The Nintendo 3DS is set to launch in the United States on March 27, 2011, with a retail price of $249.99. The system will be available in two colors, Cosmo Black and Aqua Blue. No specifics were offered on what titles will release along side the system, but Nintendo has promised that "more than 30 games" would be made available between the March 27 launch and the June 7 start date of E3 2011.
Nintendo re-iterated the 3DS's SpotPass and StreetPass connectivity features. SpotPass allows the system to connect to the internet, either through public wi-fi hotspots or users home networks. The system remains connected even when placed in Sleep Mode, and "new content and updates," including those designed to fight piracy,will be delivered regularly.
StreetPass exchanges information with other 3DS units when they are physically near one another. High scores, game maps, custom characters, and Mii data are just some examples of the sorts of " small packets of information" that can be exchanged when StreetPass is enabled.
The "analog nub" on the left side of the system has been given an official name, the Circle Pad. Nintendo claims that the Pad's full 360 degree analog control is as responsive as the N64's analog stick.
The 3DS will come with a number of applications pre-installed, including a Mii Maker that can automatically generate a Mii based on images taken with the 3DS camera. The system will be capable of taking 3D photos, and those photos can be used to play the built-in game Face Raiders, in which players "shoot at funny depictions of their own faces." Six Augmented Reality cards will be included with the 3DS that will superimpose various images into pictures taken with the system's camera.
The 3DS includes the previously revealed Activity Log, which utilities pedometer functionality. The 3DS supports playback of MP3 and AAC files, and allows users to manipulate the sounds of those files with the Nintendo 3DS Sound utility. An internet browser will be made available for the 3DS through a post launch system update.
Addressing the fears of the friend code wary, Nintendo has revealed that the 3DS's friend code is tied to the system itself, not to individual games. Once a friends have exchanged codes, they will appear in each other's friends list, which will display which friends are online and what they are playing.
Nintendo will be launching a new digital content store to support the 3DS. Available shortly after the system launches, the Nintendo eShop will offer DSiWare games, 3DS original games, Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, videos and demos. Each 3DS will come packed with a 2GB SD memory card.
Parental controls can be used to restrict the system's connectivity options and 3D settings, or to allow only games of specified ratings to be playable. Region locks for the system were not discussed.
All in all, the 3DS offers an impressive amount of features and functionality, at a slightly more modest retail price than many had feared. Nintendo is clearly proud of the new system, as summed up by the remarks of Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime:
"Nintendo 3DS is a category of one - the experience simply doesn't exist anywhere else.""You have to see Nintendo 3DS to believe it. And it's like nothing you've ever seen before."
Despite all the concrete information Nintendo has issued on the 3DS, it's disappointing that the launch games remain unknown. The company has committed to three first party titles during the system's launch window, including Pilotwings Resort, which takes place over Wii Sports Resort's WuHu Island, nintendogs + cats, and side-scrolling submarine game Steel Diver. Nintendogs + cats is confirmed for the Japanese 3DS launch, so it seems likely that it will be available at the U.S. launch, as well.
You know the date, you know the price. And you know that the system is going to be difficult to find at launch. What do you think? Is $249.99 a fair price for the first handheld, glasses free game system? What do you think of the colors available at launch? Are you excited about the system specific friend codes? This is all big news, and we want to hear everything you have to say about the 3DS. Get the conversation started in the comments below.
The Nintendo 3DS launches in the U.S. March 27, 2011, for $249.99.