Friday, January 15, 2010

More on the DS Lite Joystick mod

I may have started the new year blog posts in an odd way with my DS 4 speaker mod, but being healthy yet again makes me invigorated to make proper posts like this one.

What we have here is something that's been on my mind for awhile now, as we all know how thin the Nintendo DS lite is when it is opened, I'll say the base is about as thick as two Compact Flash cards stacked on top of each other. That makes holding the DS Lite a bit tiring playing for longer than 20 minutes.

So the solution to my DS gripless problem was this odd joystick that came in a Pelican GBA SP starter pack I got a few clicks back er few years back. What was odd that when attached to the GBA SP, it's a rather tight fit and a few skipped hearbeats removing it from it's crabby grasp on the GBA SP. And you can't close the GBA SP with this thing on, so the idea of it being hard to remove wasn't a really good one there.

With my GBA SP nothing but a museum piece now, I do all my gaming on the DS and GBA games go on there without a second thought. That's when I said good riddance to the Pelican joystick and shoved that onto my DS, which we have the outcome below:

That looks like a N64 joystick would fit there...

As you can see from the pictures it fits perfectly where the original DS lite D-pad used to be. It's slightly smaller than the original DS lite D-pad, but it's the joystick on top of that that matters most.

Let's do this in an interview style:

Q: So what is the purpose of having this joystick on there?
A: Well, think about a D-Pad. You press on it, right? D-pad's aren't like the analog stick on the PSP where you slide that thing around, d-pad's are digital where you press up, down, left and right. Of course some old d-pads weren't capable of the 8 way style of today, but the mod I did brings a little taste of a joystick in the form of how it works. D-pads are pressable, right? With my mod, you just tilt the stick, or in some cases push it. NO pressing. No sweaty thumb slipping off costing you that extra point online on Nintendo WiFi.

Q: Has your gaming improved?
A: Yes it has. I get effortless kills on Metroid Prime Hunters using Kanden's Volt gun from a distance from one end of Combat Hall to the other end shooting at Elite class CPU bots (multi-card play option) while juking left and right avoiding their shots. Try rapidly tapping the L Button like that while moving left and right rapidly with the d-pad, it was hella tiring, with two fingers burning out faster than with one only.

Q: So now the index finger on your left hand hurts more?
A: Yes. Being able to transfer the D-pad strength to the index finger using the joystick, that means more presses for the L button. And more pain in the joints.

Q: So why is it on your White DS Lite and not your Japanese Ice blue DS Lite?
A: Because my import is more precious than the North American one. You know how much it cost me to import that? I wasn't about to bust open a Japanese import, first production run just like that, not to mention it has a 4 year old, scratchless screen protector(from my DS Fat) that endured early abuse like Wario Ware Touched and the Feel the Rub Rabbit series of games. No, instead I opted to test this joystick on my White DS lite, because not only was it an impulse buy, it was yet another first production run that had the faulty touchscreen calibration. Early adopters might know what I'm talking about, if you have Goldeneye Rogue Agent, that game would have the top screen shaking erratically randomly. I know it's not my cartridge because if it is I'll sue EA, because, well, I hate EA for being a big company and releasing crappy games like Rogue Agent. Note I did check reviews online before buying, it's just that DS releases were slow that time of the year and waiting for Advance Wars Dual Strike wasn't fun, so off I went to the store, the wonderful store of all... By the way, I sort have fixed the touchscreen problem by adding a weird, anti glossy, slightly thick low grade screen protector. The Goldeneye shutterbug happens less, but still happens. Talk about messed up...

Q: Does the joystick come off during gameplay?
A: No, thanks to some modding I did to compensate for the lack of a screw that originally held the joystick together. A rubberized tubing for the joystick part made it more difficult to pull off.

