Posts filed under ‘Nintendo DS’

The Kitchen and Your DS

The DS - One of My New Kitchen ToolsI recently had to go to Japan, and as as consequence forego the luxuries of having my meals cooked for me, which meant that I had to eat out for all my meals, which isn’t exactly cheap here, or learn to cook. And I had no experience with the latter. Ok, maybe I know how to boil an egg and fry some bacon. For those of you with the same opportunity that I have, Shaberu DS Oryouri Nabi (しゃべる DS お料理ナビ) comes to our rescue. Armed with a knife, a pot, and my DS in one hand (Ok, maybe not. You’ll find out why), I set out to try if I can really learn how to cook with this software.

Shaberu Telling Me What To Do“Shaberu” has a total of 200 dishes, ranging from snacks to complete meals, Western or Oriental, and can even be filtered of ingredients you have to avoid, say, due to allergy or your doctor’s advice. And among the different dishes, Shaberu offers you different ways to search for a recipe. Of course, you have the basic option to browse the entire list, but you can also specify what ingredients you have, by set menus, keyword search, or by filters. Clams Cooking Pretty WellPersonally, I found the filter feature useful; I filtered for dishes that were easy to prepare and can be done in 10 minutes, but you can filter it for other criteria like calories as well. I decided I wanted seafood and picking one from the results, chose Clams Steamed In Wine.

There are 3 basic steps to do when cooking:

Prepare the ingredients and tools
In this step, you can choose how many people you’re cooking for, which automatically adjusts the shown amount of ingredients you will need. And you can also check off items you already have, like in a checklist, and Shaberu saves this data so when you turn on your Shaberu the next time you’re in the groceries, you’ll know exactly what to buy. Shaberu also tells you what tools are needed.

Go over the cooking process
Of course, before any cooking actually begins, you have to make sure you’re ready by reviewing each step of the cooking process, from preparation to finishing touches. You can of course skip this part if you wish.

Guided cooking
Here’s where the real fun begins, and where Shaberu, as well as the capabilities of the DS, shines. First of all, Shaberu means to chat in Japanese. Naturally, you can’t be holding your DS in one hand will you’re holding your pan and vigorously stirring with your spatula! Shaberu talks you through the dish so you don’t need to hold it. Just place it somewhere in the kitchen, preferably on a location where you won’t accidentally cook your DS, and listen to the instructions while you cook.

Although you can set the speed of the synthesized voice, for inexperienced cooks like me, I need a way to sort of pause it without having to touch my DS (specially not my touch screen) with my potentially dirty-from-handling-raw-food hands. Here’s where Shaberu’s show-stealer function comes in. Like I said, Shaberu means to chat, and chatting is a two-way thing. Using the DS’s mic, you talk to your DS to tell it to go to the next step, go back a step, repeat the step, and even to ask it for more details (Err, so how exactly do I clean these clams?). Of course, you can still navigate it with the touch screen if you so wish.

How The Dish Should Look LikeAfter cooking the dish, Shaberu confirms if you were abe to successfully make it and celebrates with you with confetti while showing you how your dish should turn out. It also takes note of the dish that you cooked in its calendar, so you have a record of the dishes you’ve made so far.

Ok, now onto the Cons. As you might have probably guessed, Shaberu is a Japanese title. Naturally, it speaks Japanese and you can’t change languages. And even though Shaberu uses simple language, unless you’re well-versed in Japanese kitchen and food terms, or you have another DS running Rakubiki Jiten, you’re gonna have a bit of difficulty following the steps.

Overall, Shaberu makes full use of the multimedia capabilities of the DS to deliver a really effective cooking guide for both beginners and intermediate cooks alike. For expert cooks, I suggest going for the sequel of Shaberu, where you’ll be instructed by no less than 7 hotel chefs.

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November 4, 2007 at 12:21 am 5 comments

Little Speaker Cube

Os Speaker @cubeI found this cute little Speaker Cube from Eiden, an electronics store in Japan, for Y2,980. It’s small and fits right in my palm (ok maybe a bit bigger). You turn it on via the top power button. It’s powered by USB, but you can also put in 4AA batteries. It can connect to any device with an audio jack, say your laptop or your Nintendo DS. Nintendo DS connected to my Speaker CubeHowever, I have to loosen the plug on my DS for it sound properly as in the picture. But I think this is more of a problem with the plug than anything else. Works perfectly on my laptop though. Also, the 2W stereo speakers don’t give enough oomph. It’s perfect when you just need decent, portable speakers. If you don’t have a laptop or PC nearby, you can also buy a wallplug to USB converter, perfect for plugging in your DS USB charger, and of course the speaker cube. With Wallplug USB, Nintendo DS, and Os Speaker @cube, you can take your music anywhere for picnics, hanging out, or other such social gathering.

Wallplug to USB Adapter

[Edit] I later found out that it plugs fine on my Nintendo DS. The problem, actually, was that I didn’t plug it all the way in at the back of the speaker cube, nevertheless it still sounded fine on my laptop where I first tested it so I didn’t notice. Stupid!

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July 26, 2007 at 8:13 pm 10 comments

Everywhere DS

Sony may have taken the crown from Nintendo with their PlayStation consoles, when Megaman and the Final Fantasy series jumped platforms. But Nintendo, seeing that outflanking is better than outgunning, is once again trying to prove that they’re king with the Wii and DS in terms of unique gameplay. Nunchucks, touchscreens, and and a wide variety of applications seem to have done just that.

