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Nintendo DS Set For Nov. 21 Debut

Nintendo said it will launch its next-generation handheld video game player Nintendo DS in North America on Nov. 21.

The Nintendo DS will be Nintendo’s first product to make its global debut in the United States, the company said. The Japanese launch date is slated for Dec. 2. The game player will carry a $149.99 suggested retail price.

Nintendo DS will feature two screens, a wireless connection for game play and personal communication, and flexible game control by voice and touch.

“Nintendo’s mission remains unchanged: expand the game experience,” says Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo. “Nintendo DS is the road map to the future of video games and most clearly demonstrates the type of innovation that players demand.”

One of the player’s two screens will allow for touch input using a stylus. Also included is both voice recognition and multiplayer wireless features. Each player will ship with free software called PictoChat, enabling purchasers to begin using the device right away.

PictoChat allows DS owners to write messages with an onscreen keyboard or the stylus and send them wirelessly to other DS users nearby. Users can text chat or draw artistic messages.

A sleep mode will spring to life if the unit senses another DS in transmitting range, alerting users to each other’s presence and setting the stage for an impromptu conversation or game session.

Nintendo DS has a flip-top cover that protects both screens. Two speakers on the unit’s face let users hear virtual surround sound. Nintendo DS measures 5.85 inches wide, 3.33 inches long and 1.13 inches tall with the cover closed. The new media format for games means that Nintendo DS has no moving parts that could be misaligned if the unit is dropped or jarred.

Nintendo said more than 100 companies have agreed to create games for Nintendo DS. Nintendo will develop its first 20 titles.

Electronic Arts has announced that Madden NFL, The URBZ: Sims in the City, Need for Speed Underground, Tiger Woods and GoldenEye will support Nintendo DS.

The complete lineup of games planned for the launch of Nintendo DS will be announced in the near future. The player is also compatible with a library of more than 550 games with single-player modes developed for the Game Boy Advance SP.

Nintendo said it chose the United States to lead the worldwide launch of Nintendo DS because of “overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic reaction from consumers and to take advantage of the holiday sales season.”

After the launch in Japan, the system will be available in Europe and Australia in the first quarter of 2005.