Mandatory DS Firmware UpdatesThe general consensus is that the Nintendo DS has some problems. Most of these aren't major problems - they're small. They're just as small as they are easy to fix. Since we can't make these changes ourselves (hint, hint) we're going to have to ask Nintendo to do it for us. Here goes:
Nintendo, please release a firmware update for these DS design problems - the DS needs a firmware update for XMas this year - and here's what is on most player's wishlists:
1) Go directly to dashboard on startup
A little fix. The GBA startup screen flashed momentarily and then the game came up. This was acceptable. The DS startup screen flashes, then must be tapped to transition to the DS dashboard. This is tedious. If the clock functionality of the DS is to be useful then make it quicker to access. Besides, do we really need to see the epilepsy disclaimer every time we start the machine?
2) Dashboard clock and calendar
Still small, but irritating. The top screen of the dashboard has several major problems:
A) Analog style clocks are a pain. Please make a digital readout. Why, oh WHY did you leave this strictly analog? I thought you were aiming for the twenty-something demographic, not the 1920's demographic...
B) If you can't alter the calendar, then why show the calendar? Either add appointments to the calendar or simply display the date as text beneath the time. Showing the entire calendar merely invites the comparison of the DS to a PDA - which it could easily be if anyone saavy game developer had your permission.
3) A Pictochat "lobby"
This is the biggest complaint of the bunch - currently the DS lacks any functionality as a real communicator because unless you're in the same Pictochat chatroom, there is no way to detect other players. The DS should boot directly into a Pictochat "lobby" which acts as the default dashboard screen. This lobby should display the usernames of players that come into range of your DS and be capable of receiving direct messages. Without this - physical interaction is still necessary to initiate interaction and a massively cool feature goes half-realized.
4) An persistent dashboard
The DS currently needs to reboot to switch between programs (including Pictochat.) This means that if a person is currently playing a game, or any mode besides the same chatroom as another player then interplayer contact is impossible. The DS should be able to switch seamlessly between games and the dashboard - receive invites and messages while the machine is otherwise engaged or even in sleep mode.
My recommendation is that the START button (pause for nearly all games) should default to a closable "inbox" panel which allows the player to return to the main menu, placing the game in a sleep state if they wish to switch games or answer a message. Because such incoming messages stand to interrupt gameplay - when received they instead might cause the hardware LEDS to blink. Saving the screen for it's primary purpose. Like this....
These hardware lights are visible even when the unit is closed and make a logical choice for "alert" messages. A firmware update for a machine like the DS might be without precedent - but so is the DS itself and these simple fixes would alleviate 95% of user software objections to the DS.