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10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About the Nintendo DS and 3DS

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The DS line of Nintendo handhelds is a monster. Not only is it the best-selling handheld gaming system of all time, it's the second-best-selling video game system period of all time. Only the PlayStation 2 beats it in terms of numbers moved. The amount of power that developers manage to get out of cartridge technology is amazing, and great titles continue to be released exclusively on the system every year.

As popular as it is, though, there are still some hidden mysteries about it. Let's look at a few.

They Are Resilient as Hell Nintendo has always been able to make sturdy products, but the DS and 3DS really take the biscuit. I've personally sent a game I left in my pants pocket through the washing machine, and it played as good as new when I found it. That's nothing to say of when Neal Mueller and Chris Grubb took theirs to one of the harshest environments on Earth, the top of Mt. Everest, in 2005. Despite high altitudes, wet conditions, cold temperatures, drops, fierce winds, and the devices constantly having food and spices spilled on them by the Sherpas who played with them in the kitchen at Base Camp, the DSes came through working perfectly. By contrast, the pair had a Dell PC and several MP3 players die from the conditions, but the Nintendo DS kept on trucking.

3DS Has a Hidden Copy of Breakout and Soccer Built In The latest model of the 3DS has a neat quirk. In the browser menu, if you tap out the first six notes of the famous theme from Super Mario Bros, the screen will take you to a clone of Breakout where you can destroy the URL of the last website you visited brick by brick. It can be very cathartic when a website pisses you off, actually. This isn't the only hidden game in the DS line. On the sound app screen, if you use the background representing the old Game & Watch soccer, you can press a button and start playing the game.

It Was Originally Called City Boy Two things have always marked Nintendo's success. The first is their unbeatable first-party franchises like Mario, Pokemon and Startropics. (Quiet, I'm having a "me" moment.) The second is their willingness to think outside the box. When a successor to the Game Boy was announced, the trademark that was filed was for something called City Boy.

The name was meant to imply that hip young adults would be taking their DSes with them as they went to work and play in the urban centers every day. You'd play with Pictochat in cafes and stuff like that. Basically, it wanted to be a game-centric iPhone, but way back in 2004. You can see the effects of this thinking in Streetpass and other features. This has led to some neat quirks such as...

A 3DS Tour of the Louvre In 2012 Korean Air started sponsoring a program at the famous Louvre museum in Paris. For double the ticket price, you would be handed a special 3DS and headphones that would give you an interactive tour of the museum. Nintendo donated 5,000 consoles for the project, and users can access a map, suggested itinerary and audio commentaries in multiple languages.

There's a Tommy Tutone Joke in the DS Manual In the instruction manual for the DS, there's a cute joke hiding in the section detailing how to connect to Wi-Fi. In the picture showing you where to enter the WEP code, the fake code number used is 8675309, a reference to the 1982 song "867-5309/Jenny" by Tommy Tutone. Actually, it's probably a pretty good guess. 8675309 is the fourth-most common seven-number password in use today after 1234567, 1111111 and 7777777. Odds are, more than one person actually ended up using the same number in the manual.

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The DS Can Treat Eye Conditions Amblyopia, commonly and somewhat inaccurately called lazy eye, is a fully treatable eye condition that suffers from something every parent will understand: getting young children to do anything like wearing an eye patch for four hours a day is like negotiating with terrorists. Luckily for Isabelle Wurmser, playing her Nintendo DS was actually part of her treatment. Both her mother and her doctor found that it was easier to keep her on her schedule of use if they paired it with an hour of gaming.

The 3DS Was Until Very Recently Pretty Hack-Proof The 3DS is one of the most notoriously difficult systems to jail-break, but last month someone finally did a bang-up job. A hacker going by the handle Smealum released an exploit made possible through an obscure, most digital download only title from Ubisoft called Cubic Ninja that allowed the 3DS QR scanner to access homebrew games (titles not officially released by Nintendo). If you want the details on how they're available, see here, but I would expect Nintendo to plug the hole in a future update. They've already removed Cubic Ninja from the eStore, and physical copies can cost nearly $100.

It Broke Donkey Kong's Heart In 2013, Nintendo hired actor Parker Mills to dress as Donkey Kong and pose for pictures with fans at the L.A. Zoo to celebrate the release of Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. Mills went on to sue Nintendo, claiming that the company didn't provide breaks or ice packs to cool him and thus contributed to a serious heart condition. His attorney told the Los Angeles Times that Mills had suffered from an aortic dissection, which is a tearing of aortic walls, and that surgery would be necessary because of Nintendo's alleged oversight.

You Can Record a Synth Album on 3DS Making a record on your own has never been easier, but Korg is one of the few to embrace doing so on a gaming system. Its Korg DSN-12 is the perfect tool for someone who wants to be effortlessly able to switch from a game of Super Smash Brothers and a slick synth pop track he or she has been wanting to finish off. The DSN-12 comes with 12 synthesizers, with a range of effects you can add. There are even capabilities for live DJing styles, or you can combine your creations into full songs.

We Might Get to Play a Zelda Interactive Movie on 3DS Of all the video game franchises in the world that have never had an official movie adaptation made from them, nothing tops The Legend of Zelda. I'm not saying it's impossible to mess up, but in this day and age, it's probably at least impossible to not make money on it.

It looks as if Nintendo might finally be thawing to the idea. Last year series producer Eiji Aonuma told Kotaku that not only was the company talking about making one, it hoped to use 3DS to somehow make aspects of the film controllable. In the interview, Aonuma said...

"If we were to make a Zelda title, if we had interest in doing that, I think really what would be most important to us is to be able to play with the format of a movie, make it more interactive, like you're able to take your 3DS into the theater and that leads you into participating in it somehow. We wouldn't want to make it the same as any other movie. We want to somehow change what a movie is."

If anyone can pull that off, it's Nintendo.

Jef has a new story, a tale of mad robot nurses and a man of miracles called "Sleepers, Wake!" available now. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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