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Nintendo to Launch DS Download Service

Oct 3, 2008 20:48
Tatsurou Hokugou, Nikkei Electronics

DSiWare will include mini games. Nintendo will use mini games from the popular brain training titles and offer them in a DSi-specific form.
"The ultimate goal of the portable game console is to have every consumer own one," said Nintendo President Satoru Iwata when the company announced the "DSi" Oct 2, 2008 (See related article).

"It has been said in the game industry that it is impossible to sell more than 20 million units of a console, but the DS is continuing to sell favorably even after surpassing that level," Iwata said. "However, the momentum of its diffusion has weakened. So we decided to add news capabilities and enable individuals to customize the console."

Specifically, Nintendo secured a memory area in the DSi so that games can be installed to it. Users can store game content not only in cartridges but also in the built-in memory area. This capability is aimed at allowing each user to carry his/her favorite game titles all the time after installing them in the console. Nintendo has not revealed details including the size of the memory area.

In accordance with this capability, the company will start download sales of "Nintendo DSiWare" through the "Nintendo DSi Shop." Just like "WiiWare" for the Wii, Nintendo will also begin download sales of DSi game titles through an online store.

In the case of WiiWare, users purchase the prepaid points called "Wii points" and use them for payment. Nintendo will introduce this point payment system to DSiWare by replacing Wii points with "Nintendo points" that can be used for both Wii and DSi applications in line with the introduction of DSiWare.

As the first DSiWare, "Nintendo DSi Browser," jointly developed with Opera Software SA of Norway, will be distributed for free. Nintendo is already planning to distribute "Ugoku Memo-cho (animated memo pad)," a memo application that allows players to make hand drawn animation, for free as the second release.

Roughly four pricing categories are planned for DSiWare. They are freeware, "DSiWare 200" for compact tools and games, "DSiWare 500" for simple puzzle games and large-scale tools and "DSiWare Premium (tentative name)" for full-fledged games. Nintendo is expecting the price of DSiWare Premium titles to be more than 800 points.

A wireless service dubbed "nintendo zone" will be launched at the same time. In collaboration with McDonald's, its hamburger restaurants in the Kanto, Chukyo and Kinki districts will become the initial service bases where DSi users will be automatically connected to the network. Existing DS users can use the service if they download and run "Nintendo Zone Viewer."

The service provides information on the local area, distributes DS trial software and additional content, and offers an Internet connection service using Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, for example.

Camera and music function used differently from those of mobile phones

As it had been heard from some sources before the DSi was announced, its major differences from the previous model are the camera and music player function.

"Some said that the camera and music player function work like a mobile phone and do not match for a Nintendo product," Iwata said. "However, those mobile phone functions are intended for use as tools. Nintendo expects that they are used for entertainment."

Images shot with the camera and music data in the DSi can be exchanged with other devices through SD memory cards.

Using the "Nintendo DSi Camera" in the package, players can change the expression of faces or make a new face by synthesizing two faces, for example, because the camera features a capability to recognize human faces. Similarities between two faces can be measured as well.

Allowing users to draw on photos by hand, for example, "Its camera function is drastically oriented toward entertainment," Iwata said. He explained that the DSi can be used as a portable photo frame that allows users to carry around their photos sorted in order of date.

"Nintendo DSi Sound," a music player function, can be used for sound-based entertainment as well. As the function allows users to separately change the pitch and playback tempo, they can play recorded materials at faster speeds and use audio files for music dictation and language practice, for example. Special playback functions, such as harmony and karaoke creators, are also available.
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