Despite speculation that they might miss their launch target and price the system beyond the comfort zone of the mass audience, Nintendo’s 3DS handheld gaming system will launch on time and at a price point lower than many feared.
The 3DS, which lets players enjoy games in stereoscopic 3D without the need for special 3D glasses, will go on sale in North America on March 27 at a price of $249.99. That’s $100 higher than the launch price the DS had in 2004, but lower than the $300 many feared when the Japanese launch price was given.
The system will be supported by a robust lineup of games. Nintendo said that during the ‘launch window’ – the period from when the system hits shelves through early June – more than 30 titles will be available, including “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D” and “Super Street Fighter IV”.
“This is the next big step in the modern era of video games,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America. “The Nintendo 3DS is 3D games, plus 3D video, plus 3D photography. There are no special glasses or skills required to enjoy it.. And above all, the Nintendo 3DS is distinct. It’s a breakthrough. There’s nothing else like it. It is truly a category of one.”
Boasting a 3D screen that’s 10 percent larger than the existing DS, along with backwards compatibility for Nintendo DS games, the 3DS also includes a 3D camera and 3D video playback capabilities.
The system is also much more social than previous Nintendo offerings, optionally exchanging data with passers-by on the street who also have a 3DS to add depth to gameplay and offering WiFi capabilities, letting players compete against players around the world.
The system will also support Alternate Reality games. Users will place an AR card on any surface, point the 3DS at it and engage in a game that will include real world objects in the background.
Nintendo has been under increasing pressure for the 3DS to be a success. Apple, which for years ignored the gaming space, has become a viable competitor to mobile game devices, regularly stealing away attention from players who used to be fiercely loyal to Nintendo.