DS Design: Maps
Thursday, January 1, 2009 at 12:12PM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid) in Mario Kart, Mega Man, Misc Design & Theory, Pokemon, Star Fox, Zelda

It has been a little over four years since what is now called the DS fat was released. I bought the original DS. I bought the DS lite when it came out stateside. And I anticipate my future DSi. The DS would be my favorite video game playing system/device/console ever, if it weren't for the Wii.

Let that statement not diminish your appreciating for the greatest handheld ever held by hands. With two screens (one of them touch), a mic, a clam shell design, and wifi the awkward little machine wasn't well understood by anyone at first. Having successfully demolished the "3rd pillar" status, the DS is a quirky system that has swept the world and has supported some of my favorite, unique, and most innovative gameplay experiences.

In effort to better appreciate the most excellently designed features of DS games across the board and to highlight the work of those who truly understood how to design for the DS, I'm starting this series called DS Design.

Each article will highlight a specific feature or type of feature for the Nintendo DS as well as provide examples ranked to the best of my ability. What better way is there to start the series off than highlighting the map screen. This design feature was considered by many to be the lazy way of designing games on the DS. While this may seem to be the case on a cursory inspection, it turns out that some developers have implemented map screens that shaped shape gameplay and created function that pushed video games far beyond what's capable on any other handheld, console, or platform.

From the best downward...

1) The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass


2) Mario Kart DS



3) Star Fox Command


4) Megaman ZX & ZX Advent


5) Pokemon: Diamond and Pearl


All of the games in the following list feature simple non interactive maps that serve no other function but to provide information of the players exact whereabouts in context to the level. While this is a very useful function, it represents the bare minimum for DS map design.

 If you have any other good examples, feel free to leave a comment or send an email.

Article originally appeared on Critical-Gaming Network (http://critical-gaming.com/).
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