I love my Nintendo DS. I have many warm fuzzies for Japan, too. But this shit has got to stop.

I've been having a lot of fun with the sadly rare treat of a non-FF, non-DQ game from Square-Enix: The World Ends With You. It's a very DS-centric concept. Its Stride Cross Battle System, where you simultaneously fight on both the touch screen via the stylus and the top screen with the d-pad has proven to be refreshing, fun, and work ridiculously well.

Well, until last night, that is.

In WEWY, touch-screen techs are based on "pins" that you set into slots. Each has its own touch gesture, like drawing short lines on an enemy to run up and slash or tapping empty space to fire energy bullets. Heading toward one chapter's goal, I ran into an NPC who would only let me pass if I could defeat a handful of enemies he had handy. His condition: he would choose my pins. I saved, just in case, and accepted his challenge.

I couldn't figure out how to activate the pins he gave me. I eventually ended up beating my adversaries by dragging my character on the touch screen mostly out of harm's way while attacking and charging a Big Attack with the d-pad on the touch screen. The battle won, I was wondering what it was that I was supposed to do—it seemed so odd to put me at such an extreme disadvantage like that—when an uneasy thought began to take root: perhaps I was supposed to blow on the DS (something the NPC had hinted at, actually, in retrospect.) A quick query on our forums this morning confirmed it, and my admiration for the game's designers took a dive.

Mic-blowing as a control method—which seems to be a favorite feature of Eastern-developed DS titles—has been around since the earliest days of the DS. It never used to particularly offend me; I actually thought it was kind of neat, for its time. Of course, it helped that the mechanic was generally auxiliary to the main gameplay. Feel the Magic: XY♥XX's Candle game put you in control of five guys blowing out approaching candles of evil, and if you wanted to, you could blow on the mic to have them simultaneously unleash one big blast. (In practice, it was actually better to avoid this entirely.) Yoshi Touch & Go would let you blow away the clouds you'd drawn for Yoshi to walk on, a technique I used very rarely. It worked pretty well, aside from one unfortunate Marathon-mode loss where a sudden burst of surrounding noise eliminated my clouds and sent Yoshi to an untimely demise.

Things got worse, though, and any appreciation I might have had for the novel mechanic waned. Super Princess Peach was a particularly notable offender; certain levels where Peach was piloting a sub required the player to blow into the mic to fire bubbles at enemies. Chocobo Tales had some dizziness-inspiring mingames that really didn't need to be there as well. The last time I enjoyed mic-blowing at all—and that's saying something—was in Feel the Magic sequel The Rub Rabbits, where it was used to fire a dart blowgun that you aimed with the stylus; but the fun wore off quickly. By time it appeared, mercifully rarely, in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, my mind was made up: mic-blowing as an input mechanic should not have lived past 2005.

It's not that I think the DS's mic has no place. More online DS games should support voice chat with it, for example; it works very well there. Additionally, games like Nintendogs make very good use of it. It's just that talking to your virtual puppy—or your virtual friends—is a far more enjoyable experience than trying to exhale at a game system in just the right way.

The worst part is that required mic-blowing, like its similarly defective cousin, mic-shouting, makes it hard to find an appropriate place to play the purportedly portable DS. Is it ever socially appropriate to be staring at your game system and let loose a stream of air from your lips like some bizarre sexual ritual? If you're in a noisy public environment where people don't care what you're doing, the blow-detection code may well activate by accident. About the only place you can do this is in the quiet of your home, alone.

If there are people who enjoy mic-blowing, I've not met them. It's likely that my appreciation of the mechanic from the early DS days is an aberration. Is it, perhaps, something that's really only appreciated on the other side of the Pacific? I read in the latest issue of Nintendo Power that the developers of Guitar Hero: On Tour do have a mic-based Star Power mechanic, but they realize that it's both impractical to use in certain settings and that some people just plain hate it. They offer a touch-based alternative, God bless them.

The rest of World Ends is too good to put down over a bad design choice, no matter how troubling it is. It seems that I might not be required to blow at the DS again, unless I opt to go for 100% completion, which is nice. Likewise, I doubt it'll stop me from continuing to pick up the DS-centric titles I love so much. But really, Japan, I don't think anyone outside your borders enjoys this sort of thing. If you want to keep it in, it's your thing, but please give us alternatives. For our own sanity.