Portable game system recommendation for young girl moving to Africa
June 9, 2011 5:01 AM   Subscribe

What portable gaming system should the parents of an 8 year old girl moving to Africa for three years buy her given the constraints on both physical and digital media which are detailed below?

A friend of mine and his family will be moving to Conraky, Guinea in late July. They want to buy their 8 year old daughter a portable game system. Normally, I would just recommend an iPod touch, since there's no physical media and the games are cheaper and she loves Rolando. The one thing that is making me second-guess that decision is that the Internet service is expected to be roughl dial up speeds on a mediocre day. And I don't know if they will have wii in their house (or anywhere in the city). I figure they could just tether to transfer apps downloaded onto their laptop. But will downloads even work with a computer on a connection that slow? Another factor is that since the job is government related, they can have physical items shipped to a domestic special address (for normal rates) and the government will ship it to them for free, although it will be slow.

Oh, and she is totally obsessed with the Rolando games.

So, to recap: What portable gaming system should the parents of an 8 year old girl moving to Africa for three years buy her given the constraints on both physical and digital media?

posted by reddot to Technology (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A Nintendo DS, not one of the newer ones. Add an Edge card, fill the SD Card with games from *ahem* certain sources. She'll have enough games to last until she's a teenager.
posted by veedubya at 5:12 AM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

The DS is great for gaming, is moddable, and has a really good battery life. I think for 3 years however, the iTouch might be a better overall fit, as it will accommodate other forms of media (audio, video) as well as tons of educational and/or useful apps.

The PSP is a distant third. It's graphically impressive, but I've never felt UMDs were a good idea for a portable. I only mention the PSP however as it has a similar game to Rolando called Roco Loco.
posted by samsara at 5:29 AM on June 9, 2011

Second the DS. It's going to be much more physically robust than an iPod. The ipod touch screens are not particularlly strong, and cracking it will render it useless out in the bushland. The DS is in a much tougher case, closes to protect the screens, has a more robust and more easily replaceable power cord.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:52 AM on June 9, 2011

Nthing the Nintendo DS. It is much more likely to last the three years and stand up to heavy usage than the iPod (for example I have gone through 4 iPods since I got my DS). There are are plenty of DS games that she would like. (I'm assuming this is primarily about the gaming and she doesn't need it for music and videos too).
posted by maybeandroid at 7:05 AM on June 9, 2011

Both the iPod Touch and the DS will hold plenty of games. The bigger question will be what sort of games will keep her entertained. In the interest of internet usage, games for the DS will be... um, easier to find, and won't require a constant connection that iTunes might.

It's a flip of a coin.
posted by chrisinseoul at 7:49 AM on June 9, 2011

I'm also voting for the DS, and stepped in to add that the Nerf protective armor is a wonderful thing!
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:54 AM on June 9, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks so far! I'm surprised that the touch is so unpopular and non-durable. For the DS, any pitfalls choosing one model over the other? Due to time restrictions, I would probably not be able to mod the device for usage w/ ROMs prior to their departure. Is that something that can be done easily by her non-technical parents? Or should that really be avoided?
posted by reddot at 9:27 AM on June 9, 2011

i have a DSlite - there was no "modding." i got an R4 card, loaded it up with games, and turned on my DS. that's it. you will want to get the R4 card before she gets there and have someone technically savy buy it because there are a lot of fakes out there.
posted by nadawi at 9:44 AM on June 9, 2011

To keep things above board I'd avoid modding, but get a nice carrying case to hold the DS and its carts. The itouch is indeed fragile by itself, but easily reinforced with covers or skins. Still, for the costs you're looking at the DS being the cheaper option in the short run...itouch being cheaper in the long run (due to cheaper games, etc). The itouch will be a little trickier for sharing apps as they would need a PC with itunes in Africa. You could share an itunes account with them, burn the .app files to a DVD to be imported in their itunes. The key to that working would be the shared account however. Overall the DS would be simpler (and if you go the modding route you could ship the .ds roms via dvd to be copied to the Modded cart via USB)
posted by samsara at 9:46 AM on June 9, 2011

You want a DSLite - probably pretty cheap now that there is a newer version. Flashcarts are pretty groovy but the games aren't super expensive.
posted by radioamy at 12:48 PM on June 9, 2011

I suggest a DSi. It has access to Nintendo's online shopping service (DSiWare) so your friend could download a bunch of games onto the system itself before leaving for Guinea. They're relatively cheap (the most expensive games are $10) and there are quite a few decent ones to choose from.

If your friend ever gets close to a wifi point, they could always download new games.
posted by tacodave at 2:39 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've got all 3 systems and I think the DS Lite has a wider catalog of games that will appeal to her over the years. Plus mailing DS Lite games to her would be easier than UMDs, if you or her relatives want to go that route.
posted by dragonplayer at 2:47 PM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a DS Lite and a DSi. I think the DSi might be more fun just because it has the camera, if she gets bored with the games she can take pictures and play with them. If she gets it here in the states she can download a bunch of stuff to take with her.
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:30 PM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hi everyone! Thank you very much for your advice. They decided on the DSi over the Lite due to the camera.

I guess I'll report back in three years and tell you how she liked it! :)
posted by reddot at 6:04 PM on June 15, 2011

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