E3 NewsNintendo Debuts New Handheld

Nintendo, maker of the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance, unveils its latest handheld gaming unit at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles today. The new Nintendo DS is set to launch in Japan and North America before the end of the year, then hit Europe during the first quarter of 2005.

The Nintendo DS features two screens to offer two different gameplay perspectives. Other features include touch-screen input, voice recognition and wireless communication capabilities.

According to Nintendo, the touch screen may make accessing items, moving characters or navigating menus as easy as a tap or drag on the screen. With voice recognition, players can simply tell the game what they want it to do, while chat software will allow them transmit text messages, handwriting and even drawings to one another. Wireless functions could potentially link players in the same room or across the country.

Nintendo DS will include two processors, 3D capabilities on both screens, 16-channel sound and a rechargeable battery that features a low-energy-consumption design. One media bay handles new DS game cartridges that hold one gigabit of information and more. The second media port allows for compatibility with Game Boy Advance games, as well as a host of possible future accessories.

More than 100 companies worldwide have received software development kits and are planning games for Nintendo DS. Nintendo is developing titles based on its Super Mario, Metroid and WarioWare franchises, while third-party publishers work on Spider-Man 2 (Activision), Rayman (Ubisoft), SpongeBob SquarePants (THQ), Yu-Gi-Oh! (Konami), Sonic (Sega), and Pac-Man (Namco) titles.

The system’s official name, price and launch lineup will be announced at a later date.