Nintendo Looks Forward (3DS) and Backward (Warmed-Over Wii Games)

Nintendo unveiled its highly anticipated 3DS portable game console Tuesday at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).

The 3DS offers 3-D viewing without the need for special glasses.

Nintendo also announced remakes of several of its popular older games for the Wii platform.

3DS Deets

The Nintendo 3DS has two stacked vertically screens. The top one is a 3.5-inch 3-D display; the bottom one is a touch panel. Players can adjust the depth of the 3-D effect using a slider on top of the 3DS.

The 3DS has two cameras on the back to snap 3-D digital pictures, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata announced at the device’s launch. Owners can also view 3-D video on the device, but Nintendo did not elaborate on how this would work.

It also has a motion sensor and a gyroscope sensor, so players can tilt and move the device when playing games. Further, the 3DS has analog controls through its slide pad. This is a stick similar to the one on the Sony PlayStation Portable.

The device can connect to the Internet and download game updates automatically from the Web.

“I got a little bit of hands-on time with the 3DS, and it works and looks impressive,” Louis Ward, an analyst at IDC, told TechNewsWorld. “They had demos of several different characters.”

Nintendo did not announce pricing or a shipping date for the 3DS.

3DS Games

Nintendo is apparently developing new games from franchises like “Zelda,” “Donkey Kong” and “Star Fox” for the 3DS.

The company also unveiled a version of “Nintendogs” for the 3DS.

Several publishers have announced support for the 3DS. Titles that will be available on the handheld include “Metal Gear Solid” and “Kingdom Hearts.”

Pumping Up the Wii Volume

At E3 on Tuesday, Nintendo also announced reissues of several of its older games so they can be played on the Wii.

These include the classic James Bond game “Goldeneye,” a new Kirby game titled “Kirby’s Epic Yarn,” and a Mario Brothers basketball game.

Nintendo further unveiled new games for the Wii. These include “Wii Party,” an exclusive version of “NBA Jam,” and “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.”

Most of the games are scheduled for release in the fall.

Are the Oldies Goodies or Moldies?

We have yet to see whether this decision to remake a slate of old games for a relatively newer platform will pay off.

“If there aren’t compelling games the hardware won’t matter because no one will buy them,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, pointed out. “Nintendo’s pulling from titles that worked in the past, to try and revive the Wii, but, given that the Wii largely sold on the strength of the hardware and its sports games, I don’t think there’s a good match here.”

Nintendo should have at least given the Wii hardware a cosmetic refresh and included the capability to pick up high-definition content so it can compete in the market, Enderle remarked.

However, relying on nostalgia among Nintendo game fans might actually work, IDC’s Ward pointed out.

“Nintendo’s got such a tradition with Mario and all these other characters that it has, like Disney,” Ward explained. “These titles still have a relatively loyal fan base, and people don’t forget about them as quickly as games on other platforms. It remains to be seen how this will play out with regard to marketing.”

Gunning for the iEnemy

Nintendo’s flurry of activity could be seen as an attempt to take on Apple.

Over the 18 months, Apple has taken about 5 percent, or US$500 million, of the $10 billion U.S. gaming market, according to Flurry Analytics.

“As prices come down for the iPod touch and games sold through the App Store continue to have lower price points, more of the young gaming generation may switch to Apple devices over Sony PSP and Nintendo DS for gaming,” Peter Farago, vice president of marketing at Flurry, wrote in the company’s blog.

Relying on that young gaming generation might prove to be a double-edged sword for Apple, as Nintendo is apparently targeting the same demographic in its bid to fight off the threat of the iPhone and iPod touch.

“The 3DS will show well, and that could make it a viable alternative to the more expensive Apple products for kids,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld. “Given the choice, many parents will likely pick the less expensive alternative, which should favor Nintendo.”

“I’m a fan of 3-D, and I think it will differentiate the Nintendo platform from competitors and be compelling to children, who will find the 3DS a more immersive, richer experience than traditional consoles,” IDC’s Ward said.

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