Woozle64, a developer responsible for the excellent GBA Consolizer, has teased the development of a similar modification that enables HDMI output from a Nintendo DS.
Making good progress on the DS Consolizer. pic.twitter.com/pdU6KSTUnu
— Stephen (@Woozle64) April 27, 2020
Consolization is a colloquial term for a mod that converts a portable game system in to something that has more in common with a home console, usually by adding ports to attach external displays, controllers, and power sources. Modifications like these have always been a fascination of the gaming community, even for less popular devices like the Atari Lynx, Sega Game Gear, or the Nintendo Virtual Boy. Chances are that if there’s a portable gaming system out there, you can find a console conversion modification for it.
Judging from the photo in Woozle’s tweet, the project appears to be at a fairly mature stage in development even if the feature set is still in flux. Here are the important details revealed so far:
- In response to a question about whether or not the modification would support two HDMI ports to output discreet signals from the top and bottom displays, Woozle replied that the modification currently only supports a single HDMI connection.
- This modification is currently only compatible with the original model Nintendo DS (NTR-001).
- The HDMI output has a variety of user configurable options. Users can choose to output a mirror of the top screen, bottom screen, or both screens simultaneously.
- Dual screen output can be set to show the screens stacked vertically, like they are on the handheld, or horizontally to use more screen real estate.
- Woozle is exploring a feature that would internally rotate the video signal from the Nintendo DS, so that DS games meant to be played vertically (e.g. Brain Age) can be displayed properly without having to rotate your TV. Woozle isn’t sure that the modification will support this feature though.
- Unlike the GBA Consolizer, this modification will not adjust the internal operating frequency of the DS. From documents published online by GBATEK, the DS runs at 59.8261 Hz.
- Laser Bear Industries is working on a case to accompany the modification.
The biggest question mark hanging over this project is how consolizing a DS will change the way users interact with the DS’s hardware. Most handhelds up until this point were designed to shrink the home console experience down to something that could travel with you, which is fairly straight-forward process to reverse from a user-interface perspective. The DS famously bucked this trend by implementing unique gimmicks and features that you simply didn’t see anywhere else in the portable or home markets, which makes using it with external displays a more nuanced proposition. While there is some precedent for the DS Consolizer in the DS games released for the Wii U’s Virtual Console, the Wii U gamepad never had an HDMI cable attached to it and there were a plethora of different display options that catered to almost any configuration you could imagine.
Regardless of how it eventually pans out, I’m thrilled that the second best selling game system of all time is getting a modification that will give archivists, streamers, and ordinary users a new way to enjoy and preserve the DS’s incredible game library.