Nintendo revealed this weekend that its 3DS handheld game player launch is on schedule, and it announced more details about its release plans.
The 3DS will go on sale first in Japan on Feb. 26. It debuts in the U.S. and Europe in March. For the Japanese market, Nintendo is targeting a $300 price and plans to ship around 1.5 million units there by the end of March. Worldwide, the company aims to ship 4 million units. The Kyoto, Japan-based company made the announcement at its Nintendo World conference in Japan.
The 3DS is Nintendo’s attempt to revive the handheld game industry, which has been pummeled by sales of Apple’s iPod Touch and iPhone devices, which feature good-quality games that are either free or sell for as little as 99 cents. Against this good-enough competition from smartphones and other general-purpose mobile entertainment devices, games-focused handheld makers like Nintendo have struggled.
The 3DS features stereoscopic 3D viewing without the need to wear special glasses and so represents one of the great hopes that consumers will embrace 3D viewing of both movies and games.
Ten games will be available at the launch in Japan. They include Nintendogs + Cats (three versions), Konami’s Winning Eleven 3DSoccer, Capcom’s Super Street Fighter IV, Tecmo Koei’s Samurai Warriors: Chronicle, Square Enix’s Tobidasu! Puzzle Bobble, Namco Bandai’s Ridge Racer 3D, Ubisoft’s Combat of Giants, and Level-5’s Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle.
Nintendo said the portable device will have a battery life of 3.5 – 5 hours when playing games, depending on factors such as screen brightness and use of wireless. While playing DS or DSi games, the handheld will have a battery life of 5 to 8 hours. That’s pretty similar to the battery life for a DSi handheld. It will launch in Japan in two colors: Aqua Blue and Cosmo Black.
The device will come with a charging dock, an AC adapter, an extendable stylus, augmented-reality cards, and a 2 gigabyte SD memory card. Nintendo said it would launch its own first-party games. Steel Diver, Pilotwings Resort, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D are set for the spring. Starfox 64 3D and Kid Icarus are coming in the summer; and Mario Kart 3DS, Animal Crossing 3DS, and Paper Mario 3DS will come after that. Nintendo is expected to announce its launch date for the 3DS on Jan. 19.
Nintendo recently warned that children six years and younger shouldn’t play the handheld in 3D mode because of potential health risks.
[pictured: Satoru Iwata, chief executive of Nintendo, announcing the 3DS last June]