A refreshing take on Pong

It has to be said up front, Pong isn’t very exciting; regardless of how to angle it. It was the first video game I had, and it was a single unit dedicated to one-player or two-player pong. Since then, the game has been cloned, copied, and improved upon for a countless number of platforms. Mobile phones, java, flash, Windows, Linux, Mac.. you name it. They all have their own version of this game. Breakout owes its roots to Pong too.

Pong is hardly something a company would produce and release to a commercial platform like the Nintendo DS. The NDS has far more sophisticated games available for it, as well as a fairly functional “homebrew” market (although it’d be nice with many more releases). That said, PYIN-PYANG, the NDS homebrew by Christophe Andreani is an interesting variant of Pong. The big difference is movement backward and forward, and not just up and down.

You’ll need a product like the CycloDS Evolution to play the NDS version of PYIN-PYANG, since Nintendo doesn’t allow the use of homebrew NDS applications out of the box, but there’s a PC-emulator version available too.

CycloDS Evolution

The Nintendo DS, or NDS for short, is an amazing little handheld entertainment machine from Nintendo. Its true capacity has been made obvious by third-party products like the CycloDS Evolution. This in itself, is somewhat sad. Sad? Why? Well, it shows a little bit how marketing can get in the way of technology. With a product like the CycloDS Evolution, the NDS becomes more of a multimedia entertainment system than a pure handheld gaming machine.

The CycloDS Evolution uses a MicroSD card for storage, which at present means you can squeeze a good 8GB of stuff in it. “Stuff” can be a number of things, including media files like MP3/Ogg (audio) and DPG (a popular movie format for the DS). You can also run homebrew applications; which include games, weather and maps, and more. There are a number of “browser shells” available such as Moonshell and DSOrganize.

Firmware upgrades for the CycloDS Evolution are installed in a very simple manner; you drop the upgrade file in the root folder of the MicroSD card and then turn on the NDS. Be careful when executing this procedure, however, as it can sometimes corrupt the folder structure of your memory card (a backup to your computer is a good idea).

There are a number of contenders to the “Best add-on card” for the NDS; the CycloDS Evolution isn’t the only one. But the Cyclo is a well working solution, and the fact that it utilizes an external memory card makes it easier to extend and maintain (IMHO). This post is not an expert’s opinion on add-on cards for the DS, it comes down to a matter of personal taste and opinion.

What these add-on cards make blatantly obvious is that you can squeeze a lot more out of the NDS; and I suspect the next generation handheld from Nintendo will feature some of these add-ons, like an MP3-player, a built-in web browser, movie player, and so on. If you look around the net, you will find all kinds of homebrew applications, including Linux for the DS (!), an e-mail application, etc.

The CycloDS Evolution is a worry-free, care-free, and fairly inexpensive enhancement for the NDS that will open new doors.