If you don't know what the DS is, it's the new system Nintendo just announced. It's a handheld whose primary feature is that it will have two vertically aligned screens (Double Screen, hence DS.) It will have two processors and the theory is that you can be doing two things simultaneously on the two screens. It was first sighted here and there are a few more details here.
At first glance, this sounds like a really stupid idea. I can't imagine there being enough games/ideas to work with that system to support it. However like i said, i got an idea.
- They intend for new media to go into it, but could potentially play GBA games, as evidenced by their choice of processors. However, it stands to reason that they will do what they can to encourage new games to be delivered to it.
- It'll be a 3rd system in the market, with continuing games being developed on the other two systems. My guess is this is a 'test the waters' system, but not a full fledged effort.
Here's what i think. I have no insider knowledge, so this is just a guess, but it relates to something i've been thinking they need to do for awhile.
The PSP is going to use mini-disks, it's going to be 3d, it's basically going to be a mini PSX, er PS1 (damn Sony and their naming schemes!)
Nintendo has the perfect counter to this, a mini-GameCube since the GameCube already uses mini-disks. However the technology to package a GameCube in a handheld format at a reasonable price isn't available yet.
Unfortunatly by the time it will be afordable the PSP will already have a foothold in the market, and making the Nth generation of the GameBoy play GameCube disks but still be backwards compatible with the older cartridges will be akward and possibly expensive (making space to put two readers in there, plus the cost of both readers, etc.)
Giving up the backwards compatibility would be a real problem, but if the PSP does well they'll eventually need to match that capability or be doomed, and the longer they wait the worse it will be.
So my theory for this new device. The two screens are mainly a gimick. Sure, Nintendo may have some cool ideas for what to do with them, and they'll encourage developers to take advantage of them. However the main point of the system will be that it uses mini-disks, the same size as GameCube disks. This is why Nintendo is efectively denying the backwards compatibility.
I don't know if the first generation of games will be 2D or PSX/N64 level 3d (tie in to iQue perhaps?) but the point will be to establish a third line of products, to make this device destinct fromt he GameBoy so that DS sales won't be canabalizing from the GameBoy.
So at first it would be a kind of competition with the PSP. If you're going to buy a second handheld, are you going to get a DS or a PSP? However the big thrust will occcur in the next generation. They'll release the 2nd (or maybe 3rd) generation DS with the capability to play GameCube games, and backwards compatibility with earlier DS games. The second screen for this edition will either be able to be folded back when you're playing GameCube games, or it will be detachable. Or perhaps they'll have a larger than normal screen (good for GameCube games) that will emulate the double screens for older games.
So i think this is a long term attempt to compete with the PSP without damaging the GameBoy market directly.