Why Nintendo is cool

I bought the Nintendo DS for me and my son and I'm quite impressed. For those who don't know, Nintendo is the #3 manufacturer of video games consoles. The #1 and #2 are Sony and Microsoft.
I liken Nintendo to the old chestnut of Fox and the Hare. The biggest dichotomy between the fox chasing the hare is that the hare is running for it's life, but the fox is only running after it's lunch. If Nintendo can't sell games and game consoles, they are out of business, since that is all that they do. If Sony or Microsoft can't sell their games and consoles, they are just losing money: they make lots of money from other sources.
Perhaps because of this dichotomy, Nintendo seems to be creating some really innovative hardware. The Nintendo DS has two displays (DS is for Dual-Screen), in which one display is touch sensitive and the DS also has WiFi connectivity. Nobody has anything like this, and using a standard wireless network instead of creating their own proprietary system means you can even connect to your home wireless network and play games over the Internet.
Another innovation is their Wii remote controller for their upcoming Wii gaming console. This wireless remote controller has several innovations: it uses the standard Bluetooth wireless network, it detects linear motion in 3 dimensions, it senses tilt, it senses where you are pointing to on the screen. A two handed nunchuk controller is also possible. This remote means you can slash a sword or swing a racket in a realistic way instead of pressing buttons to emulate these motions.
In comparison, Sony and Microsoft are offering basically the same machines as before just with more processing power. (okay, there's also more connectivity and the blu-ray stuff too). But how innovative is that?
What compelled me to write this post today was after some investigation I learned that you can play games with your friends on the Nintendo DS over the WiFi network even if your friend doesn't own the game. In other words, I can buy a second Nintendo DS and play games with my son and not have to buy two copies of each game. When we connect our handheld game consoles together (all wirelessly) his game will automatically be uploaded to my machine and I can play his game on my machine. In a way, two Nintendo DS handhelds working together are worth more than the sum of their parts.
I was thinking of buying the GP2X, which is more my style (open source, open arquitecture), and with the GP2X I could also watch movies (which I can't do with the DS). But buying the Nintendo DS Lite is just too compeling. Being able to play with my son seems like much more fun.


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