The Nintendo DS is a seventh generation video game handheld console by Nintendo, the successor to the Game Boy Advance. It was the console on which the Shantae series finally came back to life. It was created by Satoru Okada (岡田 智) and the Nintendo Research & Engineering Department in collaboration with the Nintendo Entertainment, Analysis & Development division led by Shigeru Miyamoto (宮本 茂), and first released in North America on November 21, 2004. In March 2006, a first revision called the Nintendo DS Lite was released, which was slimmer and lighter. In November 2008, a new iteration was released, the Nintendo DSi, with several technical improvements, and with a major new feature being its ability to connect to an online store, the DSiWare, presenting online content to be purchased, including complete games. This feature was crucial for Shantae as it allowed the release of Shantae: Risky's Revenge. In November 2009, the last incarnation in the console series, the Nintendo DSi XL, was released. The console series was followed by the Nintendo 3DS in February 2011. The original model was discontinued on January 31, 2014, the DS Lite was discontinued on March 31, 2014, while the Nintendo DSi and Nintendo DSi XL were quietly discontinued sixth months later on September 30, without any official announcement.


Premises, the Nitro and the Nintendo DS

Satoru Okada

Nintendo veteran handheld developer Satoru Okada was again responsible for developing the Nintendo DS.

In 2003, as Nintendo's domination on the handheld market was going uncontested, Sony announced a console called the PlayStation Portable boasting powerful graphics.[1] As an answer to this threat, Nintendo announced in November 2003 that they would be working on a new project which was not supposed to be a successor to the Game Boy Advance or the GameCube.[2] The project was later revealed to be under the management of veteran Nintendo handheld developer Satoru Okada and the Nintendo Research & Engineering, in collaboration with Shigeru Miyamoto's Nintendo Entertainment, Analysis & Development.[3] In January 2004, they subsequently revealed that this new project was codenamed "Nintendo DS"[4] (DS standing for Dual Screen).[5] The new system featured two LCD screens with separate processors, 1 gigabit of semiconductor memory,[4] a stylus and the lower screen being a touch screen answering to the stylus or the player's finger.[6]

Early nds

An early version of the DS.

The project was originally derided by critics who questioned the usefulness of the double screen feature and criticized the fact that the console was set to have Nintendo 64 level graphics while the PSP was rumoured to feature PlayStation 2 level graphics.[1] In March 2004, documentation from Nintendo revealed that the current codename for the project had changed to "Nitro".[5] Matt Bozon recalled in 2009 that developers had little info about the real technical specifications of the console and therefore had trouble developing games for it.[7] In May 2004, the name of the console was again the Nintendo DS,[8] which was confirmed in July 2004 to be the official name for the console.[9]

Launch of the Nintendo DS

Mph fh

The Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt demo, bundled with the first Nintendo DS consoles.

The Nintendo DS was finally launched in North America in November 2004 at the Universal CityWalk EB Games in Los Angeles, with a big party.[10] It was the first time Nintendo launched a console in North America before Japan.[11] The launch in Japan in early December was comparatively quieter.[12] This huge launch was part of a $40 million advertising campaign launched by Nintendo in North America to protect its domination on the handheld market.[13] However, the console came with no new game at the beginning, instead relying on its backward compatibility with GBA games to sell,[14] and with only one bundled demo: Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt.[15] Despite this setback and the earlier terrible critical reception, the console became a surprise hit.[1] In the US, the entire 800,000 unit shipment was sold out by Thanksgiving[13] and Nintendo

The very successful Nintendogs.

was forced to ramp up production[16] as its projections for 2004 were of 2 million units, and the year actually finished with 2.8 million units shipped.[17]

The Nintendo DS was then released in Australia on February 24, 2005[18] and in New Zealand four days later.[19] The subsequent launch in Europe in March 2005 saw further success, with the release being this time accompanied by such new games as WarioWare Touched! and Polarium.[20] By the end of 2005, Nintendo had sold 3.5 million units in Europe with sales boosted by the release of the hugely successful Nintendogs and Mario Kart DS.[21] The last country where the Nintendo DS was launched was China in June 2005, under the name iQue DS, as it was necessary for Nintendo to operate there under the iQue name to comply with local legislation.[22]

The Nintendo DS Lite and further success

Nintendo didn't lose time for working on a redesign of the Nintendo DS and on January 26, 2006, they unveiled a new model called the Nintendo DS Lite. It featured a smaller design, even though the screen remained roughly of the same size, but being of a higher quality with four brightness levels. The Lite name was standing for it being more lightweight and featuring a brighter screen. This model was still compatible with Game Boy Advance cartridges.[23]

Brainage ds

Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!, one of the most successful DS game of the DS Lite era.

