In case you weren’t aware, Nintendo recently released the Opera web browser for their Nintendo DS. Being a person who likes all things DS, and is also one of the five people left on the planet who doesn’t have an Internet enabled phone; I decided to pick one up. After several hours of playing around with the browser, I came to several conclusions that I would like to share with you.
Read on after the jump
I quickly surmised that my purchase was, shall we say, an effort in futility; much like trying to use the Opera browser itself. The assumption that I could prance around the Internet within minutes of popping in the two Opera software cartridges was a fallacy that ended in about thirty seconds.
The Nintendo DS is not a PDA or a Blackberry. This, I understand. But the amount of hoops one needs to jump through just to get to enter some text is ridiculous. With a Blackberry – or a cell phone even – the user is presented with keys or buttons that correspond to letters. To enter information on the DS, you are presented with a keyboard on the ever-present touch screen.
Now, if you’ve ever played a DS game, you would think to yourself that the touch screen interface is a good idea. Not because you’re a button hater, but because the DS has an amazingly good touch screen (which it does). But somewhere along the way, the Opera people decide to screw things up a bit and make the DS’s pixel perfect precision an afterthought.
Not only did I spend an inordinately large amount of time trying to type “words,” I spent an even longer amount of time hitting the backspace icon because the DS couldn’t figure out whether I was tapping an L, or a semicolon. Pure frustration ensued and I nearly threw the DS out the window. The software does allow for the option to use handwriting recognition, but if you’ve ever played Brain Training, you’ll know that this is merely a choice between two evils.
Regardless of the imperfect keyboard interface, the Opera browser does deliver on several aspects. You can check your email with relative ease, and you can access login-required hotspots, previously inaccessible with the DS’s WEP Key-only interface. Thereby allowing your DS to access the Internet somewhere other than a McDonald’s.
As far as appearance goes, the browser allows for image loading (sadly, no Java or Flash), which comes in handy in if you’re looking at Destructoid. Although, the amount of memory that the browser has is so limited, that after loading a few pages it becomes full and needs to be deleted. So, if you’re keeping any hope alive to be able to watch Youtube videos on your DS – don’t.
To be fair, there are plenty of options to speed up the page loading process and to help you navigate pages. Image loading can be turned on and off and you can switch from a regular, web style view, to a SSR (Small Screen Rendering) view. The keyboard screen also has quick keys like .com and .net, to help you type URLs faster.
Unfortunately, with all these features in place to help you, the Opera browser still fails miserably in the most important department: ease of use. The browser, which is really only good for checking emails, is held back by the incredibly frustrating keyboard interface and will, most likely, drive you mad. Which is a shame, because with a little more tweaking, this could’ve been a fun and relatively useful accessory. As it is now, I couldn’t recommend anyone buying one these.