Q: What if you want to standby in a flash?
A: Well, if you've gotta do a piss-break (honestly, who hasn't done that at least once in their online FPS gaming life?), simply put a magnet on top of the ABYX buttons. No seriously, it'll work, it has to be in the center but if you have a large magnet it'll work even when on top of the ABYX buttons. Or you can use a busted headphone speaker, similar to an example in the latter photo below (in this case, I used a speaker from an Palm E2). Face the speaker face down (face the side where sound comes out face down) and if it is the slightly magnetic type it will put the DS on standby. While it is open. Or just pull the joystick and close your DS. Your call.

Note the off screens and the standby light on.

Q: How do you close the DS? Is the joystick removable?
A: Amazingly enough, it is. As you can see in the following pictures, a special plug was made from Gundam Model Kit parts trees and shoved into where the Pelican screw used to be. In this way, if you want to close your DS and pocket it, simply pull the joystick upward and it'll pop right out. When closed, the DS lite has a slight opening as you can see in the latter images. It can still be closed shut, it just stays like that if you don't fit it into something like a jeans pocket or tight slip case.

Note the right side of the DS and compare to the left.

That is a direct frontal view, note how much the joystick part sticks out.

Q: Any pros/cons?
A: While I think you know very well what the Pros would be, the only Con I can think of is that it is a bit loud, but that could be 2 factors, 1) My White DS lite is known for that (my Ice Blue DS lite is quiet due to extended use), or 2) It could be because the joystick cross shaped D-pad is a bit smaller than the original DS lite D-pad. It's the rubber pads that are making the noise, so it could be just my DS lite. Note: ADRESSED THE NOISY JOYSTICK problem. It's as quiet as the old d-pad now. Another bad thing: I broke the power switch, which, unsurprisingly enough, is not uncommon for those with DS Lite's. But as always I fixed it, it's even better than the default none broken one.

Sure doesn't look like it used to...

Hey look, it's on!

Q: Are there other joystick parts besides that round thing with 4 arrows?
A: The Pelican GBA Starter Pack includes about 5 or 6, from what I remember it is: The one in my pictures, a ridiculously larger version of that, 1 that is similar to the analog stick on the PSP, and possibly a larger one of that, and an odd, taller version of the one in my pictures. Of course, anything that fits and is comfortable, like the one in the picture below, works. (It's this funky rubberized microphone cover I ripped out of an old telephone.)

Q: Will this work for the DS Phat (1st gen DS)?
A: No, partially because the DS Phat has the d-pad at such a thin size when viewed from the side, if you were to add anything the DS definitely will not close. That and I can't think of anything similar that is the size of the rather large DS Phat D-pad. That d-pad on there is huge, a lot fatter than you'd think...

Q: Why are you using Top Gun DS as an example, of all games?
A: Because that game has a special part in my video game buying history. Not only is the touch screen useless in the game (seriously, it's not a map), it is the only game that I bought after reading negative reviews. I checked weekly DS releases on Gamespot, saw Top Gun in the release list for that week, saw the review rating and read the review, laughing at how bad the reviewer said it to be (with a Good being the Top Gun theme playing in the menu screen). So I went out to the store, bought Top Gun DS, stuck it into my DS and what do you know, after doing the tutorial and all that, jumping into Free Play for the first time I was laughing at the "He's got a lock on me!" and that laughter instantly died down when I realized how bad the hit detection was, how the gun was pretty much as strong as rapid fire missiles, how easy it was to get shot down, and so on and so forth. Money well spent? Think about it! I own a rare piece of history! A game I knowingly knew was bad but went and bought it anyways just to have the sorry butt cartridge in my hands! XD

 Note the power switch left on the on position. No more accidental power-off's now! As if one could accidentally slide it off...

Q: How many DS's do you have?
A: 3, one grey/black DS Phat first production run, one imported Japanese Ice Blue DS lite first production run, and one North American White DS lite first production run. I must have fell in love with buying them when they were first produced, huh...

Q: So you like anime girls?
A: This is not the place to discuss that.

So, there we have it. Another successful post, another successful mod.

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