But Nintendo did more than just that with the DS. This time, pervasiveness is another thing they brought to the table.

People are bringing their DS along with them everywhere–on the bus, FX, taxis, trains, the bathroom, the office, you name it! A quick look in the “Where do you play your GBA/DS/Micro” thread in will tell you other places people have taken their DS to. And I’m sure you would too.

This is all thanks to the wide variety of games and applications available for the DS. While you can definitely play your favorite games anywhere (you should definitely try shouting “Objection” with Phoenix Wright, blowing DS with Mario Kart’s Balloon Battle Mode, or training your Nintendogs inside the train, although ambient noise can give the DS some difficulty with voice recognition), the DS deserves recognition for everything else not gaming as well.

Like when you’re out at Starbucks, sipping your favorite cup of coffee, reading that new book you’ve got. But wait, it’s a Japanese book, and you’re not Japanese. No need to buy those expensive Casio dictionaries, just run Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten and you’re set. Expecting another boring commute? Don’t bother bringing out your mp4-capable phone with its teensie-weensie screen, just load up your memory card with your favorite movie and sit back. Jogging in the park? Plug in your earphones, rev up the mp3 player, and play music with Moonshell. There’s even an iPod-looking mp3 player called Licks Media Player, complete of course with the ClickWheel dial. If you’re going out for a picnic, maybe you can stop near a WiFi hotspot and browse the ‘net for travel info with the Opera for DS. Oh, and best check live weather forecasts with DSLiveWeather as well.

Playing Ouendan On The Road On a recent 9-hour bus trip from Baguio, I couldn’t have been more thankful that I had my well-stocked and well-charged DS with me, though I just alternated between playing Ouendan, Animal Crossing, listening to music, and feeding my dogs. On another occasion, I have played balloon battle in the waiting area of Let’s Face It facial center while waiting for my SO. I tell you, the look of people’s faces as I’m blowing at my DS is priceless.

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April 13, 2007 at 1:40 am 2 comments

Nintendo DS Lite

A year after the DS Lite was released in Japan, I finally got my hands on my own DS Lite by end of last month. So here’s my two cents worth after having played with it for some time. While you can get the PSP for about P10k or so, you can get the DS Lite for just over P7k. The complete DS gamer’s package (boxed)Couple that with an M3DS and a 1gig microSD, it’s roughly the price of buying a PSP unit, except you get to download all the games you want and put it in your microSD, while with the PSP you can play…er, well, at that price, you don’t have any games just yet.

In terms of fun, it offers it in truckloads. If you want to be all serious about gaming and play RPGs and PS-style games, by all means go for the PSP. But if that’s not enough for you (it certainly not enough for me), and you want to have some real fun, go for the DS. The unique features of the DS include a microphone, 2 screens, one of which is a touch screen, and Wi-Fi capability. The built-in lithium-ion batteries can give you enough juice for 5-15 hours of play, depending on your brightness setting.

The complete DS gamer’s packageThe first things I’ve played with my DS were Ossu! Tatakae! Ouendan!, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Cooking Mama, and MarioKart DS, putting all the features of the DS to the test. In all of the games mentioned, only MarioKart DS didn’t focus too much on using the stylus, which was understandable. How much tapping would you need in a racing game anyway. However, it’s coolness can easily be seen in Balloon Battle–you have to inflate your balloons by, get this, actually blowing into your DS! Cooking Mama, too, involves blowing, and other stylus fun such as mixing, peeling potatoes, slicing carrots and tofu, and rolling stuff in breading. And of course, who can’t resist looking like a fool inside the MRT as you shout “Objection!” at your DS while playing Phoenix Wright! Still not convinced? How does teaching your dog how to roll over by giving verbal orders sound? That’s exactly what you’ll be doing in Nintendogs.

A week later, after having convinced two of my office buddies to get DS Lites, we were having MarioKart parties every morning through Wi-Fi, nearly bursting our lungs out while playing in Balloon Battle mode. Playing with friends across the globe is also possible with some games through the Nintendo WiFi Connection, by use of Friend Codes that are unique to your cartridge and DS pair, which is cool because I can play with my brother in China. Of course you can also play with strangers if you haven’t got any friend codes yet. And the DS is no weakling either when playing serious games for the hardcore gamer. The framerate for the first-person shooter Metroid Prime rarely lagged, even with multiple opponents on screen in multiplayer, and the graphics of Need For Speed are just fabulous. Anyone can play

The DS also caters to non-games, including learning tools like Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten, a really good Japanese dictionary. Also with the M3DS, you can play music and videos with Moonshell, or play music using the IPod homebrow application. Most of the main IPod feature is there, of course including the touch-sensitive IPod interface.

All in all, the DS Lite is a powerful computer disguised as one of the best piece of entertainment hardware you’d get your hands on, and for a low price. Let’s just say I used a little over half the savings I was gonna use to buy a MP4-enabled Ultra 9.9 Samsung to buy this baby. A warning though, once you get your DS Lite, expect to be bringing it everywhere, always keeping it charged, and fending off would-be borrowers.

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March 13, 2007 at 11:24 am 2 comments

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