Nintendo Announces Release Date for 3DS

Nintendo’s 3DS is coming! Just in time for the holiday season—oh, wait. No. Scratch that. Just in time for right after the holidays, sometime in February. If you’re in Japan. For the rest of us we get to wait until March, during that rich retail period around St. Patrick’s Day.

So clearly I have some issues with the proliferation of 3-D gimmicks running amok in gaming, film, and TV as of late. I won’t dispute that I’m a little, shall we say, opinionated on the subject (not to mention 3D stuff gives me quite the headache). So here, yet again, we see a company putting a whole bunch of eggs in one basket (perhaps Yoshi eggs) in the hopes that 3-D is really going to make a difference.

Why do I think that? Sure, the 3DS was announced at E3, and lots of people are excited. But here’s the thing: I think Nintendo really missed the mark on this one. And it looks like they know it. For instance, according to the New York Times, they have cut their full-year income estimate more than by half—from 200 billion yen down to 90 billion yen. The Times reports: “It mainly cited the strong value of the yen against other currencies, which erodes its overseas earnings.” Still, that’s a huge change in forecast this late in the season, and is likely related to the fact the 3DS really isn’t going to be making any waves until next year. Providing they stay on schedule.

In the realm of hand-held devices—now facing some sincere competition by iPhones, iPods, and Android phones—the old DS, which is six years old (practically a dinosaur in this market), may be losing its hold on the market. While technically the DS has outsold even the iPhone, forecasts aren’t looking so hot. Says the Times:

In the six years since the DS hand-held machine was introduced, Nintendo has sold 132 million units, more than twice the number of Sony PlayStation Portables sold over a comparable period… In comparison, Apple said in July that cumulative sales of iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches had reached 100 million; the earliest of those, the iPhone, was introduced in 2007.

Okay, so we get that the DS needs a makeover. And I’m sure Nintendo is well aware of this. I really want Nintendo to blow this out of the water, really I do. I was raised a Nintendo fangirl. But is 3-D really the way to go? The details show a mix of good and bad. For instance, the 3DS doesn’t require 3-D glasses. It’s got two screens, the top being reserved for 3D images and the bottom being a stylus touch we’re familiar with. However, as the picture demonstrates, it really doesn’t look all that different from previous incarnations at all. For a six-year evolution it’s pretty tame and kind of clunky looking.

And that’s not the mention the pricetag: a hefty $300 with current rates. Coupled with a post-holiday release, well, let’s just hope the payoff isn’t in another castle.

[Image: Nintendo]