Nintendo DS to launch in Japan with 12 titles

Nintendo will launch its new Nintendo DS (Dual Screen) portable game in Japan on Dec. 2 with a lineup of 12 software titles, the company said Thursday.

The device is the company's answer to Sony Computer Entertainment's (SCEI) PlayStation Portable (PSP), which is also due on sale in Japan before the end of the year. Until now Nintendo has owned the portable gaming space with its GameBoy family of devices but with the PSP, SCEI is trying for the first time to make a dent in this dominance.

The player's most distinctive feature is its dual 3-inch LCD (liquid crystal display) screens, one of which is touch-sensitive. A microphone is also embedded and can be used to feed information into games with microphone support.

The company showed one game on Thursday that makes good use of both these functions. Called Nintendogs, the game is the brainchild of Nintendo-developer Shigeru Miyamoto, and involves the player calling out instructions, such as to roll over or sit, to a digital dog. If the dog obeys, the player can reward it be stroking its head or rubbing its belly using the touch-sensitive screen.


Other features include the ability to connect wirelessly with other users within a range of a few tens of meters.

The Nintendo DS will cost YEN 15,000 (AUD$185), said Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, speaking at a Tokyo event held to preview the player and announce launch details.

Five of the launch titles for Japan will be produced by Nintendo and seven will come from other software companies. The five Nintendo titles include new versions of two of the company's most popular game franchises: the Super Mario Bros.-based 'Super Mario 64 DS' and Pocket Monsters-based 'Pokemon Dash'. The company will also launch 'Sawaru, Made in Waruo' and 'Band Brothers'. They will cost YEN 4,800 ($60) and the fifth game, 'Chokkan Hito Fude' will cost YEN 3,800 ($47), said Iwata.

Currently 46 software companies have signed up to produce 124 titles for the Nintendo DS, said Iwata.

Also announced on Thursday, Square Enix announced it is planning to bring a remake of Final Fantasy III to the Nintendo DS.

The device will ship with a chat application called PictoChat that allows up to 16 Nintendo DS users within wireless range to participate in a group discussion. A stylus and on-screen keyboard are used to type messages into the system.

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Martyn Williams

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