The console was first released in Japan on March 2, 2006[24] and sold out in a few hours following its morning release. While Nintendo had planned to ship 450,000 units in the first month,[25] it actually amounted to about 550,000 units in total.[26] Although Nintendo faced production issues, they managed to ramp up production and shipped 700,000 units during the month of April.[27] However, the success was so high that one year later, Japan was still suffering shortages of DS Lite.[28] It was then released in Australia on June 1st, 2006[29] and in America on June 11.[30] In one day, the console was also nearly completely sold out in the US.[31] It was released a little later in Europe on June 23, 2006 and sold 200,000 units in ten days. By that time, the total sales of Nintendo DS and DS Lite combined had reached 5 million units in Europe.[32] The Chinese version, the iQue DS Lite was released on June 26, 2006[33] and the last country where the DS Lite was launched was South Korea in January 2007.[34]

Successful games of the DS Lite era included Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!, which was launched some time before the console and New Super Mario Bros. which was launched around the same time as the console.[35] Later successful games include the new iteration of the Pokémon series, Diamond, Pearl[36] and Platinum[37], Mario Party DS or Pokémon Mystery Dungeon[38].

By October 30, 2008, the Nintendo DS outsold the Game Boy Advance and became the best-selling handheld system of all time.[39]

Digital games era: the Nintendo DSi and DSi XL


Masato Kuwahara, director of the Nintendo DSi.

Still going fast, Nintendo again started work on a new version of the Nintendo DS at the end of 2006. Development was entrusted to newcomer Masato Kuwahara (桑原 雅人) from the Development Engineering Department. Kuwahara was forced to work at a quick pace to meet the tight expected deadlines and reportedly had trouble defining the potential audience of a new version of the console.[40] The new model was finally unveiled in early October 2008[41] and was shown to be thinner than the DS Lite, but slightly longer and wider, featured a slightly larger screen and a new SD memory card port and dropped the GBA game port. Besides that, it featured two cameras,[42] a built-in web browser and also the ability to access the DSiWare, which would allow developers to promote and sell their works without the need of a material release.[41]


A Nintendo DSi navigating the DSiWare.

The launch of the console started in Japan and was delayed for the rest of the world, as the main aim was to stimulate hardware sales which by 2008 were starting to stall in Japan, while they were still strong elsewhere. As a result, it was launched on November 1, 2008 in Japan,[43], while it waited for April 2, 2009 to be launched in Australia and New Zealand[44], April 3 in Europe and April 5 in North America[45]. The iQue version for China was later released on December 15[46] and the South Korean release date was April 15, 2010.[47] In Japan, the DSi sold over 535,000 units in its first month[26] and was still toping weekly charts one year after.[48] In its first two days in North America and Europe, it sold 600,000 units.[49] Just one year after the release of the console, Nintendo already put out a last iteration, the Nintendo DSi XL (called DSi LL in Japan), on November 21, 2009 in Japan[50], on March 5, 2010 in Europe[51], on March 28 in North America[52] and on April 15 in Australia[53]. Combined yearly sales from 2010 onward showed that the DSi and DSi XL outsold the Lite model.[54]

The release of the Nintendo 3DS, successor of the Nintendo DS, occurred in 2011.[55] As a combined result of this and the good comparative sales of the DSi and DSi XL. The last games for the original Nintendo DS models to really make a splash were of the Pokémon series.[56][57] The DSi and DSi XL were finally taken down without any official announcement in September 2014.[58]

Shantae and the Nintendo DS


Shantae: Risky's Revenge icon on the DSiWare.

Although the first Shantae game faced lackluster sales, it was a critical hit and WayForward, the creators of the game, believed enough in it to start production of a sequel. However, the various plans had to be scrapped,[59] including an early one for the Nintendo DS called Shantae: Risky Waters,[60] as a material release was necessary back then and no publisher were willing to place their bets on Shantae. The arrival of the DSiWare with the Nintendo DSi in 2008 changed that, as WayForward no longer had to rely on an external publisher to put the game out.[59]

Therefore, work on a new sequel, titled Shantae: Risky's Revenge, started and was originally planned as a four episode download, taking advantage of the digital download format, but this was not well received. WayForward subsequently scaled back their plans to a standalone release.[59] Shantae: Risky's Revenge was released in 2010 to great critical acclaim[61][62] being called by some critics possibly the best DSiWare game available at the time.[63][64] Subsequently, IGN awarded it the Best Visual and the Best DS game of the year awards.[65][66] Although no sales numbers are available, the game has been called a hit by some publications and was ported to the iOS as well[59] and will soon be ported to Steam for Windows.[67]


