Nintendo Top of the Charts. In Japan.

Nintendo sold some 6.5 million software units in Japan during the financial year to 31st March, placing at the top of the charts. But for how long? The future of the GameCube in the US and Europe looks bleaker every day and Sony are about to launch an assault on Nintendo’s strongest market area: the portable games console.

The Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3, Los Angeles, May) will be the battle of the handhelds: Sony and Nintendo will be unveiling their new portable hardware to expectant crowds. We already know a lot about Sony’s PSP: the disk format, connectivity, what it looks like, even down to the wrist strap. But what about Nintendo’s “DS”?

Details of the new Nintendo offering are sketchy and strange: it has two screens, one of which may be a touch screen. The Nintendo DS is touted as a new game play experience, but may end up dividing their market still further between products: the GBA, GBA SP and the new DS. Consumers are still confused as to what the two screen experience will bring – and Nintendo isn’t spoiling the surprise. Connectivity details are still sparse: Sony has been promoting connectivity with its PS2, PSX and PS3 products, but Nintendo have had a series of disappointments with GBA/GameCube link ups, and it’s never fully reached their expectations. Except with Animal Crossing of course, and only if you don’t use an GBA SP.

We’re are somewhat unsure of the new Nintendo offering, at least until much more is known about the console. There have been some unfortunate comparisons with Nintendo’s own VirtualBoy, which also promised a new game play experience (with two screens, oddly enough). The VirtualBoy died a horrible death, but like many doomed consoles is popular on eBay.

We’ll soon have the full picture: Nintendo are rumoured to be announcing 30 DS titles at E3, and the console itself will be out, at least in Japan, by the end of the year.

With Sony’s PSP looking to be a winner, at least in the West, the future is uncertain for Nintendo’s hand held dominance.

Piecing together the DS at Wired
PSP technical specs
Reuters on Nintendo’s success

Published by

Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?