Nintendo finally shared details today of its 3DS handheld player’s launch in the United States.
The 3-D version of its DS handheld, with an adjustable, glasses-free display, will go on sale March 27 for $250. It will be offered in two colors – Cosmo Black and Aqua Blue.
Nintendo unveiled the device at last June’s E3 game conference and shared details of its Japan launch at a Tokyo event earlier this month. It announced the pricing at a New York press conference this morning.
Meanwhile Sony’s going to release a new version of its PlayStation Portable device on Jan. 27 and a game-oriented Sony Ericsson touchscreen smartphone in February, according to a Bloomberg report.
Both companies are refreshing their handheld lineup in the face of growing competition from gaming on the iPhone and other smartphones, but Nintendo’s still doing pretty well with the DS platform. Since it launched in late 2004, more than 47 million DS systems have been sold in the U.S. alone, including 2.5 million in December.
“Nintendo 3DS is a category of one – the experience simply doesn’t exist anywhere else,” Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said in today’s press release. “You have to see Nintendo 3DS to believe it. And it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.”
Nintendo’s 3DS will come with several games and applications pre-loaded on the device. They include the “Mii Maker” avatar creation application, a music playback system that lets uses manipulate songs played thorugh the device and “Face Raiders,” a shooting game in which players shoot at funny versions of their face captured with the device’s cameras.
The 3DS also taps into the fitness game trend by functioning as a pedometer when in sleep mode. Users earn “play coins” for steps they take, and can trade coins for extra content in certain games.
A Web browser will be offered separately through a system update, Nintendo said in its release.
Nintendo’s also packaging the device with six augmented-reality cards. Here’s how they’re explained in the release:
When the two outer cameras are pointed at the cards, they read the cards and superimpose images and animations onto the scene. So users shouldn’t be surprised if they see a dragon popping out of their kitchen tables. Developers can also use this technology to add creative new experiences to their games.
The augmented reality dragon makes an appearance about 2 minutes and 20 seconds into this Nintendo 3DS concept video:
Perhaps the focus will now turn to Microsoft, to see how its Windows Phone 7 platform – which has ties to Xbox Live – will compete for the attention of mobile gamers and game developers.
Here are some of the 30 games that will be available between the March 27 launch and the E3 conference in June (the “launch window” provided by Nintendo):
Pilotwings Resort, which has players soaring acrobatically over Wuhu Island
Nintendogs + cats, a new version of the Nintendo DS classic with a feline enhancement
Steel Diver, a side-scrolling submarine adventure that gives the illusion that the player is peering into an aquarium.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked from Atlus
Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition and Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D from Capcom
Madden NFL Football from EA Sports
The Sims 3 from Electronic Arts
Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D from Konami
Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars from LucasArts
Ridge Racer 3D and Dual Pen Sports from Namco Bandai Games America Inc.
Super Monkey Ball 3D, Thor: God of Thunder and CRUSH 3D from SEGA
Bust-a-move Universe from Square Enix.
Samurai Warriors Chronicles and Dead or Alive Dimensions from Tecmo Koei America
Asphalt 3D, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Shadow Wars, Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell 3D, Rayman 3D and Rabbids Travel in Time from Ubisoft.
Nintendo 3DS games “in the works” include The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D; Star Fox 64 3D; Kid Icarus: Uprising; and new installments in the Mario Kart, Animal Crossing and Paper Mario series.