, Star Fox Command
Worst game of 2006: Superman Returns: The Videogame
The embodiment of all that can go wrong on the DS. It’s a horrible port of an already shit movie game released several months after said movie left theaters. And it takes about two hours to beat. What a waste.
Hateful mentions: Tenchu: Dark Secret, Dino Master