Mario vs Browser: Battle for the Nintendo DS

The lovable plumber has a bold new foe in the battle for DS owners' attention: the Internet. Opera's Wi-Fi browser has been specially designed for the handheld

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The moustachioed plumber may have given his arch enemy Bowser another good stomping in his latest pipe-crawling, mushroom-killing platformer New Mario, but now he faces a much more implacable and terrifying foe: the Internet.

Instead of racing karts, stroking pets or waging war, DS owners now have the tempting option to explore the shocking and perverse online world through a specially designed Web browser. The cunningly named Nintendo DS Browser is a standard DS cartridge that lets you surf the Net via Wi-Fi, so you can use it at home or at any public hotspot.

Made by Norwegian software composer Opera, the browser uses both of the innovative handheld's screens and makes full use of its touchscreen abilities. There are two modes: the first is DS mode, in which the whole Web page is shown on the bottom screen and you move a thumbnail around with the stylus. The area inside the thumbnail is then magnified on the top screen. As you can see from the image, a touchscreen keyboard comes up when you want to type in a Web address.

Fit-to-width mode is faster, according to Opera, because it shows the whole page in a single column that traverses the two screens. Somewhat ominously, Opera suggests disabling images to make surfing even quicker -- we don't know why, as the DS's data rate over 802.11b Wi-Fi is 11Mbps.

The Nintendo DS Browser is available from today for around £30. There are two versions: one for the original DS and one for the slinky DS Lite, because of hardware differences between the two. -NH