The Family Which Plays Nintendo DS Together, Stays Together…

Everyone in our family of four has their own Nintendo DS Lite. My wife has a pink one, my son and I have black (Onyx) DS Lites, and my daughter has my wife’s white DS Lite hand-me-down.

My wife generally uses hers for playing Sudoku and Brain Age, the kids play Nintendogs, Pokemon, and a bevy of other games, and I use mine mostly for Age of Empires while exercising on our recumbent stationary bicycle.

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However, last week while on a partial vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico (where we had three wonderful dinners with with old friend Ed Bott (a CNET blogger and author of one of Amazon.com’s top selling computer books, Windows Vista Inside Out) and his wife Judy), we discovered a new DS title (new for us) from Destination SoftwareUno / Skipbo / Uno Freefall. Uno and Skipbo are family favorites in traditional card games when we travel, and the idea that we could do away with the cards themselves, and play together electronically was just too tough to resist.

We had to buy four copies of the game at $19.99 a pop, but boy what fun it was. First, it prevented my son from trying to cheat (which he sometimes tries when things aren’t going his way), and second, it let us play while non-adjacent (or at least not near a flat surface). See photo above of Linda and the kids in a 3-player Uno game at the Albuquerque airport last Friday.

The coolest thing, though, was when we were playing during a ground delay on the plane. My daughter and I had been upgraded to first class and were in row 3, while Linda and our son were back in row 9 in coach, and we were all playing together. The only downer was when they told us to turn off all electronic devices in preparation for take-off. You can’t play with networked DSes (or PSPs) in flight, sadly.

There are a bunch of variations of Uno and Skipbo in the cartridges, and the person who is hosting the game gets to choose which variations to apply. I tend to be a traditionalist and select all the defaults, whereas my son turns on all the different wild cards (many of which we have no idea what they do, and have to learn by observing their effects when they are played).

I also picked up an extra copy of Mario Kart DS so I could race wirelessly against my kids (you can play with multiple people if there’s only a single cartridge via a game download function, but you have to wait a while for the download, and then only have a couple of tracks to choose from). We played at Macy’s in San Juan waiting for the girls to shop. That was a fun way to while away the time too.

The extra bonus of all this wireless Nintendo DS Lite gaming, besides being able to play video games as a family, is getting my wife, who is typically video game averse, into the action.

I highly recommend the Nintendo DS Lite be provided to all family members, not just the young ones you want to distract during a nice meal out (which we do as well).

And then take a look at Destination Software’s Uno-related titles, as well as the various multi-player Mario games, such Mario Kart DS, for some more fun.