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Japanese media outlet Nikkei revealed more details about the 3DS in a recent report. The language of the report seemingly indicates that a 3D joystick and force feedback will be a part of the hardware, and that the system will have “significant improvements in wireless communications speed and battery life.” The report also notes that Nintendo is “considering” the inclusion of an accelerometer, and that the screens “will likely be no larger than 4 inches.”
Nikkei cites a pair of patents when referring to the inclusion of a joystick and force feedback in the 3DS. We’re still searching for the former, but the patent for rumble capability was discovered by BrokeMyController. The patent’s language makes it seem as though the rumble is produced by the portable and felt through the stylus. The current DS hardware does not have rumble capabilities built in, which suggests that this addition could only come to Nintendo’s portable platform with the introduction of entirely new hardware.
CVG was able to contact Japanese developers who have access to 3DS development kits, noting that The Pokemon Company was first and possibly the largest developer to procure a unit. A source within one of the kit-owning developers told CVG that the 3DS has ” ‘tilt’ function that’s not dissimilar to iPhone, but does a lot more.” It’s worth noting that this source also stated that “Any kind of March announcement wouldn’t fit with the time line I understand the second DS to be on”–something we now know is incorrect.
Late last year, a report from Bright Side of News suggested that Nvidia would be supplying the chip set for Nintendo’s DS successor, though investigations into the hardware done by RPad andIGN both seem to indicate that the hardware is not Nvidia-based.
In addition to the information about the system’s chipset, RPad editor Raymond Padilla’s investigation into the DS’ successor at GDC also corroborates on the use of an accelerometer in the hardware, while also adding information about the system’s screens. According to Padilla the screens will have a higher resolution, and the gap between screens seen on the DS will be eliminated, allowing developers to create games that, in effect have “one giant screen.”
A patent filed by Nintendo displaying a new cartridge style was recently discovered bySiliconera. The cartridge is longer than current DS cartridges but retains the same pin structure. The patent notes that the hardware shown in the imagery is shown for “illustrative purposes only,” suggesting that the cart could be utilized for entirely new hardware. With the 3DS promising backwards compatibility, utilizing a similarly-styled cartridge could allow for the hardware to avoid the dual-slot design the first models of the DS were forced to use.
Shane Bettenhausen, the Director of Business Development at Ignition Entertainment, recently stated to 1UP that the next DS and PSP platforms would have more commonalities than the current generation’s extremely different hardware, stating “the two products will be very competitive, which is something that no one’s experienced.” According to Bettenhausen, Nintendo and Sony’s next generation of portable platforms will both have two screens with touch control during the next mobile generation.
According to Nintendo spokesman Ken Toyota, the 3DS will be playable at E3, as he told the New York Times “We’ll invite people to play with the new device then.”
Its telling that the DSi will be replaced after only two years on the market. The downloadableportable gaming market has become increasingly dominated by Apple’s iPhone/iPod Touch platform, and if Nintendo wants to make a serious dent in the “new” mobile scene it needs to examine its connectivity options and explore the possibility of a 3G (or similar) connection, possibly along the lines of the Amazon Kindle’s “Whispernet”. Though Wi-Fi is sufficient for many, an always-on connection that is subsidized by the price of the device (so you won’t need to pay a monthly fee) will also allow for DRM authentication; something that will help with the growing piracy problem on mobile platforms.
Nintendo has dabbled with some social networking functionality of late, but we’re hoping that with the 3GS we’ll see the company embrace our existing connections with more vigor. The days of trying to draw users into the walled gardens of proprietary networks are over. We don’t want to manage yet another friends list. We all love Twitter, and we’re all on Facebook. Let’s hope that Nintendo acknowledges this, and services like Facebook Connect are embraced to connect gamers together. That always-on 3G connection would come in useful for this too.
Unlike many hardware platforms, which steadily decrease in price over the course of their lifespans, the Nintendo DS has seen the opposite effect over the last five years. When it launched in November of 2004, the original DS could be purchased for $150; a price that dropped to $130 within a year. Since the launch of the DSi we’ve seen the price move up twice, first to $170 for the DSi and then to $190 for the DSi XL. New console generations typically launch at higher prices than their predecessors, but we’re hoping to see the 3DS launch at a price no higher than $200.
Location awareness is the new hotness in mobile devices, and an increasing number of games and services make use of real-world geo-tagging and GPS-based “check-ins” to add a physical dynamic to gameplay. Paired with a camera (something we’re assuming the 3DS will have, given that the DSi does) a built-in GPS solution will also facilitate augmented reality games too.
Nintendo claims that the 3DS will be backwards compatible without providing concrete details on how the process will work. Given the language used in the announcement, it’s entirely possible that original DS cartridges might not be used in the 3DS at all, with backwards compatibility coming in the form of DS game downloads. We’re hoping our DS cartridges will be compatible with the 3DS… and honestly, this seems likely given the aforementioned cartridge patent. Additionally, let’s hope that the Nintendo faithful who have invested money into DSiWare downloads will have a method of transferring their purchases from the current generation of hardware onto the next.
Utilizing cartridges could be a way for Nintendo to avoid having to cram massive amounts of internal storage into its portable platform, but the company cannot rely on customers having to provide their own storage solutions for the 3DS. The Wii Shop Channel faltered when hardcore gamers ran out of storage early, and most casual gamers probably won’t seek out any memory cards to fit extra games. Given the typical size of portable game downloads, we hope to see Nintendo include at least 8GB of internal memory as well as the option to increase storage via memory cards.