The Nintendo DS represented a bold new direction for Nintendo, kicking off an extremely lucrative period for the company's handheld line; this "third pillar" to Nintendo's strategy wasn't originally supposed to replace the Game Boy line, but it ended up doing so anyway. The original "Phat" model was rather hideous in retrospect, but it's still an important part of Nintendo's history, and now pictures of an even earlier model have surfaced.
Evan Amos—a popular video game hardware photographer and historian—recently came across some pictures of the DS from the original FCC filing. This isn't the same as the model that Reggie unveiled at E3 2004, but its quite similar, and gives an interesting look at the initial concept.
What do you think? Did you like the original Phat DS? What was your favorite DS game? Drop us a comment in the section below.
My opinion :
Prototype >> Older NDS (Phat)
DS Lite >>> Older DS models
Love it, and also now want one. Or you know a fake would be cool too
Wow, I saw this and it dropped me right back to the heady Gameboy Advance days, seeing Reggie's very similar prototype & wondering whether two screens would work! I think the original DS was one of my best purchases in the end... many happy years of gaming.
that looks more like the one originally debuted at E3 and less like the first one to hit the market.
Damn, when prototype DS models are considered "Retro" you know you gettin' old.
I remember looking at early DS concept art with Mario 64 running on it, and the funny thing is it still feels like I've yet to experience the level of awesomeness I expected to come from such promises.
I suppose the N64 will always be my pinnacle of gaming.
The earliest DS I've seen was the one shown on an issue of Nintendo Power when the system was first revealed
The shoulder buttons are most interesting on this design. Rather than the standard flat ones we had they're round buttons poking out of the corners at an angle.
To me that's what it would look like if it was released in the 80's.
No doubt it would come in fluro colours and a limited edition version released in denim lookalike with a Nintendo headband and legwarmers.
Looks like some apparatus to monitor the, I don't know, urine levels of senior citizens.
@Baker1000 I thought about not tagging it as such, but then I realized this was 12+ years ago! Crazy how fast it passes...
The original "Phat" model was rather hideous in retrospect...
2. Whichever GameFAQs user popularised the term "phat" to contrast with "Lite" should have his Internet privileges revoked. It's incredibly cringy and not clever. Also, "fat" isn't the opposite of "light". #imtriggered
Man, those shoulder buttons XD
Cue Weird Al Yankovic's "Fat"
I wonder how quickly those shoulder buttons malfunction compared to what's on the DS/3DS models that were shipped to the masses?
I personally would've prefered this over the phat one I got.
It would be really easy to release this, call it the DS classic, and load it up with 30 DS games and 30 GBA games and call it the DS classic. Guarantee at least a half million sales.
The NES classic would also have sold half a million if they would have just made that many of the dang things.
Very lovely. Love seeing hardware images of handhelds.
@Gauchorino FYI, being "phat" is a good thing. It's the opposite of ugly. Don't you know your slang terms?
I remember seeing a later prototype than this in magazines at the time period! The only model of the original DS I've ever had was the original DS phat, and I still have it! The most use I got out of it was 100's of hours put into Phantasy Star Zero.
The system wasn't sleek like the PSP, but the thing was built like a tank; it had curves in all the right places, instead of sharp edges. In the end, durability counts- even after all the time I used it, none of the buttons ever failed, not even the shoulder buttons. It's too bad that it wasn't made in Japan like the Game Boy, Pocket, and Color, but it did well nonetheless.
Even to this day, the DS phat and my first cell phone in 2006 resonate as giving me a good first impression of the clamshell design. So many people throw away their newfangled candy bar design electronic gadgets within 3 years, fragile as they are. The DS phat, like the Game Boy, taught me that electronic gadgets can be built to last for many years.
Its always just cool to see how things change over time. This prototype looks a lot more toy-like than the released versions.
What's hideous is the DS Lite. Good God, that thing was an anorexic hooker of a system with gaudy, glossy makeup, that looked like you just picked it up off the street in some dark alley. Their shoulders were so weak, that they started the tradition of the DS line having crappy shoulder buttons until the New 3DS finally fixed the problem. Ugh, I stayed the hell away from the DS Lite...
@PlywoodStick Sure, which makes the attempt at irony even more irritating. Remember the good ole' days when we first generation owners of the system referred to it simply as "the original DS?" For the sake of human decency, we should probably be discouraging such unofficial, "subtle" attempts at humor from reaching the mainstream.
Or do what you like, I guess. I just still can't believe "Phat" is seriously used by anyone to refer to the model, at least as part of a proper name rather than just being descriptive of an opinion of it.
The OG DS may be ugly, but it has the best D-Pad ever imo
Looks like a Famicom and a Game and Watch chimera.
Not bad, but not better than the DS Lite.
"Wasn't supposed to replace the game boy" if you believe that and the switch isn't supposed to replace the wiiu just because nintendo said so, you should probably quit.
