At a Tokyo press event on Tuesday, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata unveiled a swath of new titles for the 3DS handheld, including Super Mario 3D Land (a less than inspiring name for a good-looking game) and Mario Kart 7. As many gamers know, the press event was especially high stakes for Nintendo, which has struggled mightily to gin up buzz around the 3DS.
According to the industry analysts at NPD, sales of the 3DS have plunged substantially from March, when the device was first released. In July, Nintendo announced it was dropping the price of the 3DS handset from $249 to $169.99, and sales got a nice little boost; Gamasutra's Matt Matthews thinks the boost could carry Nintendo in September, and perhaps even the holiday shopping season.
Not that Nintendo is taking any chances. The company will release Super Mario 3D Land on Nov. 13 – see below for video – and Mario Kart 7 on Dec. 4. In addition, a downloadable edition of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords will be available on DSi and 3DS's online store for free from Sept. 28 through February of next year (at which point the company will probably start charging for the game). 2012 will be big for the 3DS, Nintendo says, with 3D titles such as Kid Icarus, Luigi's Mansion, and Mario Tennis set to debut.
So will the new games be enough to bolster the reputation of the 3DS?
Well, not necessarily: Reuters reports that Nintendo shares sunk by five percent after the announcement. "I don't think the new games will make any difference," Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Investment, told Reuters. "Nintendo succeeded by pulling in people who weren't gamers and their needs now are no longer being filled by Nintendo, they are happy playing games on their mobile phones."
Akino is right, in a way: As video games on smartphones near the quality – graphically speaking – of the video games on gaming-exclusive devices, manufacturers of gaming-exclusive devices will naturally find themselves in trouble. Nintendo's hope must rest in the diversity and strength of the titles it delivers in coming months. If the games are engrossing and solidly made, the gamers will come. If they aren't, well.... you get the picture.