Nintendo aims for 3DS revival with games, button add-on

The president of the iconic game company said a software line-up unprecedented in video game history will draw 3DS gamers.

By Jay Alabaster, IDG News Service |  Software

Nintendo on Tuesday announced a fleet of new game titles for its 3DS handheld, along with a new peripheral add-on, promising to rekindle interest in the device.

"From the end of this year through to next year we have assembled an extensive software line-up for which there is probably no precedent in the history of video games," President Satoru Iwata said at an event in Tokyo.

"We will make a strenuous effort to increase the popularity of the 3DS and make it a worthy successor to the DS."

Iwata said that in Japan, a version of the popular Monster Hunter series would be released Dec. 10 for the 3DS, and that a completely new version of the game was already under development for the handset. He showed footage from other new 3DS titles including versions of Nintendo's flagship Super Mario adventure and Mario Kart racing games, Konami's Metal Gear and Loveplus franchises, and Sega's Sonic line, all due out before the end of the year in Japan.

The company will release a new peripheral for the 3DS that adds an additional slide pad and buttons, to be released in Japan on Dec. 10, it said. It will also update software in the 3DS to allow it to take 3D movies.

When the 3DS launched in February after years of strong sales from its predecessor, Nintendo heralded the device for its 3D screen that doesn't require special glasses. Sales were strong initially, but sagged to the point where the company suddenly slashed prices worldwide less than six months after the launch. That led to a brief surge in sales, but recent data show they have faded again domestically.

Nintendo is racing to rekindle interest in the 3DS before rival Sony releases its new Vita handheld, due out by the end of the year in Japan and in Europe and the U.S. by early next year. Both companies are also fighting off a deluge of inexpensive but popular games on mobile phones and tablets that often appeal to more casual gamers.

Iwata said his company would seek to draw women to the 3DS through the launch of a new pink version of the console and a broader range of titles next month.

In Japan, electronics manufacturers often release products with softer colors and features like jewel-encrusted cases to appeal to women shoppers.

"The balance between male and female customers has been a strength of Nintendo, but the 3DS has not had a high number of women players in comparison to the DS," he said.

Iwata also briefly discussed the Wii home game console. He said that upcoming holiday offerings, which include the latest Zelda title, would make this year's total line-up better than the one for 2010, adding there are enough Wii consoles in the wild to drive sales of strong games.

"From the beginning of this year there has been a gap in new software titles on sale for the Wii, which has caused some concern," he said.

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