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Nintendo 3DS: Yes Please

I’m normally not a big fan of 3D with the gimmicky movie effects, clunky glasses, and the inevitable headache and eyestrain that comes with it. But Nintendo seems to have circumvented many of these issues with their upcoming Nintendo 3DS handheld.

At CES the N3DS was a big hit with its ability to switch between 3D and 2D, the lack of glasses, and how easy it is on the eyes (and I don’t mean the way it looks).

Admittedly, I am a bit of a fan when it comes to Nintendo. I grew up with the Nintendo Entertainment System and The Legend of Zelda. My first handheld was a Game Boy, and there is a NDS Lite sitting in my desk drawer right now.

Sony will be competing with Nintendo again this year, as they release two new handhelds. Their first handheld is the Next Generation Portable (NGP), due out by the end of 2011, though a release date hasn’t been given. Once again, Sony’s handheld will focus on power, mimicking the PSP. The NGP will be a tablet with a 5” 960x544 OLED screen. It will have a touch pad, two cameras, Wi-Fi, 3G, GPS, motion sensors, etc. It will run an ARM Cortex A9 CPU and is supposed to be as powerful as a PlayStation.

The second handheld Sony will be releasing is the PlayStation Phone (also called the Xperia Play) through Sony Ericsson. This console / phone combo will have a 4” 854x480 LCD touch screen, camera, Wi-Fi, and run on an Android platform with a 1GHz processor.

As usual, the N3DS cannot compete with either the NGP or Xperia Play and lacks the 3G, GPS, and OLED attributes, though the N3DS will have an extra camera in the back to take 3D pictures. Its guaranteed that Sony will use the Nintendo’s sub par specs as a marketing tool, but if history is any indication, power is not important in the handheld console market.

Previously, when handhelds were launched they weren’t really competing with the cell phone market, which has only recently begun to take advantage of motion sensors, touch screens, and more powerful processors to carve out its own gaming niche. Many casual gamers have moved to the Android and iPhone systems where the most popular games aren’t the ones with the best graphics, but the ones that create a unique experience, like the popular Angry Chicken game.

On that note, how will the N3DS compete? With their own kooky line-up of games, as usual:

  • Nintendogs
  • Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D "The Naked Sample”
  • StarFox 3D
  • Steel Diver
  • Ridge Racer
  • Super Street Fighter IV 3D
  • The Sims 3
  • Madden NFL Football
  • LEGO Star Wars III
  • Super Monkey Ball 3D
  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

There will be dozens of titles out when the N3DS is released this March. Nintendo has been paying attention to the “content is king” mantra.

Handheld gamers want something different and the N3DS has the potential to stay on top of the market.

-Michell Prunty, Analyst

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