Nintendo throws Hail Mary, lowers 3DS price

Nintendo announced a big price drop for their still-new 3DS portable gaming system. The Big N slashed $80 from the devices’ MSRP, bringing it down to $169.99 from $249.99.

There’s more: Nintendo also revealed plans to release a package of downloadable NES and Game Boy Advance titles for the 3DS. Players who buy the system before the price drop – Nintendo has taken to calling them “3DS Ambassadors” – can get the games free of any additional charge.

The 3DS’ price drop, to be effective Aug. 12, follows many reports, such as this one, of disappointing sales for the new handheld. The 3DS’s big selling point was its 3D visuals, but readers can go to virtually any gaming website and read comments from players lamenting a relative lack of games for the new system.

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Nintendo released the 3DS in March, and thus far, Legend of Zelda:
Ocarina of Time stands tall as the system’s most impressive release. But
as much fun as the game is, the fact remains that it’s still a remake
of a 1998 title. Among the 3DS games I’ve had a chance to play, I also
really liked Pilotwings Resort, but the title’s library has yet to
convince many gamers to shell out the cash for a new portable.

Nintendo’s forthcoming lineup of games includes several titles from the
company’s stable of popular franchises: Starfox 64 3D (Sept. 9); Super
Mario 3D Land (November); Mario Kart 7 (December) and Kid Icarus:
Uprising (sometime in the Holiday Season).

I had a chance to try each of these games, save for Kid Icarus, at E3,
and Mario Kart 7 appeared to be the most promising, as the 3DS’ visual
capabilities succeeded in creating the illusion of the 3D movement.

Mario is basically a license to print money, so releasing two Mario
titles around the holiday season should help Nintendo sell a
lower-priced 3DS to parents looking to put something nice under the Christmas tree.

Among gamers who may be enticed to but a 3DS for themselves, however,
Kid Icarus: Uprising may be the system’s real test. If the game takes
full advantage of the 3DS’ visual and motion control technologies and
lets players feel as if they are flying high above Ancient Greece, I
would expect many players to warm up to the 3DS.

But the holiday release will pit Kid Icarus against Sony’s PlayStation
Vita. The Vita’s sharper visuals and and dual thumbsticks are designed
to make Sony’s competing handheld play like a mobile console, and will
likely attract many of the players who left Nintendo’s Wii console
behind for Sony’s PlayStation 3 or Microsoft’s XBox 360. In short, Kid
Icarus needs to be a classic.

In the meantime, Nintendo announced today that players who have a 3DS
and make an online connection before 11:59 p.m. Aug. 15 will be able to
download 10 NES and 10 Game Boy Advance games at no additional charge.

The Big N did not release the full lineup of games yet. The announced NES titles are: Super Mario Bros., Donkey
Kong Jr., Balloon Fight, Ice
Climber and The Legend of Zelda.

The announced Game Boy Advance titles are: Yoshi’s
Island: Super Mario Advance 3;
Mario Kart: Super Circuit; Metroid Fusion; WarioWare Inc.: Mega Microgame$
and Mario vs. Donkey Kong.

Nintendo further announced that although the NES titles will be made available for future sales, the company has no plans to release the Game Boy Advance games to the general public.