Original model

  • Size: 84.6 mm x 149.00 mm x 28.7 mm
  • Weight: 275 g
  • Battery charge time: 4 hours aprox.[68]
  • CPU core main processor: ARM946E-S (running at 67 MHz); Cache: 8 KB instruction cache, 4KB data cache; TCM: 8KB instruction, 4KB data; Subprocessor: ARM7TDMI (running at 33 MHz)
  • Memory main memory: 4 MB (debug version has 8 MB) ARM9/ARM7 shared - 32KB (16KB x 2) ARM7 internal RAM - 64 KB VRAM - 656 KB
  • LCD display size: 256 x 192 RGB screens x 2
  • Display colours: 262,144 colours
  • 2D graphics engine background: Maximum 4 layers objects; Maximum of 128 3D graphics engine geometric transformation; Max 4 million vertex/sec
  • Polygon rate: Max 120,000 polygons/sec
  • Pixel Fillrate: Max 30 million pixels/sec
  • Sound: 16 channel ADPCM/PCM (max 8 channels can be set to PSG)
  • Microphone input
  • Wireless communication 802.11 protocol
  • Input device touch panel direction pad, A, B, X, Y, L, R buttons, Start, Select,[69] stylus[68]
  • Power Save Sleep mode (WakeUp possible at set times or by wireless communication); Power save for 2D engine, rendering engine, geometry engine, LCD screen possible.[69]

Nintendo DS Lite


The Nintendo DS Lite.

  • Size: 73.9 mm x 133.00 mm x 21.5 mm
  • Weight: 218 g
  • Battery charge time: 3 hours aprox.[68]
  • CPU: ARM946E-S (67 MHz), ARM7TDMI (33 MHz)
  • RAM: 4 MB
  • LCD display size: 256 x 192 screens x 2[70]
  • Display colours: 260,000 colours[68]
  • Audio: Stereo, built-in mic
  • Wireless communication 802.11b
  • D-Pad, shoulder buttons, stylus[70]

Nintendo DSi


The Nintendo DSi.

  • Size: 74.9 mm x 137.00 mm x 18.9 mm
  • Weight: 214 g
  • Battery charge time: 2,5 hours aprox.[68]
  • CPU: ARM9E (133 MHz), ARM7TDMI (32.92 MHz)
  • RAM: 16 MB
  • LCD display size: 256 x 192 screens x 2[71]
  • Display colours: 260,000 colours[68]
  • Audio: Stereo, built-in mic
  • Wireless communication 802.11g, 802.11b
  • D-Pad, shoulder buttons,[71] stylus[68]

Nintendo DSi XL


The Nintendo DSi XL.

  • Size: 91.4 mm x 161.00 mm x 21.2 mm
  • Weight: 314 g
  • Battery charge time: 3 hours aprox.[68]
  • CPU: ARM9E (133 MHz), ARM7TDMI (32.92 MHz)
  • RAM: 16 MB
  • LCD display size: 256 x 192 screens x 2[72]
  • Display colours: 260,000 colours[68]
  • Audio: Stereo, built-in mic
  • Wireless communication 802.11g, 802.11b
  • D-Pad, shoulder buttons, stylus[72]


The last precise sales numbers for the Nintendo DS date back from April 2013; as of then, the combined sales of the Nintendo DS, Nintendo DS Lite, Nintendo DSi and Nintendo DSi XL were of 153.98 million units, of which 93.86 million were DS Lite, 28.42 million were DSi and 12.91 million were DSi XL. By region, the Nintendo DS had sold 32.99 million units in Japan, 59.93 million units in the Americas and 61.05 million units elsewhere.

The combined sales of Nintendo DS games summed up then to 942.32 million games.[73]


The Nintendo DS in all its iterations is currently the best selling handheld console of all time, and the second best selling console overall, closing in on Sony's PlayStation 2.[74]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2
  4. 4.0 4.1
  5. 5.0 5.1
  13. 13.0 13.1
  26. 26.0 26.1
  41. 41.0 41.1
  59. 59.0 59.1 59.2 59.3
  68. 68.0 68.1 68.2 68.3 68.4 68.5 68.6 68.7 68.8
  69. 69.0 69.1
  70. 70.0 70.1
  71. 71.0 71.1
  72. 72.0 72.1
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.