Nintendo 3DS creates buzz at unveiling

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Nintendo Co. on Wednesday officially unveiled its anticipated hand-held Nintendo 3DS, which allows users to play 3-D games and experience enhanced networking services.

The clam-shell device, which comes with a built-in camera to shoot 3-D photos, is priced at ¥25,000 and due to hit Japanese store shelves on Feb. 26, 2011, the company said.

Unlike viewing 3-D movies or television, a special pair of glasses is not required to play the 3DS, which looks similar to the Nintendo DS but has screens on each upper and bottom side.

“Nintendo has been thinking that hand-held devices have many more advantages when approaching 3-D games,” said Nintendo President Satoru Iwata at a news conference in Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture.

While this year has been dubbed “the year of 3-D,” the hurdle remains of promoting both hardware and software in a unified manner in order to spread 3-D to a wider range of consumers, Iwata said.

“In the case of 3-D games with stationary consoles, it is only a small portion of customers who actually play on 3-D-ready TVs,” he said, mentioning the advantage of playing hand-held devices that come with 3-D screens.

While the 3.53-inch upper screen displays 3-D images, the 3.02-inch bottom screen is used to take touch-screen commands from the stylus. Users of the 3DS can adjust the sense of 3-D depth with the “3-D volume” slide and play 2-D games by turning the 3-D tuner off. The device also comes with Wi-Fi.

While the device is likely to create a big buzz next year, Iwata stressed that the 3DS won’t be a sure-fire hit because of the difficulty in promoting 3-D products to consumers.

Another major feature of the new device is its “surechigai tsushin,” an enhanced communication network that allows players to exchange information on the games they are playing. The DS is only able to connect with other DSs when they are playing the same game, but 3DSs can connect with other 3DSs even when in sleep mode, Nintendo said.

On Wednesday, Nintendo also announced some game titles for the 3DS, including Nintendo’s popular Mario series, Capcom’s “Biohazard” and Konami’s “Metal Gear Solid.”