Maybe it's because I always compared it to that unfinished model that they showed at E3 2004, which I find hideous, but I always thought the original DS looked OK.
This makes me feel so old. It's been 12 years, man. Doesn't feel it's been long since I played Pokémon DPP all the time with my friends at school and while chatting with them on MSN. That's crazy.
I still have the Nintendo power that had a pic of this. I love Nintendo handhelds. So glad switch is portable.
Man, it really looks like a Game Gear (which I have fond memories of) with a second screen.
@Gauchorino totally with you there. I actually call my DS Phat my DS Alternative Girthstyle.
The original DS fat model always looked like a prototype anyway. I get the impression Nintendo weren't holding their breath at its success and had a new Gameboy waiting in the wings to match the PSP.
When the DS took off like it did they shelved the next GB and bought out the DS lite instead which at the time was proper sexy.
I'm pretty sure I remember seeing these back in the day, unless there was another prototype that looked similar. I loved the DS back then, it had so many original and unique games it was truly a gamer's paradise. I think the DS Lite perfected the design, although these days I'd probably get an XL!
I think my favourite games for the DS are Tetris DS, Contra 4, Mario Kart DS and Elite Beat Agents. Also, honourable mention to Pac-Pix which was a fantastically unique take on Pac-Man where you had to draw Pac-Man and it would them come to life and eat ghosts.
Speaking of early Nintendo handheld prototypes, I've always wanted the version of the GBA that was shown off before launch. IIRC it was identical to the released model but had a silvery body and one version had orange buttons and another had blue/teal coloured buttons. I'm surprised with all the custom AGS-101 GBAs on eBay that no-one has tried to re-create the prototype.
I prefer the Lite over this model, the DS lite is far more sleek, plus this prototype doesn't look very comfortable to hold.
I'm glad it didn't come out looking like that. When I first saw the prototype during the Nintendo's E3 2004 conference I was disgusted, glad they didn't stick with that and instead went with a more comfortable design.
Remember the beta images of Super Mario 64 DS where 4 players could team up together to fight Bowser as Mario, Luigi, Wario and Yoshi? Pepperidge Memberberries remembers.
The shoulder buttons... look uncomfortable, feels like two gameboy sp's slapped together.
@JHDK You're right. This is the original design first released to the public. As the article memtions, a prototype. Thanks goodness it was changed to the design we all know because this is rather ugly.
Personaly, I really liked the design of the original DS. The DS Lite, to me, it see me cheap (specially the white model), like a toy that would come out of a cereal box, he he.
The white DS Lite model reminded me of an Apple product for some reason.
i liked the DS phat. though its a bit fragile in my experiences
my favorite DS game was probably one of the main series pokemon games,like pokemon white version
Wow, I remember seeing this Prototype being shown off while it was known as the "Developer's System" and being totally amazed by the fact it had two screens and could play Super Mario 64 portably. The Prototype looks very 80s to me, similar to the original Gameboy. Still cool though, I wouldn't have minded when I was 8. ^_^
I'm really glad that wasn't the final design. But I recently picked up an original phat DS in really good shape, so I still think this stuff is cool.
Looks like crap, glad they changed the design.
Screw you, Nintendo Life! The original DS was gorgeous!
...Too bad it had a crap hinge that broke easily... sigh
...But it had the best damn shoulder buttons I've ever used! And it was a pleasure to hold! No button ever failed, unlike every other future system with DS included in its name! Screw you all!
@MitchVogel believe it or not it's probably the first console launch where I had followed it right from announcement at E3. Still fondly remember the old design that was unveiled first.
@NImH Clever, but you misunderstood the syntax of the last clause.
Ah, that takes me back...I remember looking at those in Nintendo Power all those years ago...I was really excited, since it looked at lot like one of the "handhelds" my bro and I used to make out of cardboard and construction paper...
I remember seeing the promotional banners for the Nintendo DS at my local general store, im like what does DS stand for? It has a touch screen?!!??! whaaaaaat!
All these people burning the original DS, but that system was awseome, built like a tank, could drop it anywhere and just start it up, whereas the DSLite those things were always breaking, the GBA carts didnt fit right, and the brighter screen hardly outweighed the perfect GBA fit and the durability of the original.
Kinda wish i still had mine, but i sold it so i could buy the DSI which was amazing!
@Gauchorino I didn't misunderstand. Was just being silly.
@NImH No problem, here, brother. Maybe I misunderstood.
Haha, that's like super fat DS. Especially horrible is the Gameboy Advance SP headphone adapter still there and not just a 3,5mm hole.
I had a Graphite Black original DS that was amazing, shame I had to sell it to afford a black DS Lite on it's launch. DS was such an amazing device, the last region free Nintendo gaming device, before they shot themselves in the foot and region locked everything after DSi came out. Graphite Black was not even sold in Europe, it was bought from Asia from the amazing Lik Sang, that had to close down because Sony sued them at some point. That shop was the best. So much better than the likes of Play-Asia can ever even dream of.
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