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DS Huff-n-Puff

BlowhardI'll press buttons and tilt sticks and wave remotes and beat on drums and dance like a fool, but one gaming activity that I'm sick of performing is blowing air into a microphone.  Specifically, blowing air at the Nintendo DS microphone to clear the sky of clouds, flap wings, or blow out a torch.  Maybe it's poor air recognition programming or maybe it's poor lung capacity, but whatever the reason, let the word go forth from this time and place that I've had enough hyperventilating in the name of opening a locked door or getting a speed boost.  I'm not the only one who feels this way; MTV's Stephen Totilo has similar critical words for the developers out there who would have us huff and puff until our lungs blow out.

Huff-n-Puff gaming is different. As best I can tell, it doesn't make gaming easier. It doesn't offer a meaningful new way to control actions that up until now were just fudged with buttons and joysticks. It has yet to open any doors that didn't have a goat behind them. Short of a Breathalyzer mini-game in a Grand Theft Auto, I don't see the point. What I see is embarrassment at having to hyperventilate over my DS while riding the subway. I see a mess of germs in having to hold the system inches from my mouth as I wheeze — hopefully dryly — on it. I see not being able to see, as in: I've had to hold this DS so close to breathe on it that I can't really appreciate the game's graphics anymore.

The absolute worst offender of this gameplay mechanic has to be Diddy Kong Racing DS. Aside from having to blow into the mic for a solid three seconds or so in order to get the pre-race speed boost, one of the new missions involves riding around the hub island and blowing out torches before time runs out. I did so much huffing and puffing to try and beat the clock that I made myself dizzy and had to go lie down for a while.  Worse yet is that the game doesn't recognize my blowing sounds, so I had to hold the DS horizontally to my mouth and blow air over the top of the mic to get it to register. I get frustrated all over again just thinking about it.